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Bariatric Surgery and Exercise

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You more than likely know someone who has had a Bariatric Surgery. These are surgeries that help with obesity such as Gastric Bypass and Lap Band.

If you do know someone then you more than likely found that person to gain weight back. I have known several people and some have been my clients. I have mixed feelings about these surgeries mainly because they are a quick fix for a disease that is all about lifestyle and if you just changed your lifestyle, i.e. diet and exercise, then there would be no need for the surgery.

From 1998 to 2004 there was an 800% increase in bariatric surgeries performed according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). With such a high rate of obesity and illnesses that go along with obesity people are choosing this surgery over a lifestyle change. They think it's a cure and it's not. Most people lose a lot of weight right away and then they stop. They go back to their old habits and the stomach pouch accommodates a greater intake and the intestines tolerate a larger amount of food and the next thing you know you're gaining weight back.

After surgery regular exercise, physical activity and healthy eating is essential for long term weight loss and prevention of weight re-gained and this is why people fail. They don't learn and don't want to work on changing their lifestyle they just want the quick fix, but after time the quick fix doesn't work anymore. Out of all the people I know who received one of these surgeries, I do not know one who is at their goal weight. I knew someone who had the lap band surgery and lost a lot of weight and then the band slipped and her weight came all back on because she didn't learn how to eat right and exercise and refused to change her bad habits.

If you know someone who is thinking about having this surgery be sure to encourage post surgery exercise, meeting with a dietitian and seeing a counselor because there is usually an emotional reason why they eat like they do. If they don't change their habits the surgery, money and time is all wasted.


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EmpowHER Guest

Interesting post. But before any patient has any type of bariatric surgery, he or she goes through a long evaluation process to look at the person's past efforts to lose weight and how likely it is the patient will control eating after surgery. To go ahead with surgery, you must show you've tried diets and exercise programs and failed many times over; the patient must go through orientation to learn what it is like to, say, take 45 minutes to eat an apple due to the small opening created by lap band surgery. Overall, these surgeries have a success rate of about 86 percent and prevent associated diseases like high blood pressure and type II diabetes. Sure, some few patients will fall through the cracks and regain the weight but if the patient walks the walk (the straight and narrow walk!) he or she will very likely keep the weight off for life.

April 3, 2009 - 1:39pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had RNY gastric bypass surgery in 2006 and have lost 102 lbs and have maintained my weightloss for 2 years. I strongly believe my success in maintaining my weight loss after surgery is due to recognizing that I had to adopt an entirely new lifestyle. I had to be willing to learn about proper nutrition, new eating habits, appropriate food preperation and portion control and be willing to impliment that new knowledge. Also, I had to be willing to embrase regular exercise for the rest of my life. If one can not accept that they must change thier eating habits drastically and that they must exercise effectively and regularly for the rest of their lives, weight loss surgery is not for them. Attending support groups and seeking the counceling of a nutritionist can make the difference in success or failure. Chosing a hospital that is a Center of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery and consciously taking advantage of their support groups, nutrition and exercise related programs can really help one have a successful outcome.Weightloss surgery is not an easy fix and it requires a strong will to maintain the dicipline necessary for it to continue to last a lifetime. My new knowledge and healthy habits have become my new lifestyle. That is what it takes for one to maintain success!Did I forget to mention how great I feel for a very healthy 48 year old working mother who now scuba dives, swims regularly, works out, rides horses again and is looking forward to new and challenging endeavors?

Ann Martin

Ann Martin

March 27, 2009 - 8:28am

Great post, Lara. I'm sure that when many people first have bariatric surgery, their primary hope is to just Get The Weight Off, and they absolutely plan to change their lifestyle. Like so many things though, over time the motivation is lost and the old habits find their way back.

I have a friend who had gastric bypass surgery about 4 years ago now. She lost more than 100 pounds after her surgery -- perhaps it's closer to 130, actually. And she is still at her goal weight. But the reason is that she works out religiously -- that girl is at the gym several times a week -- and she tries to limit any "bad" eating to a couple of bites here and a couple of bites there. She indulges, but in small amounts.

She's had the discipline to stick with it, and it shows. But it has taken a huge amount of continual work for her to stay at her goal weight, and yet she still gets people who tell her she took "the easy way out."

March 20, 2009 - 9:03am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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