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Lifestyle Changes

As Thomas A. Farley, in a New York Times Op-Ed, stated, “There is good news in the fight against obesity: Rates are finally falling in young children. The bad news? They’re continuing to rise to new heights in adults” [1].

Bariatric surgery offers each patient a beginning, but they need to change their values, habits, and set realistic goals to insure success. Motivational interviewing by the health-care team can help bring about changes and goal setting [2].

All habits have three things in common: (1) A cue or trigger, (2) a routine/reaction behavior, and (3) the reward. Repetition of this habit brings a feel good response from dopamine, which encourages repeat behavior. Choosing a new behavior is like taking a different road than the well-known paved road a person has always taken.

Bariatric patients know they need to change unhealthy behaviors but many lack the skills to set realistic goals and prepare for new behaviors. Eating habits, exercise, sleep, stress management, and mood issues can seem overwhelming unless family and group support can offer solace. Educators can provide the SMART goal setting format for bariatric weight loss patients to help them feel empowered and personalize their plan.

  • • S = specific eating and exercise goals (e.g., I will limit my snacking to only approved choices and will walk 30 minutes after dinner three times weekly)
  • • M = measure success by pounds lost and minutes per week of exercise completed (e.g., I will lose 2 lb. per week and increase exercise to four times per week if that weight loss is not achieved)
  • • A = achievable sleep pattern to enhance weight loss and immune function (e.g., I will be in bed by 10 pm for 8 hours of sleep each night)
  • R = relaxation to overcome stress in daily life (e.g., I will join yoga class and practice daily)
  • T = time for fun and personal reflection on success (e.g., when I have lost 25 lb., a trip to Disney World will be planned)
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