How to Break Bad Habits That Cause Regain After WLS

How to Break Bad Habits That Cause Regain After WLS


Have you had some bad eating habits
creep back into your life since you had weight loss surgery? Then get ready to
discover the easy down and dirty formula for breaking bad habits in this episode
of WLS Delight. For many of us who’ve had weight loss surgery, the first year is what many refer to as the “magic window.” It’s a time where your body is
recovering and you’re highly aware of every morsel of food that passes your
lips. It’s a time where you replace unhealthy behaviors with new eating
habits that align with your doctor’s recommendations. I followed doctor’s recommendations to a tee for the first six months following
my surgery. There are some aspects that seem super easy. I no longer craved food
all the time. I felt full lickety-split. Watching the pounds melt off was great
incentive to stay on the straight and narrow. I lost 101 pounds in just six months meeting my goal weight. I had some
challenges, too. There were many days that a single spoonful of broth or a sip of
water infused with protein would make me feel sick. I would later find out that
the problem was being caused by a negative reaction to medication that
once eliminated we got that all cleared up. But, before I discovered what was
wrong I began to get frustrated by my inability to even keep anything down. So
the day came that I strayed from doctor’s orders. I was about 6 months out
from surgery and visiting friends in Denver. We went out to eat and I figured,
“Hey, I’m gotta try some plain mashed potatoes, which I wasn’t supposed to have. They went down without a problem and opened the
door to bad eating habits. Then, I discovered that my food went down easier
with fat … like avocado or nuts, which can be great in moderation but when it
becomes a large percentage of your food intake the fat calories add up fast. From
there I began to test the boundaries. I mean, I was looking so
good that in my head I was like, “So what would a little piece of dark chocolate hurt? Or would a little bit of rice hurt? Or how about a nice brewski or two?” The bad
habits started gaining power over me. I was starting to repeat the patterns of
the lifestyle that had contributed to my need for surgery in the first place. I
started to feel panicked. I felt like a failure. I felt so ashamed. If you’re
someone who has never strayed down this path after surgery I commend you and I
admire you. Keep it up! Unfortunately, I know there’s other people out there who
stray like I did. Not to mention, there’s the danger of cross addictions like
alcohol replacing food, which can lead to a whole new set of potentially dangerous
behaviors. The problem is, when you allow bad eating habits to creep back into
your life it can often become a downward spiral. Bad food can actually damage your
brain’s cognitive performance and mental health. When your brain’s not firing on
all cylinders it can make it mentally challenging to stick to your doctor’s
nutritional rules. The million-dollar question is …”Once you decide to get back
in control how do you eliminate bad eating habits that have reappeared in
your life?” Well, one way is to stop cold turkey. That’s great if you can do
it. However, for some, cold turkey is a rough road that involves white-knuckling
it through cravings, a tremendous amount of willpower and it can stir up
counterproductive mind games. So, if cold turkey isn’t your cup of tea,
listen up because I’m about to reveal the formula
for breaking bad habits. And it’s this … Consistently focus on eliminating one
bad habit at a time … long enough for it to stick. I’ll tell you how to go about
doing this, but first let me explain why it works. The more frequently you repeat
a new behavior the more it gets burned into your brain and becomes your new
habit. There’s an urban myth that it takes 21 days to change a habit. Based on
all the contrary studies out there, I think it’s safe to say this is nonsense.
It can take less time or it can take a lot longer. The bottom line is you have
to focus on changing that habit long enough for it to stick … however long that
takes! Let me explain. So, I was at a point in my
life where I was struggling with multiple bad eating habits. I zeroed in
on just one habit … the one I felt was my worst. Carbonated beverages. I know, I know.
I can practically feel you cringing from here. It all started with carbonated
water, which led to diet soda. I mean, crap! I hadn’t had one in years, but that one
diet soda opened the floodgates and it became a regular occurrence.
Now, I’m no doctor, but from what I understand this crap is bad in general,
but super, super bad for weight loss surgery patients. It can create gas that
causes your pouch to expand. Plus, many experts say diet soda increases hunger.
Now, I don’t know about you, but increased hunger is not something I want or need
in my life. so I set about eliminating that bad habit. Here’s how: Decide what
bad habit you’re gonna focus on eliminating and make a commitment to
changing it. You’ve got to be all-in for this to work.
Replace the bad habit with a positive one. In the case of my carbonated drinks,
I replaced them with one of two new choices: unsweetened iced tea or water. It
was hard at first, but it got easier and then I became my new habit. I once heard
a story that explains this so well. A botanist wanted to study a rare plant
deep in the jungle. Like most jungles, the foiliage was dense making it
quite a challenge to get to the plants. The botanist had to cut back vines and
branches with a machete and trample over the ground cover to get to the place in
the in the jungle where the plants grow. The first time it required a lot of hard
work and sweat to get there. However, the next day the botanist followed the same
trail and the small path became a little bit more noticeable. After a month,
there was a well-defined trail to the plants. It’s the same thing with your
brain. The more times you repeat that behavior the easier that path is to
navigate. Change your environment. Eliminate the temptations. For my diet
soda issue, this meant not allowing it in my home. It meant making sure to stock
my favorite bottled water in the office refrigerator. Practice mindfulness. It’s
important to become aware. Track your success. In your journal or on your smart
device at the end of the day note if you successfully kept the bad habit at bay.
Write about temptations you faced, how you overcame them and how it felt. This
record ensures that you have a realistic account of your progress and you can
easily pinpoint triggers that tempt you to stray.
Eliminate triggers. If you discover triggers to your bad habit, get rid of
them or create a healthy coping mechanism. For my diet soda habit, I
noticed my temptation was greater when I stopped at a gas station that carried my
favorite soda. I changed gas stations to one where it
wasn’t available. Trigger avoided! Coordinate the troops. In other words, get
help. Tell your family and friends the habit you’re trying to break and ask for
their support. Join a support group. Designate someone who’s willing to take
your call anytime temptation strikes to be a voice of reason. Having a strong
support network makes it easier to succeed in a moment of weakness.
If you fall get up, but face the consequences. Part of being human means
that we’re susceptible to slip-ups. Brush off those knees and get back in the game.
Don’t beat yourself up! However, it’s a good idea to have a consequence. For
instance, if I slip up I stand in a freezing cold shower for 30 seconds. I
know it sounds crazy. It’s super uncomfortable, but it’s over quickly and
I’m square so I’m not left lingering on my screw-up. I’ve paid the price and I
can let it go. Try following these 7 steps. Every time you don’t succumb to
the bad habit, you’ll feel a sense of achievement or success. Each success is a
baby step in the direction of overcoming your bad habit. It builds your
self-confidence and you realize, “Hey, I can do this!”
Before you know it the temptations get less and less and your actions align
with your desired behavior. Once you get control over your bad habit,
try tackling another … methodically addressing them one by one. So that’s the
formula for breaking bad habits. Go get ’em nd email me at [email protected] to let me know how it goes. Until next time … live with purpose,
live with courage and live with delight!

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