You might be surprised to discover the
most important reason to exercise after weight loss surgery. Nope, it’s not to
burn fat and calories. It’s a benefit so huge that it can be the make it or break
it to your long-term success after weight loss surgery. Stick around to
discover what it is. Just about anyone who’s struggled with obesity is aware that exercise has a ton of advantages like burning fat and calories, toning
muscle, improving sleep, elevating your mood and energy, and even helping to
better your overall health. Those are all awesome reasons to move your body, but in
my mind those don’t hold a candle to the most important reason to consistently
workout after weight loss surgery. Nope! The reason exercise is pivotal to your
success is that it has the power to help you keep your head on straight so that
you don’t gain back the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose. Let me explain:
Unfortunately, I know a lot more than I’d like to about regain. For years and years
my regain bounced around between thirty and forty-five pounds … not to mention the
even heavier burden of shame that went along with it.
In fact, it wasn’t until I was fifteen years post-op that I finally figured it
all out and started living my life in the body I deserve.
The secret to success is grounded in your mindset, but it’s pretty dang hard
if not impossible to gain maximum control of your mindset if you’re not
exercising regularly. Not so fast! Make sure that whatever you do is
approved by your doctor first. When you exercise aerobically, elevating your heart
rate and breathing in alignment with the parameters recommended by your
doctors and fitness professionals increased levels of oxygen are pumped
into your brain. That oxygen acts as a brain elixir
actually stimulating brain cell growth. This enables your brain to function
better, ultimately enhancing your mindset in a way that supports long-term success
after weight loss surgery. Here’s how: It helps you make better decisions. You make
decisions all day long that impact your body and your health. What are you gonna
eat? When are you gonna eat? Are you gonna work out? Are you going to weigh yourself?
Will you attend support group today? Will you make notes in your journal? Will you
track your eating? There’s mounting evidence that aerobic exercise improves
what are referred to as your brain’s executive functions. What’s that mean?
Well, executive functions help you plan, organize, strategize and get things done.
They also help you resist interference. Even after weight loss surgery right
size living requires all of these things. There’s no winging it! You plan your food,
your exercise, your support activities your doctor’s visits … plus you get all
kinds of surprises thrown in all day. Like free samples at the grocery store,
doughnuts at the office, a local kid selling chocolate bars for fundraisers.
It’s an endless barrage of temptation, but if you’re properly oxygenating your
brain through aerobic exercise then you’re more likely to make better
decisions each time you’re faced with temptations. It also improves
self-control. Closely related to decision making is the ability to stick to your
decisions. Well, the good news is is that studies indicate exercise improves your
self-control, too. I was reading an article today on the American Psych
Association’s website … yes, I’m a dork! … and the article said that the average person
spends three to four hours a day resisting desires. Three to four hours!
What percentage of that three to four hours do you think are spent
steam caloric indulgences? Whatever it is there’s no doubt that your ability to
maximize your self-control is a big factor in achieving a long-term, right
size living. The good news is that you can elevate your self-control. The
British Journal of Sports Medicine compiled 24 different studies that
explored the links between exercise and self-control.
It found that short bouts of exercise led to immediate bursts of self-control.
Over the years I’ve had several discussions with friends about how we
tend to automatically eat healthier when we’re working out. We speculated that
maybe we just didn’t want to let all our hard work be ruined with indulgences or
that maybe all the water we were drinking through our workouts took a
bite out of our appetites or that maybe we just felt inadequate around all the
perfect-bodied people at the gym. Turns out, it was all the extra oxygen those
workouts were feeding to our brain. It elevates your energy. Ever notice it’s a
lot harder to make good food choices when you’re feeling sluggish? If you
watch my video Snooze to Lose then you know that when you’re tired you crave
unhealthy foods that are loaded with sugar and fat. So, it’s important to
elevate your energy level. Mainlining coffee and energy drinks is not the
answer, but exercise can help … and it can help a lot!
That’s because exercise elevates your body’s natural hormones, endorphins. Endorphins make you happy and bursting with energy. You want to move more, the
chocolate cake often stops calling your name. Exercise also promotes better sleep
quality. That’s great because when you’re tired your fullness and hunger hormones
are out of whack. They scream, “Feed me! Feed me!” when they should be saying, “Oh, I’m good, I got plenty of fuel in the tank.” University of Georgia researchers discovered that inactive people who
experience fatigue increased their energy by an average of 20%
and decreased fatigue by as much as 65% through regular, low-intensity exercise.
Exercise stimulates neuroplasticity Neuro what? In a nutshell,
neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to change or adapt by forming new
connections between cells. As your surgeon probably drilled into your head
over and over … weight loss surgery is a tool. It’s only one part of the equation
to right-size living. The other part is changing your thinking and your behavior.
This is where neuroplasticity … neuro what … this is who neuroplasticity comes in!
You’ve got to rewire your brain to change your behavior and the more you
repeat that new behavior the more ingrained or natural it will become. Can
you restructure your brain’s connections without exercise? Yeah, but it’s the
tougher hill to climb if you’re not exercising. Listen, you may not feel like
exercising … I totally get it. You might even hate exercise with every
fiber of your being, but now that you know aerobic exercise will improve your
brain function in a way that helps you make better decisions, improve your
self-control, elevate your energy to keep the hunger hormones at bay and stimulate
neuroplasticity so you can make your new habits stick … don’t you think it’s worth
the effort? Here’s my challenge to you: Even if you don’t want to … consult with
your doctor to find out what types of aerobic exercise you can safely engage
in, try it for 30 minutes a day for 30 days and see if maintaining your
right-size lifestyle feels a little easier. Until next time … live with purpose,
live with courage and live with delight!