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Progress over Perfection after Weight Loss Surgery

Do you sometimes find yourself overwhelmed with all the things you are expected to do after bariatric surgery? Eat your protein, drink your fluids, take your vitamins, exercise, etc., etc.,…and you still need to live your life! It’s exhausting!

To add to this, many of us struggle with the feeling that we need to do things “right” this time in order to make the most of our surgeries. Any little deviation could throw the whole thing into the toilet, right?  Wrong! It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.  Most of us know this in our heads, but it’s a little harder to hear it in our hearts. If this sounds familiar, keep reading to get some insight into 3 different ways this idea of perfection can sneak in and what you can about it.

It’s all-or-nothing!

I had a cinnamon roll for breakfast, I guess the whole day is ruined.  It was really hard to keep up in that exercise class, I’m not going anymore.  I have so much going on this week, I don’t have time for anything….This all-or-nothing thinking is both stressful and ineffective in making progress toward your health goals.  Just because things didn’t go as planned this morning doesn’t mean the whole day is shot.  So you had something for breakfast that wasn’t ideal, so what? Have a good lunch and dinner. So that exercise class was hard – good!  That means your pushing yourself! And if you find yourself in a crazy week (like we all do), you can still choose a couple of healthy habits to hang on to. Even things as simple as taking your vitamins or having a protein drink when it’s hard to find time to cook can help you hang on to healthy habits when things are rough.

All or nothing thinking can also prevent you from actually enjoying those times when you aren’t “perfect.” So rather than beating yourself up, enjoy that treat you’re eating and remember that some days just don’t go as planned.  This will help you avoid feeling guilty and allow you to find a rhythm that creates sustainable progress for you.

If I am perfect after my WLS, I will make my goal weight!

We cannot pick what we weigh. Yes, our habits of course play a role.  And yes, there are averages for how much and how fast people lose weight after WLS. However, much of the weight loss we experience is not about our habits.  From changes in hormones to our genetics to the bacteria in our gut, there are factors outside of our control that play a crucial part in what we ultimately weigh.  In addition, sometimes reaching your ultimate goal weight could require that you are so strict that you spend all of your time and energy focused on reaching that goal. Is that worth it?  Having a few extra kgs is usually more sustainable, and enjoyable for that matter, if it means you can loosen up a bit, eat your favorite foods, and avoid overtime at the gym.

Everyone else who has had a Gastric Bypass (or VSG, etc.) seems to be perfect – why can’t I be? 

Instagram and Facebook are full of people that look like have all of their ducks in a row.  We see people at the gym that look like they must live there.  It seems like everyone else is losing weight more quickly than we are.  These small glimpses into people’s lives give us such a distorted view of others and ourselves.  What we may think of as their perfection is actually just a picture of their progress, especially since you always hear about their own struggles. As hard as it is, try not to compare yourself to others.  If you find that it’s problematic, take a break from social media or mute accounts that you find provoking, and don’t forget to take note of your own progress and non-scale victories!   Whether you walked a 5k faster than you ever have, remembered your vitamins every day this week, or fit into those pants that you’ve been wanting to wear, signs of progress are everywhere!

It was Winston Churchill who said “perfection is the enemy of progress,” and that’s just as true today as it was 80 years ago.   No one is perfect, and no one expects you to be, either.  So rather than focusing on doing everything right, focus on making progress forward.