Functional Goals After Weight Loss Surgery

Author- S. Bledsoe, M.D.

Linda (not her real name) was 14 months after her sleeve gastrectomy, and she was very concerned.  “I’ve stopped losing weight, and I’m not where I want to be yet.”  She had hit a weight loss plateau.  It happens to everybody, but for her, it happened too soon.


In her case, Linda was a success story in every sense.  Her diabetes was gone.  Her high blood pressure had resolved.  Before surgery, she couldn’t walk 50 yards before surgery without taking a break.  Now, she was competing in local 5K races.  She had lost 60% of her excess body weight, but she still had about 60-70 more pounds to go.  She was, understandably, happy with her progress but frustrated with her stall.


Perhaps you can identify with Linda.  You are doing what you are supposed to be doing.  You are watching what you are eating (cheating rarely).  You are exercising pretty well (OK, everyone could do more).  In spite of this, you are worried that you will never reach your weight loss goals after your bypass/sleeve/band.  What should you do?


After ensuring there are no glaring problems with your diet or exercise regiment, you should throw away your scale and set functional goals for yourself.  What do I mean by “functional goals”?  Set an attainable goal that is based running faster, lifting heavier, or performing more efficiently any movement or exercise.  Let me give you an example by using walking.  Let’s say you can walk 1 mile in 20 minutes.  A new functional goal for you would be to walk a mile in 18 minutes.  After you hit that milestone, your new functional goal might be to jog 1 minute out of every 4 minutes.  Perhaps you enjoy kettlebell swings.  A new functional goal might be to perform more repetitions within a given period of time, more total rounds, or a heavier weight.


By using functional goals, you will constantly be challenging yourself.  It will give you something new to focus on instead of staring at the scale until your eyes sweat.  And, the reality is that functional goals are more important than weight loss goals.  These are the things that make you feel like you are getting healthier and better able to be involved in your life.  Hitting these goals will mean you are able to play with your kids.  You can climb a flight of stairs.  You can tie your shoes without getting out of breath.  Your quality of life is directly tied to how well you function- not your weight.


Am I minimizing your weight loss goals?  Not at all!  Your weight loss goals are important and obtainable.  You just need to re-focus.  By focusing on functional goals, you will eventually hit your weight loss goals.   

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