Getting Fat Again 15 Years After Weight Loss Surgery

Question Below Submitted By:  

Tonya S. (a patient from Charlotte,NC)

Hi, my name is Tonya. I had a Mini-Gastric bypass on September 6, 2000. I did great. I lost a total of 257 pounds. I weighed 377 and I had to lose down to at least 345 in order to have the surgery.

I lost 30 pounds and the doctor performed the surgery. I did extremely well. I was determined to lose as much as I could because I had a miserable life because of the extra weight. I am only 5ft 1in tall.

It took me a little over a year and a half to lose down to 120 pounds. I went from a size 32 to a size 2. I finally settled in a size 3. I felt really good. I had never in my life to my knowledge been that small.

I stayed there until recently. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. I overcame that problem. I did not eat much and it did not bother me. I would eat a bite of a sandwich or a bite of this or that.

I did not eat the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner type meals. I grazed. I would eat when I got ready. That was a big mistake. I could eat anything I wanted. That was another mistake. I should have planned my eating habits.

Now, I am eating out of control. I eat more than I used to and now I am older and not as active as I was. I am 64 years old, but I am an active 64. I am afraid now because I feel that I am getting fat again.

I once wore a size 3, now I wear a size 10. I weighed 120, now I weigh 160 or more. I need for someone to please tell me what I can do to get back down to where I was.

I will get there. I will have to pick up my pace on activities, but I still don’t know how to eat. Does any one have any advice for me?

I am big around the middle and my legs, which had all of the added skin, are much larger. I was not financially able to have the flab removed through plastic surgery, so I covered it up. You would never guess in a million years that my body was flabby. I looked really, really good for my age.

Now, I am afraid again and I find that I have the same mentality that I had when I weighed 377. I really need for someone to help me out. I want to thank you all for listening to me.

Much love to everyone.



Expert Responses to the Question Above

Bariatric Nurse Response to "Getting Fat Again 15 Years After Weight Loss Surgery"

by: Nadia Barhoumeh-Lee, RN

Hi Tonya,

I want to start my reply by saying to you that you are a successful weight loss surgery patient, please don't lose sight of your accomplishment. Despite 40 lb. weight gain, you are still down 217 lbs. from your highest weight. Also, you are still nearly 40 BMI points below your rights BMI of 71.23. The amount of weight you lost and have kept off for nearly 15 years is nothing short of incredible!

Having said all this, I hear your worry about regain and going back to a place you don't wish to go back to, the place of your old weight, body, and all the health, psychological issues, and discomfort that go along with morbid obesity. I want to respond specifically to your request for help on how to eat...

As you well know, any weight loss surgery is not magic and requires following some guideline and some self-discipline. Although you didn't include any of the guidelines you followed to lose all the weight you lost, you clearly were doing many things very well all these years and I suspect you are very self-aware.

Here's a way to start reframing or thinking about Weight Loss Surgery and how you can get back on track to lose or maintain the balance you are looking for in your life. Think of your surgery as a tool!

The tool will work if you use it correctly.

Weight Loss Surgery is not a diet but an active process with active engagement of mind, body, and soul if a patient is going to stay healthy and keep the weight off long-term. Here are a few points to help you get started:

1. Activity/exercise: please continue to exercise 4-5 times per week for 30-45 minutes if possible.

2. Understand that your stomach is a muscle and has capacity to shrink again.

3. Plan your meals/create a menu for yourself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and follow it. Create a shopping list and stick to it. At the store, stay out of the junk food section, stick to the meat, vegetable, fruit, and dairy sections.

4. Plan your snacks if you absolutely have to have them, stick to protein snack.

5. Focus on eating three types food groups: protein, vegetables, and some fruit low on glycemic index.

6. Use a small plate to eat your meals.

7. Eat your protein food first then vegetables and fruit if there's room left.

8. Please separate your fluids from your food. Stop drinking 20-30 minutes before you start eating and wait at least 30 minutes after you have eaten. This action will allow the food to stay in your stomach longer and gives you a feeling of satiety longer.

9. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids in between meals, focus on drinking water.

10. Avoid sugar and bubbly beverages.

11. Keep a food and fluid journal, which creates awareness of what you are eating, accountability, and help you manage your intake.

12. Last but really not least, chew, chew, chew each bite 30 times.

Enjoy your food, eat mindfully and slowly. Turn off the TV and focus on eating, this will help you to keep track of how much you are eating.

One final point, it's really wise to stay realistic about weight loss and expectations, not all people who have weight loss surgery lose all their excess weight loss or keep an ideal body weight for the rest of their life. As people age, hormone, metabolic rate changes, and stressful events happen in our life, we can see fluctuations in appetite and weight. All things considered, you have some work to do but I believe you already have a good foundation for success.

I hope you can use what I have mentioned to your advantage.

Please be advised that this information is not a substitute for follow-up with your medical doctor or bariatric surgeon. You can work with a dietician knowledgeable with weight loss surgery to help you in a more personal and specific way. Alternatively, I would be happy to work with you individually if you wish.

To your health and continued weight loss success,

Nadia Barhoumeh-Lee, RN

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.


Patient Responses to the Question Above

Surgery 9/2013

by: Midget01

I too relate to Nadia.

I did wonderful for the first year and a half. Now I struggle out of boredom on how to make food for one person that I can eat.

It began with a mental craving for something crunchy and now has lead to me eating small 4 ounce bowls of crunch things which still take me about 20-30 minutes to eat but I feel like I am grazing all the time. Sometimes my stomach aches from over eating I believe; but mentally it is hard to stop.

I no longer fill full on meals of 4ounces of protein and 4 ounces of carb's or 4 ounces of protein and 4 ounces of vegetables. Breakfast I usually use 4 ounces of protein and 4 ounces of fruit. These meals are basically pure meat steamed or slow cooked in a frying pan.

I am limited on storage but cook for one person. I pre-measure my meat and store it in a frozen food bag. I buy either frozen vegetables or measure a mixture of 4 ounces of vegetables.

I am beginning to miss casseroles or different tastes. When I eat out I eat, Steak, chicken or lobster so that I can stay with proteins that are not breaded, fried, or overly cooked.

Because of denture issues I can't eat raw vegetables or hard foods.

Is there anyone with recipes of things to try to get me back on track? I still try to chart out what I eat but I am eating in between things I should not eat.

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