Lifestyle changes important after weight loss surgery

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimated that nearly 24 million Americans had diabetes, including 5.7 million people who had not yet been diagnosed in 2007. And 2009 ADA Guidelines recommend bariatric surgery be considered for adults with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 and Type 2 diabetes, especially if diabetes is difficult to control with lifestyle and pharmacologic therapy.

We see the successes every day with bariatric surgery patients, and it is amazing to watch their lives and healthy completely transform. But it also is important to remember that bariatric surgery is just a tool. Lifestyle changes must occur, including making healthy eating choices, as well as becoming more active. These have to be consistent and long-term.

For those who have been sedentary, the best way to begin an exercise program is to start gradually and find a buddy. If you start a program full steam ahead, often times you can burn out quickly, and chances are that you will quit. Find things that you enjoy to do that get you moving, such as walking, biking, swimming or other athletic activities. Exercise does not always have to be in a gym with weights. Exercise involves moving more than you do now. Find a buddy that likes to also do the same things, and you both will tend to stay with it because you will keep each other accountable and encourage each other.

Before starting any exercise program, always check with your physician to ensure it is ok to proceed. Some tips to remember include:

n Take it slow at first, and build your workout over time.

n Keep a bottle of water with you to ensure you stay hydrated, and make sure you’re wearing a good pair of shoes for working out.

n Try a pedometer, which is a good tool to measure how many steps you take, and it gives you something to use for planning improvements.

If you’ve been sedentary for a while, a good start is to begin walking. Walking, in general, can help with cardiovascular fitness and strengthens muscles in your legs. The amount of calories burned is determined by an individual’s weight and speed and intensity of walking. In general, walking a mile can burn about 100 calories.

Besides walking, another good exercise to start out with is swimming. It is easy on the joints, yet you can benefit greatly from the workout. Keep in mind that the best exercise includes something you really enjoy, so you will keep working out.

If you’re looking for a good start, join the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center staff and other community members at the Moving Together: One Step Closer walk. Ashley and Sherry Johnston from season 9 of The Biggest Loser will join the one-mile walk, which focuses on the importance of moving more, and places awareness on the obesity epidemic. The event is on Saturday, Oct. 2, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and the walk beginning at 9 a.m. at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook. For more information, call the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center at 865-977-4673.

Dana Bradley is a registered nurse, certified bariatric nurse and bariatric coordinator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

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