I see success stories every day with our bariatric surgery patients, and it is truly amazing to watch their lives and health completely transform for the better. However, it is important to remember bariatric surgery is just a tool. Lifestyle changes also must occur for the procedure to be successful in the long term.
To ensure a healthier life, these changes can be made with non-surgical patients as well. Changes such as making healthy eating choices and becoming more active on a daily basis are those that must occur, and remain consistent for the long term, in order for the surgery to maintain its successful transformation.
For those who have been sedentary, the best way to begin an exercise program is to start gradually and find a partner - someone you feel would keep you accountable to your workout. If you start a program “full steam ahead,” often times you can burn out quickly, and chances are you will be unsuccessful and quit. Find things you enjoy and those that will get you moving such as walking, biking, swimming or other athletic activities. Exercise doesn’t have to be in the gym; it just needs to be something that gets you moving more than you do presently. Also, in finding a buddy that shares your exercise “likes,” you both will tend to stay committed to the routine, keep one another accountable and offer encouragement to each other.
Before starting any exercise program, always check with your physician to ensure it is permissible to proceed. Some good exercise tips to remember include:
Take it slow at first, and build to your workout over time.
Keep a bottle of water with you to ensure you stay hydrated, and make sure you’re wearing a good pair of comfortable shoes.
Try a pedometer, a good tool to measure how many steps you’re taking during your workout. It also will motivate you to do more.
Start simple. If you have been sedentary for a while, a great way to begin exercising is by walking. In general, walking can help with cardiovascular fitness and strengthens the muscles in your legs. Since the amount of calories burned is determined by an individual’s weight and the walk’s speed and intensity, in general, walking a mile can burn about 100 calories. Besides walking, another good exercise to begin with is swimming as it is easy on the joints and the workout benefits are great.
Just remember that the “best” exercise is unique to you as you always need to choose something you’ll enjoy for the long term.
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. This one-mile walk focuses on the importance of moving more and brings attention to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk begins at 9 a.m. For more information, call the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center at 865-977-4673.
Dana Bradley is a bariatric coordinator in the Weight Management Center at Blount Memorial Hospital.