This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase from one of the links below, I'll receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!
“No offense, but how is it even possible that someone could regain their weight after weight loss surgery?”
It’s a question I have seen a hundred times in online support groups. Maybe they’re saying it out of sincerity, but it almost always comes across as sounding smug, as if they would NEVER allow themselves to regain the weight! Maybe I’ve wondered it myself, as a new post op.
But there I was getting ready to see an old friend who was nine months into her own journey post gastric bypass, and my “fat pants” wouldn’t zip. Not without me laying on the bed anyway, something I hoped I would never again have to do! The very same pants that 2.5 years ago I was getting ready to throw out for being way too baggy. UGH.
So how DOES someone gain back weight post weight loss surgery?
1. Life happens.
This is probably the number one excuse every bariatric surgeon hears regarding regain.
Little did I know, when I was wearing my way-too-baggy-“fat pants” for what I thought was the last time, I was about to become pregnant. It was a huge thing for me, because the anticipation of having a third child was literally the reason I had gastric bypass surgery in the first place! I had two boys, and I wanted another shot at a girl!
I expected to gain no more than 20 pounds during my pregnancy, and assumed it would fall right off.
But towards the end of my first trimester, I experienced almost losing an immediate member of my family. And I became their care taker for the next several months. This was during the holiday season and for awhile, I was super strict with my eating plan still, and I still loved working out. But come Thanksgiving, I did have a few bites of Apple pie. And because I make cookies every year, it felt good to eat the sugar cookies from my childhood.
I was quickly becoming super depressed. And super, SUPER anxious. From the time my dad passed away when I was nine years old until now, I’ve always coped with food. Even after this most recent pregnancy, I found the weight just kept creeping up because breastfeeding made me ravenous, and I had to grab what I could between feedings, because my daughter was scarily underweight due to my breast milk changing post surgery. This stressed me out so much, I wasn’t sleeping, eating properly, and just sat around breastfeeding all the time. These factors together equaled even more weight gain!
2. One Extra Bite at a Time.
Which leads me to the next reason people regain weight after surgery — that extra bite, or extra snacks.
Truly, one of the hardest things to wrap my mind around was having to waste extra food on my plate. Eating past satiety is easy to do. It’s what we’ve done all out lives! Before you know it, you’re able to hold more and more food.
Between meals, snacking is hard to resist when your pouch is feeling hungry from being empty; again, another lifelong habit that is hard to break.
So how does one regain the weight?
The same way you put it on in the first place: one extra bite at a time.
leads us to…
3. Your body will FIGHT and try to go back!
People regain lost weight easily because our bodies are naturally programmed to bring back what we lost and more. (Much of this boils down to lifelong insulin resistance as detailed in The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. More on this later for SURE! Stay tuned, coming very soon!)
>Many of us got the surgery we did to cause certain biological functions to change.
Maybe it was malabsorption so certain things would slide on through. Maybe it was taking away the stomach sensors that create a hormone called grehlin that causes us to feel hungry. Maybe it was to cause dumping syndrome, so we would learn through negative reinforcement to never eat that tempting treat again!
The problem is, our bodies are so amazing at healing and rerouting to compensate for those deficits, that those things we tried to take away, the body finds a way to begin to bring it back!
4. You did not take advantage of your honeymoon period to create new lifelong habits.
“Well, every day I eat one half of a donut for breakfast, and just one slice of pizza for dinner, and I’m STILL losing weight, so obviously I know what I’m talking about! I must be doing SOMETHING right!”
This is another thing I see way too often in the online support groups. I shudder to think I probably thought something similar as a newbie. Wait… yep, I’m sure of it. (Oh, how wrong I was!)
One of the worst truths about weight loss surgery, that so few talk about, is that you are going to experience a “honeymoon phase” where you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight.
Remember, we caused the ability for malabsorption, so things don’t stick like they used to.
However, your honeymoon period could end somewhere between 6 to 12 months post surgery, and/or when you lose around 100 pounds.
After that, it’s all on you, kid, to keep it going and take yourself all the way to the end!
This is why taking advantage of the honeymoon phase is critical to establishing new lifelong habits, erasing decades of hormonal imbalance and a broken metabolism. If you don’t take advantage to retrain your brain, your body will eventually fight to gain the weight back.
5. The Weight Loss stopped and I don’t like diet and exercise.
Raise your hand if you got weight loss surgery in hopes you would never have to “diet and exercise” again.<
f I wasn’t busy typing this article, I would have both hands up in the air! (Womp, womp.)
The reason why diets have failed us over and over throughout our lives is often due to the fact that we live in a culture that values instant results.
We set out with good intentions, but when we get to the messy middle, when face with obstacles and excuses, it’s easier to give up and assume we’ve failed! AGAIN!
In fact, the diet industry THRIVES on us re-joining them over and over, hoping just one last time it will work.
It’s easier to be overweight if that’s what you’ve always known. This is why we need to learn to think of our eating plan as an act of self-love, and exercise as a joyful stress-reliever, instead of as punishment.
We got surgery to ESCAPE diet culture, yes? So let’s do this!!!
How My Husband and I Both Lost 20 Pounds EACH in One Month
So, I had my baby. And the regain was really freaking me out. Especially because I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t stop!
I took several months off from this website to study obesity and hormones, and why it is so surprisingly common for bariatric patients to gain all of their weight back and more.
After a LOT of experimenting, I came up with my own meal plan. I was going to give it one last go, and I’m so thankful my husband was a willing participant, because two people having great results is so much better than just the one!
And I want even MORE to come join us and have great results, too!
Starting this week, I am mailing out to my email newsletter list my very own low-carb meal plan.
One thing that was very important to my husband was that it not feel like deprivation. Turns out, he thought it has been EASY! And for the past few weeks, we have had way more energy than we’ve known what to do with!
So if you want to join us, sign up for my newsletter because not only am I going to send you our menu plan right away, I will be back in your email with more instructions and free printables!