Medical weight loss can be life changing and truly transformative. However, like any medical intervention, it is important to understand the challenges of medical weight loss from the outset. One of the biggest struggles individuals face is how to keep weight off after a weight loss intervention. Learn how to prepare yourself for life after medical weight loss to ensure that you experience an optimal outcome.

What to expect from medical weight loss

​Many people experiencing problems with obesity or overweight feel like they have lost control of their own body. Often, they try diet after diet, only for all of their efforts to fail. Unlike trying a new diet or exercise program, working with a medical weight loss professional will help you understand the underlying causes of your weight issue. This might include organ dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, or other physiological problems. Additionally, being supervised by a doctor allows you to lose larger amounts of weight in a safe, medically appropriate manner.

​So what should you expect when you begin a medical weight loss program? As you begin, medical weight loss can be very exciting. With your doctor’s help, you may lose tens of pounds very rapidly. However, after an initial bout of rapid weight loss, it is common for people to hit a plateau in which they lose weight more slowly. Eventually, your body will settle into its new weight range. This is when you are at greatest risk for gaining back the weight.

risk factors for gaining weight after medical weight loss

​Not all medical weight loss interventions are created equal, and it is possible to regain weight after undergoing medical weight loss. For instance, with surgical procedures such as gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band, up to 10% of patients end up regaining weight. Certain factors make it more likely that you will regain weight after medical weight loss, including:
 

  • Unresolved psychological issues. Psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and unresolved trauma are common among people with significant weight problems. Losing weight does not automatically make these psychological problems go away. On the contrary, untreated psychological issues can cause you to regain the weight you initially lost.
  • Difficulty following the doctor’s instructions. As a medical intervention, it is important to follow your doctor’s orders when beginning a medical weight loss program. If you do not understand the instructions or cannot comply, have a frank conversation with your doctor.
  • Alcohol or substance abuse. Drinking alcohol and using illicit substances can lead to weight gain and may also be dangerous for your health. Tell your doctor about your substance use before undergoing medical weight loss.
  • Binge eating behaviors. After years of disordered eating, it can be difficult to stay on track. After medical weight loss, binging can seriously compromise your ability to maintain your goal weight.
  • Lack of knowledge about healthy food choices. For some people, weight loss simply occurs because they do not know the healthiest choices to make for their bodies. This is why it is so important to work with nutrition experts to ensure good outcomes following medical weight loss.

how to keep the weight off after medical weight loss

​Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep the weight off after undergoing medical weight loss. First, it is essential to work with a nutrition expert to ensure you are maintaining a healthy diet. A nutritionist can help you determine how many calories to consume each day, how to plan healthy meals, and what balance of nutrients you should aim for. Remember, you must commit to long-lasting lifestyle changes to stay within your goal weight range. Rather than thinking of is as a diet, think of it as a new approach to healthier eating.

Second, it is important to address any underlying medical or psychological issues that contributed to weight gain. Addressing hormonal imbalances or improperly managed medical conditions is a central part of medical weight loss. Although most people celebrate their new body weight after medical weight loss, learning to navigate life as a thinner person may also be a psychological adjustment. Seeing a counselor or mental health professional can help you make a healthy transition. This is particularly helpful if you have unresolved psychological issues that may have contributed to your weight gain.
Finally, staying active is a critical component of medical weight loss. Physical activity is a great way to build lean muscle and burn excess calories, which will help you maintain a healthy weight. Plus, the endorphins associated with exercise can give you a great mood boost. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise plan that fits your lifestyle — this could include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, step aerobics, gardening, or other activities you enjoy.

Remember, your journey is not over when your medical weight loss program ends. As you begin a new life in a thinner body, you must learn how to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent weight gain.
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