Why I'm choosing bariatric surgery: Let's talk about plateaus
MultiCare's director of general surgery, Jennifer Yahne, is choosing to undergo bariatric surgery. You can read other posts in this series here.
In the first few weeks following my surgery, the pace of my weight loss was extraordinary. I’d step on the scale every day to find the number had declined even more.
Each weigh-in felt like a small victory as I did the math in my head to calculate what I might weigh in a month or two or three.
One day, about three weeks after surgery, the scale stopped moving. It seemed permanently stuck at 206 pounds.
I had hit a plateau.
Weight loss plateaus are enormously frustrating. You can be doing everything right, and for whatever reason the numbers aren’t reflecting your success.
I had not expected to encounter a plateau so soon after surgery and had to rein in the negative thoughts running through my mind. After all, nobody wants to undergo a major surgery only to lose 10 pounds total.
I find that so much about weight loss is mental housekeeping and finding ways to keep yourself on track. I spoke with my dietitian and my bariatric surgery coordinator, who confirmed that plateaus are common even close to surgery because weight can fluctuate by several pounds for a variety of reasons.
After these conversations, I took several steps to help keep me feeling positive despite the stagnant number on my scale:
- I kept focused on following my post-surgery eating plan of very small meals every few hours with an emphasis on eating protein first. Intellectually I knew that while the scale may not say I’m losing weight, it would be impossible not to lose weight given the amount I can physically consume.
- I weighed myself less frequently. Instead of stepping on the scale every day, I set Wednesday morning immediately after waking as my designated weigh-in time. With a longer interval and consistent time, I felt like I was more likely to see progress over time.
- I focused on how I felt. I could tell that I was lighter and leaner with more of a bounce in my step. My energy level was high.
- I went to the mall. For the first time in nearly nine years, I could buy clothes in the misses department and at some of my favorite stores in the mall. The selection was mind-boggling. Even when the scale wasn’t moving, I found my size was changing. I purchased some extra-large blouses, a cardigan and a skirt, but then two weeks later I found they were swimming on me and had to purchase large sizes from the same store instead.
- I let myself revel in the compliments. When people know you’ve had surgery, all eyes are on you, and it can be a bit intimidating at times. I found myself receiving many compliments from friends, family and coworkers. Instead of self-consciously dismissing their remarks, I embraced them.
Finally after about three weeks the plateau was broken, and my scale read 199.8. I was 0.2 pounds into what many weight-loss patients describe as “Onederland.” It felt amazing.
Shortly after the weigh-in, a photo of myself from one year ago came up in my Facebook feed. I was wearing the same shirt I had worn the morning of surgery and the difference was overwhelming. It was difficult to remember what I had looked like at 244 pounds.
When I weighed that much, I honestly tried not to look at myself. When I would walk by a mirror or even a window or glass door, I would look down to avoid seeing my reflection.
I felt so hopeless about my weight that I tried to ignore it and focus on the areas in my life where I felt capable and confident.
I am no longer afraid to look at my reflection. While I haven’t reached my goal yet, I see progress. I feel proud. I have hope.
About The Author
Jennifer Yahne and her husband of 17 years, Jeramy, are lifelong residents of South King County. They have two daughters, Jillian and Hayden. Jennifer has worked in health care administration for the past decade, most recently as the director for the general surgery careline at MultiCare Health System. In her limited free time, she enjoys knitting, sewing, reading and baking.More stories by this author