For many people, setting a goal weight after having weight loss surgery can be extremely difficult. Should you go by what the scale says? Maybe your BMI is a good indicator? How do your clothes fit? What does the doctor say? What did you weigh in high school? There are so many differing opinions and it can be easy to get overwhelmed and confused.
This was something I struggled with too. I had been overweight for so long (the vast majority of my life) that I had absolutely no idea what I would look like at a lower weight.
I remembered being a certain weight when I got married at 23, but three kids and almost twenty years later, I wasn’t sure if that would be a good weight for me. And truth be told, I was kinda chubby back then too.
I scoured the internet and looked at BMI charts and fancy apps that attempted to give me a preview of what my body would like at a certain weight, but none of them felt right for me. Them I boldly asked my friends how tall they are and what they weigh – something you can only ask a TRULY good friend – to try and get an idea of what that weight looked like on a real person. I even researched what famous actresses weigh in an effort to gain some clarity and perspective.
Yet, I still struggled with deciding on a number. And in the end, I decided that it wasn’t about a particular number on the scale, but more about a combination of factors all mixed together. So if you are having trouble setting a goal weight after weight loss surgery too, here are some things to consider.
1. Know the facts about your surgery.
Depending on which surgery you had done, you should lose between 30% to 70% of your excess body weight. If you choose gastric bypass, you can expect to lose around 70%. For VSG, it is closer to 60% and for lap band, the average is 50%.
Of course, these are averages. Some people lose more and some lose less, but it’s always a good idea to have a ballpark number to start with. And remember, the surgery is a tool to help you, but the more work you put into it, the more weight you will most likely lose.
2. Check the BMI charts before setting a goal weight
No, they are not perfect. BMI charts do not effectively factor in things like muscle mass and the size of your frame. However, they are a good tool to put you in a ballpark range, which is a great place to start.
BMI charts can help you determine a 30-40 pound range that will probably be a good fit for you and help keep you healthy. Some people are more comfortable on the high end and some feel better on the low end of their range. Here is an online calculator if you want to check it out.
3. Talk to the experts
Try to talk to as many experts as possible. Ask your surgeon where he thinks you should be at 6, 12 and 18 months post surgery. Consult with a dietitian and get her opinion too. Try talking to your family doctor. If you have a trainer, ask her. They may have differing opinions, but they will most likely be in the same range.
Ask them WHY they think that would be a good goal weight for you. Are they using BMI charts? Are they looking at your lab work or choosing it based off your starting weight?
4. How is your health after your weight loss surgery?
Have you had lab work done recently? What were the results? Is your cholesterol in a healthy range? How about your blood sugars and blood pressure?
How do you feel walking up a flight of stairs? Can you move better and breathe easier? Did you stop snoring at night?
Many people have weight loss surgery to improve or resolve health issues and this can be a good measurement to decide on a goal weight.
If you goal was to become healthier, then checking your test results and your physical fitness can be a good indicator of whether you are in a good range or if you should keep losing weight.
5. How do you feel?
This includes both physically and mentally. On the physical side, do your clothes fit you better? Can you comfortably sit in chair and not worry about it collapsing?
On the mental side, are you happy? Are you proud of yourself and what you have accomplished? Is your gut instinct telling you that you are at a good weight?
If you find that your brain is struggling to catch up with the physical changes, read this article about body dsymorphia.
I still haven’t 100% settled on a goal weight and I know I have a lot farther to go in my weight loss journey. But I think that when I feel strong and healthy, I will have found the perfect weight for me, regardless of what the scale says.
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