Nothing is more disappointing than hearing a gastric bypass patient brag that they didn’t have to exercise to lose weight. It’s true; patients will lose weight without lifting a finger. In fact, for many, the lack of physical effort required to lose weight is an appealing part of weight loss surgery. But patients who do not use the time of rapid weight loss to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle are doing themselves a grave disservice.
Obesity cripples the body. Bone tissues are compromised, joints are swollen, the vascular system is inadequate and the skeleton overburdened. Some morbidly obese people are so crippled from carrying excess weight they are confined to wheelchairs and scooters. They yearn to walk painlessly through a park or museum. Perhaps you have spent time confined to a wheelchair: didn’t you dream of walking without pain? When you imagined life after weight loss surgery I suspect there was no wheelchair, scooter or walking stick in that dream.
As weight is lost, the burden on the bones, joints and vascular system is decreased. And the body is a magnificent machine – given proper nutrition and physical motion it will rebuild its broken framework. The systems will become strong and vital.
The most effective way to heal the body from the ravages of obesity is to exercise.
You don’t have to jump up from the surgical bed and run a marathon; in fact, you never have to run. But you have to move your body: walk, stretch, bend, inhale and exhale. If you want to take full advantage of your weight loss surgery you must exercise your body.
Exercise, however you define it, is the most effective, most enjoyable, most beneficial gift you can bestow on yourself as you recover from life threatening, crippling morbid obesity.
There has never been a better time to become fit. Exercise philosophy has changed. Gone are the days of “make it burn” and “no pain, no gain.” Exercise experts say move your body 30 minutes a day, and the benefits will resonate throughout your being. Injuries are down and exhaustion isn’t the objective. Consistency is all that’s required. Fitness is no longer considered an exact science – we are given permission to find what works and enjoy it. Incorporate cardiovascular, flexibility and strength training into your life: the three work in combination to help you become healthy, agile and maintain metabolism.
If quality of life is to be preserved – or restored – exercise is required. The body was designed to require a certain minimum level of physical activity. When physical activity is absent obesity results. Our bodies do not thrive when they are sedentary. It is therefore crucial to deliberately incorporate movement into our lives.
More than any other time in your life, following surgery your body is ready to respond to the benefits of physical motion. We have taken the first step to control obesity by restricting food intake. The time is now to muster all the discipline possible to take a stand for a healthier, happier, longer and more productive life. We must exercise more than we have in the past and more than is convenient.
Do not make the mistake of delaying your exercise program until the weight is gone. If you fail to exercise during the phase of rapid weight loss your skin will sag, your energy will lag and your metabolism will slow. Weight loss will be more difficult to accomplish. You will miss an opportunity to feel good about yourself as you set realistic fitness goals and achieve them. You will miss the euphoria from oxygenated cells. You will betray yourself.