This is the time of year to make a fresh start, and many men and women are looking for body contouring options like abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) at my suburban Columbus, Ohio, plastic surgery practice. During consultations, we hear many tales from both successful and not-as-successful patients about their weight loss journeys.
In this blog post, we’ll outline the strategies that we feel work the best when it comes to losing weight once and for all. All of us at Aesthetica Surgery & Spa are on the journey as well, as we are only human and each one of us has to watch our diet and do the exercise it takes to maintain our best weight.
Doing consults about body contouring surgery has helped me understand the struggle for so many of my patients. And let me tell you, I get it—the struggle is real for me too. I was about 20 pounds overweight for most of my life and have been on countless diets. But in the end, we all know there is no magic pill. The journey is the same for each and every one of us. The desire for a quick fix never ends, though, and often patients will say they just want to have the surgery to get them started! This mindset sometimes works, but not usually.
The daily habits that led to the need for liposuction or a tummy tuck need to be altered first—no amount of surgery can do this. The journey starts with putting in the daily work it takes to lose weight and keep it off. Oh sure, you can bounce up and down 5 pounds—that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the patients who have a BMI over 30 or 35 or even 40. This is just not a healthy weight, and the habits need to be changed and diet/exercise routines modified to get to at least a BMI of 30. (Calculate your BMI.)
Why a BMI of 30?
There is a large amount of data and articles written that show, without a doubt, the risks and complications of surgery increase dramatically when the BMI goes above 30. These risks and complications can be smaller occurrences like poor wound healing or delayed wound healing. But there are other more serious risks as well, such as cardiac and pulmonary complications. And when considering completely elective, medically unnecessary surgery, any increased risk is not a wise way to proceed.
Many patients want to lose weight and have tried unsuccessfully. For these patients, we counsel them on the long-term habit modifications that will lead to weight loss. (We’ll talk about those next.) But recently, prospective patients have been telling me they are happy with their curves and not interested in weight loss. I let these future patients know that being obese is unhealthy, and as a medical doctor, my job is to help patients be more healthy. And for these procedures, it means losing weight first—sometimes quite a bit of weight—50 or more pounds. This is the right answer. This is the hard answer. This is the tough love that must be delivered to these future patients. If a doctor says they will operate before the weight loss, I say beware to that patient.
Best Weight Loss Advice
Now that we are honest and facing the problem head-on, the reality must be stated: It is what goes in the mouth. Period. So to get better control on this, I recommend using an app on your phone to track the calories that go in. Once you start doing it, you will be surprised and probably shocked—like me—at how many calories you eat …. and drink. Don’t get me going on the liquid calories, but we all have our weaknesses and mine is wine. This is just one side of the equation, but the most important part is: You cannot exercise enough to out-exercise a poor diet.
But I do like to eat (and drink), and so for me, I do exercise. If I don’t, I would have to buy all new clothes every few months too! Using the phone app has helped me to be more accountable to myself. When I have to log it all in, it helps me think twice. And when I am doing well, it is a positive re-enforcement. So it works both ways. Get started right now if you have not done this. Try My Fitness Pal, available in the app store for free.
The Exercise Component
Figuring out what exercise you like to do so that you will stick with it is crucial. I am a runner. I can honestly tell you that I did not like running for the first year or two. But then, the funniest thing happened—I started to enjoy the time to think … and the runner’s endorphins … and eating. So that kept me going. And I like the convenience. I can do it anytime of day and in any location. I am not a “gym girl,” so realizing this has made a huge impact. I was always signing up and not going—then I would feel bad and lose money. Now I know better. I just need new shoes every few months and a new playlist. This part of self-reflection is crucial. Save yourself some time and money and figure this out sooner than I did! I am trying to add cross-training to the running and have made the goal to do it.
Diets Don’t Work
We all know this. Doing something for a short period of time may seem possible or even the only answer, but trust me, this will always backfire. The day you are “done” is the day you start inching back to your previous way of life. The only way to do this is to change your mindset and change how you live every day—there is never a “done” date—just every day, and every day making the decision to stick with it. The daily habits that are changed like this will stick.
After speaking with literally hundreds of my weight loss patients, I have come to this same conclusion. The first step is mental—changing how you think about each day and the word “diet.” It is what you eat every day—not just when you are “watching it.” And the minute you take your eye off that ball, then you miss the shot; you immediately are headed in the wrong direction. It takes a lot of work and a lot of forgiveness for yourself.
We all have good days and not so good—but we need to live too! The continual pursuit is the important part—the trying—the never quitting.
Need a little extra inspiration? Take a look below or at some of our other patients’ tummy tuck before and after pictures to get an idea of the type of results that are possible once you reach a healthy BMI and have a tummy tuck.
We Are What We Do Every Day
I love this time of year. I love the prospect of another chance at it—of trying! This is the journey we are all on together. Yeah, some people have ridiculously fast metabolisms, but most just have learned how to manage this for themselves. No excuses. No one is going to stop you from eating the ice cream. So why not try to eat just a small amount and enjoy it—life is short but not so short you have to eat the whole pint at once. No one is going to get you out of bed any earlier either. No excuses. You can get up and exercise before work. Or just lay there. It is time to take responsibility for your own actions (or lack of action when hitting the snooze). No excuses—you are the only person you can change. I hope this insight into my own journey has encouraged you. None of us likes 5 a.m. very much, but I do like how I feel when I am done running. And I like going into my closet and choosing any outfit in there, without worry. These are the perks that come with the daily discipline of exercise and a proper diet. Embrace the morning! Seize the day.
Happy New You
This is the time of year we all think about making positive changes. If you do your part, I will do mine in surgery, and you will love the result of your tummy tuck or liposuction even more. Request a consultation] at my Columbus, Ohio, area practice online or call us at (614) 569-2649 to schedule an appointment.