Preparing for Bariatric Surgery:
How Will You Stay Motivated Long Term?

Preparing for bariatric surgery involves more than losing weight preop or following the liver shrinking diet immediately before your procedure.

Weight loss surgery does not FORCE the lifestyle changes that must follow, although you may think it will. The first 6-12 months post op are called the “honeymoon period” for a reason. That’s the time everything is rosy and it’s easy to stick to the diet. You won’t be hungry. You’ll feel uncomfortable or get sick if you don’t follow the you stay on track, no problem!

But just like any honeymoon, it will come to an end. And when it does, the greatest tool for weight loss success becomes your MIND!

That’s because your mind is the gatekeeper for sticking to lifelong diet and lifestyle changes that are necessary for long term success. YOU will ultimately be the determining factor as to whether your surgery is successful or not. Bariatric surgery is simply a tool. Without sticking to the necessary lifestyle changes, no surgery will work long term.

So once the honeymoon is over, how will you stay motivated?

Without ongoing motivation it’s really impossible to stay the course long term. Preparing for bariatric surgery should include thinking through this long before you ever have your weight loss procedure.

Preparing for Bariatric Surgery:
Motivation is a Moving Target

You’ll likely be highly motivated in the immediate weeks and months post op, but motivation is fleeting. What motivates you now may not motivate you in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years or 5 years!

One of My Favorite Quotes:

“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing!

That’s why it’s recommended daily.

Why would you expect motivation to last any longer than a day?"

Zig Ziglar

Once you lose a bit of weight, the diet and lifestyle changes don’t seem so urgent anymore. Motivation wanes and you get a little lackadaisical, or “cocky” and think the rules don’t need to apply anymore. This is how weight starts creeping back up.

Preparing for Bariatric Surgery:
Top 5 Tips To Stay Motivated Long Term

1. Buy a Blank Notebook to Keep Track of Non Scale Victories (NSVs)

If you’re not familiar with the term yet, get used to it. “NSV” is a term used to refer to “non scale victories.” Accomplishments that aren’t about weight at all.

Plan to journal these successes. BECAUSE: When you’re in a weight loss stall or gain a pound or two, your brain will find every reason to give up and say “why bother?!" Having a journal of NSVs to pull out in that moment will help you gain perspective and get back on track.

Examples of NSVs:

  • Can walk to the mailbox without getting out of breath
  • Able to get off of blood pressure medications
  • Can cross my legs!
  • Can see my collar bones


  • Rings are looser
  • Turned down cookies in the breakroom
  • Don’t need an extender on the airplane seat
  • Etc, etc, etc.

2. Hang Your NSVs on the Bathroom Mirror

Why not take it one step further and get those NSVs in your line of sight and in the forefront of your mind.

Every time you experience a new NSV, write it out on a post it note and hang it where you can see it. I always suggest the bathroom mirror because chances are, you’re looking in at least 2x per day!

As you start to see a plethora of sticky notes filling up space on your mirror, you can feel proud of your progress even when the scale isn’t moving as fast or as much as you want. (Inevitably that is going to happen.)

Set Realistic Expectations Before Surgery:

How Much and How Fast Can You Expect to Lose?

3. Make a List of WHY You Started the Journey

Long before you have your surgery, sit down and write out all the reasons you want to lose weight. Write down the significance that long term weight loss will give you, not just the amount of weight you hope to lose.

When you focus on the why, the how is easy. But as you start losing a significant amount of weight, the why very often gets forgotten.

If you get frustrated with your progress you can pull out your list of “why” to get your head back in the game.

4. Set Behavioral Goals vs Outcome Goals

  • Behavioral goals are things you have direct control over.
  • Outcome goals are based on the end result of a series of behaviors.

"I want to lose weight" is an outcome goal. It’s a result of a series of behaviors you have control over.

Similarly, “I want to go to Hawaii” is an outcome goal. To get there, a number of behaviors have to happen first:

Save money. Buy a ticket. Get time off of work. Pack the suitcase. Get a ride to the airport. Etc., etc. If you always talk about wanting to go to Hawaii and never take the behavioral steps necessary, you’ll never get there.

And the same is true of weight loss.

Make your goals about good habits that you have control over:

  • Drink 64oz water every day
  • Eat fruit when you crave sweets
  • Bring lunch to work
  • Grocery shop once a week


  • Meal prep for 3 days at a time
  • Use small utensils and dishes
  • Take small bites
  • Eat mindfully

Weight loss will inevitably follow. It's much easier to stay motivated when you know you have control.

5. Trade Shame for Love

Shift your thinking.

It’s easier to eat well and exercise when you love your body and want to take care of it, versus doing so because you hate it and wish it were different.

These are 2 VERY DIFFERENT mindsets. Think about it.

Preparing For Bariatric Surgery:
How to Stay Motivated Long Term--> The Takeaway

Without ongoing motivation it’s really impossible to stay the course long term.

Weight loss is a moving target.

Decide how you’ll stay motivated well ahead of time:

  • Buy a blank notebook to keep track of non-scale victories
  • Post your non-scale victories where you can see them
  • Make a list of why you started the journey
  • Set behavioral goals vs outcome goals
  • Trade shame for love

Like This Info? Allow Me to Join You on Your Journey!
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