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5 Reasons I Never Reached Onederland and What You Can Do Differently

5 Reasons I Never Reached Onederland and What You Can Do Differently

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      What is Onederland?

      Feet on a digital scale.
      Onderland refers to the magic moment when the scale reads a number starting with 1.

      For those who need to lose a large amount of weight, Onederland is an extraordinary milestone. For most of us, before we decided to have bariatric surgery, we spent several years looking at a scale number that begins with 2, 3, or even 4 or 5. Onederland refers to that fantastic moment when you step on a scale, and the first number is ONE, as in, 199 pounds! Of course, this is likely not your ultimate goal weight, but the idea of weighing under 200 pounds has been a dream for most of us, and it is a cause for celebration when you reach it. That is if you reach it.

      You see, some of us never do get to celebrate that moment, because we never achieve it. We are lucky to live in a time where Gastric Bypass is a safe, viable option for those of us who need to lose a lot of weight. However, it is essential to realize that just having the surgery is the first step in a long journey, and even though you can't help but lose weight at the beginning, it is crucial to stay disciplined and put the effort in.

      For some, it can be too easy to see the amount of weight that comes off in the beginning and think it will just continue to come off no matter what you do. This is what I thought, and as a result, I never did make it to Onederland, and in fact, ended up putting much of my lost weight back on.

      Here are five mistakes I made that cost me my opportunity at reaching Onederland, and what you can do differently to avoid them.

      Onederland Mistake #1- Neglecting Physical Activity

      Women using gym equipment.
      Physical activity like stationary biking can help you get closer to Onderland.

      As soon as you are cleared for physical activity, you need to get your body moving. If you are anything like me, moving was actually painful when you were at your heaviest, so physical activity is not exactly your favorite thing to do. Then when you come home from surgery, you are in pain, and just walking can be a sizeable physical chore for many of us.

      You have to get these things out of your mind, though, and start moving.

      Start by finding some activity that gets your body moving for at least 30 minutes per day. It's best if you find something you enjoy doing so that you are more likely to want to continue. Is there an activity you used to enjoy before you were heavy? Start there!

      If not, something as simple as swimming or walking will do the trick. See if you can find a gym with a low-cost membership and make it a point to hit the treadmill and the pool!

      And remember- at the beginning when the weight is coming off quickly is the best time to build these new healthier habits, not a time to sit back and enjoy the automatic weight loss!

      Mistake #2- Inappropriate Water Intake

      Cup being filled with water.
      Drinking plenty of water is vital after weight loss surgery.

      Drinking plenty of water is one of the most natural and most important things we can do to ensure we are maximizing the benefits of our weight loss surgery. Water is an essential part of the healing process after surgery, and staying hydrated will also help with your weight loss because it helps the body work more efficiently overall.

      There is another mistake you can make regarding water intake, however, and it can happen to those who are drinking plenty of water. Remember that you should not be drinking water during meals! Drinking water during meals will work to flush food out of your pouch and into your new digestive system, which can lead to overeating.

      Sometimes the time intervals can vary so ask your doctor, but for the most part, you want to make sure to follow the 30/30 rule: do not drink any water for 30 minutes before or after your meal, in order to make sure you eat an appropriate amount.

      Staying hydrated and not drinking during meals is an essential part of reaching Ondederland.

      Mistake #3- Grazing or Neglecting Your Eating Plan

      Silverware on a plate with a frown drawn on it.
      Following your meal plan is the only way to be successful after weight loss surgery.

      It's usually not too difficult to stick to your eating plan at first, both because we are excited to be improving ourselves, and because it's challenging to eat anything at all early on in the process. However, for many of us, we fantasize about some of the foods we used to eat, and if you're not careful, you will turn those fantasies into realities the moment you're able to.

      I mentioned in a previous article that one question I hate answering from friends who are getting the surgery is "Will I ever be able to eat pizza again?" because it is a perfect example of this pitfall.

      You may think that popcorn, chips, or crackers are relatively harmless, but items like these pack a large number of calories, and because they are so small you can potentially eat hundreds of extra calories in a sitting if you're not careful.

      It's the same thing with grazing. Every time you hit up the fridge or the pantry for a snack, those are extra calories you are consuming. Munching throughout the day may seem harmless, but you have to realize that that is the OLD you finding a new way to overeat since your pouch won't let you do it in a single sitting anymore.

      To stay on track for reaching Onederland, keep snacks out of the house, and stick to the diet plan your nutritionist gave you.

      Mistake #4- Drinking Carbonated Beverages

      Empty Coca-Cola bottle.
      It is best to avoid carbonated beverages after weight loss surgery to avoid keeping weight on.

      Carbonated drinks like soda can not only keep you from reaching Onederland, but they can be downright dangerous to your health!

      Here are some ways that carbonated beverages put gastric bypass patients at risk:

      • Carbonated beverages are often very high in sugar and calories.
      • Carbonated beverages cause gas pains, which can mask symptoms of more serious health problems.
      • Many carbonated drinks contain acids which may lead to gastric erosion.

      In all honesty, carbonated beverages should be a thing of the past for gastric bypass patients. They have almost no positive nutritional value, and they likely played a large role in gaining your weight, to begin with.

      As far as I'm concerned, carbonated beverages and Onederland do not go hand-in-hand.

      Mistake #5- Drinking Alcohol

      Bottles of alcohol.
      Avoiding alcohol is necessary after weight loss surgery.

      For many people, this Onederland mistake could have probably been combined with the "carbonated beverages" section, but for me, alcohol was a category all on its own.

      First of all, there are nutritional issues with alcohol. As you probably already know, alcohol is full of calories while not containing any nutritional value whatsoever.

      On top of that, alcohol reaches the bloodstream much faster, because most of the absorption of the alcohol occurs in the small intestines instead of the stomach as it does on a non-gastric bypass patient.

      From a weight-loss and safety perspective, these are reason enough to avoid alcohol after weight-loss surgery.

      But here's a more sobering fact, according to a recent study, "People who undergo a gastric bypass procedure... are three times more likely than those in the general population to die of drug- or alcohol-related causes."

      According to Dr. John Morton, Chief of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Yale School of Medicine:

      "The effect is purely physiological, not psychological... gastric bypass surgery removes 95% of the stomach. Alcohol receptors exist in the stomach and the liver, so by removing so much of the stomach, people lose the first pass at metabolizing alcohol."

      For me, this meant drinking alcohol felt good, fast. I hadn't had this kind of instant gratification since I could overeat, and as soon as I felt it, I never looked back. I regret the day I first tried to drink alcohol after my surgery because it was the beginning of a years-long mistake that leads to addiction transfer and full-blown alcoholism.

      As soon as I started drinking again, I stopped losing weight and eventually began gaining weight back. If I had to pick one reason why I never reached Onederland, this is it- alcohol.

      Eventually, I would go on to gain about 65% of my weight back and even had to go to rehab to quit my alcohol dependence. This was a challenging time for my family and me, and it was completely avoidable.

      And wouldn't you know it- as soon as I left rehab, the weight came peeling off again! Within four months of quitting alcohol, I lost 50% of the weight I had put back on, and I feel healthier than ever.

      If you want to reach Onederland, stay away from alcohol. There are zero benefits and nothing but risks!

      Don't Take Onederland for Granted

      If there is one lesson I learned in all of this (besides staying away from alcohol), it's not to take Onederland for granted.

      It's a big milestone for a reason; it takes work to get there. Simply having bariatric surgery is not enough. You have to stay dedicated to your new diet and lifestyle, and you have to make it part of your routine forever.

      Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes. I know I am, and I can't wait to write an article about actually reaching Onederland one day.

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        Jose Grimaldo


        Jose Grimaldo, Jr. is a former high school teacher turned freelance writer who had gastric bypass surgery in 2014. He loves sharing his experiences - positive and negative - with BariBuilder readers.