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Weight Expectations after Bariatric Surgery

By Michelle May, M.D.

ExpectationsUnfortunately, we live in a weight-focused culture, which is one of the reasons people consider bariatric surgery. After bariatric surgery, the focus on weight typically increases even further due to weight expectations.

Expectations are the shoulds: I should lose x amount of weight. I should do this. I should feel that. My life should be different now. And so on. Sometimes the expectations come from the outside, such as, “You should weigh x by now.” Expectations can lead to feelings of uncertainty, disappointment, guilt, shame, and fear.

A common source of weight expectations is comparison to other post-bariatric surgery patients. Comparing yourself to others (about anything!) is problematic. It can lead to feelings of concern, disappointment, jealousy, and overeating. Remember that everybody is different and different people respond differently to bariatric surgery and changes in diet and exercise—and that’s normal.

Mindfulness takes the focus off expectations about what should be happening, and puts you in the present moment—what is happening right now—instead. When you notice the “weight” of expectations leading to doubt, choose to release your expectations and, when needed, gently disarm the expectations of others.

Focus on your moment to moment decisions by using the Mindful Eating Cycle to guide you. Continue to follow-up regularly with your bariatric team for guidance about diet, exercise, adjustments (for band patients), realistic weight loss goals, and other recommendations. You may also find it helpful to enlist the support of your network including family, friends, bariatric surgery support team, support groups, and mental health professionals. Make this a personal journey, uniquely yours to experience.

(From Workshop 4 of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery Program and Workbook.)

What other weight-related expectations or other shoulds do you have? What are you doing to cope with them?


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Pru Grand says:

    looking forward to going to a workshop in new england. i love this philosophy. i am a meditater so i hope to combine approaches

  2. Nancy Brice says:

    When is the next webinar for Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery going to be held? I tried to use the portal but it took me to a webinar that was held this past spring.

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