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Life After Surgery

Surgery marks the beginning of a journey that will change your body and your life. But surgery alone will not transform you. After surgery, you need to take important steps in order to achieve your long-term goals. Sanford’s team supports you the entire way, recognizing lifelong success relies on five key areas: eating habits, exercise, attitude, stress management and care of spirit.

Eating habits and nutrition

Having proper nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Follow these tips to help change your eating habits after surgery.

  • Restrict portions to the size recommended.
  • Stop eating when satisfied or as soon as you have eaten the recommended portion size.
  • Eat slowly over a period of 20 minutes and chew small bites thoroughly.
  • Avoid drinking 30 minutes before or after meals. Sip unlimited water throughout the day.
  • Don’t overeat out of kindness to others. Do what’s right for you.
  • Always eat from a small plate and use small utensils to help ensure small portions.

Nutrition counseling for weight loss surgery

Sanford’s bariatric dietitian visits are designed to help you fully prepare for healthy eating before and after surgery. In addition to practical steps and valuable information, you’ll build confidence to ensure future success.

Individualized registered dietitian visits will be made available to you at six weeks post-surgery and again at between nine and 12 months. You are always able to visit our dietitian, as needed, who will gladly answer any questions you may have.

Back To Basics classes are held quarterly throughout the year. These two hour classes help weight loss surgery patients get back to basics and are taught by the bariatric nurse practitioner, bariatric nurse coordinator and our bariatric dietitian.


The start of a new life generates great excitement, but please know that fatigue after surgery is to be expected. It’ll likely take several weeks for your strength to return and for your body to heal. But exercise is the key to getting the best possible results form your surgery.

Following surgery, many patients have found it works well to gradually movie into a daily walking habit to regain strength. Below are tips to get you started on an exercise plan.

  • Begin with short distances and congratulate yourself for taking this very important step.
  • Within two months after surgery, try to exercise four hours per week.
  • If walking is your chosen exercise, strive for a brisk 50-minute walk (without stopping) six times a week. A goal of walking three miles in 45 to 50 minutes is recommended.
  • Make exercise fun. Participate in new activities like swimming or an exercise class.
  • A well-designed exercise program can help you safely reach and maintain a healthy fitness level, decrease your risk for a variety of serious health problems and improve your ability to cope with stress.


Having a good attitude and committing to healthy living each day will help you reach and maintain your wellness goals. Some days after surgery may be harder than others. Below are some tips to help keep a positive attitude.

  • Focus on your strengths and emphasize them. What do you do well? What do you enjoy?
  • Set realistic and achievable goals, and make reasonable plans for reaching them.
  • Engage in meaningful work, activities and connections with people. Spend time doing what brings you joy.
  • Focus on positive thoughts and wee out those negative activities and obligations

Click here to view Sanford Weight Loss Surgery Support Groups hear you.

Stress management

Keeping stress levels in check after surgery will help keep you focused on your long-term goals. Research shows that excessive ongoing stress is linked to weight gain. Below are some tips to help keep your stress levels in check 

  • Pay attention to your stress level. When you notice symptoms of stress, such as headache, tense muscles, fidgety sleep or snapping at loved ones, step back and take a deep breath.
  • Set limits. Learn to balance the needs of others with your own. Learn to say "no" to those things that interfere with your goals.
  • Know ahead of time what you will do when a food urge strikes, whether it's an urge for a specific problem food or a desire to binge. Come up with workable plans of action so you can successfully deal with these moments.
  • Get adequate sleep. When you feel refreshed and alert, you're better able to tackle problems.

Care of the spirit

Everyone desires peace of mind, but how do you get it? Religious practices, meditation, prayer and journaling are just a few ways to care for your spirit.

Back To Basics class

Click here to search for a Sanford Weight Loss Surgery Program Back To Basics class. This quarterly class is for anyone who has had weight loss surgery and may be struggling to lose or maintain weight loss, or for those who want to get back to basics after surgery. A number of topics will be reviewed and discussed during the class, including:

  • Back to basics after surgery
  • Diet guidelines
  • Eating tips, tricks and hints
  • Mindful eating
  • Emotional eating
  • Physical activity
  • Motivation and personal accountability

Classes are led by the bariatric nurse practitioner, bariatric nurse coordinator and bariatric dietitian.

Helpful resources

Click here to find out more about weight loss surgery, use these trusted sites and this list of frequently asked questions.

Metabolic and bariatric supplement information

Important vitamins and minerals

Bariatric vitamin FAQ