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Bariatric Surgery: How To Set Realistic Goals

Fairy tales usually end with a misty-eyed comment that ‘they all lived happily ever after,’ usually after the hero and heroine just got married in a big ceremony attended by all the kingdom. You know real life’s different though. In real life, Cinderella and Prince Charming would face the same issues every couple deals with like getting on with the in-laws, raising kids and arguing about who should take out the trash.

Bariatric surgery sometimes seems like the stuff of fairy tales. After years of battling with your weight, you’ll have your op and live happily ever after. The weight will slide off, your life will be great and you’ll waltz off into a bright and brilliant future.

Time for a dose of reality. Bariatric surgery promotes weight loss by restricting the amount you can eat or changing how you absorb calories. It makes it much easier to lose weight but it will still take effort on your part.

It’s easier to sustain that effort when you set realistic goals.

Why Does Goal Setting Help?

Setting realistic goals helps you stay on track and not feel defeated on the days when change feels hard.

Setting goals helps because it:

  • Motivates you
  • Maintains your focus
  • Sustains your momentum
  • Encourages you because you can see the progress you’ve made.

How Do You Set Useful Goals?

In 1981, George T Doran, a consultant in Spokane, Washington wrote a paper called, ‘There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives’.

What did he mean? His idea was that the way you set a goal influences how well you achieve it.

Vague, unrealistic, open-ended goals don’t achieve much. That’s why he proposed a more thorough way of developing goals using the acronym SMART.

According to the SMART concept, a goal is meaningful if it is:

  • Specific – define your goal as clearly as you can
  • Measurable – set out how you will measure your progress
  • Achievable – something that stretches you but that you can attain
  • Realistic – Feasible and within reach
  • Timely – set a start date and a deadline to create a sense of urgency.

What Might a SMART Goal Look Like After Bariatric Surgery?

After bariatric surgery, your surgeon, dietitian and exercise physiologist will help you to set realistic goals.

It’s important not to overwhelm yourself with a long list of different goals. Instead, narrow it down to 1 or 2 very important goals and concentrate on those.

Also, try to make your goal something you can attain within 2-3 months. While your overall goal might be to lose 40 kilos, for example, that’s going to take a while and your motivation will gradually fade away. However, if you set a mini goal of losing 5 kilos, you’re likely to be celebrating your success quite soon, giving you an empowering moment as you set another goal.

Example goals after bariatric surgery might be:

  • Exercising for 30 minutes every day starting today and finishing on a set date
  • Achieving a healthy blood pressure at your next GP visit
  • Losing 10 kg in the next 2 months
  • Going down 2 dress sizes before your cousin’s wedding in 6 weeks.

Celebrate Success

So, you set a goal, you worked towards it and now you’ve achieved it. Well done!

Take a moment to recognise your success and celebrate it – but not with food! Rather than a box of chocolates or a meal out, treat yourself to a new outfit, a massage or more gym gear.

Reflect And Set The Next Goal

Look back on how things went with your last goal. What helped you to stay on track? Use those lessons to help you set your next SMART goal for the next stage of your weight loss.

How We Can Help

No bariatric surgeon should perform your surgery then leave you to it. We’d certainly never do that.

After Dr Lockie’s performed your surgery, you’ll receive ongoing support from our multidisciplinary team. Our dietitian and psychologist will help you set goals and celebrate your success as you slim down.


All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.


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