Category Archives: support

Success Breeds Success!

Success breeds success
Mia Hamm


Who doesn’t like a little pat on the back once in a while. Heck, who would not like one every day!  It is nice to be recognized for an achievement. It gives us a little energy boost, a bit of extra motivation to keep going, to try harder, to overcome obstacles.

Successful leaders know recognition is an important part of keeping a team going.  In fact, according to the book How Full is Your Bucket,  the number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

So, who is the CEO of your well-being?  Who is the leader of your weight loss journey?  YOU!  As a smart leader, who knows you do not want to quit your weight loss goal,  how often to do you recognize your achievements?

It can feel self-serving to recognize our own achievements.  However, research consistently shows that self-criticism lowers the chance of reaching a goal. Since finding our faults can be a knee-jerk reaction, we need to make it easier to recognize what is going well or we might automatically end up focus only on what is NOT going well.

Here are tips for making this most effective:

  1. Make it easy.  Keep a daily accomplishments list on something easy to access, such as on your phone or in your daily calendar.  Every day jot down at least one accomplishment.  Whether it is exercising that day, or eating a vegetable, give yourself credit for the achievement.
  2. In the moment.  As soon as you notice an achievement, no matter how small, jot it down so you don’t forget.  (enjoy that pat on the back!)
  3. Be specific.  Instead of just saying “good job”, note exactly what you did.  You might even make a special note if you overcame a challenge in that achievement.  For example, “I did my strength training routine, even though I was tired after work. I felt so much better after!”.
  4. Connect it with the bigger goal.  The more you connect what you are doing with why you are doing it, the more you harness the energy of this goal for you.  For example “I exercised after work giving me more energy for playing with my kids, and that is why I want to lose weight, to have energy to play with my kids”.

When looking back on this list, you will find you have a record of what works well for you.  This is like finding gold in times when you are struggling, looking for ways to get back on track.

I challenge you to try it for a few days, see how it goes for you. (Give yourself credit for at least trying it). Let me know how it goes!

Keep Moving, Be Well


Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.



1 Comment

by | October 18, 2016 · 3:36 pm

September Post-Bariatric Surgery Support Group


Leave a comment

by | August 17, 2016 · 6:13 pm

May Post-Bariatric Surgery Support Group


Leave a comment

by | April 21, 2016 · 6:05 pm

Life After Weight Loss Surgery – Patient Perspective 2


I weighed in at my heaviest just after graduating with my Master’s in Education. I knew it was time for a serious life change. I started with small changes and ended up dropping just over 30lbs. It was great and I felt better, but realized I didn’t want this to be like all my other yoyo diets. I needed another tool.

I had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy done in July of 2015. I’m just over six months out now. Lots of people knew but I didn’t widely publicize it. First let me start by saying, no I did not choose the easy way out, nothing about this process is easy. No one wakes up one day and says hey, let me just cut open my body and take out most of my stomach, that’ll be a quick fix. Seriously, no one does that.

I am a recovering binge eater who additionally had incredibly unhealthy habits that I am working hard to overcome. Having a tiny stomach helps, it’s one of the many tools in my box. Unfortunately, I still struggle with my eating disorder, I probably always will. However, I now know how incredibly painful it is to binge eat with a tiny tummy so I try to avoid that as much as possible.

I am very excited to say that I am now officially down 100lbs from my heaviest weight back in May 2014!  I am NOT an expert; I just know what has helped me. Here are some of the many things that I have learned on my journey in no particular order.

  1. Make one small change at a time that you can live with, forever. Changing too many things at once was always a recipe for disaster.
  2. It has to be a lifestyle change or it will all come back, plus some… I did it many times.
  3. High protein, low carbs, low sugar. If you really want it, eat it. Moderation is key. If you are a binge eater and seriously can’t control yourself, know your triggers. I cannot keep cookies in my house. I WILL eat them, ALL of them.
  4. Measure your food; it’s amazing to see what a “portion” looks like. Be honest with yourself about what you are actually eating. Start a food journal, or use an app. You don’t have to share it with the world, but don’t lie to yourself. Write in EVERYTHING. Did you really need that entire box of chocolates? No, probably not. The difference is I don’t lie to myself about what I’m eating or drinking. I’m making a conscious decision about what I’m putting into my body.
  5. Meal prep with healthy things you like. Start small, you don’t need to plan your whole week. That’s overwhelming in the beginning.
  6. Have a somewhat boring diet. I don’t mean eat gross things that aren’t appealing. I eat basically the same thing all the time. I know what’s in it nutritionally and I enjoy it. Yes, I occasionally venture outside of my typical foods. However, I also know that if I don’t let myself have what I want then I will binge eat. I have learned my triggers.
  7. DO NOT reward yourself with food. You are not a dog. Find something else that makes you feel nice. This was incredibly important for me to learn. It was one of those major light bulb moments. Now I save money for fun experiences when I reach a certain goal.
  8. Don’t get on the scale constantly. It can have way too much control over your life. Focus on how clothes fit, and how your body feels. Don’t let the numbers control you, it’s way harder than it sounds. Who knew 3 little numbers had so much power? I wish I cared more about the numbers on in my bank account that that scale.
  9. Exercise. I know that word sounds terrible and scary, but it really just means move your body more. Start with small steps like parking further away, or going for a walk between episodes on TV… Find something you enjoy. If you don’t like it you won’t keep doing it. I started running. – I know, you can’t picture it. I couldn’t either – I also started strength training. I am so thankful to my coworker who suggested it.
  10. Know your support system. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive. I am forever thankful for their support. Also, build a supportive circle of people who you aren’t necessarily close to such as on social media. Family and friends can be a great support, but can also say things that don’t help but hurt. Having an outside network of supporters is incredibly helpful.
  11. Set realistic goals, you don’t need some daunting monster goal hanging over you. Lots of short small ones. You’ll feel accomplished and keep going. There is nothing worse than feeling as if you failed yourself.
  12. Don’t tell people what you’re doing. Suddenly everyone is an expert and trying to “help” you. Initially tell the people who mean the most to you, whom you feel would support you, or whose support you feel you need. Other than that, people don’t need to know until you feel like no one can stop the path you are on.
  13. Learn to say no. I promise it will help. No to yourself, no to others. No is a complete sentence and doesn’t require an explanation.
  14. Instead of saying I don’t have time, try telling yourself that it isn’t a priority. See how it makes you feel. Sometimes I’m OK with it. Other times I realize that I should be a priority and I need to make time. There is always something we can cut back on. Maybe it’s scrolling mindlessly through social media?
  15. Make sure you have a good reason, something that you are fighting for. If you keep that in mind then it makes it so much easier. Mine is that I want to be healthy enough to have children and raise them. I want to be around long enough to watch them have children. I’m going to do anything I can to be healthy for that possibility.
  16. If you post comparison pictures, try to brand them in some way. People will undoubtedly use them to sell their stuff. Yes, it has happened to me. On that same note, take lots of pictures. Don’t delete all the ones you don’t like how you look, you don’t need to show them to anyone. It’s helpful to look back and see the change when you are feeling like a failure for one reason or another. There have been plenty of days when I felt like I wasn’t making as much progress as I wanted, or as quickly as I wanted it. I look back at my pictures and am always shocked.
  17. Think about what you are scared of in the process. Is it failure? It could happen, but you could also succeed. Is it how much money you will spend being healthy? You might be surprised. Better food is more expensive. However, I eat less of it. I also pay significantly less medical bills because of how sick I used to get. Yes, clothing is expensive. Clothes tend to get cheaper the smaller you are, unless you are into name brands. Is it excess skin? Skin has some elasticity, but we are being real honest here… Yes, I have excess skin. Yes, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. However, I can tell you that I am way more comfortable in my own skin than I have been in years. What is scaring you away from trying? Is that you might actually be successful and don’t know what to do when you are? I know, strange concept, but I was really scared of that. Take a leap of faith, you can do this.
  18. This one is important. I would say the most important – Love yourself and be proud of yourself at every stage of your journey. I can’t even begin to explain how important this part was for me.

This journey has been a crazy one, and my lifestyle has completely changed. I eat healthy, and honestly unhealthy food doesn’t even sound that appealing to me anymore. I do active things for fun now and am looking forward to doing so many more. I feel healthy and have energy at the end of the day now. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I may look different and lead a different lifestyle but, I’m still 100% me, sarcasm and all. Just a lighter, healthier version of me. I am still very much a work in progress, but that will never change.

Thank you to the patient who submitted this post – if you would like to share your perspective after weight loss surgery, email me

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Keep Moving, Be Well


Leave a comment

by | April 13, 2016 · 3:40 pm

How to Set Successful Exercise Goals

goals 3This time of year it is common to see all kinds of advice on goal setting.  As I read through the articles though, I realize there are some unique aspects of setting physical activity goals for weight loss.Goal setting is important.  There is a science to goal setting that increases the chances of success:

A study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, found three factors that increased success:
1. Written Goals:  Those who wrote their goals accomplished 50% more of their goals than those who did not write their goals.  Use the format below to write down your goals.
2. Shared Goals: those who told a friend about their goal accomplished more.
3. Accountability:    A regular check in with another person increased rates of success .  This does not need to be complicated, a simple text to an accountability buddy would work.

This is also supported by a recent study by our own Sherry Pagoto, PhD on using social media for support and accountability.

In the last support group meeting we chatted about the SMARTER acronym for goal setting.  The SMARTER system is a very useful formula for increasing the chances of success.  While there are several variations of this method, I find there are specific ways to make it most powerful for exercise and weight loss goals.
Specific – The more specifics in the way the goal is stated, the more chance your mind will stay focused on the goal. Goals that are vague are difficult for the mind to maintain focus on.   The nice part about exercise goals is we can get very specific.  What is one thing you can start doing regularly right now for physical activity that will have an impact on your weight goal?  Now make it as specific as possible, including the when, where, how’s.  IE:  I will walk every day for 15 minutes after work, I will do these three  stretches for my back every morning before breakfast, I will do these 6 strength training exercises every other day at 7pm after dinner, one set of 15 repetitions each.  Include in these specifics who will be your accountability buddy.What will I specifically start doing for physical activity?  Is this measurable?  Who will keep me accountable on this goal?
Meaningful – Why are you setting this goal?  Why do you want to do strength training, walk, stretch?   State what is important about it more that just to lose weight.    Make the connection between why you are exercising and the real underlying reason you want to be at a certain weight.  This taps into your natural lasting motivation.   I want to be able to play with my kids, be more independent, be around for my grand-kids, be more effective at my job, keep my home clean, feel good about myself when I get dressed.   The more important the “why” is to you, the more motivation you will have for the specific actions you need to take to reach your goals.Why is this goal important to me?
Achievable – Success is motivating.  Setting goals that are just within reach creates enough of a challenge to keep interest in them, but not too overwhelming to drain motivation.  I find most people set an exercise goal that is way to big to start.  We tend to need more practice with setting the small goals.    If you have a big goal,  set it as a long-term goal for one to five years from now.  Chip away a  much smaller version of that for a very short term 3 month goal.  Three months is long enough to achieve something but short enough to make it urgent.
How confident are you that you can achieve this goal?  If your confidence is low, go back and chip away some more until you come up with a goal you feel confident about achieving.
Relevant – This step reminds us to look at our goals in terms of what is important to us.  When our goals match with what we really want more of in life, the motivation to stick with them is easier.   Make your exercise program very specific to what you want to be able to do in the future.  Create a program that is training you for what you want to do in the future – kayak, ski, dance, climb stairs, get up and down off the floor.   When you are in training for your healthy future, you are as motivated as an athlete with his eye on the goal medal.How will this exercise plan train me for what I really want to do more of in life?
Time-Bound –  Start today!  Not on Monday or the first of the month.    Motivation will not be stronger later.  Waiting only reinforces the procrastination habit.  If you set goals with meaning and relevance, you won’t want to wait to start . So if you are tempted to put it off, it is a sure sign it is too overwhelming or not meaningful enough. Go back to the first steps and create a goal you cannot wait to start.   If there is some prep work like joining a gym or getting new sneakers make those the first goals, but still make your actual start date today.    Write the three-month end date on your calendar as well as on the top of your written goals.  This will be a reminder each time you look at them. My three-month goal date is______________?  In order to get there, today I will __________________________.
Evaluate Every Day – This daily check in will keep you close to your goal.  Again, goals that are set on meaning and relevance to your life are a tool for maintaining motivation. Review your goal every day to keep you focused on why you are making efforts.  With exercise goals especially it is easy to let a week or two go by without exercise.  Daily reminder will prevent them from becoming an after thought thgoals 4at just leaves you feeling guilty.  Evaluate in a way that you are observing  what works and what gets in the way without judging.  Simply notice what is going well and where you need some extra support. Keep it quick and easy so you can stick with this important step in the process.How will I evaluate this goal each day?  How will I include my accountability buddy in this evaluation process?
Readjust – The evaluating step leads into this.  As you learn what is working and what is not, re-adjusting will be needed.  We take our best guess on goals.  Learning only lets us be more specific and realistic.  Reworking the goal based upon what you learn is not a cop-out, it is a “smarter” way to achieve your true goals.


Wishing you a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Keep Moving, Be Well


If you know someone interested in weight loss surgery, forward this link to the Weight Center website and online orientation video

If you’re in the process of preparing for weight loss surgery at the Weight Center and have questions about your status or next steps, call 774-443-3886

If you’ve had weight loss surgery at the Weight Center and you’re due for a follow up appointment with one of our providers, call 774-443-3886 or email to

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Leave a comment

Filed under Barriers, Goals, Holidays, Inspiration, Motivation, Success, support, Weight Loss

Keep Moving Through the Season

time changeIt’s that transition week.  The week that we have to adjust to the changes in daylight and nighttime hours.

How does this affect your exercise motivation?

Living in New England,  late fall and winter can be the most challenging time to stay active.

So… What is the plan this year? 

What did you learn from last year about what worked, and what did not work?

As we do with all the changing seasons – I invite you to write down your plan and share it with someone.

Feel free to email it to me, or post it in comments.

We have had a bit of a bonus this year with the lovely weather these past weeks.  Lets take advantage of it and make the plan now so we are ready when the you know what starts falling.

spring trainingKeep in mind, this is spring training! We have the next four months to train for an awesome active spring!

I look forward to hearing all the creative ways you plan on spring training this year.

Here is an article on how Mindfulness can help boost motivation.

Keep Moving, Be Well




Leave a comment

by | November 5, 2015 · 9:37 pm

Mindful in May



Just a quick post to let you know about Mindful in May global online mindfulness meditation campaign.

What is Mindful in May? It takes just 10 minutes a day to bring more focus and effectiveness into your daily life. Join a global community of people bringing mindfulness meditation into their lives and making a positive impact on the lives of others.

If you have been hearing about the great benefits of meditation, but need some extra support to make it a habit, this support could help.

Keep Moving, Be Well,



by | April 30, 2015 · 3:50 pm