Me alone now

It has been awhile since we had a nice dose of motivation on here. And what better way to kick of the holiday season than with a patient spotlight story of someone who transformed her life?!

Maggy puts it best when she says, “One of the best things to come of this is that I’m now in a position to help other people.”

Weight loss surgery does not happen in a vacuum. You will make life long friendships with your team at WeightWise and the people you confide in at support group. They will help pull you through hard times and you will help lift them up and motivate others toward their goals.

Since we are on the brink of a difficult few months of weight loss (or weight loss maintenance) during the holiday season, I hope you find some motivation in our Patient Spotlight with Maggy’s story. 

Patient Spotlight: Maggy

Years ago, when I was having trouble remembering to put my seat belt on when I got in my car, a friend told me, “From now on, when you get into the car, the first thing you’ll think to yourself is ‘How much do I love them?’ and you won’t be able to stop yourself. Putting on your seatbelt will just be part of getting in the car now.”  As crazy as that seems, she was right. It was like a post hypnotic suggestion, and every time I got in the car after that, I thought “How much do I love them?” until I didn’t have to think it anymore…putting on that seatbelt just became a natural part of my routine.

So, when my son, who’s my best friend, looked at me with tears in his eyes two years ago and told me that his worry for me was causing him to have bad anxiety-related problems, because he couldn’t stop thinking about me and what I was doing to myself, the first thought that came to my mind was “How much do I love him?”. The answer was simple. I didn’t love myself too much at that point—surely not enough to do something to help myself—but my love for him was big enough for both of us. I had to do something drastic to take the weight off his shoulders and mine!

Me – biggest (2)

Maggy was close to 400lb before her surgery with constant pain in her knees and back.

Two years before this, as I inched toward 400 lbs, could no longer walk without a cane or walker, and was taking strong opioid medication at least twice a day for constant pain, my family doctor tried to convince me to have weight loss surgery and referred me to WeightWise. Knowing I’d have to pay out of pocket, since my insurance doesn’t cover it, I blew him off and continued dieting, as I’d done for the past 30 years, convinced that if I just stuck with it, I could lose the weight on my own. (What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Ha!) So, I found the link I’d saved, watched the required video, answered the required questions, made my appointment, and figured out a way I could pay for the surgery by taking a loan on my 401K and refinancing my home.

One of the things that impressed me from the start is how comprehensive WeightWise’s program is. I’m a researcher, so it was only natural for me to not only check them out but look up similar clinics across the country. What I found out astounded me! We are incredibly lucky to live here and have access to THE most comprehensive weight loss clinic in the country. No other clinic offers a psychologist, a surgeon, a PA, a nutritionist, an exercise expert, a support group, pre-op and post-op classes, and an advocate! I knew right then that I’d made the right decision and vowed to do whatever they told me to do in order to be successful.

Me two days after surgery – pixalated

Maggy had her surgery in February of 2016 and hasn’t looked back since! This photo was taken just 2 days after this life changing operation.

And that’s the key right there—doing exactly as they instruct. Chris, my nutritionist, became my new best friend. When she said to completely cut sugars and starches out of my diet, I did exactly that. The first two weeks were pure misery; I swear, if I’d seen sugar on the floor, I’d have gotten down on my hands and shredded knees and licked it off! But once those initial withdrawals were over, it’s been a breeze. In the five months prior to surgery, I lost 65 lbs., and it came off easily, so the day Dr. Broussard performed the surgery, my liver and other abdominal organs had shrunk enough to make it easier for him to see. He even took the time to correct a duodenal hernia I’d developed!  In the time since surgery (It’ll be two years in February 2018), I’ve learned that my tastes have completely changed, but if I do want something “special,” there are plenty of substitution recipes on the web I can have. I don’t have to cheat! I’ve even learned that I don’t have to miss potatoes, which used to be a major staple in my diet. (Did you know you can cut up regular radishes or chayote squash with some onion and bacon and melt some cheese on top, and it tastes just like a loaded baked potato? Chayote squash is a miracle that also substitutes for apples in my mock apple crisp, when I just have to have dessert.)

FullSizeRender (4)If I have one piece of advice to give people, it’s this:  Understand that weight loss surgery is drastic. You are making a decision that will require special care for your body for the rest of your life—not only from those who help us at WeightWise, but you, yourself, are responsible for that care. While it’s true that in the first year, you can get away with just about anything and still lose weight, if you keep up previous bad behavior, you’ll eventually regain what you’ve lost.  If you make the drastic move to have surgery, please love yourself enough to change your behavior forever; otherwise, you’re only hurting yourself more.  Be accountable to yourself…be accountable to others. The support group really helps me, and I have an online support group that supplements it, so I’m accountable all the time. I weigh every day, though some people say that’s too much for them. So if you’re one of those folks, once a week is probably good enough.

I know this is tough advice to take.  We live in an easy fix society and want easy fix answers. Weight loss surgery isn’t an easy fix. It requires true, life-long dedication. There is a good, medically-based reason that we are told to omit sugar and starches from our diets—most, if not all obese people have metabolic syndrome, and omitting those things conquers that and is the only thing that does. There is an equally medically-based reason we are told to exercise regularly—that’s to help avoid losing muscle mass and gain strength, which can be lost after a drastic weight loss. Finally, it’s vital that we take our vitamin and mineral supplements for life. After weight loss surgery, your body may not absorb enough of certain vitamins and minerals — specifically, iron, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D, so taking these supplements is a must.

It’ll be two years in September 2017 that I changed my way of eating, and in that time, I’ve gone from 385 to 157. My BMI was 68, and now it’s 29. My blood pressure went from an average 180/90 to an average 110/60. I’m no longer pre-diabetic, nor do I have any signs of congestive heart failure anymore. My arthritis no longer leaves me in crippling pain, but is something I can easily live with without medication. I no longer use a cane or a walker—I’m 58, and I can RUN! I even grow my own veggies now in a big garden that I tend all by myself. My son no longer worries himself to death about me, and I no longer hate myself for what I’d done to my body. It’s an entirely new lease on life!  

One of the best things to come of this is that I’m now in a position to help other people. I have several friends who had weight loss surgery around the same time I had it but haven’t had the same success I have. (I’ve seen the many pictures they post on Facebook of themselves holding sugary alcoholic drinks or eating bread, cake or pie.) Recently, I’ve received messages from them asking how I’ve been so successful, and I’m helping them understand why it’s necessary to change how they eat. (Sometimes, a direct comparison helps much more than theory!) Another friend who had surgery years ago and gained all the weight back recently told me that she’s now lost more than she initially lost after surgery, simply by following what she’s seen me do. That’s very gratifying!  The best thing she told me was “I wish my surgeon had had me stop eating starches and sugars. If he had, I’d have never gained the weight back! I love how I’m eating now!” I even have three friends who haven’t had surgery but were somewhat overweight, who have switched to my way of eating and are now nearing or at their weight loss goals!

WeightWise, Dr. B., Chris and the rest of the staff have been the best thing to ever happen to me. I’m so grateful that they and Dr. Walton cared enough to create such a comprehensive program that I can follow for the rest of my life—which will now be much longer, thanks to them and my dedication to following the instructions they’ve laid out! Now, in addition to asking, “How much do I love them,” I add “How much do I love my life?” The answer is “Plenty!”

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