Total Weight Loss:
I started with a BMI of 42 and 11 months later my BMI is 26.5 as of 08/25/2023
Highest weight: 256
My realistic goal for surgery: I was happy if surgery got me under 200lbs.
Dream weight: 160. Happy to report, I stepped on the scale 08/25 and hit 159
Type of Surgery
What prompted you to look into bariatric surgery?
When I realized that the diet industry is a scam. That diets only temporarily work for a short-term success and not long term. That every meal shake replacement, diets, and diet pills out in the market only regain any weight loss and MORE. The last diet I attempted was Optavia. I remember looking at the "food" and said to myself this can’t be a way of life, this can’t be it for me. I cried so hard and knew this was NOT normal. No person trying to lose weight should eat "meals" out of pouches. We need real food, and it can be achieved with eating real protein!
I was so sick and tired of being so sick and tired. I looked into bariatric surgery and was happy that there was a consultation that I could attend and found that IT WAS MY ANSWER.
How did you decide bariatric surgery was right for you?
It was right for me because I had a lot of excess weight to lose. It's the ONLY way to get it off and keep it off.
How has bariatric surgery made an impact on your life?
It’s been a snowball effect for me. Every part of my life has changed. On 09/22/2022 the old me died and a new version of myself was born. The surgery was a great tool, and it allowed me to have a better life.
My binder/food options set me up for life. I don't have to think about what I can eat and what will fuel my body. It started to make me feel good inside. I started to have more energy, more than I know what to do with. It trickled into my job. As someone who sits in an office from 9-5, I wanted to change that environment, so I invested in a stand up desk. I use my lunch and breaks to do walking.
My relationship at home with my family changed. I am more outgoing and confident. I feel that I want to do more activities outside the home. I find myself stepping outside my comfort zone by doing hikes at our local parks, swimming, going to the beach, jumping on a trampoline, painting, traveling, and hosting get togethers. I now just say YES to everything and push myself to new adventures! On weekends when the downtime can be a struggle, I find cheap/easy projects to do. I am not a crafty person, but I enjoy small projects like re-lining my cabinets, sanding and re-creating side tables from garage sales, cleaning/organizing boxes, and color coordinating my clothes. I find fun things to do all the time! I am that girl on a yoga board down a river because I no longer am afraid of how others perceive me.
This also led to skincare. I was feeling good inside and mentally. I wanted my skin to feel healthy. I found an amazing skincare regimen that now my skin is glowing! Before I didn't wear much makeup or did any self-care. I find it fun and feel youthful again.
This led to changes in packing food for work. I didn't want to warm things up in plastic anymore. I didn't like the smell and taste it left, so I invested in glass tupperware and found that leftovers in nicer glass containers made me eat my food and not thinking about picking something else up.
I can go on flights and NOT ask for an extender; you know how cool that is!? I now hand out mini chocolate bags for the crew instead of getting an extender.
I am finally that mom. That mom that wants to be seen around my daughter's school, a mother that wants to take photos (you know how many years I skipped out on because I didn't like the way I looked), a mother who has energy to run and play soccer. To volunteer for school events. I no longer hide anymore. Being so involved with my daughter is the biggest reward!
Do you know how many weddings, graduations, family reunions I have missed? Many/most because I didn't want anyone I know to talk about my weight or see how big I was. Now, I am attending everywhere I can and will NOT miss out on anything again.
Neighbors- I shared my story and photos to my Facebook group in the neighborhood and have organized nightly walks, even if it's a quick 30 mins. The old me WOULD HAVE NEVER reached out to strangers and have done anything like this.
Confidence and energy are the 2 biggest things coming out of surgery. I don't mind or care about loose skin. It makes me feel proud to look at, knowing the hard work I did to get here!
**THE BIGGEST ANSWER YET**
This has led to a passion I didn’t know I had inside. I have made it my life mission to spread awareness of obesity, mental health and bariatric surgery to all around me. I will use my social media to post meals, hacks, and share my personal journey. I want to work on organizing a bariatric 5k walk/run. I want to share my story, and I want all to join who had surgery or thinking about surgery and gather. I see myself creating a simple cookbook for all meals and snacks of the day. I am in the early stages of trying to create my own powder electrolytes (This is a huge part of my every day, drinking electrolytes. I can't believe how many problems I feel like it solves). I see myself going places because of this surgery. I am forever grateful and indebted to Dr. Aquilina.
What is your advice to someone who is thinking about bariatric surgery or someone who is looking for options for significant weight loss?
Just do it. The days of yo-yo dieting are over. If you are looking for a permanent change, this is the way to go. The program guides you for the rest of your life. Stop spending money on gimmicks. Nothing works out there in the market- long term. This is the MOST sanist way of getting back your life!!
Tell us about your experience with Advanced Surgical Partners of Virginia.
It really began with my consultation to be honest. Meeting with the surgeon at my first appointment and thoroughly going through my options was very easy. Dr Aquilina spoke with me in such a way that I really could understand what the surgery/process entails.
Meeting with the nurse practitioner before my surgery was always fun. She celebrated with me with all the life changes that I was making to be ready for surgery. Her enthusiasm was such a breath of fresh air. She always provided advice, guidance, and options.
Meeting with the dietician/nutritionist in the office was a great experience. I came in really intimidated, scared, and was worried about being judged. I never once felt that way! The nutritionist really sat down with me, and we went over the food phases that I will be facing after surgery. We discussed food in such detail. I learned portions, healthy food preparations and options, went over recipes, snack options.
She prepared me for hitting daily water goals, protein goals, vitamins. She really educated me, and I felt so prepared after our appointments. I really was able to be vulnerable about the lack of knowledge I had, and she really made every effort to walk me through everything. The biggest tip I got from her was don't be afraid to pack your measuring cup with you at all times. Sounds small, but you have no idea how many times I went out to dinner after work and would take out my measuring cup and measure out my meals. She made sure that at all times stay on your measuring portion and that will keep me accountable.
The physician assistant was the most important/significant person at the office. She has a tough love approach, and you can tell she is very committed to my success. I met with her after my surgery a few times, and she really made sure that I was on track. I was able to discuss any issues or concerns, and she always had a game plan. She is a great listener and very caring. My biggest tip I got from her was watch your 30-minute time. Do not drink or eat unless 30 minutes has gone by. When she said 30 minutes, she meant 30 minutes on the dot.
The pre-Op/2-week liver class was one of the most important sessions I had in the program. I enjoyed going over everything we had learned in the 4 months’ time frame. We discussed a lot of surgery aftercare which was very helpful. She went through how we would be feeling, what they would be doing to help, and what we can do to help ourselves. I have to mention this because something stuck out. She said, when you have surgery, just remember to walk, walk, walk. Walking would be the way to get the gas pain out and get our bodies moving and circulating. She said don't be alarmed to see me in the hospital and in your room getting your rears up. I remember thinking, there is no way she would do that or remember me…Well, next day after surgery, she was in my room checking on me and getting me to walk and sip on that water! (thank you for that) By the time I hit surgery, I felt so PREPARED. I felt OVER prepared at this point.
Tell us about your overall experience with bariatric surgery.
Extremely happy! This was my second chance at life, and now I am living my best life in being my most authentic version of myself.