Transforming Lives Through Healthy Weight
Husband and wife honor 10 year anniversary with healthier living through surgical weight loss
It's estimated that 1 of every 3 Americans today is clinically obese. By the year 2030, that number is expected to climb to 1 of every 2. Already, obesity generates an additional $190 billion in U.S. medical spending every year, not to mention immeasurable medical risks for people living with excess weight. Faced with these staggering statistics, we can no longer deny that America has a very serious weight problem.
When diet and exercise don't work, many adults are committing to permanent lifestyle changes to improve their health. For years, Aurora's surgical weight loss experts have been helping people live well through medical and surgical weight loss options. As a recognized Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. Aurora Sinai Medical Center has transformed thousands of lives through healthier weight.
Fred and Becca are two of those lives. This husband-and-wife team, under the care of Thomas Chua, MD, have made a shared commitment to each other and living well.
Over the next few months, we'll follow them on their surgical weight loss journey.
Meet Our Patients
This month, Fred and Becca will celebrate their 10 year wedding anniversary. They consider this moment in time a turning point. "We spent our first 10 years as those people, but we'll spend the next 10 years together as new people."
"I was a very active kid, with dance class, sports and other afterschool events 3-4 nights a week. When you're not getting home until 7 or 8 p.m., it's easy to rely on the convenience of fast food," said Becca. "It became normal for us to eat out almost every weeknight."
"Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, eating out was a treat for most families. Nowadays, more people - even children -- are eating on the go, sometimes 2-3 meals a day. It's all about speed and convenience. At the same time, portion sizes have become very distorted. Most people wouldn't believe how small a 'healthy portion' looks compared to what restaurants are serving. It's shocking to think how easy it is for people to overeat, not just once, but several times a day."
"I'd never tried extreme diets," said Becca. "Instead, I've focused on exercising and reducing the amount of food I eat. But what most people don't understand is that your stomach will demand more and more to fulfill hunger once it gets to a certain size. You are constantly starving and struggling to control your hunger and weight at the same time. I just reached a point where I realized, I can't do that anymore. I need to make a permanent change."
Fred struggled with healthy weight since his teenage years, but then his real challenges began while working third shift. "My routine was eat, sleep, work, exercise. I wasn't really enjoying any kind of life for two years with that regiment. In order to lose weight, I had to starve myself. Even though I lost 100 pounds twice, during different weight loss challenges, I gained it all back. I wasn't happy, which led me to believe I was happier being heavy than being thin."
"I grew up in a 'clean your plate' household," Fred said. "Excess weight has caused health problems for my. One day, I realized that I was starting to share some of the same issues. I thought, 'if we don't make changes now, what will we look like in 20 years? Will we still be here?'"
Making the Commitment
"I'd seen people go through surgical weight loss and I was inspired by their success," said Becca. "It was remarkable to see such dramatic life changes, even during the first three months after surgery. This really got me thinking." After agreeing to move forward, Fred and Becca attended a bariatrics seminar led by Dr. Chua at Aurora Sinai. They were immediately impressed by what they learned.
"We didn't even look at any other options," said Becca. "How could you go wrong with someone credited as the pioneer of bariatric surgery? That's a pretty prestigious reputation to compete with."
"Originally, I was hell-bent on gastric bypass," said Becca. "But after research, I came to a different conclusion. Through Adjustable Band surgery, the size of the stomach is reduced, so it won't need so much food to be sustained. We can consume the healthy foods we want, in smaller portions, on a regular basis and maintain our target weights. We won't have to starve myself to feel satisfied."
Learning to Choose Well
"Surgical weight loss is more than a one-time procedure. It's a series of permanent lifestyle changes and the surgery is just one of many items in the series," said Fred. "It's a lot of work to get ready. But after months of coaching, I now know that my mind and body can maintain a healthy lifestyle."
"Through our experience, I have a whole new understanding of what a meal is vs. what society has come to accept as the 'new normal' sized meals. Many people laugh at nutritional labels, because they're reading them after choosing and eating poorly. But if you read them carefully, you'll learn that a burger and fries is more than just one meal. It might be your total calorie consumption for an entire day."
"People often don't realize the process that you have to go through to qualify for weight loss surgery," said Becca. "You have to prove yourself for nine months of lifestyle changes and measurable improvements. You have to completely change your life before you are ever scheduled for surgery. And surgery is just a tool - not an instant fix. The surgery won't prevent me from gaining weight in the future. Just like anyone on any diet plan, how you use the tools will determine your success. I realize I can still fail, but I also own my results if I'm dedicated to succeeding."
Inspiring Others to Act
"I'm not doing this surgery because I want to be 160 lbs. and cut," said Fred. "I'm doing this so my back and knees don't hurt. I'm doing this to undo a lifetime of damage to my stomach that has to be fixed. You can sit on the couch and do nothing, or you can get out there and try your options. You can get busy living or you can get busy dying. There is no in-between."
"We're not out to impress anyone with looks or appearance," said Becca. "This is all to improve our health, 100%. We also want to inspire others to make the same healthy changes in their own lives."
"You just know when it's right for you. Five or six years ago, it just didn't feel right. It wasn't the right time. Now, it feels like the right time for us both. This is our time to live."
For more information about our award-winning surgical weight loss programs, visit www.aurora.org/bariatrics.