For one young mother, hard work and support make a big difference.
Kristin J. wasn’t even born when the character played by Peter Finch in the blockbuster movie “Network” shouted, “I’m mad as #!*%, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Although she has never actually said it, listening to her talk about life before bariatric lap band surgery, you get the idea that it’s pretty much how she felt.
“I had been heavy all my life,” explains Kristin. “I was really tired of being fat.” A yo-yo dieter, she’d take weight off and put it back on, over and over again. She started taking prescription diet drugs at 15. They worked — until she stopped taking them, that is. Then she gained it all back, “and more,” she remembers. The diet pills continued, on and off, for about 10 years. “It was not healthy,” she says.
“I was just about to turn 30,” she recalls, when she decided to look into lap band surgery. “It was my 30th birthday present to myself.” At first, her husband was worried about it. But he went with her to support group meetings to learn more, which changed his mind. Her primary care physician didn’t really like the idea either. Now though, she says, he compliments her, and provides support by monitoring her weight and checking her vitamin levels. Kristin is grateful for that support. “Obesity is a battle that people can fight their entire lives. They need all the help they can get,” she says.
After attending required presurgery programs, just two months before her 30th birthday, Kristin underwent lap band surgery. At that point, she weighed 239 pounds and wore size 24 clothing. Now, three-and-a-half years later, Kristin weighs a slender 119 and wears a size four.
Bariatric surgeon Kuldeep Singh, M.D., performed the surgery at Saint Agnes, and Kristin went home the next day. “I felt great,” she remembers. “There was no pain. I went out shopping two days later!” She continues to see Dr. Singh once every six months, just to check in. “I absolutely love Dr. Singh,” she says. “He has the best bedside manner. Not only is he a great doctor, but he is a friend.”
Follow-up is crucial
The surgery is not a cure-all, warns Kristin. It takes a lot of follow-up work on the part of the patient. A lot of Kristin’s success is the result of her continued diligence — eating well and working out to lose 120 pounds in the 18 months after her surgery. And, she adds, it is important to make sure that her band is tight enough.
For her, portion control is crucial. “I always ate well,” she says, “chicken, salads, not many sweets. But I ate huge amounts.” Before, lunch would consist of a sandwich, the remainder of her kids’ sandwiches and half a large bag of chips. Now, she says, she’ll eat a half of a sandwich and a handful of chips. So far, portion control and working out five days a week has helped her take the weight off, and keep it off for more than a year.
It wasn’t always easy, says Kristin. “Sometimes I would plateau for up to two months,” she says. Then she would step it up at the gym. That’s where the support groups came in, too. “People there would help me with specifics, like what to eat at night (Cheerios) when I needed crunchy food.”
Today, three-and-a-half years after the surgery, the mother of three (ages 4, 5 and 8) says her life as a mom has changed. “I always spent time with my kids,” she says, “but I would sit on the sidelines. Now I’m in the pool, up the slide, down the slide, I am a lot more active with them.”
And as for her, she says, “I feel 100% better.”