By Dustin Hartman
Through diet alone I lost half of my excess weight…and then I stopped. My insurance required I see a psychiatrist before the surgery (which now I am very thankful for) and the one thing Dr. Santavicca told me that I will never forget is that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals through diet alone. I would need to exercise.
I remember thinking at the time “Yeah right, I don’t exercise, if I did I wouldn’t need the surgery,” so I didn’t exercise. Pre-surgery, I would join gyms but I would usually stop going after a month because it was hard work. When I hit a plateau, I remembered what Dr. Santavicca said and reluctantly started exercising. I was surprised by how much easier it was to exercise now that I had lost so much weight. Although exercising was still hard, I wasn’t as miserable as I was before surgery. In the beginning, I started slowly – just walking down the driveway and back a few times a week. I walked further and further each day and turned the walking into jogging. When I discovered cycling, I fell in love. Now I cycle at least six hours a week and recently completed a 100-mile ride.
Through Emory Bariatric’s monthly support group meeting as well through my personal interactions with other post-op patients, I have realized that the success of the surgery is 100% based on the commitment of the patient. The surgery itself is just a good kick-start to get you going in the right direction. Everyone who has weight loss surgery will lose weight during the first months because of the smaller stomach. After that, you get to the point where the weight loss becomes less dependent on the surgery and much more dependent on your behaviors.
I know that without the surgery, I would have never been able to lose the weight that I have, but keeping the weight off is going to be a daily choice for the rest of my life. I am able to keep on track through the support of my wife (who just had the surgery herself a few months ago) and with the knowledge that the Emory Bariatric’s program has provided and continues to do so in the monthly support group meetings. Having the surgery has meant a new level of discipline in my life regarding nutrition and exercise, but it has improved my life in so many ways that I wished I would have had the surgery years ago.