Weight Loss Surgery

My Journey Through Weight Loss – Part 7

Prior to weight loss surgery, it wasn’t uncommon for me to sit down to a meal and suddenly have finished it without even remembering most of the bites I’d taken or any of the sensory enjoyments that should have accompanied the actual eating of the meal. It was often as if I were just shoveling the food in as fast as I could without any regard to the actual taste, texture and appreciation for what I was taking in to nourish my body.

But I needed something from that food, something that nothing else could give me. There was a void to fill. And that’s why I think I swallowed it down – quickly and without much thought or regard for the potential flavor this sustenance could be delivering. It wasn’t really about the way the food tasted. It was about something else. It was about filling that void. Since my journey with weight loss began, I have asked myself some hard questions, dug deep and worked at identifying what that void was all about. From time to time the “void monster” still rears its ugly head but when it does, I know to stop what I’m doing and take a self assessment of what’s going on inside me that might push me towards wanting to eat mindlessly. It’s in that key moment that I chose to eat consciously.

Of the many things I’ve learned from having bariatric surgery, one of them is to chew, chew, chew my food. And out of that practice comes the delightful by-product of really tasting and enjoying everything I put in my mouth. Without hesitation I would say that conscious eating (eating with awareness) has been essential to my weight loss success. It’s why we don’t eat meals in front of the television in our home and we don’t snack on the couch. I’ve found that food that is consumed “consciously” is enjoyed more, eaten in less quantity and usually happens to be a better food choice to begin with.

I would encourage anyone who doesn’t already practice conscious eating to give it a shot, even those who aren’t on the road towards weight loss surgery. It’s really the Zen of eating, so to speak, and dining in this way can be very fulfilling. Would you like to know one of my favorite things about it: It requires very little to eat consciously! There aren’t really any special things you need; there’s no need to rush out and buy the latest piece of miraculous-results-producing-fad-equipment. All you need is to be aware and present from start to finish during your meals and at snack times. Yes, this can take some mental training, changing up your routine a bit, and a little getting used to but that’s it! So from now on let’s enjoy each bite, really taste the delicious food and fully savor the marvelous experience of eating!

The Costs of Being Overweight

We know that being overweight or obese can have a significant impact on our physical and emotional health. But, did you know that being overweight can also carry a financial price tag?

The Department of Health Policy at The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Policy recently released a research report entitled “A Heavy Burden: The Individual Costs of Being Overweight and Obese in the United States.” The report, which tallied the annual, incremental costs of overweight and obesity from the individual perspective,  found that the annual overall costs of being obese are  $4,879 for an obese woman and $2,646 for an obese man. This includes medical costs, lost wages, higher work-related costs, and higher costs associated with the purchase of personal goods. For overweight women and men, the incremental annual costs are $524 and $432 respectively.

The report found that the main cost driver for those who are overweight are direct medical costs –  health care costs for an overweight person are $346 higher per year than the health care costs for a normal-weight person. However, lost wages is the main cost driver for obese women.

Today, two out of three Americans are obese or overweight.  If the current trajectory continues, one in two adults will be obese by 2030.

Viewed in this light, participating in a weight loss program can have significant health and financial benefits. When considering the costs of a weight loss program – such as bariatric surgery or a medically-supervised diet – factor in the impact of these programs in reducing your weight as well as the direct costs of being overweight.

My Journey Through Weight Loss – Part 6

Tanya McGill, two years after bariatric surgery.

Tanya McGill, two years after bariatric surgery.

It seems that no matter how many testimonials I heard from other patients prior to surgery and no matter how many books I read about other people’s experiences, the many miracles I experienced after bariatric surgery blew my mind over and over again! I would get on the scale and some days I would lose two to three pounds from one day to the next. That was insane (and that was mainly in the first month, mind you). My size twenty-eight pants were suddenly falling right off my hips and I just couldn’t wear them anymore. I certainly wasn’t complaining, and a monthly trip to the discount big box store to purchase a couple of new pairs of pants with elastic waist bands became my new reward for another month of weight forever gone.

One of the most mind-blowing things I remember is going to one of these discount stores to look at a few pairs of pants. I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve lost a few more pounds. I’ll grab a size twenty-four from the rack and see how they fit.” I was completely dumbfounded when I zipped them up only to find that they swallowed me. They were super baggy all over! Could it be that a twenty-two would be my size? Nope, those were too big, too! You can imagine my amazement when I found that a size twenty is what I settled on, and I still remember thinking those were a little loose. I don’t think I could wrap my head around the fact that I might have almost made my way out of the size twenties all together.

About ten months after surgery (I was down 129 pounds and 32 pounds away from my goal weight) I went on a Labor Day trip to the beach with some friends. We were all playing cards, having a great time, and one of my friend’s brothers picked me up and started carrying me around the room, acting like a caveman! They were all laughing and cheering him on, but I was in a complete panic. In my head I was thinking: “Marc’s not strong enough to be doing this! He’s going to realize he’s picking up my enormous, fat behind and he’ll drop me any minute!” But he didn’t. See, I couldn’t even realize that I was just a few pounds heavier than all the other gals that were there, and 167 pounds was an easy load for him to lift. But my mind was still thinking it was in an almost 300 pound body.

One of the strangest miracles I encountered which I never, ever expected (and ladies, I thought we’d all be safe here but we aren’t, believe me!) was when I lost a shoe size through weight loss! Yes-you heard it here. It didn’t happen right away but when it did happen, it seemed as if it happened overnight. I used to wear a size 9, sometimes a 9½. And I love shoes-love them! We’ve all heard the adage, “We can gain all the weight in the world, but our shoes will always fit!” I always believed that, and I assumed the opposite was true as well. Well, I’m here to tell you that it might not always be so. I remember the days of feeling deep sadness after an afternoon of plus-size clothes shopping when I felt nothing fit properly. I knew I could always stop by any number of fabulous shoe warehouses where a plethora of gorgeous shoe options were just waiting for me. The only thing I didn’t love about my feet was that they were kind of large; even at only 5’4½” I had these rather large size feet. Well, I’m here to tell you that even your feet can carry the bulge as I was so shocked to learn  when I realized that I was going to have to get all new shoes because my previous size 9’s & 9½’s were slipping from my feet!

This journey of weight loss has brought more miracles into my life than I could ever count and I am so grateful for bariatric surgery each and every day.

Join Emory Bariatric Surgeon in Recipes for Wellness


Board-certified Emory bariatric surgeon Jahnavi Srinivasan, M.D., joins New York Times best-selling author Carolyn O’Neil in Emory’s Recipes for Wellness nutrition series.

Each Recipes for Wellness cooking segment focuses on a nutritious, delicious recipe that is as good to eat as it is good for you. In this segment, bariatric surgeon Dr. Srinivasan helps prepare super simple No-Bake Fruit and Nut Bars. These easy-to-make bars can be combined with milk and fruit for a quick breakfast or by themselves as an afternoon snack.

My Journey Through Weight Loss Surgery: Part I

My journey into weight loss surgery began one warm evening in August 2003 when, ironically enough, I was at dinner with a few very close friends. One of the ladies having dinner with our group that night was particularly full of zeal and was really enjoying herself quite a lot. I remember thinking that although she was always a very happy person, she seemed especially exuberant and alive. And then it hit me: my dear friend had gastric bypass surgery eleven months earlier, and she’d had it at Emory.

After over a year of research and more than almost thirty years of being either overweight or morbidly obese, I got the “yes” that I had been waiting for from my insurance company. Yes, I was approved to have gastric bypass surgery. I remember getting the news at work on September 24, 2004. It was so significant to me that I even remember the time; it was 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Needless to say, there wasn’t much else I could think about for the rest of the day.

The friend that I’d had dinner with – the one who had gastric bypass surgery – ended up becoming my support person. Every patient absolutely must have a support person when going through this lengthy process. I was incredibly lucky that she would be mine. She would attend my initial surgeon’s consultation with me and also attend the monthly support group meetings I began attending that summer to prepare for surgery. Needless to say, she was amazing and I only wish that every patient could have someone just like her as a guide through this potentially life-changing adventure.

Next up: The Paperwork Challenge! Keep breathing…