Running for Her Life: One Woman's Story
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Northern Virginia News 2012 Archives Running for Her Life: One Woman's Story

Running for Her Life: One Woman's Story 

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Jennifer Homendy took control when she decided to have weight loss surgery. Now she’s running toward life – not away from it.

It was an embarrassing yet eye-opening moment for Jennifer Homendy of Fredericksburg.
It was the moment when a dark and hopeless picture in her mind transformed into a colorful masterpiece, painted by her love for her daughter and hope for the rest of her life.

“My family was at Busch Gardens and my husband,
2-year-old daughter and I got on a ride,” remembers Jennifer. “We sat down and attempted to put down the safety bar. We couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I tried or moved around, the bar would not close because I was too big. I had to get off the ride and watch my husband and daughter spin away without me. I was embarrassed, sad and devastated.

“I remember standing there with tears streaming down my face thinking, ‘is this what the rest of my life is going to look like?’ My mind was flooded with thoughts of my daughter experiencing these types of events at school, on planes, at the playground. I knew right then that
I had to change those pictures in my mind.”

Coming to terms

Jennifer is a petite 5 feet, 4½ inches. At her heaviest
she weighed 270 pounds and had health issues including severe asthma. In 2005, her primary care physician recommended that she have weight loss surgery. She was so offended that she left his practice. In August of 2010, she was at her asthma doctor’s office and he said, ‘have you considered weight loss surgery? It would probably benefit you and relieve your asthma symptoms.’

“I told him that weight loss surgery scared me and that I wanted to lose the weight myself,” says Jennifer. “He then told me that he would research a good surgeon and get back to me. I thought he’d forget about it because he has a lot of patients, but he called me the next day and gave me the number to Bluepoint Surgical Group [surgical partners for the Sentara Weight Loss Surgery Center]. He recommended that I attend one of their free information sessions. But I still wasn’t convinced.”

“I tried and tried to lose weight on my own,” said Jennifer. “Every time I came up with a new plan, I failed. The constant struggle and feeling of failure caused depression and it was such a vicious cycle.”

After signing up but then ‘chickening out’ of the first information seminar, about a month later Jennifer decided to go to the weight loss surgery information seminar. She was very impressed by the information and presenters, but she still could not bring herself to commit to the procedure.

A few weeks later in October, there she stood, alone and heartbroken, watching her husband and daughter on the ride at Busch Gardens. Her defining moment.

“On December 22, 2010, I had gastric bypass surgery at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center,” says Jennifer. “On opening day in 2011 I went back to Busch Gardens and rode that ride. It was something I had to do and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Runner Girl

Today, Jennifer weighs 126 pounds and runs marathons.

“If you told me three years ago that I would be running 5Ks, 10Ks and 20 milers, I would have laughed out loud,” says Jennifer. “But I do. It’s my way of life now and I love it.”

Jennifer says that setting goals for herself and attaining those goals one by one have made her weight loss journey successful.

“I started out walking in my neighborhood and then worked my way up to walking in a 5K, which also included a half marathon run,” says Jennifer. “But during the walk I didn’t like that all the runners were passing me. I made a goal that the next year I’d come back and run the half marathon -- and I did.”

In October, she accomplished another goal by running in the Marine Corps Marathon. Jennifer’s goal for 2013? In May she’s running a 42-mile race through the Grand Canyon.

“Surgery is not a magic bullet for easy weight loss,” says Dr. Denis Halmi, medical director of the Sentara Weight Loss Surgery Center and Jennifer’s surgeon. “Patients have to work hard to succeed by following strict dietary guidelines and post-surgical lifestyle changes. Jennifer embraced those requirements and her results are stellar.”

Want to learn more?

Weight Loss Surgery: Gastric Banding & Other Options Seminar
Join a board-certified weight loss surgeon Dr. Denis Halmi to learn about surgical solutions to weight loss including laparoscopic gastric banding, gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and revisional procedures. Register today. 


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