Men and women from all walks of life gathered together to remember what used to be and how far they've come...

A Gala to Celebrate Weight Loss Journeys

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Men and women, of all ages, races and sizes gathered together to remember what used to be.

It was all part of the bariatric team’s annual, “A Gala, Celebrating You.” For the sixth year in a row, people came together for a Weight Loss Surgery Patient Reunion at the Hylton Education Center at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center.

More than 40 former patients, and their loved ones, came out to remember their weight loss journey and celebrate how far they’ve come.

It was a reunion for many, with patients coming up to one another and asking tentatively, “Do you remember me?” Plenty of hugs, laughs and smiles were exchanged.  

At one point in the night, every patient got up, said their name, and shared how much they’ve lost. All told, 3971 collective pounds had been shed!

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done- outside of marrying my husband!” chuckled Reva Gravelle.

Gravelle was just one member of a patient panel who spoke with the group and answered questions. She was 62 years old when she decided to move forward and get the surgery. Eight years later, she hasn’t looked back and says she feels healthier than ever! “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels,” she says smiling.

Just like Gravelle, everybody had their own story, but there was a common thread everyone could relate to. Patients shared varied firsts: having a lap for a grandchild to sit on, being able to get up by themselves when falling, flying without having to buy an extra seat or getting a seatbelt extender, different shopping options for clothing and being able to fit in a roller coaster seat.

Many patients credit their surgeon, Dr. Denis Halmi with helping them make the change, something he seemed little uncomfortable with, “I try to explain, it wasn’t me, because you are the one making the changes, because of what you are doing, it’s making the change. I’m here to help you, here to support you, but you’re the one who does it.”

While patients were in varied stages of their weight loss journey- some, having had their surgery years ago, while others had their surgery just months earlier, all know that this is a lifetime commitment.  To that end, even the event’s food reflected their new lifestyle and featured healthy choices such as diced fruits and vegetables, shrimp, turkey meatballs and blended-to-order fruit smoothies.

This was also an uplifting event for those patients who may have gotten off track. Instead of beating up on themselves for diet missteps, patient speakers and health professionals reminded everyone, while it’s nice to move numbers on the scale; this voyage is about more than that. It’s about getting healthy. Organizers reminded patients this event isn’t the only support available. The program hosts both weekly and monthly support groups for current and former patients. And, if those groups are too far for some to travel, the bariatric program has recently added a new virtual support group for the last Thursday of the month. It’s all in an effort to make sure people have the assistance they need to meet their health goals.

To find a bariatric surgeon near you, call 1-800-SENTARA.