I Was At The Point Of No Return Until Weight Loss Surgery
Most adults never imagine they could fit back into the same waist size they wore as a teen.
But Mike Hall, 61, of Fluvanna County near Charlottesville, is now living that dream after successful weight loss surgery at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.
The transformation began after Mike's primary care physician told him he'd need to start taking medication to keep his prediabetes from becoming full-blown diabetes. At the time, Mike weighed 384 pounds.
"I told her I didn't want to do that, and she said, 'Then, do you have a plan?'" recalls Mike, a security officer for Sentara Healthcare. "I told her, 'I'm going to think of it really quickly.'"
Creating a weight-loss strategy
As soon as Mike got home from his doctor's appointment, he threw away unhealthy food – bread, sweets, soft drinks, less nutritious carbs. That kick-started his weight loss. Then, Mike investigated bariatric surgery options. He was inspired by his daughter and niece, both of whom had successful weight loss surgery at Sentara.
"I was at the point of no return," explains Mike, who had tried diet plans and exercise but always gained weight back. "I was 60 years old. My health was declining. If I didn't do something, I knew my health would get worse and worse."
Delivering his weight loss surgery paperwork to the office was the "longest, shortest walk of my life," Mike says because he felt a bit ashamed. But he was grateful for how pleasant, welcoming and encouraging the staff was from the beginning of his weight loss surgery.
Preparing for weight-loss surgery
After taking classes to learn about bariatric surgery, Mike opted for a gastric bypass because of the amount of weight he wanted to lose. Also known as the Roux-en-Y (roo-en-y) gastric bypass, this surgery involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting the newly created smaller stomach pouch directly to the small intestine.
Prior to surgery, insurance carriers require that patients meet with a dietitian and a behavioral health counselor to assess the severity and duration of obesity, past attempts to lose weight and understand the behavioral and dietary changes needed for success. Bariatric surgeons are also involved beginning at the initial consultation to help guide the patient's weight loss journey.
Mike lost 62 pounds before surgery by eating healthier, but he knew the discipline required after gastric bypass surgery would help him continue losing weight and ensure it stayed off.
"I had thought of a gastric bypass in the past, but thought it was a quick and easy way out," Mike remembers. "That's not the way it is. You have to change your way of thinking and eating. It's a tool to help you get where you want to get. Is it easy? No!"
Surgery day and beyond
Bariatric surgeon Timothy Snow, DO, operated on Mike at Sentara Martha Jefferson in November 2020. Mike stayed in the hospital for two nights after surgery. His daughter and niece, who had undergone bariatric surgery, took care of him when he returned home.
Mike followed the required liquid diet and then a soft-food diet after surgery. While his weight loss started slowly, Mike began to see results.
"The scale doesn't tell the whole story," says Mike, who eventually lost more than 100 pounds. "Be assured. You are losing weight. Don't get discouraged if you have a bad day on the scale."
Mike adjusted to the post-bariatric surgery diet, which includes:
- Balanced meals with small portions
- Meals low in calories and carbs but high in lean protein
- Healthy carbs (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and non-starchy veggies
- 64 ounces of fluid per day, but avoid sugary and carbonated drinks
- Small bites at a slow pace to let food and liquids enter your stomach and small intestine at a slower rate
- Healthy snacks in between meals
Today, Mike is down to 220 pounds from 380 and can wear a size 34 waist. He had been up to a size 48.
"Remember, there is hope," Mike says, encouraging others considering bariatric surgery. "Believe in yourself and believe you can do it. I would do it again tomorrow."