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October 8th, 2016

I will be eternally grateful. Dr. Chen and everyone involved with the program helped me save my life

By uclahealth

laura_before_and_after

Laura's Story

Total Lost: 102 pounds lost so far*

My story starts like most others: an overweight child grows into an overweight teenager, and then into a morbidly obese adult. After trying all the fad diets out there, losing weight only to gain it back and then more, I took an unusual step. I tried out endurance sports to get healthy. Day hiking in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon led to a full marathon in Honolulu (which I walked), and then the inconceivable – a triathlon. I did all of these without losing much weight, even though I gained a lot of strength and cardio fitness. I thought, especially after I crossed that triathlon finish line, that I was okay with my body as it was. That I appreciated myself for who I was at that moment.

The problem was all the injuries. While training for all these events, and sometimes after the races themselves, I’d get hurt. I’d strain a knee. Or throw out my back. I developed asthma. After the marathon, which took me nearly 10 hours, I had so many blisters on my feet I could barely walk for two weeks. And I kept gaining weight! I would talk myself out of eating better, or exercising more between training sessions, because I was able to complete the events after all, even if it knocked me off my feet for days or weeks at a time. Why make these endurance tests easier by working harder, when I could stay heavy and use my weight as an excuse to not progress forward?

After struggling in 2015 to haul my 303 lb. frame through another round of triathlon training, and throwing my back out in the process, I realized I couldn’t have a healthy body (or even, down the road, a baby), at this weight. I asked my primary care physician, Dr. Denise Garvey, for her help. She referred me to the UCLA COMET program, for which I will be eternally grateful. Dr. Chen and everyone involved with the program helped me save my life. I’ve had no post-op complications, and 15 weeks after surgery, I finished a half-marathon (still walking!).

It felt amazing to not be plagued by asthma or back pain. 10 months post-op, I finished another triathlon, and shaved nearly 40 minutes off my time! I can’t wait for my next race, and the one after that, and hopefully, soon, a healthy pregnancy and baby. This next phase of my life is going to be such a fulfilling and happy one, because there is a lot less of me around to enjoy it. Thanks, Laura

Tags: asthma, back pain, bariatric, Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery, COMET, Dr. Denise Garvey, Dr. Yijun Chen, dramatic weight loss, morbidly obese, obese, overweight, overweight teenager, weight loss, weight loss surgery

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