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October 12th, 2016

I am excited to be living again

By uclahealth

Michelle's Story

Total Lost: 50 pounds in the first 8 months since surgery*

Reaching the point where I was contemplating bariatric surgery was not where I ever thought I would be. Weight loss is supposed to be as simple as ‘calories in versus calories out’. I had taken college level nutrition classes. Worked with nutritionists and fitness trainers. But I reached a point in my life at the age of 30 where I could not exercise or be active like my peers. My chronic back pain from degenerative disc disease halted my exercise options. I found myself overeating after the lumbar cortisone injections. I developed hypertension. I was caught in a vicious cycle of trying to exercise to lose weight, then overexerting myself followed by recovery in bed for several days and overeating. The day my primary care physician suggested I look into bariatric surgery; I finally felt relieved, like my doctors and I had an option to get my life back.

I have to say I was nervous to meet with the bariatric team. I didn’t want to feel like ‘I didn’t try hard enough’ or admit that ‘I was overweight.’ But the UCLA Bariatric Team was phenomenal. They were encouraging from the moment we met. They were realistic about the results to expect. To learn that bariatric surgery is just another tool to help me lose weight put the power back in my hands. It wasn’t going to be easy to get the weight off and keep it off. But if I followed their instructions, I could lose weight to get rid of my hypertension, decrease the back pain, and slow down the lumbar degeneration from carrying the extra weight. As an added bonus I was excited to be able to shop easier for clothes.

The video and in person training/visits with the surgeon, nurse practitioner, and nutritionist helped to prepare me for the pre-weight loss goal, surgery, and post-surgery weight loss. The nursing staff at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center were so kind and caring during my 3-day hospital stay. They treated me with compassion and respect. It made the healing process much more bearable. The hardest part of the surgery is the incisions healing on your abdomen. But after a week or two, the pain is gone. I followed the diet schedule to a tee. The liquid diet didn’t bother me because I was on track to get my life back…plus seeing the weight loss was a great encouragement.

I have lost a total of 50lbs since starting my bariatric journey. I am a comfortable size 12-14. Even though I am not at my goal weight yet, I have my health back. No more hypertension and a decrease in back pain and leg swelling. I found Pilates, which I did with a trained physical therapist, to be so helpful to build strength and balance after surgery. I would recommend not jumping into fitness without some instructions with a physical therapist. Given my exercise limitations due to my pre-existing back problems, I have been able to lose more weight and gain strength to walk further with Pilates. Use the resources available through UCLA COMET program. Follow the program because it works. Remember bariatric surgery is a tool to help you lose weight. You still have to put the work in and have the determination to get your life on track to a healthy lifestyle. I am excited to be living again.

*Weight loss results can vary depending on the individual. There is no guarantee of specific results. Read full disclaimer »

Tags: bariatric, Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery, chronic back pain, degenerative disc disease, exercise, loss weight, nutrition, overeating, patient story, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Sleeve Gastrectomy, weight gain, weight loss

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