Real People.... Real ResultsKerri Gray
Weight Loss Success… The Real Story
Over a year ago, we followed Kerri through her weight loss procedure from beginning to end. We listened as she explained her fears & questions, and celebrated as she worked toward her goal weight. 160 pounds later Kerri is nearly 2 years postop & still maintaining her goal weight. We sat down with Kerri & got the rest of her story, including how she is maintaining her weight loss goals & the changes she has seen in her life. This is Kerri’s story:
It has been over a year. How has your life changed since bariatric surgery?
I am happier, and it’s not a shallow I look better happy! I feel better; I am not as exhausted at the end of the day. I feel better about myself and I have a better outlook on my life. When I come home I still have the energy to enjoy my afternoons with my son. Don’t get me wrong—I cannot stand being hot, so you will find me inside with the AC pumping most weekend days. But the interest and the energy to get up and go is there. I have actually recently decided that Cohen and I are going to start hiking the local parks and trails a little on the weekends once the average temperature decides to dip below 147 degrees.
The cherry on top is my completely new wardrobe—which means I also have less money! I was 132 pounds at my most recent doctor’s appointment a few days ago. Most amazing—I am in a size 4! From a 24 to a 4. Who’da thunk it?!!
You lost a little more than you initially intended to lose. How were you able to get back to what you consider a healthy weight?
When I had the surgery, I figured I would lose about 100 pounds and be in a size 12, maybe even a 10. I never even considered it a possibility that I would lose as much as I have. When my weight dipped below 130 pounds, I decided that I needed to figure out a way to stop the loss. All of my tests came back great, so my health was never in jeopardy. However, I am used to being pretty curvy—I have no interest in being skinny or bony. I kept a calorie log to get a clearer idea of what I was eating and how long it stayed with me. I tried different supplements and protein bars as a way to get some extra calories throughout the day. Finally, I found the Ensure Clear drinks. They are a great size and pack a lot of protein. After a month or two drinking those once or twice a day, I gained about 6 pounds to get back on the right side of 130.
How has your family and friends reacted to your weight loss?
People who see me on a daily basis don’t mention it much anymore. The difference is much more drastic and the reactions are more entertaining when I see someone I have not seen in over a year. There is the usual double take, the exclamation of disbelief, and then “you look fantastic!” The overall majority of people have been extremely supportive and encouraging. There are those few who have reacted negatively, but that is to be expected with any type of positive improvement—there will always be those who cannot find it within to be happy for someone else. I choose to ignore those people because, number 1, their issue/problem has absolutely nothing to do with me and, 2, whether it is weight loss, a big raise, new baby, love, happiness—those exact same people will behave in the same predictable manner. I refuse to let any of that bring me down. I have enough on my plate, thank you!
Do you feel that your personality has changed any? Are you more outgoing, less shy, more confident, etc?
I have always been relatively shy around new people and in crowds. As I stated in an earlier interview—you will not find me giving any speeches or getting up on stage! But I can honestly say that I do feel more self-confident. I never realized how much my own negative feelings about my body affected my everyday mood. I can recall dragging myself out of bed in the mornings, already in a grumpy mood because I had to face my closet and the mirror. I never really had a chance to enjoy activities or functions because I was preoccupied with my own personal resentment, embarrassment, frustration and sadness. I can tell that has changed. Being a six foot tall strawberry blonde never made it easy to blend into the crowd. Now, I don’t feel that overwhelming anxiety when I walk in to a room. My inner fat girl somehow found a cozy corner and seems to be holding her peace.
Are you enjoying activities now that you never would have before your procedure?
I like to shop now—I actually bought a swimsuit the other day, and I cannot remember the last time I owned one! Before, I would shop and buy clothes because I had to, but it was never any fun. I would walk in and buy whatever the store had in my size. Now, I cannot even begin to explain how different my shopping experiences are! I feel like I have a choice—I can pass on that dress because there are 5 other ones that I can fit into!
I have not had the chance to really stretch my legs and travel since the surgery, but I can say I imagine everything is better when you do not have to lug around an extra 161 pounds!
Are you seeing the negative attributes of weight loss surgery improving?
Absolutely! I stopped losing my hair about 8 or 9 months ago. Since then, I have experienced a lot of re-growth. The loss never got to a point where it was noticeable to anyone but me and my hairstylist, but even I cannot tell anymore. On the issue of sagging skin, I have been pleasantly surprised. The excess skin left over after drastic weight loss is just something that I had accepted as part of the process. I figured that it would just be part of my new body. I first noticed the skin on the underside of my arms and on my stomach, then on the backs of my legs (the remnants of the butt I miss so much!). However, I have been amazed to see my skin rebound to a great extent. I can wear sleeveless tanks and dresses without even noticing any skin—never thought that would happen! Only the areas on the backs of my legs still show any indication of sagging skin. If that’s the worst of my problems, then I count myself lucky!
Are you still finding it easier to manage your diet & eat better?
Absolutely! From the beginning, I considered this surgery my reset button. I knew I was still going to have to exercise some will power and say NO. The sleeve just made it 20 times easier to say it and mean it. I find myself making good decisions based on the portion size I can eat. For instance, prior to surgery, I would have an equal amount of meat, veggies, and starch/carbs on my plate (I could never give up the carbs!). Now, I know that I only have x amount of room in my tummy. I find myself really thinking about the smartest combination—I go for the protein first, because I know it will stick with me the longest. Breads tend to swell when they hit my stomach—which means that they take up way too much room! So, for 30 years I was hopelessly addicted to carbs—breads, potatoes, pasta, rice—then I opted for the gastric sleeve surgery and rarely even miss them!
They say hide sight is 20/20, would have bariatric surgery again & would you recommend Dr. Walter Sartor and LCWLS?
Without a doubt or hesitation, YES!! Best decision I ever made. I have had nothing short of a fantabulous experience with Dr. Sartor and his staff at Louisiana Center for Weight Loss. I have felt genuinely cared for throughout the past 21 months—I was more than a chart and medical report. I never felt alone during this process. That really means a lot. I have actually recommended a family member to the program at LCWLS & they are planning to have the surgery in early December. I know that I have given Dr. Sartor’s name and office telephone number to at least 20 people—at my office, the store, the convenience store clerk who did not believe my driver’s license belonged to me, etc.
What advice would you give someone thinking about the sleeve?
Do it. You will not regret it. Whether you lose 400 pounds or 34—you will feel better! Of course, surgery is surgery and pros and cons should always be weighed. I just do not like to think about me pre-surgery. Not because of the way I looked, but because of the way I felt. To know now that this person was inside all along….makes me feel really great about the decision I made to have the surgery, but also makes me feel really guilty for not having made the decision MUCH sooner!
If you can relate to Kerri’s story and have questions about whether or not weight loss surgery is right for you feel free to contact the Louisiana Center for Weight Loss Surgery. The Louisiana Center for Weight Loss Surgery offers the Gastric Banding (Realize), Gastric Bypass, and the Gastric Sleeve Procedures, and through the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Surgical Review Corporation (SRC), LCWLS has been accredited as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence®. This designation and achievement is proof of our determination and commitment to offer you an exceptional program for achieving the healthier life you may be seeking. You can find more information on healthy living and weight loss surgery by visiting the LCWLS website at www.laweightlosssurgery.com or calling (866)821-LIVE. Also go to www.facebook.com/LCWLS for before & after stories of real LCWLS patients like Kerri and up-to-date health conversations with Dr. Sartor & our registered dietician.
Please call 866-821-LIVE (5483) for additional information or to make an appointment for your bariatric consultation today. It could be the best decision you have ever made!