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Double takes Two friends encourage each other to lose a total of nearly 300 pounds

By Susan Shinn

Salisbury Post

Jayne Petrea and Dave Cook don’t mind you if you do a double take when you see them.

They love it.

Between them, the two good friends have lost 293 pounds.

After having gastric bypass surgery 18 months ago, Jayne has lost half her body weight. She’s met her goal weight of 149 pounds.

Dave opted not to have the surgery, instead losing his weight through diet and exercise. His goal weight is 213 pounds — half his starting body weight.

The two have been successful not only by having each other’s support but also the support of their spouses.

This year, Dave and Beth Cook and Jayne and Chuck Petrea will celebrate 28 years of marriage.

For a long time, Beth thought Dave wouldn’t be alive to observe this milestone.

Chuck, too, was concerned about his wife’s health.

“I like her better now,” he says. “I still loved her as much as I ever did, but I wanted to keep her around. I was there whichever way she wanted to go.”

***

Jayne’s physician, Dr. George Everhart, had been trying to get her to have gastric bypass surgery for about five years.

“When I read about it and when Chuck and I talked about it, we were just scared, because then it was the unknown,” Jayne says. “My weight until that point had not bothered me.”

But by her annual check-up in December 2004, she was ready to do something about it.

She’d had to start sleeping with a C-PAP breathing machine and suffered daily headaches. Her blood pressure was up a little, but otherwise she had no other health issues.

“I was a healthy fat person,” Jayne says with a smile.

“But it could have been around the corner for her,” Chuck says.

***

Jayne was a petite child, but hit the “chunky” stage around third grade. She was slim in high school, and weighed 110 pounds when she met Chuck.

They got married her sophomore year in college. When she started taking birth control pills, she gained 30 pounds.

“Every year, I just put on 10 more pounds,” she says.

She continued to gain weight following the birth of their two children, Adam, now 20, and Hannah, now 15.

Chuck stood by his wife.

“She was still the same person I met,” Chuck says. “But the older we got, the more concerned I became.”

Tears well in his eyes.

The couple talked about the procedure for several years before Jayne decided it was right for her.

“There were times she was feeling bad,” Chuck says. “I always tried to be supportive.”

“I know he loved me for who I was,” Jayne says. “I knew he was worried about me.”

Chuck now looks at his wife and sees the woman he married.

“Her face is just like it was,” he says.

“I weigh now what I weighed when we got married,” Jayne says.

But not without a lot of hard work and discipline.

“She followed directions very well,” Chuck says. “She did very well.”

“I’ve put a lot of work into this,” Jayne says. “I weigh every day. That’s my motivation.”

To achieve and maintain weight loss, gastric bypass patients must eat very small portions. They must also exercise — beginning the day after surgery.

Jayne was walking even when she was in the hospital, and walked laps up and down her driveway when she came home.

After six weeks, she was released into the care of an exercise specialist at NorthEast Medical Center, where she had surgery. She then worked with trainers at the East Rowan YMCA to develop an exercise program of strength training and walking.

Now she’s adding calories back into her diet so she won’t continue to lose weight.

***

The change in portions never bothered Jayne.

It took a while for Chuck to get used to it, though.

“I didn’t want to eat in front of her,” Chuck says.

Jayne got results because the procedure was right for her — and she was willing to take responsibility for her health and well-being.

“It was simple for me,” she says. “I had very little pain.”

“She has just had the most wonderful experience,” Chuck says. “She did follow the rules.”

***

Dave ran into Jayne at the annual Broadway Revue last April at East Rowan High School.

He hadn’t seen her in a year; at that point, she’d lost 100 pounds.

He saw her sit on Chuck’s lap, and heard Adam say he’d never seen that happen before.

Seeing Jayne made quite an impression on Dave.

“He came home and that’s all he could talk about,” Beth says.

Dave mentioned the possibility of having gastric bypass surgery to his physician, Dr. Ronnie Barrier. Barrier was thrilled, and on April 25, 2006, Dave filled out the application forms for the surgery.

That was, he says, the day his life changed.

***

Coming Sunday: Find out how Dave Cook changed his life for the better.

Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or sshinn@salisburypost.com.

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