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Ester Marsh: Weight-loss surgery is not an easy way out

My dear friend Jennifer is having the sleeve gastrectomy this week.

Many people think that bariatric weight loss (whichever surgery they choose) is an easy way out. Let me tell you this — being part of Jennifer’s journey and other people who have had the surgery, it is not.

Not only is it a tough surgery, the process of getting to the surgery is challenging, and it is also both time and money consuming. For Jennifer, it has been about a year and a half.

I do believe the process is good. Doctors try everything else before the option of surgery becomes a possibility. They make sure the patient is willing and able to make the lifestyle changes needed to be successful and verify that the patient is able to have the surgery, both physically and mentally.

I have been supportive through the whole process whether it was going to happen or not. In the years I have known Jennifer, first as a Hurley Warrior parent, then YMCA staff and ultimately very dear friend, I came to realize that the more she exercised, the more she gained weight. It made no sense whatsoever.

The weight loss pills prescribed by her doctor, which work for most people, didn’t work at all. Actually, she gained weight while taking them.

So the process for bariatric surgery started. All the puzzle pieces seemed to fall into place, including full support of her general doctor, husband, family and friends. She is a good candidate for the sleeve gastrectomy.

According to Wikipedia: “Sleeve gastrectomy is a surgical weight-loss procedure in which the stomach is reduced to about 15 percent of its original size, by surgical removal of a large portion of the stomach along the greater curvature. The result is a sleeve- or tube-like structure.”

In other words, her stomach will be reduced by 85 percent from its original size. So she will only be able to eat a very small amount before she is full.

There are lots of things she has to do before, during and after surgery. The past couple of months, she has started to get used to her upcoming new diet of protein shakes, no carbonation, and lots of fruits and veggies. She has to make sure she gets all her nutrients and that she stays hydrated, as some people end up back in the hospital after surgery because of dehydration.

To follow Jennifer’s journey, you can go to our Facebook page or Instagram for Any Size Esterciz.

In more than 36 years working in the health and fitness industry, I have come in contact with every shape and size imaginable. I see the struggles people who are overweight face. I have had plenty of them cry in my office because they have tried so hard and are unsuccessful. Their genetic makeup is so that they can gain weight with a diet that, for most people, would keep their weight the same.

I believe in being healthy. I believe health and beauty come in every shape and size. And I am supportive of the choices people want or need to make to be healthy and happy.

I am happy Jennifer has been willing to share her story. I know many people don’t understand the struggle, or people may be dealing with weight loss and just don’t know where to begin. Jennifer’s journey hopefully can shine some light on the subject.

For now, Jennifer and I look forward to sharing her story to create knowledge and understanding about a topic many people do not like to share or talk about.

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director at J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.

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