Joe's story

I have always loved to cook and food has always been a central part of my life, my family and my culture. However, my love for food almost killed me. At the age of 45, I weighed 387 pounds.

Carrying an extra 160 pounds substantially affected my health and my life. I had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hereditary type II diabetes and blood clots, which nearly cost me my life in 2000. Surgery took care of the blood clots caused by varicose veins, but I still had numerous other health concerns, most caused by my extreme weight. Doctors told me that if I didn’t do something about my weight, I would inevitably have a stroke that could kill me.

It was really a wake-up call. I couldn’t believe that I was having all these problems just because I was overweight. I finally understood this was a major issue and I needed to do something, and soon.

I had tried every diet imaginable to shed the extra pounds - everything from the Atkins diet to specialty diet pills - but nothing worked. I would always lose about 40 pounds, only to regain the weight, plus more. I was so frustrated. I’ve had a weight problem all my life and I didn’t want to be fat anymore. It was time to do something about it.

I decided bariatric surgery was for me. I worked with the surgeon and gained approval for the surgery from my insurance company. I went into surgery with a peaceful mind and a positive attitude. I knew there were risks, as with any surgery, but I was knowledgeable about the entire process. I knew this was something I had to do. I just prayed and let go of my fear and anxiety.

The surgery was a success. On the same day of my surgery, I was up and walking. I was so excited I could hardly wait to start my exercise program. Just one month after surgery, I had already lost 50 pounds, about 15 pounds more than most people lose after one month.

After my surgery, I had to really change my eating habits. I had to eliminate certain foods and drinks like sugar, soda and alcohol for the rest of my life. I don’t care about the things I can’t have anymore; it’s a small sacrifice to make. Would I rather be alive and healthy, or have a candy bar? In my mind, it’s an easy choice.

My energy level has really increased; I walk five or more miles every day, no matter what. It’s a state of mind; you need to do what’s right for your body. My surgery was such a success because I completely dedicated myself to a healthier lifestyle. Bariatric surgery isn’t just a quick fix, but a totally different way of living and not a day goes by that I’m not glad that I had the surgery.