Starting weight: 360 lbs.
Current weight: 177 lbs.
Goal weight: 165 lbs.
Surgery: gastric bypass
Surgery date: June 24, 2008 (age 27)
Donna made her entrance into the world weighing 10 lbs. And 12 oz. (the average weight for a newborn is 7.5 pounds). Her entire life, Donna was never the size of her peers. She only knew life as being overweight. When asked if any particular memories relating to her weight from her childhood remained vivid, Donna clearly remembers her mother placing her on a very strict diet while in fifth grade. At ten years old, Donna was already 220 lbs. Only being allowed to eat lettuce and lemon, Donna did lose 15 lbs. However, this wasn’t good enough for her mom.
As a result, Donna began sneaking food which made her regain the 15 pounds she originally lost, plus gain extra weight. Throughout her teens and most of her 20s, Donna would yo-yo diet based on her doctor’s diet recommendations. She tried appetite suppressants, which didn’t work. Ironically, although Donna was severely overweight, she was no couch potato. As a young girl growing up in rural Texas, she did a lot of physical labor, ran a lot, and always worked full time. Energy was not a resource Donna lacked.
When Donna was 22, she discovered that her birth father died at age 55 due to heart related issues, which are caused by obesity. He was almost 7ft. tall and almost 800 lbs.
When Donna met her now husband, she weighed 330 lbs. He was 5’8”, weighed 125 lbs. and came with washboard abs. He loved Donna because she was a cute girl, just in a “fat body.”
However, even as an adult, Donna’s mother wasn’t a source of support. Donna and her husband visited her mother who was still in Texas, and happened to have just purchased a new couch and loveseat. Donna’s mother asked her to sit on the floor so that she didn’t sink the new seat covers.
Not only was an unhealthy diet the reason for Donna’s weight, her eating schedule was also a large contributor. Although she worked a 9-5 schedule and would eat a dinner after coming home from work, Donna’s husband worked at night. She would go to sleep but then wake up to have dinner with him when he got home in the middle of the night.
When Donna and her husband were married in 2007, she wanted to start a family immediately. However, due to her weight, Donna's doctor warned her that trying to become pregnant and have a child would be dangerous to both she and the baby. Her husband started to research the gastric bypass procedure, and decided to meet with Dr. Korman. Donna loved him immediately. As she went through the pre-op process, Donna learned through psychotherapy and her support group that in order to be successful in long-term weight loss, she needed to change her thoughts about food. She became so close with three of the other girls from the support group that they all arranged to have their surgeries the same day!
Once Donna was down to 250 lbs., she was able to conceive. During her entire pregnancy, Donna only gained 8 lbs! When her daughter was born, she was keratin deficient. This means her daughter wasn’t able to break down the fat that causes fatty liver. This is hereditary, which explains why Donna was always overweight. She was tested as well for the keratin deficiency.
Learning how to eat correctly was a learning experience. Sometimes Donna would eat a meat that wasn’t quite lean enough and it would make her sick. Having Dr. Korman’s support and the office staff as a resource for questions made it much easier and more comforting to overcome obstacles such as these. Today, Donna tries to follow a paleo diet to stay in line with bariatric guidelines. Below is a "typical" day of Donna's diet:
Breakfast: Although Donna has never been a big breakfast person, she puts a protein shake in her cup of coffee to get the nutrients she needs to start her day on track.
Lunch: This is usually protein from the previous evening’s dinner, such as chicken or shrimp. Donna will put this over a salad with lots of veggies.
Dinner: Donna prepares a balanced meal for her family, and just eats the protein and vegetables.
Snacks: Fresh cucumber with salt, or fruit. Donna does have a soft spot for girl scout cookies, but is able to eat them in moderation. Every three to four days, she will eat two or three but exercises harder on those days.
Donna runs on the treadmill or uses the elliptical she and her husband found outside. She uses a Fitbit to put her heart rate in the fat burn zone, which usually takes 7-8 minutes. She does a total of 30 minutes of cardio at least three times per week. This past November, Donna even ran a 5k!
How Life is Different
1. Amusement Parks: Donna’s kids love Disneyland, and she feels comfortable going on the rides with her youngest child and able to use the same safety bar - she’s not afraid he will fly out anymore. Donna was also always afraid when she met her husband that he would fly out from rides because the safety bar was so far from his legs.
2. Flying: Before her surgery, Donna needed to use the seatbelt extender and found it very difficult to use the compact airplane restrooms. Now Donna is able to sit in an airplane seat and use the restroom comfortably.
3. Cosmetic changes: After losing so much weight, Donna did have excess skin. A year ago, she had a procedure to remove the excess skin. This made Donna feel much more comfortable in her own skin and helped to shed more weight.
4. Photos: When they see photos of their mom overweight, Donna’s children can hardly believe they are looking at their own mother.
While at a recent visit with Dr. Korman, Donna met a girl who was about to go into surgery and was nervous. Donna reassured her, “you’re in the best care. You’re going to look like me one day, and I’m 11 years after having surgery.”
Donna's advice to anyone considering weight loss surgery, “Trust the support system and be honest with the doctors. That will help them guide you better.”
To learn more or schedule a consultation with Dr. Korman, contact us here or call the office: 310-577-5540.