Mark's Real Story
"This Program Saved My Life"
Patient: Mark, age 43
Occupation: Trainer / Learning Consultant
Program: Bariatric Surgery through Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program in 2004
Results: Lost 285 pounds and has remained at or below goal weight since 2005
At age 38, Mark was a successful, happily-married, cheerful fat man, who had just been told by his doctor that he probably wouldn't see age 40.
"That was my first wake-up call," Mark admits. "I needed blunt. I needed to hear the cold hard facts. Before that, it was like I had just accepted my life as normal."
Mark's "normal life" meant high blood pressure, sleep apnea, Type II diabetes, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and a top weight of 504 pounds. He had developed severe diabetic ulcers — "gaping holes," in his words — on both legs. He spent $70/week on bandages alone and was facing the possibility of a double amputation. In addition, his blood sugars were so out of control that he would experience temporary blindness at least two or three times a week.
"I had tried everything from diets to support groups and Weight Watchers® all the way to therapy and even hypnosis. Nothing worked," says Mark. "Not only did I fail and then gain the weight back, but I started to lose hope that I could ever lose weight. At some point, you just don't want to try again."
Mark's doctor recommended bariatric surgery. But as the day approached, Mark had second thoughts.
"I told my wife I was going to cancel the surgery," he shares. "She told me that if I cancelled, then she wanted a divorce. She simply couldn't bear to watch me die."
The Program...And a Little Advice
That was more than five years ago. Not only did Mark celebrate his 40th birthday (years ago), he is maintaining his weight loss and improving his health every day.
"Now when I have my labs done, they tell me I have the stats of a 17-year-old boy!" he laughs.
Mark lost about 285 pounds through Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program. In addition, he's had two surgeries to remove excess skin through Dean's Aesthetic Surgery Center. He went from 447 pounds before bariatric surgery to 162 pounds today, surpassing his goal weight of 196.
"I feel fit and energetic," Mark says. "I'm awake more, doing more, experiencing more, so I'm happy more."
Mark credits his success to the full, comprehensive nature of Dean's program.
"The surgery does not make you skinny," Mark explains. "Surgery is a part of it, but really it's the whole program - the process - that makes the biggest difference. It was the nutritionist, the exercise, the support groups. When I go to those meetings, I just feel like these are my people."
Mark admits the program is hard. He remembers his first walk was to the end of his driveway and back to the house. And he didn't realize how much of his time was devoted to food.
"There was a big hole in my day that I needed to fill," he shares. "I felt like I had lost a friend. But they worked with me individually and in group meetings. I took everything in like it was religion."
Mark recommends maintaining your social connections and talking openly with your friends about what you need from them.
"I didn't want to step away from life," he says. "That was hard for my friends to understand at first. They weren't sure whether to invite me to things because they thought it might be too difficult. But it was WAY more difficult to get left out. Instead, I just cut out the consumption. And that was the only part I cut out."
So yes, the program was hard. But as Mark says: "There's nothing you're going to lose or give up that is greater than the joy you're going to discover."
His new motto sums it all up: "This feels better than that is going to taste."
Celebrate Every Day
Mark tells us that reaching his goal felt better than anything he could have possibly imagined. He suggests, however, that you celebrate all the small victories along the way, too.
"When I moved from a size 6X to 4X, I wanted to light off fireworks!" he claims. "The first time I bought clothes from a regular store, it was amazing."
Mark travels a lot for his job, and traveling marked some big milestones for him, as well. "Now I can use the bathroom on the airplane. And I remember the first time I didn't have to ask for the seatbelt extender. I mean, I didn't sob...but there were tears."
Mark had some special goals along the way. "My wife and I made a deal that I could get a motorcycle when I hit 250 pounds. To me, a motorcycle was the epitome of youth and health. I carried a picture of the one I wanted in my wallet, and we started a countdown when I dropped below 300 pounds. I love that thing. When it dies, I'm going to drain the fluids and put it in my living room for art."
He still gets little surprises every day.
"It has been a great journey," he reports. "It took the full program at Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program to be successful. Every person...every minute...I wouldn't change any of it. I would do anything for those people! Everything I have is yours because this program saved my life."