Although Abby Lutz of Newton, NC had gastric bypass surgery at CVMC a little over nine years ago, the surgery was but one of the tools she credits for the major personal transformation that resulted. Ultimately losing more than 250 pounds, Abby, a nurse, includes diet, running, moderation and commitment among the others.
“I am so glad I had the surgery. When someone tells me how great I look it makes me feel like a million bucks,” she says. “Of course, I have recommended it [bariatric surgery] to others and some of them are also on their way to reaching their goals too. But it’s also important bariatric weightloss candidates prepare for commitment. Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix, nor does it solve all problems.”
Abby, whose dress size has dipped from 32W to a size 10, says, “My family is so proud of me … my mom (who is my biggest supporter) says it’s as if her grandchildren have a new mom! When I was at my heaviest, I was tired all the time and felt terrible. Time spent playing with my daughter then consisted of watching her play by herself. Now we ride bikes at the park and enjoy an active lifestyle.”
Abby, now 34, struggled with being overweight since she was a toddler. Her weight was always up and down. In her early 20’s she lost around 100 pounds in a year with heavy workouts and dieting. But, then she got pregnant with her first daughter and gained back even more weight than before, tipping the scales at about 425 pounds when she graduated nursing school and began working as an RN. It was all she could do to get through the 12 hour shifts, barely making it each day. The rest of the time she spent lying on the couch, lacking the energy or ability to do much else.
“After I developed diabetes and high blood pressure, I started taking insulin and other medications,” she says. “Beyond discouraged, this is when I started researching surgical weightloss options and made the decision to have Roux-En-Y gastric bypass on September 17, 2007. I was only 25.”
Before the surgery, she no longer fit in most regular clothes and had resorted to wearing mostly special-ordered 5XL stretchy clothing. In the first 18 months after bariatric surgery, Abby dropped about 180 pounds, before becoming pregnant again. “I remember weighing 227 pounds when I found out I was pregnant and I weighed 228 pounds the day I delivered my youngest daughter in 2011,” she says. “I had hit a plateau, but then, about 4 years ago, I joined a running group and that’s what really helped me get the rest of the weight off, and keep it off.”
Now, nine years post surgery, Abby keeps her 6-foot frame between 180 and 190 pounds with focus on moderation in both diet and exercise. But, she contributes most of her continued success to running. “I am doing things and wearing clothes now that I couldn’t before,” she says. “Being able to shop in regular stores, as opposed to the plus-size stores, is a huge thing for me.”
To maintain her weight and health, Abby now runs about three miles several times a week . “I feel so much better for the change,” she says. “My health has improved so much my doctors are amazed. Plus, I am able to do things that nine years ago I could never have managed, such as running a half marathon, several 5ks and even competing in a Spartan obstacle course race last year.”
As a self-reward for keeping her weight stable for a few years, Abby recently had cosmetic surgery to remove excess skin, a common issue for patients achieving such significant weight loss. She says that she is enjoying the results which allow her to fit into even more clothes, and wear styles that she either wouldn’t have been able to, or didn’t have the courage to wear before.
“CVMC’s weightloss program was fantastic,” says Abby. “I’d definitely do it again, it was the right choice for me. My advice to others is to be ready for a complete life change because, if you don’t change what you do, you’ll eventually gain the weight back. Follow the rules and guidelines; be realistic, but hopeful. Don’t be too critical of yourself. Give yourself time and take care of yourself.”
If you are interested in finding out if bariatric surgery is right for you, consider attending a free information seminar to learn more about the Catawba Valley Medical Center Surgical Weight Management Program. To speak to the program coordinator, call 828.326.2082.