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A Home Run for Health
Karina Scores 114-pound Weight Loss & New Mindset for Success
By Linda Trainor, RN, BSN
December 15, 2008: Karina Falcon has a vivid memory of this day, the day she underwent weight loss surgery with Dr. Daniel Jones at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
“It was the best thing I ever did for myself,” she says.
Nearly eight years after having a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, and despite a few complications following the procedure, Karina continues to happily maintain a 114-pound weight loss.
“Gastric bypass surgery offered me an opportunity to live a full life, not a life filled with despair from all the failed attempts at dieting,” she explains. “I will never forget the physical and psychological agony of being overweight. It was like being in prison. But now I feel healthy, happy and free to be me and enjoy my life.”
Life was difficult for 34-year-old Karina. She was dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome, chest pain, back pain and sleep apnea. Carrying more than 100 extra pounds was also a burden physically — her knees constantly ached, and she felt short of breath after walking just a short distance. Not being able to enjoy dancing or other activities was especially discouraging.
“I felt like my life was governed by the extra weight and number on the scale,” Karina says. “My self-esteem suffered, too, as I isolated myself from the social scene. Buying clothes was horrible — I was never motivated to go shopping because it was hard to find the right fit, the right color, or anything fashionable.”
Karina had dealt with being overweight her entire life, and felt stigmatized because of it. As a child and teen, she remembers not being chosen for teams in gym class and getting picked on. As an adult, “I actually had someone deny me a seat next to her on public transportation because she told me I would never be able to fit in the seat. It was so embarrassing. I used to get so mad at myself — I was so accomplished in all areas of my life, but I just could not lose weight.”
Having weight loss surgery allowed Karina to change her total mindset. Not only has she removed unhealthy food from her diet, but the negative thoughts and emotions that came with being overweight have been replaced with much more positive imagery.
“Every day I wake up with success in mind,” Karina says. “I always remember that my goal is to maintain my weight loss, so now I think with my head and not my tummy. I never, ever want to go back to that place of feeling so horrible.”
Over these last eight years, Karina has developed a new relationship with food — she enjoys eating healthy and realizes her limitations. As a chef-in-training and self-described amateur baker, Karina makes all of her own healthy foods, including hummus, yogurt, soups and breads. She stays away from processed foods and takes pride in crafting fancy desserts for others.
“I like baking for family, friends and customers, it makes me happy to bake creative treats,” she says, adding that sweets were never one of her “trigger” foods and therefore don’t tempt her into overeating.
Shopping is now a fun activity, too — Karina loves to try on new clothes and pick out fabulous shoes. She has also found joy in helping others change their mindset about health, so that they too can follow in her stylish footsteps.
Karina acknowledges that while it was a tough, daunting task to carry around and lose more than 100 extra pounds, she is delighted to now walk and dance with ease, speed and grace — not to mention confidence. Dancing alongside Karina is her main cheerleader, her loving husband.
“I am very fortunate and blessed to have him, he has been with me, loved me, and coached me through thick and thin,” she says.
Other elements to Karina maintaining her long-term accomplishments include keeping her bariatric clinic appointments, taking daily vitamins, planning meals in advance, generally practicing healthy habits, and stepping up to her personal plate every day believing in, and visualizing, success.
“Weight loss surgery was a remarkable tool for me,” she emphasizes, “but learning how to maintain the weight loss one day at a time, one bite at a time was, and still is, my responsibility.”
Photos courtesy of Karina Falcon
Above content provided by the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.