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On the Lighter Side

And the Oscar Goes to ...

sparkly gold glitter in the shape of an Oscar statue

By Linda Trainor, RN, BSN

Yes, indeed, the Hollywood hullabaloo over the Academy Awards has quieted, but there are still true honors to be presented for Leading Man and Leading Lady in the Achievement of Weight Loss Success category! Yes, it takes great talent to win an award for best acting in a motion picture, but it takes an enormous amount of courage, determination, diligence and dedication to achieve excellence in real-life situations.

Without further ado, we welcome Ivett Pena and David Nolan to the stage to accept their awards for leading roles in the documentary “Triumphant Lifestyle Changes.” Please join us in congratulating them for their incredible accomplishments!

Leading Lady: Ivett Pena
Weight loss: 112 pounds

Before weight loss surgery, I did not know how to eat, I didn’t play sports, I couldn’t run and play with my nephew. I was always second-guessing my body. Ivett Pena shows off her new figure after having gastric bypass surgery and dropping more than 100 poundsBut now I’m 200 percent confident of myself and my body, I’m healthier and happier, and most of all, I have learned how to eat well.

I tried all the diets in the world — they worked for the first two weeks, but then I gained those pounds and more back. It was a constant struggle. Then one day, my blood sugar was tested and was higher than 102 for the first time ever.

Right there reality hit me. Nine months before, my sister had died at age 33. She battled diabetes for 20 long years. Just the thought of my mom made me realize that I needed to do something for my health. So I went to an information session at BIDMC to see what weight loss surgery could do for me.

I had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass more than two years ago now, and I haven’t had any problems. It might sound cliché, but I feel I can do anything. Now I can run! I can use the regular seatbelt in a plane. I feel totally comfortable in my body and love my closet, which was very sad before.

I would definitely suggest weight loss surgery to others who are struggling the way I did. But it’s much more than physical change — it’s a life change, a second chance. It’s a big decision and a lot of work — you need to be ready to change all your habits. It may be risky for some, but it has absolutely been worth it for me.

Ivett Pena prior to having gastric bypass surgeryI attribute my success first to myself — you need be 100 percent committed, and I was, and still am. Second, to my medical team — Dr. Benjamin Schneider and dietitian Kate Otto especially, the support and care from them has been everything. They have taught me how to eat and achieve what I’ve always wanted. And last but not least, the support of my friends and family — I’ve had so many positive comments and it feels pretty great when people say how different — in a good way — you look.

My goal is to never go back. I’ve come this far and I want to maintain my new exercise and eating habits to give my body the care that it needs, and never take for granted the effort behind the best decision I ever made.

Leading Man: David Nolan
Weight loss: 124 lbs.

I have dealt with a weight problem for most of my life. Before having weight loss surgery, I was to the point of drinking three cases of Coca-Cola a day — that's 72 cans and 734.4 teaspoons of sugar. Needless to say, I had type 2 diabetes. My weight took its toll on my body — I had difficulty breathing, on top of having asthma. David Nolan showing off his weight loss after gastric bypass surgery by wearing an old pair of his pants that are now much too bigI had and still have difficulty walking and lower back problems. Both my knees and hips are in need of replacement. When I was 350 pounds, I thought there was no way I could get through weight loss surgery.

My diabetes specialist tried to get me to have weight loss surgery for three years, but I was afraid. He finally told me, “David, I give you no more than six months if you don't have gastric bypass surgery.” He finally convinced me.

I chose weight loss surgery because it was my last chance at life. Even though I had to fight with my insurance company, I can’t thank the crew in the Weight Loss Surgery Center at BIDMC enough for going beyond the call of duty to help.

It’s been more than five years since my surgery, and although I am still dealing with nerve damage and kidney disease from the diabetes, as well as the debilitating back, knee and hip problems from carrying around excess weight for so long, my outlook on life has really improved. I now look forward to waking up every day.

I wear a size large shirt instead of a 5X and my pants are a 34-inch waist instead of 60. I can tie my own shoes. I can fit into our car without pushing the seat all the way back. I can sit in an airplane or movie theater seat. I no longer get stared at or hear little kids say, “Mommy, look at the fat man.” I may still be disabled, but my heart is in a better place — and not under the strain of carrying all that weight.

David Nolan prior to having gastric bypass surgeryI attribute my success to the dedicated staff at BIDMC, and my determination to be alive. I owe my life to Dr. Benjamin Schneider — thank you for saving my life and giving me hope; you should be proud of yourself and your staff because I know I am.

I don't ever want to endanger my life, my family and my ability to enjoy life to the fullest — that's my motivation to stay the course. I may have lost a lot of weight and shrunk in size, but I haven't forgotten those who inspired me. I still have a big heart and kind word for everyone I meet. Best of all, I'm still here to tell my story.

I do recommend weight loss surgery to others, but you need to do your homework and weigh the pros and cons. I put my life into the hands of a great surgeon and have no regrets, but I think everyone has to make the decision themselves. If you decide to have surgery, I wish you great success — give yourself something to help live a longer and healthier life.

Above content provided for your entertainment by the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

March 2016