Our Staff Makes the Difference ... But Our Patients Tell the Story
Half His Size
Dana Credits Support Groups, Bariatric Team for his Success
By Linda Trainor, RN, BSN
At any given bariatric support group at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, attendees can listen to Dana Epstein sincerely share his strength, hope and recovery following weight loss surgery.
"I am very pleased, excited and proud to help others who have had weight loss surgery," says Dana.
He claims that having the surgery, in April 2011, was the best decision that he ever made for himself. "My only regret is that I did not have the surgery performed at a younger age.”
His well-meaning family and friends, Dana notes, continually voiced their concerns about the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery. However, after numerous unsuccessful attempts with self-directed and formalized dieting, Dana sought the advice of his primary care doctor about viable options for long-term weight loss. Sure enough, with Dana tipping the scale at 327 pounds and knowing the health risks associated with obesity, his doctor suggested weight loss surgery.
Dana researched the procedures himself and attended a weight loss surgery informational session offered by Dr. Daniel Jones and Dr. Benjamin Schneider at BIDMC — which left him with no doubt that this was the long-awaited answer to his lifelong struggle with obesity.
"I completed the application prior to leaving the session and felt a sense of relief and confidence that before I turned 50, I would finally have help to end my endless battle with being overweight," Dana says.
While researching the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and its recovery process, Dana also reflected on the possible reasons for his previous, unsuccessful attempts at long-term weight loss.
"Other diets did not yield lasting results because as soon as I stopped buying the food required on popular weight loss programs, or did not attend weekly meetings, old habits returned," Dana explains.
Knowing these things contributed to his lack of success, Dana vowed not only to have the procedure, but abide by the healthy suggestions offered by his surgeon and the multi-disciplinary bariatric team for long-lasting success.
Now three years after having surgery and down 120 pounds, Dana remains serious about keeping his regularly scheduled appointments with Dr. Schneider and bariatric nutritionist Michelle Davis, RD. Beginning with his initial post-op period, Dana has faithfully attended the monthly bariatric support groups offered at BIDMC’s Boston campus.
"It is one thing to listen to the excellent professional advice from the bariatric staff, but it is another to relate to others who have experienced having weight loss surgery,” he says. “Along with eating healthy and exercising, I really believe attending support groups, and sharing thoughts and feelings with other people who have had weight loss surgery, has been instrumental in my success.”
Dana's relationship with food has also drastically changed since having weight loss surgery. Boredom or emotions are no longer triggers for eating high calorie foods; instead, Dana says that he has formulated many other meaningful relationships and no longer isolates himself from others to deal with boredom or uncomfortable feelings. He also is proud to be a Bari Buddy for BIDMC’s Weight Loss Surgery Center.
"I have a strong network of support with family, friends and BIDMC staff," he says. "Being a Bari Buddy and going to support groups keeps me honest. Knowing that I have to show up in front of people helps me to not stray from my goals. Now, I certainly have more self-esteem to do all that."
Dana also stays mindful of what he is eating, and how he eats it.
"I never fail to plan my meals," he says, “and I eat slower, and take my time to enjoy food."
His daily routine includes four small meals, which are limited to one cup each. He usually has a protein shake for breakfast, protein and salad for lunch, and protein with vegetables for dinner. Snacks are inclusive of protein and fruit.
"Both nutritionists have been very helpful in guiding me with a workable food plan that includes all food groups," Dana says. "I used to use food for comfort, but now I walk and use other venues for stress relief."
That includes the gym he joined, where he goes four to five times a week to do cardio and strength training exercises under the guidance of his personal trainer. “I love working out!” he proclaims.
Dana’s diet changes, exercise routine, and build-up of his support system have tremendously improved his quality of life. Gone are the medications for hypertension and the pre-diabetic consideration, as his blood pressure and A1C level are now right where they need to be. He enjoys a lot more activities that he couldn’t before losing 120 pounds — including just climbing a flight of stairs without being winded, as well as walking instead of driving for errands — and finds his calendar more full with social engagements and family outings.
"I have a blast playing with my darling nieces, who are both under the age of nine and very energetic,” Dana says with a laugh. "It means so much to me to have fun with them, to keep up with them. I would never have been able to do that weighing almost 330 pounds.”
When asked if he would recommend weight loss surgery for others who suffer from the physical and emotional effects of obesity, Dana offers a candid response.
"I am a new person thanks to having weight loss surgery," he says without pause, though he cautions those who are considering it. "But it is important to know that surgery is not for those looking for a quick cure. It is not a sprint, but a marathon worthy of each devoted step to obtain a new life. I used to live a half-lived life, and now I am half my size and fueled for success with a full life ahead!"
All photos courtesy of Dana Epstein
Above content provided by the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted April 2014