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Our Staff Makes the Difference ... But Our Patients Tell the Story

Seven Years Strong

Sam I Am ... Svelte, Stylish & Successful

By Linda Trainor, RN, BSN

Seven years after having weight loss surgery, Samantha Bishop (known simply as Sam) is ecstatic about her long-term success.

Samantha Bishop before (left) her adjustable gastric band procedure and after.“Time flies when you’re getting healthy and fit,” she says.

The smile on Sam’s face as she talks about the results from her adjustable gastric band surgery could light up a room.

“I never realized, until I lost 120 pounds, how the extra weight dragged me down physically and emotionally,” she says.

Dr. Daniel Jones performed Sam’s surgery in December 2006 in the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Sam vividly recalls how tiring her life was, and how she let the extra weight mask her self-esteem and self-confidence, beforehand.

“Even though I played varsity sports, sang in the chorus, and was a part of student government, carrying an extra 120 pounds was debilitating,” she notes. “I wasn’t very candid about my feelings to any of my girlfriends because I never thought that they could relate to my size and how my weight negatively affected me.”

A popular teen, Sam was voted the funniest in her high school class. But she knows she was always hiding her true feelings behind her jokes and laughter. She admits to investing a significant amount of money and time into several yo-yo dieting plans, and eventually grew tired of “food fighting” and not seeing lasting results.

Through the dieting and her work with a personal trainer, Sam learned that she was both physically and mentally strong — she just needed to change her relationship with food.

Sam stretching before a run“I realized that my food intake was much greater than my expended energy,” she says. “I knew that I needed help with my portion control.”

After extensive research and discussion with her primary care physician and parents, Sam opted to have weight loss surgery. She decided that the adjustable gastric (lap) band was the right choice for her, taking into consideration that it was a less invasive procedure and could be personalized with band fill adjustments.

Although she was only 19 years old at the time, Sam was very confident in her decision.

“It may have appeared that obesity did not affect my life, but the truth was, in my future was the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and severe arthritis if I continued life at that weight,” explains Sam. “I was also scared of not being able to have a family of my own.”

Most importantly, Sam had recognized that in later years, being overweight and having these types of illnesses would give her a higher risk of early mortality. Though she was still in college, working towards a degree in public health, and was not afflicted with any health problems, Sam was determined not to risk her future or live life only half-filled with joy or happiness.

Now seven years later, Sam lives her life to the fullest. She has reached many milestones since her lap band was placed.

Sam running in a road raceAmong them, “I ran a 13.1 mile half marathon in Boston,” she shares. “I remember crossing the finish line, feeling so accomplished and proud of my newfound endurance.”

Another milestone was buying her first bikini. “Hard work pays off!” she says.

Sam has become well-versed in speaking about the lifestyle adjustments necessary to keeping the weight off in the long term.

“Having weight loss surgery is no easy way out from obesity,” she acknowledges. “It’s simply a great tool that helped me reach my goal weight. I don’t think that it is for everyone, because it requires a strong commitment to a complete lifestyle change. But I never looked at having surgery as a quick fix for my problem.”

Sam believes her most important accomplishment is gaining a new appreciation for whole, natural foods and staying vigilant with her fitness routine.

“I work hard and play hard. I don’t think of myself as being on a diet,” Sam, now working as an emergency room technician, notes. “Many of my co-workers notice that I am full of energy and determined to provide a quality experience for my patients."

Sam is passionate about health care and plans to further her education as a registered nurse, specializing in emergency medicine. She also plans to stay on track with her weight management and hopes she can encourage anyone to succeed with these tips for long-term success after weight loss surgery:

1. Establish a good rapport with food.

Does the food you eat fuel your body or your feelings? Examine your relationship with food and how you choose to eat it. Sam now looks at food as an energy source instead of a guilty pleasure, and takes small bites, uses small plates and utensils, and chews slowly. She also puts the utensils down between bites.

2. Hydration.

Always keep a water bottle with you and sip frequently. Try for 64 ounces or more daily. For added taste, add a calorie-free flavor mix. Sam believes drinking a lot of water is a major contribution to feeling full, early satiety, and reaching your desired weight.

3. Take the long route.

Park further away from stores or work and use the stairs instead of the elevator. Sam also challenged herself with a pedometer; she started by taking 10,000 steps a day and gradually increased to 20,000. And, keep an extra pair of sneakers in your car trunk or office — when the timing is right and the mood strikes, you will be ready to walk or jog.

4. Create colorful plates.

Introduce new and colorful fruits and vegetables to your plate. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods, like spinach leaves instead of iceberg lettuce. Since having her surgery, Sam eliminated heavy carbohydrates from her diet (pizza, bagels, pasta) and replaces them with more nutritious items like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, rice cakes and avocados. Discuss any diet changes with your bariatric nutritionist.

5. Prep your food in advance.

Before your work week starts, put together healthy, well-balanced meals that provide a good source of energy. With her busy schedule in the emergency room, Sam says this has saved her a lot of money, calories and time. One night a week, she cooks sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, and chicken and fish lightly seasoned with garlic and olive oil. “I try to follow a clean eating regime,” Sam says. “I have pretty much eliminated processed foods.”

6. Get plenty of sleep.

Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Sam does not eat for at least three to four hours before bed, and refrains from caffeine. After working her evening ER shifts, Sam goes home, takes a hot shower, and hits the hay.

Sam getting ready for another road race7. Stay strong with support from like-minded people.

Develop a strong support system. Sam utilized the Weight Loss Surgery Center’s follow-up schedule and keeps her yearly appointments, but always calls the clinic with questions or concerns. She participates in group exercises as well — fitness boot camp, field hockey, fun runs — and is involved with a hiking group that meets monthly.

Sam also enjoys the company of her boyfriend of two years, who enjoys eating healthy and taking part in sports and activities, too. He can always be found running by Sam’s side as her personal cheerleader, encouraging her during all her long distance runs.

“If you are seriously considering weight loss surgery,” Sam advises, “be sure to commit to a healthy lifestyle. The long-lasting results are truly worth your efforts.”

All photos courtesy of Samantha Bishop 

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 October 2013

Contact Information

Weight Loss Surgery Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clinical Center, 3rd Floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215