Marathon Man

Down 150 Pounds, Derron is Training to Run Boston

Before and After ShotBy Linda Trainor, RN, BSN, Bariatric Nurse Coordinator

It wasn’t long ago that Derron became short of breath when he walked up stairs.

Now, after undergoing a sleeve gastrectomy in January 2018 and losing a total of 150 pounds, Derron is running four times a week in preparation for the 2019 Boston Marathon.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be part of the Brookline Team, getting ready to run in the marathon,” he says.

Derron reports that his significant weight loss has helped him become stronger both physically and mentally. He is also filled with an empowering, positive attitude.

“I now believe in myself, and believe that with preparation, planning and the big ‘C’ word — commitment — I can set goals and push forward to meet these goals,” Derron explains.

‘I Didn’t Always Feel This Way’

Derron once weighed 360 pounds. Prior to having weight loss surgery, Derron says he felt imprisoned by his weight.

“I would isolate myself. I’d shy away from going to the gym with my friends because I feared I couldn’t match my friends’ abilities and couldn’t meet my own expectations,” he notes.

Factors contributing to his excess weight, Derron acknowledges, included eating large portions and too many foods high in carbohydrates and saturated fat, as well as late-night eating and fast food.

As a result, Derron was dealing with severe obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol, back pain, shortness of breath upon exertion, and borderline type 2 diabetes

“Any weight loss attempts I made never gave me the results I was looking for,” Derron says. “That just left me discouraged and endlessly frustrated.”

Derron, an MBTA bus driver, was just 29 when his primary care physician warned him that his health would continue to be in jeopardy if he did not lose weight.

“My PCP had suggested I consider weight loss surgery,” Derron says. “The deal breaker for me was when my blood sugar was elevated enough that I had to start taking Metformin for diabetes. I realized I had to finally do something about my weight, and having weight loss surgery was the best thing I ever did for myself.”

Improving His Health

Derron decided to have a gastric sleeve procedure with Dr. Daniel Jones, Director of the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Derron also began seeing bariatric dietitian Danelle Olson, RD, LDN, for nutrition support.

Adjusting to the required post-operative diet, however, was tough.

“I tested the waters and tried to eat macaroni and cheese too soon, which resulted in nausea and vomiting,” Derron admits. “But I was honest about it with Danelle and Dr. Jones. They emphasized the importance of following the post-op diet, along with daily exercise.

“Fortunately, I followed their advice and I started to see amazing results,” Derron adds. “That encouraged me to keep on keeping on with my personalized nutrition and exercise routine.”

Derron lost 60 pounds within a few months of surgery. He began increasing his exercise, going to the gym four times a week and playing basketball twice a week. His health risks have since decreased: his sleep apnea and back pain have improved, and he has stopped taking medication for diabetes.

“So much has changed, losing 150 pounds!” an overjoyed Derron says. “Even shopping used to be a burden. Now, it’s amazing, I am excited to try on clothes and buy jeans in a normal clothing store.”

Derron credits his weight loss success to — that “C” word again — commitment.

“I’d say one of the biggest misconceptions about weight loss surgery is that it’s an easy way out, but it is not,” Derron stresses. “It involves a huge commitment: there was a lot of preparation and forward thinking on my own behalf, then following the post-operative advice from your surgeon and the bariatric team, along with getting daily exercise and keeping your follow-up appointments.”

The ‘New’ Derron

Family members and friends are also thrilled that Derron has improved his health.

“I have received so many delightful compliments from friends, family and my passengers on the bus — some hardly recognize me!” he marvels.

Derron also works as a youth leader, advocating for health and safety for teens. He now seizes any opportunity he can to promote health and wellness to kids. And, he has learned important lessons during his weight loss journey.

“I now see that being healthy is truly a marathon, instead of a sudden sprint,” Derron says. “Maintaining my weight requires that I am diligent and ever mindful that there is no true finish line, and that I keep on keeping on track to stay healthy and happy.”

Derron does have his eyes on one literal finish line — the big blue and yellow one on Boylston Street, which he is working hard to cross this April. After that, he looks forward to running other marathons and continuing to help others achieve their goals for better health and wellness.

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