Farmington Hills woman wishes she had weight loss surgery sooner

For most of her life, Diane Cary, 42, of Farmington Hills, was on the losing side of a battle with her weight. Her first foray into dieting was in Weight Watchers when her mother enrolled her in middle school. "I was the tallest in my grade and was an emotional eater," she says. "I resented going. Every time I went, it seemed like my weight was inching up, not down."

Through high school, college and eventually adulthood, she continued to diet and regain the weight, soon finding her physical activity limited by her size. She had back pain and was taking three medications for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Eventually, at 328 pounds, she decided she had had enough. "I realized I was feeling bad," she explains. "I was tired of feeling sick and tired."

She went to her primary care physician, who talked to her about bariatric surgery and referred her to the Weight Control Center at Beaumont Health System. In May 2010, she attended a free seminar and started in the Bariatric Surgery Support Program, a pre- and post-bariatric surgery program that teams patients up with medical doctors, surgeons, dietitians, exercise physiologists and psychologists. After meeting monthly with her team, she underwent surgery with David Chengelis, M.D., in November 2010.

"I was scared, but I felt like this was my last resort," she says.

Now, she wishes she had had the surgery sooner. Her weight started dropping off in the first month after surgery. She began walking 20 minutes a day on a treadmill, which would have been a struggle before surgery. "Then I pushed it to 30 minutes, then 32, then 35, a little bit more each time. Pretty soon, I was up to 60 minutes of walking a day," Diane says.

When the weather improved the following spring, she began running and now runs three miles a day, five to six days a week. Just 11 months after surgery, Diane ran her first 5K race. In total, she has lost more than half of her weight.

Two years after her procedure, the unit secretary in a nursing home has her sights set on running her first half-marathon in 2013. While weight loss continues to challenge her, especially during this holiday season, she still attends support group meetings at Beaumont's Weight Control Center.

"Having bariatric surgery was the best decision," she says. "I can't believe how much better I feel. I really enjoy being active. It changed my life."

Diane's advice for others contemplating weight loss surgery, "Weigh your options. The procedure is a lifestyle change, not a cure. If you stick with the program- eat healthy and exercise, you'll not only feel better, but look better."

Beaumont Health System offers medical and surgical weight loss programs. To attend a free seminar, go to classes.beaumont.edu or call 888-899-4600.