Studies Show Obesity Causes a Range of Problems for Your Body — Even Your Brain

obesity and brain health

 

It’s a well-known fact that obesity can have a wide range of health impacts. We’ve discussed many of these issues on this blog, including how obesity can reduce your lifespan, increase your risk of cancer and cause cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems.

But did you know that obesity also affects your brain? There is a small but growing body of evidence that shows that obesity can have detrimental effects on your most vital organ.

The Link Between Obesity and Brain-Related Problems

In recent years, scientists across the world have conducted studies to determine how obesity affects the brain. Their emerging conclusion is that obesity can cause a range of problems for the brain.

These include:

  • Memory deficits
  • Age-related brain degeneration, including the development of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease

Memory Deficits

Studies show that obesity is linked to brain shrinkage and memory deficits. In a University of Cambridge study, researchers found that a higher a participant’s BMI (body mass index) was, the lower they performed on memory tasks.

This could be because obesity may actually affect the structure of the brain. A Boston University School of Medicine study found that individuals with excess fat tend to exhibit lower overall brain volume.

Brain Degeneration

Besides memory deficits, obesity could also have an effect on brain aging. Another study, which utilized brain scanning, showed that being overweight or obese corresponds with a greater degree of age-related brain degeneration.

Our brains change during the natural aging process. As we become older, the brain loses white matter and shrinks. Studies have shown that obese people have less white matter in their brains compared to normal-weight individuals.

The Relationship Between Obesity and the Brain

The changes that obesity prompts the brain to undergo may also fuel obesity in turn.

Dopamine is a chemical that occurs in the brain and causes us to feel pleasure. One study found that individuals with higher BMIs have a lower concentration of dopamine receptors. In other words, the brain is unable to process the chemical that tells it to feel happy.

That means that people who are obese may not feel pleasure after eating meals of normal proportions, causing them to overeat to feel satisfied.

Past studies have also shown a link between memory and eating habits. Put simply, if someone doesn’t remember eating, they’re more likely to eat. Because obesity may have a detrimental effect on memory, scientists hypothesize that memory deficits can result in overeating among people who are already obese.

Because obesity and brain function are highly complex phenomena, scientists are still determining the precise relationship between obesity and brain problems.

While many questions still remain, Dr. Dirk says, “There is no question that obesity accelerates and worsens various medical conditions and thus can be considered an ‘age accelerator.'”

What Can You Do To Fight Obesity?

While the science is still unsettled, it is very likely that obesity has a negative effect on the brain, and it is certain that obesity causes a range of other problems for the body.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. According to Dr. Dirk, “The simplest way deal with obesity is to prevent it. But if you’re already overweight or obese, you should actively work to reverse it with good nutrition and exercise. If nutrition and exercise fail to produce meaningful results within one year, it’s time to consider your obesity surgery options.”


Are the U.S. Dietary Guidelines right for you? No, says Dr. Dirk

U.S. dietary guidelines

Every five years, the government issues the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are based on the prevailing body of nutrition science. These guidelines have a big impact on the nutrition choices that Americans — and people across the world — make.

Recently, however, these guidelines have come under fire.

The government relies on expert advice to determine their dietary guidelines, but many scientists and health and nutrition professionals complain that this expert advice fails to take into account the most current scientific evidence.

So why do the government’s dietary guidelines matter? And what are Dr. Dirk’s recommendations for eating a nutritious diet? Here’s what you need to know.

Why are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans important?

Since they were first issued in 1980, the goal of the government’s dietary guidelines has been to help Americans make healthy food and beverage choices, as well as to serve as a foundation for nutrition policies and programs that federal, state and local governments administer.

The guidelines also have a direct impact on the nutritional choices Americans make. Consider the famous food pyramid. Many Americans still make health choices based on the recommendations made by the pyramid, even though those recommendations are no longer current.

In addition, the guidelines affect nutrition education, food labeling, research priorities at the National Institutes of Health and public feeding programs, which one-quarter of Americans rely on.

The guidelines’ impact even extends beyond American shores by driving global nutrition policy, since many Western nations adopt similar advice.

How are the dietary guidelines determined?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are based on an expert report produced by an advisory committee. The committee is composed of 11 to 15 experts who review the most current science to make nutrition recommendations that promote health and fight disease.

After the advisory committee submits the report, the government’s health and agriculture agencies review the report and issue final guidelines.

Why do the guidelines fail to reflect current science?

Since 1980, the guideline process has been most susceptible to the outside interests of food manufacturers, food producers and special interest groups.

Because the guidelines have a major impact on the diet choices Americans make, lobbyists for the food industry work hard to promote guidelines that can benefit their bottom line.

According to Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, “The current system opens the guidelines up to lobbying and manipulation of data.”

While many doctors and scientists applauded some of the new guidelines for 2015, such as the recommendation to eat less added sugar, other guidelines failed to reflect the most current science.

How does Dr. Dirk view the dietary guidelines?

Like many other experts, Dr. Dirk has objections to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

According to Dr. Dirk, “The problem with the U.S. dietary guidelines is that they are built on bad science. It is very clear from current science that a lot of what we were taught about things like low-fat diets and red meat is not true.”

The dietary guidelines are particularly unhelpful for overweight and obese individuals. Not only does Dr. Dirk believe the guidelines are complicated and vague, but he and other Dallas bariatric surgeons also agree that the guidelines aren’t helpful for bariatric patients trying to lose weight.

What are Dr. Dirk’s dietary recommendations?

“Over the last 10 years, there has been significant research showing that a nutrition plan high in protein and low in carbohydrates is both safe and effective for losing weight,” says Dr. Dirk.

Dr. Dirk’s regimen focuses on a number of small high-protein, low-carb meals throughout the day. This regimen helps overweight and obese individuals lose weight and quickly heal from bariatric procedures.

Unlike the U.S. dietary guidelines, which fail to reflect the best science and which are not tailored to overweight and obese individuals, Dr. Dirk’s bariatric programs are scientifically sound and specific to the needs of his patients.

To learn more about Dr. Dirk’s nutrition recommendations, set up a consultation today.


How Preventing Childhood Obesity Can Help Curb Depression

childhood obesity and depression

More than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are obese or overweight. There are many health risks that accompany childhood obesity, including cardiovascular disease and prediabetes, but one sometimes-overlooked consequence of obesity is depression.

What is the relationship between childhood obesity and depression, and what steps can you take to treat depression caused by obesity? Here’s what you need to know.

The Link Between Childhood Obesity and Depression

In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children (ages 6 to 11) and more than quadrupled in adolescents (ages 12 to 19).

Studies show that children and adolescents who are overweight and obese are at greater risk for social and psychological problems, such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem. Obese and overweight teens are also more likely to perform poorly in school. Children and adolescents are uniquely susceptible to such problems.

Weight issues aside, adolescence is already a period of vulnerability to the development of psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders, depression and alcohol abuse. Factors such as peer pressure and bullying can contribute to increased stress.

While it is true that findings directly linking obesity and depression are not clear, studies have found that obesity can indirectly lead to depression. Stressful life events like weight-based teasing and victimization can be a significant factor of depression in obese or overweight youth.

And the relationship between depression and weight is mutual. Studies have also overwhelmingly shown that mental health problems such as depression can lead to poor health habits, which can lead to obesity.

Feelings of emptiness prompted by depression or weight can make children or adolescents want to consume sweetened beverages and junk food, which stimulate the release of chemicals that can make them feel better.

Preventing Childhood Obesity

The key to preventing obesity is to implement healthy lifestyle habits starting in childhood. That includes smart nutrition and physical activity, which lower the risk of obesity and developing related diseases.

The dietary behaviors of children and adolescents depend upon many factors, especially the home and schools. To help your child or adolescent eat healthy, consider these simple guidelines.

  1. Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods.

That means fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats, fish, eggs and grains that have not been processed. When shopping at the grocery store, try to buy ingredients that have not been cooked, prepared or altered in any way.

Of course, there are foods, such as oil or pasta, that you can’t easily make yourself. When it comes to lightly processed foods, aim to eat them less often. Eat heavily processed foods (such as bread, chips, cookies and cereals) rarely, if at all.

  1. Eat home-cooked food as much as possible.

By eating at home, you can avoid processed ingredients more easily (and save a pretty penny). Eating at home makes it more likely that you will eat less.

Do you find it difficult to prepare home-cooked meals? Consider the time-saving technique of meal prepping.

  1. Use salt and fats only as needed in cooking.

Salt and fat aren’t the enemy — you need them in order to prepare delicious food. But the key rule is moderation. Add just enough to bring out the taste, but don’t go overboard.

  1. Be smart about eating out.

We’ve previously discussed tips for making smart decisions when eating out. In addition to strategizing, you should try to eat at restaurants which follow the same rules as above. Try to avoid restaurants with heavily processed, calorie-heavy foods.

  1. Drink mostly water.

Teens often consume high quantities of sugar- and calorie-laden soft drinks, juice drinks and beverages. You can’t do better than drinking water, which keeps your calorie intake much lower and provides numerous other health benefits.

Physical activity and exercise is the second prong of a healthy lifestyle. We have discussed a range of exercises that are appropriate for obese individuals. These include low-impact cardio, such as walking and swimming or water aerobics, and strength training.

By addressing childhood obesity through diet, exercise and, when necessary, surgical procedures, it is possible to avoid the wide variety of health risks that accompany obesity, including depression.


Suffering from back or joint pain? Weight loss surgery can help

weight loss surgery back pain

One of the many benefits of weight loss surgery is the alleviation of back pain. Studies show that people who are overweight are at greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain than those who are not overweight.

If you are considering bariatric surgery and you suffer from serious back pain, here’s what you need to know.

How Obesity Causes Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain, which includes back pain, occurs in the nearly one-third of Americans who are classified as obese. Simply put, the more you weigh, the more pressure you exert on your spine and joints.

The added pressure of each additional pound can cause cartilage to wear away, leading to bone-on-bone friction. Pressure can also flatten the cushioning disks between vertebral bones, causing back pain.

Additionally, extra weight can place stress on the spine and cause it to warp. Over time, the back may lose proper support and an unnatural curvature in the spine may emerge.

Obesity is also a culprit of lower back pain. For people who carry excess weight in their stomachs, the weight pulls the pelvis forward and puts a harmful strain on the lower back in addition to the rest of the body.

Conditions Related To Obesity

There are a range of conditions that obesity can cause and/or exacerbate.

As mentioned above, too much weight can place a lot of strain on the back, which can result in a herniated disc. A herniated disk occurs when spinal structures are damaged from the stress of having to counterbalance extra weight.

This stress also puts pressure on nerves in the spine. This can lead to pinched nerves, sciatica, tingling or numbness in the buttocks and legs and piriformis syndrome.

Obesity can also be a key contributing factor in osteoarthritis. Patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than those with lower BMIs.

How Obesity Complicates Back Surgery

Unfortunately, reducing back pain is not a simple matter of surgery for obese patients. Many joint and spine surgeons are often unwilling to perform surgery on overweight patients for fear that the obesity will only cause the new joint or spine repair to wear down and require additional surgery.

Moreover, obese patients face a greater risk of complications and infections after the surgery.

Weight Loss Reduces Back And Joint Pain

Just as more weight equals more pressure on the back and joints, a reduction in body mass reduces the stress on the joints and spine. In addition to the many other benefits of weight loss, it can also remove the stress that degrades the musculoskeletal structure.

Additionally, weight loss can reduce the risk of critical joint replacement or spine surgery, enabling patients to receive procedures which can further reduce joint or back pain.

Sticking to a healthy weight loss program can help you avoid or reduce the problems that excess weight can cause for your joints and back. For certain patients, weight loss surgery can reduce overall body mass and keep their muscles and bones in healthy shape.

If you’re experiencing back or joint pain related to obesity, give Dr. Dirk a call at (214) 974-8937. He and his staff can help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you.


The Key To Long-Term Weight Loss? Your Resting Metabolic Rate

long term weight loss

Those on a weight-loss program know that losing weight isn’t always permanent. Lost weight often comes back with a vengeance.

So why is long-term weight loss so challenging? A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the culprit is likely your resting metabolic rate.

What is resting metabolic rate, and how can you use it to lose weight and keep it off for good? Here’s what you need to know.

All About Your Resting Metabolic Rate 

Resting metabolic rate, or RMR, denotes the biochemical activity that occurs in your body while you are not physically active. Resting metabolic activity is what keeps your body warm and, critically, what keeps you breathing.

In simpler terms, your RMR is about burning calories. Even while sedentary, your body continues to burn calories. In fact, 80 percent of the calories you burn per day are burned while you’re at rest, thanks to resting metabolic functions.

Weight loss is about consuming fewer calories than your body expends. Knowing your RMR is key to knowing how many calories your body burns on an average day and how many calories you should consume to lose weight.

Weight Loss Triggers A Drop In Your RMR

The NIH study tracked 14 contestants from the television show “The Biggest Loser” after the show ended. The contestants lost an average of 125 pounds during the show.

Six years after the show, however, the study found that 13 of the 14 contestants had regained much of their lost weight, despite diet and exercise.

The NIH study found that the contestants’ drastic weight loss produced a corresponding drop in their resting metabolic rates. Their bodies burned fewer calories while at rest than they did before their weight loss.

Put simply, weight loss results in a lower RMR. The “Biggest Loser” contestants experienced a 30 percent drop in their RMRs. That means their bodies were burning 30 percent fewer calories while at rest than before the weight loss.

Making up for such a large drop in RMR would require almost two hours per day of brisk walking, seven days per week.

Maintain Your RMR By Strengthening Your Soleus Muscles

Your soleus muscle, located in your calves, is often referred to as your body’s second heart. That’s because your soleus muscle is responsible for pumping blood from your lower body back up to your heart. The stronger the pump, the more blood gets delivered back to the heart, which results in a higher RMR.

With a stronger soleus muscle, you can boost your resting metabolic rate, helping you keep your weight off. Along with critical health steps, such as maintaining a good diet and a disciplined exercise regimen, training your soleus muscles is essential.

Because of our sedentary lifestyles, our calf muscles tend to weaken. The soleus muscles require training of long duration and low intensity. Practicing tai chi is an excellent way to achieve stronger soleus muscles. There are also devices that you can use to deliver mechanical vibrations to your soleus muscles while seated, causing them to undergo reflex contractions.

Staying healthy and in shape is a lifelong journey. While keeping lost weight off for good can be difficult, maintaining a good RMR is an important step.


9 Tips for Eating Out After Weight Loss Surgery

eating out after weight loss surgery

Eating out is one of America’s favorite pastimes. For people trying to stick to a diet or make smart dining decisions after weight loss surgery, however, navigating restaurants can be tricky.

Luckily, you don’t have to completely forego eating out in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. All you need is to be strategic about where, what and how often you eat out. Follow these smart and simple tips to eat out and eat healthy after weight loss surgery

Eat a light lunch

Are you planning on eating out for dinner? Many people try to compensate for a more indulgent dinner by skipping lunch. But the fact is, skipping lunch is a strategic disaster. By the time you take your seat for dinner, you’re ravenous. And ravenous people don’t make the best eating decisions. (Consider the bottomless bread basket.)

So instead of foregoing lunch, have something light. A salad with some chicken is a good bet. Then, in the afternoon, stave off hunger with a small snack, such as a handful of almonds.

Know before you go

Before you decide on a restaurant, read the menu and confirm that the restaurant has healthy options that adhere to your diet.

Nowadays, you can even find nutritional information on restaurant websites, including calorie, fat and carb counts. Read the menu carefully and thoroughly, and don’t go on menu item names alone. Just because a steak with Gorgonzola and pan-fried veggies is labeled as “lite” doesn’t mean it is.

Consult your weight loss surgeon or dietician regarding what foods you should avoid and what foods you should eat. Generally, you want a balance of lean proteins (fish, chicken), complex carbs (brown rice, whole wheat pasta) and monounsaturated fats (canola or olive oil).

Decide what you will order before you get to the restaurant, and stick to your decision.

Sit in a quiet area

This tip isn’t as obvious, but it’s important. Did you know that people who sit in more distracting areas of restaurants (such as by a window or in front of a TV) eat substantially more?

Noise makes it easier to lose track of how much you’re eating. So when you make your reservation, be sure to request a quiet table.

Don’t overdo the alcohol

As a rule of thumb, stick to one drink or one glass of wine with dinner. More drinks results in more calories — but not just calories from the drinks themselves.

Drinking alcohol before a meal also boosts short-term appetite and food consumption, according to a study at the University of Sussex. Alcohol may temporarily impair your body’s ability to feel full.

Send the bread or chips back

It’s tempting to dig into a bread basket or bowl of chips, but resist. Two or three pieces of bread and butter mean a couple hundred calories before you even place your order. A bowl of chips can contain 645 calories and 34 grams of fat.

Order first

Manners have their place, but it’s important to place your order first. Once you have decided on a healthy option, you don’t need to be tempted by your friend’s order of a burger and fries. Order first, and you won’t risk hearing the siren call of salty, fatty fried stuff.

Modify your order

Almost every restaurant will accommodate you if you want to modify your order. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the dish is prepared, what ingredients are used, and whether the restaurant can prepare a low-fat or low-calorie version of the dish.

Make special requests and ask about substitutions.

Be smart with salads

Salads aren’t always virtuous. Add heavy dressing, croutons, cheese or bacon, and you have a calorie-packed, fatty meal on par with regular entrees.

For instance, a house salad at Applebee’s is around 230 calories. Add dressing, and that calorie count more than doubles to 470 calories, close to the 12 oz. New York strip.

Looking for dressing? Request oil and vinegar on the side. That simple choice can save you up to 18 pounds per year.

Control your portions

It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Everything is bigger in Texas — especially the restaurant portions. Yes, Mom taught you to finish everything on your plate, but not when the plate is the size of a hubcap.

Leave about a third of your food on your plate. That step alone can help cut 300 calories off your meal. Best of all, you can take the remainder of the food home for another meal.

Eating out doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your diet. Be strategic, and you’ll enjoy your night out all the more for staying healthy.


Dr. Dirk’s Gift Guide for Fitness Beginners

Do you have a loved one who’s getting ready to embark upon a weight loss journey? This holiday season, you can help him or her succeed in living a healthy lifestyle with some well-chosen fitness and wellness gifts.

Here are just a few of our favorite holiday gifts for fitness beginners.

gift guide for fitness beginners
Fitbit Charge 2

Fitness tracker

These nifty gadgets allow your loved one to monitor their daily exercise metrics, including calories burned, steps and/or distance walked, heart rate and more.

While there are a number of fitness trackers on the market, some of our favorites include:

  • Garmin Vivosmart HR+: The HR+ is a good bet if your recipient likes their gadgets loaded with features. The home screen allows you to swipe between daily steps, stairs climbed, active minutes, calories burned, distance traveled and more. It features a Move bar that alerts you when you have been inactive for too long.
  • Fitbit Charge 2: The Charge 2 is a good general fitness tracker. A nice middle-of-the-road tracker, it monitors steps, sleep and heart rate.
  • Misfit Ray: The Ray is right if your recipient favors simplicity. The Ray has a stylish look and offers step and sleep tracking. There are different design options, and the device can also be worn as a pendant.
ift Guide for Fitness Beginners
Bose SoundSport Wireless

Workout headphones

Listening to music or podcasts makes an hourlong workout more pleasant. Some solid exercise-friendly headphones include:

  • Skullcandy Grind: The Grind provides excellent audio quality without breaking the bank. These on-ear headphones feature a sleek metal headband, a detachable cable and Taptech, which lets a user click a single button to take calls, play or pause music, and skip tracks.
  • Bose SoundSport Wireless: The SoundSport earbuds are wireless and easily pair to a Bluetooth device. Though the price point is steep, these earbuds provide top-notch sound while remaining secure and comfortable through strenuous exercise.
  • Sennheiser CX 686G Sports: The CX 686G earbuds are wired and durable. They feature a sealer in-ear canal design to block out exterior noise, and best of all, they’re affordable!
ift Guide for Fitness Beginners

Flipbelt Zipper

The Flipbelt fitness belt makes it easier to conveniently and securely store one’s keys, smartphone, wallet and more during exercise. It’s lightweight, has a better storage capacity than running armbands and pouches and comes in a variety of colors.

 

Brooks Streaker Long Sleeve Running Shirt

Help your new runner look and feel the part with a top-of-the-line running shirt. This women’s shirt from Brooks is fitted, and its DriLayer fabric wicks away moisture and reduces odor.

Reebok CrossFit Speed TR Shoes

These men’s Reebok cross-trainers are an ideal gym shoe, allowing for stability and comfort during high-intensity cardio or power squats.

ift Guide for Fitness Beginners
Takeya ThermoFlask

Takeya ThermoFlask

Keeping hydrated is the first rule of exercise. Takeya’s 40-oz. insulated stainless steel water bottle is durable, BPA-free and versatile.

Blue Apron

Eating well is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Meal subscriptions make it convenient and fun to cook at home instead of eating out. Blue Apron meal boxes include meats raised on antibiotic- and hormone-free diets and mostly organic and locally sourced ingredients.

Gift-giving can be a powerful way to support your loved one in their quest to live a healthier lifestyle. This holiday season, show them your love and support with one of these fitness gifts.


Lighter Versions of Your Favorite Holiday Dishes

Most of what makes this the most wonderful time of the year is the indulgent dishes and drinks. It’s no secret that holiday food isn’t the healthiest, but what if we told you that it’s possible to celebrate the holidays without piling on the calories?

Check out these five recipes that will help make your holiday classics healthier — and maybe even tastier.

light holiday dishes

Eggnog

Nothing feels more festive than cozying up with a big mug of rich eggnog. But between the heavy cream, sugar and eggs, traditional eggnog can wreak havoc on your healthy diet.

But you’re in luck with this Eggnog Smoothie recipe from Fitness Magazine. Simply sub out the cream for almond milk and replace the sugar with the natural sugar in bananas, and you can cut your calorie and fat intake by more than half. (Don’t worry. If you’re feeling naughty instead of nice, you can still spike yours with bourbon.)

light holiday dishes

Pecan Pie

The holidays are synonymous with pie, and of all the season’s delectable pies, our favorite is pecan pie.

Pie is always an indulgence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to reduce the guilt. Cut out the butter and the sticky corn syrup, and you’ll have a pie that’s less sinful without skimping on taste.

If you prefer other varieties of pie, we’ve got you covered with these healthier recipes for classic apple pie, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie.

light holiday dishes

Green Bean Casserole

What’s more American than apple pie? Casserole. Green bean casserole is a standard of the holiday season.

Don’t be fooled by the green veggies, though. Traditional green bean casserole packs a lot of calories due to the addition of heavy processed soup and deep-fried onions. Click here for a healthy alternative that’s made from scratch.

light holiday dishes

Mashed Potatoes

Nothing feels like home quite like mashed potatoes. But did you know that you can spruce this dish up to make it even more wholesome?

Simply eliminate the butter and trade whole milk for fat-free milk, and you’ll have yourself a healthier version of this holiday classic.

light holiday dishes

Gingerbread Men

No holiday season is complete without smiling gingerbread men. But don’t be deceived. Behind those smiles lurk loads of fat and sugar.

With a few smart substitutions, you can make your gingerbread men as nice as they look. Try this recipe for healthier gingerbread cookies — we bet even your kids won’t notice the difference.

Maintaining your diet goals doesn’t have to mean putting a stop to your holiday celebrations. Follow these simple recipes to embrace the best of both worlds!


Patient Testimonial: Vicki Steidley

gastric sleeve surgery

When full-time RN Vicki Steidley began exploring weight loss surgery options to treat her constant back pain, she was told that back surgery would be impossible due to her obesity. But she was determined to stop her pain, and her neurosurgeon told her that losing weight would allow her to have back surgery or even reduce her need for surgery altogether.

Now, after a receiving a gastric sleeve at the tender age of 64 and losing 78 pounds, Vicki is more energetic, happier and healthier than ever. We spoke to Vicki about her weight loss journey and her experience with Dr. Dirk.

What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues and were they resolved by the surgery?

I had no quality of life prior to my gastric sleeve surgery and was unable to do the things I enjoyed, like going to flea markets, digging in the dirt and fishing. I became short of breath easily and had back pain 24/7.

What motivated you to get weight loss surgery?

My neurosurgeon suggested weight loss surgery and said that I may not need back surgery if I lost weight. I have battled my weight all my life and never won the battle. As a nurse, I knew I was a high risk for heart attack and/or stroke. Now, I can do all the things I enjoy without back pain. I have never had this much energy or felt this good.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

Dr. Dirk and his staff were so helpful and supportive. He was available to me 24 hours a day. He thoroughly explained everything and really cared about me. I understood that the diet and exercise program was a lifelong commitment, but knew if I wanted any kind of life, this is what I needed to do.

How has your life changed since? 

Everything I had tried in the past just didn’t work. I have the most wonderful life now, and my co-workers are always talking about how good I look. I always have a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

I do stick to the diet, which hasn’t been difficult as I no longer feel hungry. I no longer crave the bad foods I ate in the past, and I always make sure to take in the appropriate amount of protein daily. I go to the gym 5 days a week and I enjoy the way I feel after my workout; challenge myself each time I go. I know the diet and exercise are what make me feel so wonderful and full of energy.

Do you have new outlook on life? 

I have a whole new outlook on life. I wake up every day feeling good and full of energy. My weight loss immediately after surgery was slow, but once the weight started dropping and I started making progress in the gym, I knew I had made the right decision. 

What has been the response from friends and family?

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while yesterday, and he didn’t even recognize me at first. I am constantly telling people how I lost the weight and I recommend Dr. Dirk highly. One of my co-workers went to him for surgery and is also losing weight. My son is also planning on having the surgery after hearing all I have said about Dr. Dirk and his support.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight?

My favorite thing to do now is to challenge myself to do more. I am planning on running a 5K next spring. I can’t say enough that it is never too late to make changes that will improve your outlook on life.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.