Before, 488 lbs 13 Months after surgery, 255 lbs
Meet Charles Martinez, a 44-year-old freelance makeup artist and stylist who weighed 488 pounds when he walked into Dr. Dirk’s office for the first time. On December 23, 2014, Dr. Dirk performed gastric sleeve surgery on Charles. Now it’s been 13 months since his surgery, and Charles has lost a total of 233 pounds—but he’s not done yet.
We asked Charles a few questions about life before weight loss surgery and why he chose Dr. Dirk to help start his journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues?
Life was difficult before the procedure. Getting out of bed alone was a chore, and walking my dogs was grueling. Coming to work and putting on a happy face wasn’t always easy, especially in my line of work. I had heel spurs in both feet that made it difficult to walk or perform duties that entailed standing for long periods of time or walking long distances.
I also had many health issues. I had low testosterone (I’m very thankful I don’t have to inject myself anymore), arthritis in both knees (which has diminished substantially), severe high blood pressure (I’m extremely proud to say I no longer need medications) and was diagnosed with prediabetes and borderline high cholesterol, both of which are gone now.
What motivated you to get surgery?
Many years ago, my aunt had bariatric surgery. Due to many complications, she wasn’t able to complete her weight loss journey. After her passing, I vowed that I would not be another victim of death due to obesity. Though she’s not with us anymore, I take great strength from my aunt’s memory and her determination to better herself.
A year after her death, my best friend confided to me that she had sleeve surgery and lost over 100 pounds. After my primary care physician informed me I was pre-diabetic and had borderline high cholesterol, I knew it was time for a major life change. We discussed my weight loss options at length, and after several months, he referred me to Dallas bariatric surgeon, Dr. Dirk Rodriguez.
How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?
I have to admit that when I first met Dr. Dirk, I was extremely nervous. From my first visit, he put me at complete ease. He has been extremely supportive through every office visit and phone call. If I had a problem and he wasn’t available, he would always take time out of his day to return my call. Without his help and support, I truly don’t know where I would be today. He never treated me like just another patient, but like I was the most important person in the room.
How has your life changed since your surgery?
It’s been 13 months since my surgery, and life has become a whole new adventure. I guess the biggest thrill so far is being able to walk several miles without getting winded. Or actually being able to run—it’s been several years since I’ve been able to do that. It’s funny: When I look at myself in the mirror, I still see the big man. When I go to put clothes on, I have to remind myself that these new smaller clothes will fit me. Though I know that I’m literally half the man I used to be, sometimes I find it hard to believe. I went from a size 66-68 to a size 38-40 in pants and a size 6X-7X shirt to an XL. In my eyes, my journey has just begun—I have a ways to go.
How have you changed your diet and exercise?
At first, it was extremely difficult to change my diet. After years of abusing food and using it as a crutch, it was hard to view food solely as fuel for my body. Now I still stick with a basic schedule: a meal every two hours with my liquid intake between. Everything I eat is geared toward my sleeve: high protein, low sugar, low carb everything.
I was never one for exercising or joining the gym. Now I go to the gym five days a week, Monday through Friday. I never would’ve imagined that I would actually enjoy working out. Getting into a daily routine, waking up every morning, going to the gym and doing what I have to do to maintain what I have accomplished is its own reward.
Do you have different outlook on life? Is there a specific moment that you remember after the surgery when you knew your life was going to be different?
Life has taken on joy, and every day is a new adventure for me. It’s thrilling to see what life has in store for me. I knew the first day after surgery my life had changed. It was more than the weight loss—it was everything about me. The way I perceive myself now is eye-opening. My confidence is stronger, and my way of thinking has been transformed. This is the new me, and there’s no looking back now. I’m proud of the new me.
What has been the response from friends and family?
Before I had my surgery, I decided that I wouldn’t tell any of my family. I wanted it to be a big surprise, and I didn’t want anyone to try to talk me out of it. So you can imagine the reaction I get when family members I haven’t seen in years see me for the first time. Even my friends and coworkers are amazed at what I’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time. It gives me great pride when people tell me that I’m an inspiration.
What would you tell someone else considering weight loss surgery? Would you recommend Dr. Dirk and why?
I actually have recommended Dr. Dirk to several friends and family. My cousin Ruby Adame followed in my footsteps and had her sleeve surgery done a couple of months after me. She’s done an unbelievable job and lost a great deal of weight. I even have a coworker that just met with Dr. Dirk. I’m so excited for her to start her new journey. It’s like I told her: It’s time to get healthy. Do it for you and your children. Do it for a better you, because you deserve to live a longer, healthier life. Dr. Dirk provides the tools we need to succeed, but it’s up to us to learn how to use those tools to meet our needs.
What is your favorite thing to do now that you’ve lost weight and live a healthier, happier life?
Walking. It’s one thing we all take for granted—the power of using your own body to get around and experience new things in life. As an extremely large man, I never was able to fully experience my own surroundings. I’d get winded just going to the curb. Until now, exploring my neighborhood on long walks with my two dogs was out of the question. Going on vacation knowing that I can go sightseeing without getting tired is an amazing feeling.