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William McGarrigle's Story: Maintaining Weight Loss Post Gastric Bypass Surgery

07/14/2016
I have always struggled with my weight. I was overweight all through my childhood. I was able to get it somewhat under control while I served in the United States Army. Unfortunately, it was short lived as I actually had to leave the Army three months early due to a medical discharge for failure to maintain an acceptable BMI.

After my honorable discharge, my weight continued to climb. I always told myself that when I weighed a certain number, I would try to lose weight then. The problem with that mindset is that I continually increased that number.

At the age of 43, I had a tear in the ligaments in my knee. This, coupled with a few other co-morbidities led me to consult with my PCP to undergo weight loss surgery.

I completed the six months of pre-op requirements. The day before my surgery there was a snow storm. The morning of my surgery, I had to shovel snow for two hours, then take a three hour train ride to the hospital. My surgery was originally scheduled for 10:00 a.m. but due to the storm, I didn't have my surgery until 5:00 pm. I was so hungry by the time of my surgery that I was ready to eat my pillow! The following two days of my recovery went well so I was able to go home. I was off work for 2-1/2 weeks and returned to work with no restrictions.

During my first year, I lost almost 100 pounds but I was fatigued. I was able to begin exercising so I developed a routine focused on my diet, exercise, vitamin supplements and drinking water.

During my second year, I lost an additional 50 pounds and reached my lowest weight of 196 pounds. 196 pounds was my lowest weight since I had been in middle school! I was able to maintain for close to a year.

As a post-op between three to five years, I have experienced a bounce back weight of around 20 pounds. Recently, I saw my doctor for an annual physical and weighed 216 pounds. Even though it is a bounce back from my lowest weight, I feel good at my 216 pounds weight and, most importantly, have maintained this weight comfortably. This marks my weight loss surgery at losing 130 pounds so I'm now in maintenance mode.

Now at maintenance, the early years post-operatively were simple and maintenance is HARD WORK! I log my exercise, practice mindful eating, focus on my non-scale victories (NSVs) and, most of all, I appreciate being healthy.

I'm now able to run 5ks, 10ks, and even a 1/2 marathon. I have also done a Sprint Triathalon. It is always pleasantly shocking to me when I see my race results and my name. I regularly ask myself "Did I really do that?" after a race.

My WLS journey has not been without challenges. I struggle with eating EVERY SINGLE DAY, staying consistent with water and vitamins, and motivated to exercise. Still, I am eternally grateful for having the courage to make a change that has benefited both me and my family. The best advice I could give to anyone is to make sure you understand that weight loss surgery, whatever type you choose, is a TOOL to help to deal with the long-term medical issue of obesity. Your obesity won't be cured, but rather the surgery allows you be able to manage it if you are VIGILANT.

Special Milestones
I have several milestones. The first is weighing below 300 pounds, then 250, then 225 and finally under 200. Although I am now in the area of 215, it enables me to have a goal to reach for.

My special milestones include running races from 5K to a 1/2 Marathon. I've also competed in a Sprint Triathalon.

My the biggest milestone is being able to live a healthy and active life which I am able to do EVERY DAY!