Philip Barnett, 26, is running the Chicago Half Marathon -- his first -- but he feels he has already won the most important race of his life. "I had sleeve gastrectomy surgery at Loyola six months ago and have lost 95 pounds," said the business development manager. "I have lost one-third of my original body weight and I feel amazing."
Barnett weighed 295 pounds at his heaviest and, at 5 feet 8 inches tall, was clinically obese. "I was newly married with a beautiful wife and because of my high cholesterol and other health issues, I was afraid I wouldn't be around in 20 years," said Barnett, who was married last Labor Day. "I had the weight-loss surgery at Loyola in March and this has been the best six months of my life." He now weighs 196 and counts running as a new hobby.
"Philip's commitment to making positive lifestyle changes before and after bariatric surgery has made him successful in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and decreasing his future risk of developing co-morbid conditions," said Ashley Barrient, clinical dietitian, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care.
Barnett was athletic his whole life but after college his weight crept up. "I knew how to eat nutritiously and to be healthy; my portions were just too large," he said. "I ate my meal but then would also eat a lot of my wife's meal." Barnett knew it was time to make a change and researched area providers, ultimately choosing Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. "I liked that the program provided integrated support -- not just the surgeon but a psychologist and a dietitian to help increase the chances for success."
A day after gastric sleeve surgery, Barnett was walking and one week later he was back at work. "I felt great and had no complications," he said. "I was careful with my eating, walked my two dogs regularly and to increase my exercise level, my psychologist encouraged me to try running, which I absolutely hated."
During a walk one day, he decided to try running and found it wasn't so bad. "I worked up to a mile, then 2 miles and then started training through the advice and counsel of a close relative. I was hooked," he said. "I cannot believe that six months ago I was almost 300 pounds and hated running. Now I am 196 pounds and am running the Chicago Half Marathon."
Dr. Laura Wool, a psychologist at Loyola, worked with Barnett to establish new healthy habits. "Philip was very motivated to implement recommended healthy lifestyle behaviors to enhance successful weight loss and health outcomes," she said. "He was able to identify any foreseeable barriers to sustained behavior change and was solution-focused." Wool also credits Barnett's wife, family and friends as being excellent sources of support.
"Philip talked about his 4:30 a.m. training runs and his experiences learning to balance a healthy diet while entertaining clients for work at our follow-up care sessions," Barrient said, calling him "optimistic and a true problem solver." "Incorporating positive lifestyle changes that are sustainable for a lifetime are important for success and he is truly inspirational," Barrient said.
One-third of all U.S. adults, 78 million, and 12 million children suffer from obesity, now officially called a disease by the American Medical Association. Obesity is diagnosed when the body mass index exceeds 30. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of obesity-related diseases increases the nation's medical bill by more than $150 billion.
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