Across America, over 70 million adults are obese. Those numbers, which are undoubtedly alarming, continue to increase with the prevalence of artificial food additives, sedentary careers and unhealthy habits. While lives can be positively transformed through medical intervention, weight loss surgery is far from an easy fix – it’s hard work!
Weight Loss is Hard
According to the Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin Madison, 41% of adults and 15% of children in Wisconsin are obese. As these statistics increase each year, so does the potential of developing additional health problems like hypertension, sleep apnea, diabetes and joint issues.
Despite the major health repercussions of obesity and a desire to make a change, losing weight can be a challenge. More than ever, patients are considering weight loss surgery to help combat the weight and to regain control of their lives.
“This is a disease, it’s not a choice,” said Dr. Raymond Georgen, M.D, F.A.C.S, a Board-Certified General Surgeon and Co-Director of the ThedaCare Bariatric program, “what you have to remember is that if you decide to go down the surgical path, you have to use it correctly.”
The program was launched in 2002 at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center Neenah. It features a multi-disciplinary approach that combines nutrition education and support groups with surgical weight loss options.
A patient’s weight loss journey often begins with self-realization. “It takes a lot of courage to look in the mirror and say, I’m obese or I’m morbidly obese,” said Georgen, “the first part of the journey is the recognition and enrolling in a bariatric program.”
Success Requires Commitment
Weight did not accumulate overnight and it won’t immediately dissipate, either. “It’s not like a fad diet out there,” said Georgen, “it’s an emotional commitment that you have to make.”
Individuals who are consuming too many calories may find themselves gaining weight. “That’s great if it’s your checking account, but it’s not great when it’s your body,” said Georgen. The surplus, if not expended, is stored in the body as fat, which can spiral out of control.
Patients can gauge where they should be for a healthy weight by using a BMI calculator. While it is typically based on gender and height, the average person should fall between 18-25 to be considered in range. “When you hit a BMI of 35, that’s called severe obesity,” explained Georgen, “that’s when people start showing up on our radar screen as someone who could benefit from surgical intervention.”
Obesity can have a detrimental impact on a person’s lifespan and a multitude of medical problems can prevent a fulfilling life. “If you’re 30-years-old and you weigh 150 or 200 pounds more than you should already, many problems are going to be occurring as you age,” said Georgen, “if we can intervene in a way to prevent that from happening to people, it makes them healthier.”
Obesity doesn’t just stem from consuming too many calories, but also comes down to how a person lives.
Instead of walking, many individuals now drive, or, in place of preparing a well-balanced meal, some are turning to fast food for the sake of time. By identifying these influences, impactful changes can be made for the future.
Help is Available
Struggling with obesity does not have to take over a patient’s life, instead, there is help. “Surgery is not a quick fix,” Georgen said, “but it’s a tool that you have to use lifelong.”
Those looking to transform their bodies have access to an incredible team of professionals at ThedaCare, all of which offer different types of support. The team consists of psychologists, dieticians, nurse practitioners, and surgeons.
“We were one of the first in the United States and continue to be designated as a center of excellence,” said Georgen proudly, “that’s based on having a multidisciplinary team and getting really good results for our patients.”
Each part of the journey is supported, starting with the patient’s interest to seek help. “We have a day that’s called Bariatric Boot Camp,” said Georgen, “patients will spend an entire day with our team before surgery learning how to utilize the surgical tool that we give them.”
Along with classes and guidance from trained professionals, patients are encouraged to build their own team of support. “Some of the people who do the best are families that do it together,” Georgen said. Having family and friends rally with a patient in their journey yields an opportunity for long-term success.
Food journaling is a helpful aid that parallels surgery. “People get an honest assessment of why they’re in the predicament that they’re in,” said Georgen. Food journaling allows patients to recognize patterns in behavior like stress eating, consuming too much food at once and associating emotions with meals.
Are You Ready for Change?
“Our mantra is to allow people to get their lives back,” added Georgen, “it’s like a whole new world when that weight comes off and as a healthcare professional, it’s very exciting to bring joy to people and have them reach their best quality of life.”
To get started with the ThedaCare Bariatrics Program, begin here and shift focus to a healthier, lighter you!