Catherine DaSilva faced an uphill battle with her weight all her life.
“I felt like I spent my whole life dieting,” said the 43-year-old mother of two from Manahawkin, NJ. “I always managed it when I was younger, but as I got into my 30s the weight just got harder to keep off. And by the time I hit my 40s, I put everything else first.”
But after suffering from gestational diabetes through both of her pregnancies, putting her at a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, and going on medication for her blood pressure, Catherine recognized that it was time to put herself first.
On March 1, 2019, Catherine made her first visit to Dr. Seun Sowemimo, medical director of the Bariatric Center at CentraState Medical Center and founder of Prime Surgicare in Freehold.
At his office, Catherine climbed on the scale – backwards, as she had become accustomed to doing to avoid facing the number – and was shocked to learn that her weight had climbed to 260. “I started crying right away and thought to myself, ‘I need to do this for me,’” Catherine explained.
For Catherine, Dr. Seun recommended a sleeve gastrectomy, otherwise known as gastric sleeve surgery. “This procedure reduces the size of the patient’s stomach by molding it into a smaller banana shape that limits food intake and cuts down the production of the hormone in the gastrointestinal tract that causes hunger. Although the surgery itself is minimally invasive, the change is permanent,” Dr. Seun said.
“Weight loss surgery is a powerful tool to help people with obesity lose weight,” he added. “But it is only a tool and patients must be committed to making the lifestyle changes that make the surgery work to its fullest potential.”
Six weeks from her first appointment, Catherine went in for her gastric sleeve surgery at the Bariatric Center at CentraState, a Bariatric Center of Excellence, located in Freehold, NJ.
That same day, she was up and walking the halls of the facility.
Worth every ounce of effort
Catherine’s commitment to her weight loss started the day of her first appointment with the support of Prime Surgicare’s nutritionist who made recommendations for diet and exercise in the weeks leading up to the procedure that continue to this day.
Catherine started small, just walking around her house in short twenty-minute intervals as she worked her way up to the recommended 10,000 steps a day. Between that and a healthy diet, she had lost 25 pounds even before the day of her surgery.
“We urge our patients to commit to changing the way they live and eat before the surgery to establish good behavior that they can use after the procedure. We also find that seeing positive results ahead of time really motivates them to keep pushing forward,” Dr. Seun said.
Following the gastric sleeve surgery, Catherine participated in Dr. Seun’s free monthly support meetings, including group exercise (currently run as virtual meetings) with all other bariatric patients. And because Catherine’s procedure was through the Bariatric Center at Centrastate, she also had access to the gym on the hospital’s campus and a low-fee, 16-week exercise program with a trainer who specializes in bariatric surgery patients if she needed it.
Soon after surgery, Catherine moved her in-house laps outside and continued to push herself further. Before she knew it, she was walking and, then jogging, five to seven miles nearly every day, reaching her goal of running her very first 5k just five months after her surgery.
With Dr. Seun’s whole-food plant-based recommendations, a nutrition-rich diet centered around legumes, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, Catherine also transformed the way she ate.
“At first I was skeptical,” she explained, “But I felt the difference right away. I have more energy. I’m able to do a lot more and can run farther and faster.”
Catherine describes her weight loss as a process. “It needs to be something you’re certain about and okay with, but you’re worth it and it’s worth every ounce of effort that you put into it,” she said.
Shedding the physical and emotional weight
Since her procedure, Catherine has lost more than 115 pounds and has discovered that a little motivation and a great support system goes a long way to hitting (and exceeding) one’s health and weight loss goals.
“Even though it has been difficult at times, being overweight and feeling bad every day before the procedure was minuscule to how great I feel after.”
What keeps Catherine going? She couldn’t narrow it down to one thing:
- Full-body pictures showing her progress
- Being able to take her wedding rings off
- Having the energy to play with her kids
- Getting off of her blood pressure medication
- Running a 5k
Everyone finds their own motivation.
“What’s amazing is that when you lose the extra physical weight you lose the emotional weight as well,” she added.
To learn more about bariatric surgery and a variety of weight loss surgery options, visit CentraState’s website and schedule an appointment today.