Patient Testimonial – Joel Harrison About 10 years ago, I explored the idea of surgical weight loss by meeting with a doctor and a psychologist, but I wasn’t ready. I wanted to lose weight quickly and I did not want to commit to the post-surgery regimen required to ensure success. After trying a number of diet plans, even losing 100 pounds with one diet, I always gained the weight back because I never changed my habits. When my 12-year-old granddaughter told me I did not look healthy and asked if I was going to be around for her graduation and to perform her wedding, I decided it was time to look again at surgical weight loss. I realized that I had to change my mindset – this was not just about losing weight, it was about becoming healthy. I weighed about 378 pounds when I went to the orientation session at DeKalb Medical’s Surgical Weight Loss program. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes and I was taking $100 worth of prescription medications each month. About 18 months after gastric bypass, I weigh 208 pounds, am taking no medications and have a lot of energy. The best thing about the process with gastric bypass is re-learning how to eat healthy. I now eat slowly, take small bites, chew my food well and drink about 100 ounces of water each day. These new behaviors mean that I feel full sooner than when I would “gulp and go” instead of taking time to enjoy the food. The water is very important and it replaces the 12-pack of diet soda I drank each day. The good news is that I don’t miss the soda and I don’t miss the sweets that I have chosen to cut out of my diet completely. Even though the doctor and the nutritionist have not told me to eliminate sweets from my diet, I remember my history. I would always tell myself that I would have a small candy bar to satisfy my craving and I would keep eating until it was a giant sized candy bar! I decided not to tempt myself by starting with a small piece of candy or other sweets. I have also learned how to eat healthy no matter where I go by planning ahead. When my 50th high school reunion was approaching, I asked for a copy of the menu. After seeing that the menu contained too many fried or greasy items, I decided not to go to the dinner. In addition to focusing on eating healthy foods, I am also very consistent about exercising. I walk three miles every other day, work with a trainer on weight machines once a week, play tennis and exercise in the pool. One of the activities I’ve always wanted to do but could not is the Peachtree Road Race. My wife runs it every year but I was not even comfortable watching the race. This year, I’m going to walk the Peachtree Road Race and be part of the July Fourth celebration!