How she lost 382 pounds
Sally Roach spent most of her life overweight. She tried various dieting techniques, each having their own success, but the weight always found its way back.
By the fall of 2016, Sally reached 610 pounds with a body-mass index of 80.
“I realized I was not living life to its fullest and was being held back. ‘No’ became a familiar part of my vocabulary,” she said. “I was declining invites because I didn’t feel comfortable in the situation such as joining friends on vacation out of fear of my body’s reaction to a hot day.”
Even her cherished outdoor activities became limited. “The last camping trip I took, I struggled to get off the ground of the tent and stayed behind from hikes,” she said.
Most of all, the weight affected the area in her life she adored most—being a director of a day care and aunt to a niece and nephew.
“I wanted to be able to sit on the floor and play with the kids without struggling to get up,” Sally said. “I wanted a quality of life back.”
So, she went to a free informational seminar about bariatric surgery at the Aurora Medical Center in Summit, Wis., where she met Dr. Peter Garza, who specializes in robotic-assisted bariatric surgery procedures.
Shortly after, she scheduled her first consult with Dr. Garza who encouraged her to lose weight in the program, resulting in Sally lowering her BMI 10 points prior to surgery. She also met with a dietitian, psychologist and exercise therapist to be cleared for surgery and regularly attended a bariatric surgery support group.
“The support group was essential in this process. These are people who have been there and done that and get it on a personal level,” she said.
In May of 2017, Sally underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.
“My mom was with me and recalls my joy, saying, ‘I’ve never seen someone so excited to go in for surgery,’” she said.
Now, Sally has lost 382 pounds and decreased her BMI to 30.
“By having the surgery, I was able to keep myself in check with what I was eating. I switched from a low-protein, high-carb diet to a high-protein, low-carb diet,” she said. “I am no longer considered obese. But, more importantly, I gained energy back that is beyond my expectations and have become more active than I’ve ever been.”
Sally has become an avid kickboxer, going to the gym three to four times a week, looks to get 10,000 steps in a day and seeks out ways to incorporate more activity into her daily routine, such as parking farther from the store. She’s even back outdoors.
Sally now runs a week of Girl Scout day camp during the summer that keeps her on her toes. And, she’s willing to go on those hikes that kept her staying back at the campsite prior to surgery.
“There’s no way I would have been kickboxing prior to surgery or participating in those activities,” she said. “Now, I have energy throughout them.”
Sally is an example of how bariatric surgery is much more than the stigma that often presents itself around it. It’s a chance at gaining a sense of self back.
“It’s what you put into it. It’s not the easy way out or a quick fix. You have to be willing to put in the work to get good results.”
In May, Sally will celebrate her two-year surgery anniversary and continues to attend the support group to give others the same help she received.
There will be no more skipped hikes for her.
“The decision to have surgery saved my life. I didn’t have an active, full life prior; now, the sky’s the limit,” she said. “I plan to go on vacation with my friends, head out West and hike places I never thought I would.”
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About the Author
Chelsea Schwabe is a public affairs and marketing operations manager for Advocate Aurora Health’s central Wisconsin region. She has eight years of experience in creative storytelling, PR campaign development, and media relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. When not working as a wordsmith, she can be found hiking mountains, enjoying music, and riding her motorcycle.