Yvonne Wallace wanted off the roller-coaster of weight management.
Diet and exercise weren’t working anymore and the stresses of life — becoming a single parent after her husband died in 1995, making ends meet and going back to school — took a toll.
“My health was deteriorating,” she said. “I needed to do something about it.”
It was 18 months ago when the 56-year-old clinical social worker from Lilburn made what she believes was the most important health decision of her life. She chose gastric bypass surgery.
In the past year Wallace has lost 95 pounds, down from 288 pounds in March 2010, and is feeling better than she has in years.
“Weight was something I had to deal with all of my life,” said Wallace, an associate minister at New Bethel AME Church in Lithonia who is currently a master’s degree student at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. “I’d been on so many diets. I played tennis, walked, did aerobics … but then I had to take on the roles of mother and father, work full time. I’d have dinner at 9 or 10 o’clock; that became the reward for me at the end of the day. There was less attention was on me and my health. I became less physically active.”
Then, in 2007, she enrolled in seminary, 29 years after attending grad school at the University of Georgia, to study theology. She cut back to part-time work — “my salary was cut in half, but the bills didn’t.” — to concentrate on her studies. Her stress level and weight increased.
In the past, she could lose the weight, but it became increasingly difficult.
“Weight Watchers five or six times, Curves, liquid protein diets. I did all kinds of things,” she said. “I just couldn’t crank it up any longer.
“Part of me felt like a failure because I couldn’t do it myself anymore. I needed help.”
She met with Dr. Robert Richard, the medical director at the Center for Surgical Weight Management, which offers a variety of bariatric surgical options for people interested in weight loss.
Bariatric surgeries have become more popular with patients who have had problems such as Wallace’s.
Khaliah Ali, daughter of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, who was a guest speaker at the center’s anniversary celebration and health fair Saturday in Duluth, had LAP-BAND® surgery.
Wallace, who wanted to drop her weight quickly and safely, chose gastric bypass, which was performed on March 25, 2010.
Wallace says that her health has improved tremendously since the procedure. She said problems with gastric reflux, arthritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and sleep apnea have all improved.
“I’m not on any medication,” said Wallace, who does take supplements like vitamins, iron and calcium as part of the post-surgery regimen. “It’s amazing how much healthier I feel.”
“Our goal is not just for people to lose weight,” Dr. Richard said. “We want to change people’s lives by helping them lead healthier lifestyles.
“The success of our patients [and Saturday’s weight loss surgery health fair] underscores our commitment to that mission and affirms our vested interest in educating and providing people with the necessary tools to achieve long-term weight loss success, which leads to a better quality of life.”
Wallace says her weight has leveled and she may want to lose another 10 pounds or so. “But I’m completely satisfied if I never lose another pound.”
She also suggests that those who are battling obesity should at least look into a surgical procedure. “A lot of people don’t want to consider this as an option, because of fear, and that’s understandable,” she said. “It helped me and I think it’s going to give you getter health and prolong your life.”