PFD technician, retired military
“Before my surgery, I couldn’t even walk 150 yards. I couldn’t do anything with my children. Now I’m walking 2-3 miles a day, climbing 12-15 flights of stairs. I have a lot more energy and I’m a lot happier. I saw my sister for the first time in two years and she didn’t even recognize me!”
Russell F. had his first appointment with Dr. Clark in February 2015. Weighing in at 437 pounds, Russell was unable to live the life he wanted with his family of eight kids, ages 15 through 38. After seeing others achieve success with bariatric surgery, Russell sought out Dr. Clark and began the process of shedding weight in order to make bariatric sleeve surgery safe for him.
“Dr. Clark was great, he never chastised me for being overweight. He was very open and supportive and checked in with me every day after my surgery.”
Today, Russell weighs 193 pounds and is able to play softball with his daughter, hike up Mt. Roberts to visit his wife’s ashes and live a more active lifestyle. He finds that maintaining his weight through regular exercise and a healthy diet – consisting of small portions of game meat and salmon – has been an easy transition.
“My surgery has made a huge difference in my life, but it’s not a miracle cure. You have to change your lifestyle – drink water, exercise. I believe Dr. Clark’s surgery added 15-20 more years to my life, but the rest is up to me. I am in the best shape I have been in since I retired from the military on January 1, 1997. No more blood pressure medication, no more high cholesterol medication, no more pain medications and no more water-reducing medications. Life can be good and is good again.”
*Results May Vary
Meet Sarah, a busy wife and mother of four who found herself at the end of her rope after steadily gaining 114 pounds over the course of 15 years. Like so many women, she struggled with her weight after having children. “After my kids were born, it was like my body rebelled against me. My hormones were so out of whack that I couldn’t lose any weight no matter what I tried. And believe me, I tried!”
After visiting several doctors and taking hormonal birth control pills for years, Sarah finally realized that the hormones were the cause of the problem. “I was an active person as a child and young adult. I was a gymnast and on the track team in high school. I enjoyed being active with my kids when they were younger. Then I started getting exercise-induced migraines – splitting headaches that would knock me out for up to three days at a time, every time I tried to work out. I fell into a vicious cycle of exercise one day, have a migraine for three days, feel lazy and tired because I couldn’t do anything, then pick myself up and try to exercise again only to start the cycle over. All the while I’m taking hormones that were supposed to make me feel better, but in actuality just made me fatter and more tired. And the worst part is, the estrogen that was contributing to the migraines is stored in fat, so the bigger I got, the worse the migraines were. Talk about adding insult to injury!”
One day after a frustrating medical appointment, Sarah saw a flyer on the hospital wall for a weight loss support group. “It said something like ‘Tired of being sick and tired? Come to a bariatric support group!’ and I thought to myself, what have I got to lose? I didn’t even tell my husband I was going, I just wanted to see what it was all about.”
That’s where Sarah met Dr. Clark. “I was drawn to him right away. You can tell that he is doing what he was put on this earth to do and he is so passionate about it. He is a genuinely compassionate, tenderhearted person. He cares so deeply about his patients and making people better.”
Sarah and Dr. Clark decided that the gastric sleeve procedure was the right choice for her. “I’m not going to sugar-coat it – the first six weeks after surgery were tough. But, once you get past that, the rest is super-easy. In fact, it’s so much easier than I thought it would be!”
Now, three years after surgery, Sarah has lost 121 pounds and works her dream job as a flight attendant, something she couldn’t do before. Her migraines are virtually gone and she is a “recovering Dr. Pepper addict” who hasn’t had a soda since two days before surgery. “I just don’t crave it like I used to. My body and mind have changed and it has become so simple to make the right, healthy food choices.”
Sarah is sharing her story to help dispel the myth that bariatric surgery is for lazy people who want the easy way out. “Obese people are real people with real issues; sometimes their weight problems are rooted in a medical condition. People think that bariatric surgery is a quick-fix so you can continue to eat mashed potatoes and watch TV all day. That’s not the case. If you are serious about changing your habits and want to regain your life, then think about it. Go to a seminar. Talk with Dr. Clark. You will be so successful if you get it in your head that this is what you’re going to do.”
Sarah’s positive lifestyle changes have rubbed off on her family members, too. Her husband, who was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, has lost over 100 pounds by eating better alongside Sarah and his disease is under control. Their adult daughter was so inspired by Sarah’s weight loss and fitness accomplishments that she is now participating in figure and fitness competitions.
These days when Sarah isn’t flying, you’ll likely find her hiking or spending active time with her adult children. She even started going to a personal trainer. “I’m so impressed with my own abilities now. I used to be in the mindset that I was going to fail; I’m not that person anymore. I CAN get through a 30 minute personal training session without dying. And it feels amazing!”
*Results May Vary
Artist, Stay-at-home Mom
“Growing up, I was often bigger than most of my friends. I wasn’t ‘the fat girl,’ but I always felt like I was fighting my weight – but it was a fight that never went anywhere. Things took a turn in my mid-thirties, though, when I went on medication and began treatment for high blood pressure. Everything seemed to be creeping in on me. I knew things needed to change.”
In 2015, when Valerie consulted with Dr. Clark about gastric bypass surgery, her knees and feet were hurting a lot. She weighed 235 pounds, felt exhausted all the time and struggled to control her appetite. She was concerned that if she didn’t take action soon, she would no longer be able to participate in everyday activities with her family.
From the beginning of her treatment, Dr. Clark’s relaxed and gentle bedside manner proved a contrast to her other experiences at medical appointments. “Because of my high blood pressure, I’ve had several doctors. I’ve always struggled with my weight, so I always felt like a failure when it was time to go see the doctor.”
“Dr. Clark, on the other hand, was uncommonly kind and nonjudgmental every step of the way. Working with him has been life-changing. He is so mellow and accepting and he offers you solid routines for how to adjust to your new life. You never have anything to be ashamed of when you’re in his care. Working with him has brought me huge mental gains and I wouldn’t change this part of my journey for the world.”
Today, at 160 pounds, Valerie enjoys a much more active lifestyle. She loves boxing and running, and her increased stamina helps her tackle local outdoor destinations around Alaska, such as Mt. Baldy. Most significantly, perhaps, is how Valerie now recognizes the person she sees in the mirror. “I feel my outside now matches the mental image of how I have always thought of myself. When I think of myself, this is who I’ve always seen.”
*Results May Vary
Cindy first heard about Dr. Clark and gastric sleeve surgery through a co-worker.
“I knew I needed to do something. I was up to 250 pounds. Even going on a walk with my husband was difficult, I would get too easily winded. I had tried Weight Watchers and Tops Club, but none of the programs worked for me in the long-term. We have five grandkids and I wanted to be able to enjoy them, to live as long as I can.”
For Cindy, the weight had crept in slowly over time, five pounds here and there over a period of twenty years. Meeting with Dr. Clark, however, gave her the confidence she needed to get her life back on track.
“Dr. Clark cared, he’s kind. I never felt like he was being judgmental. I felt like I was working with someone who wanted nothing more than to help people improve their quality of life. He’s giving people their lives back, he helped me get my life back.”
And while surgery was a significant part of the process for her, Cindy also knew she had to actively participate and dedicate herself to his regimen in order to achieve her goals.
“I track what I eat. I do what Dr. Clark says I need to do. Surgery is only a tool – it’s just one part of the process – but it’s not the whole thing. You can get the surgery, but if you don’t dedicate yourself to making necessary changes in your life, it won’t amount to much good. Dr. Clark taught me how to implement the other tools I needed to succeed in meeting my goals – tools like exercise, drinking enough water and eating well.”
It’s been a little more than a year since her surgery and Cindy couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve lost 105 pounds and I’m the most active I’ve been in twenty years: I go to the gym a few times a week, I do zumba and I’ve participated in four organized runs. On Sunday, I’ll run my fifth – a four-miler!”
*Results May Vary
US Air Force Veteran
Imagine having to get off a crowded elevator because you caused it to be over the weight limit. Or not being able to participate in a zip line adventure on your family’s vacation to the Philippines. This is what Pat, a decorated former member of the US Air Force, was dealing with after a decade of gaining weight. Ashamed of his body, Pat would sneak away when it was time to take family photos. This is not how Pat envisioned living his life.
One day a colleague and friend confided in Pat that he had just undergone a bariatric surgery procedure to help lose weight. Pat had considered weight loss procedures for himself, but was afraid of surgery and the ensuing recovery. However, after watching his friend lose weight and regain confidence, Pat was inspired to change his own life. “I thought if my friend, who is larger than me, can do it, then there’s no reason why I can’t!” proclaimed Pat.
Pat had heard of Dr. Clark from their mutual affiliation with the Air Force base, so he decided to book an appointment. “From the moment I first arrived at the Anchorage Bariatrics office, I felt like I had entered a giant, welcoming support facility. The entire office staff is fantastic; you can tell immediately that they genuinely care about every person who walks in. I always felt like people were staring at me, pointing fingers, and whispering behind my back. It was the exact opposite at Anchorage Bariatrics,” explains Pat. “When I initially met Dr. Clark, my first impression of him was that he’s very professional and non-judgmental. I immediately felt very comfortable and, after reviewing and discussing all of my options, he really put my mind at ease. He’s just awesome!”
Prior to his laparoscopic sleeve procedure in September 2016, Pat was suffering from high blood pressure, swelling in his feet, and sleep apnea. He regularly finished off three or four plates at buffet dinners, consumed an entire pizza on his own, and drank lots of beer and coffee – up to a pot and a half a day! Just nine months later, Pat has lost 95 pounds and is feeling great. The swelling is gone, he’s sleeping better and his blood pressure is under control. He no longer feels the need to fill his “beach ball belly” to the breaking point – in fact, he doesn’t have any food cravings at all. He has completely eliminated soda and is down to just two cups of coffee a day.
“Mentally and physically, I feel great!” says Pat. “This surgery has been a real life saver. I’m no longer too tired to play with my grandkids, I don’t get out of breath going up the stairs – everyday things are so much easier. I can even shop in regular clothes stores now instead of specialty big and tall shops. It feels amazing!”
Pat has incorporated daily walks into his schedule and now packages his food into appropriate portion-sized containers to make healthy food choices easier. “Dr. Clark taught me how to measure out my food and take control over what I put into my body. I can still eat pizza if I want to, I just only eat one slice instead of the whole pie, and it is surprisingly easy,” claims Pat.
Pat shares that he is very happy with his results thus far, but he still has about 20 pounds to go to reach his goal weight of 175. “I lost 50 pounds in the first three months so it was great to see a difference right away. The entire process has been relatively painless; I was out of the hospital after one day and up walking around right away. The positive encouragement from the staff at Anchorage Bariatrics motivates me to stay on track and it is comforting to know that they truly want me to be successful,” Pat says. “Dr. Clark provided the avenue for change that I needed. Thanks to him and my own efforts, I feel like the sky’s the limit!”
*Results May Vary