“Start by doing small things, make small changes. If you try to do everything at once, you’re just going to end up being a failure.” That is what Jenifer, a Criminal Justice Planner, wants to stress in her story. She also shared, “Holy moly! I’m jogging and I’m not dying!”
“I had always been overweight, especially when I hit puberty,” remembers Jenifer. “My breasts developed faster than my peers’, causing me to receive unwanted attention. My solution was to make the rest of my body proportional by gaining weight. In high school, the weight was fine because I was still able to participate in sports like track and volleyball, but college was a different story because this was when the sedentary lifestyle started.” Jenifer became stuck in a work and study pattern that she continued throughout college. When she weighed in at 201 lbs. from being in that pattern, Jenifer became concerned, but eventually got so busy that weight loss had become the least of her concerns.
When Jenifer met her former husband, she weighed 230 lbs. At this point, it did not bother her because it did not restrict her from doing the things she loved. Jenifer and her former husband would enjoy ziplining, skydiving, and riding roller coasters. Every time Jenifer would discover a ride she wanted to try, she would have to research weight restrictions – which was one of the first signs that she knew she had to do something about her weight. “There was a little voice that always said, you’re not going to fit in the seat. How embarrassed are you going to be?” recalls Jenifer.
When Jenifer got pregnant, she was unfortunately diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This diagnosis was the second wake up call for Jenifer in regards to losing weight. “I began implementing many things and was successful at maintaining a healthy pregnancy. I only gained 3 lbs. and never needed insulin or any medication! I lost a lot of weight after I gave birth, but unfortunately gained it back as my weight management had been pushed down on the list of priorities,” she says.
In 2019, Jenifer went to her annual checkup where her doctor told her that her body was forming a resistance to insulin. “I was on two kinds of insulin at the time and my doctor said that it was a toxic cocktail and if I didn’t do something about it, I would have to get an insulin pump,” Jenifer relates. “That scared me enough to seek weight loss options.”
Jenifer tried structured weight loss programs like Weight Watchers twice and the Atkins diet, but was not happy. She also tried sublingual HCG and said it was terrible! She felt defeated after none of these programs worked for her. “I am patient with things when I see some kind of return on investment. With these programs, something always derailed it for me and I felt badly. It wasn’t something I was able to sustain even though I had all the intentions and could see the value and benefits,” shares Jenifer.
After five years of contemplating, Jenifer had an appointment with a new general practitioner and was surprised when he provided the support that she needed to pursue weight loss surgery. Just a week later, Jenifer had scheduled a consultation with Dr. Lee. She also had two friends who had had weight loss surgery at Anchorage Bariatrics, one under the supervision of Dr. Clark and the other with Dr. Lee. Jenifer recalls, “I immediately understood that this was something that I had to pursue. My MD was 100% supportive and I had two wonderful recommendations from people I hold very dear to me.”
Jenifer says, “During my first consultation, I saw how approachable and empathetic Dr. Lee was. There was no judgment and the educational component was enjoyable. I went with my gut and it was absolutely the right choice at the right time.” On November 26, 2019, Jenifer underwent a Roux En Y gastric bypass procedure. Before the surgery, she was not anxious, but excited. She knew she was ready. Jenifer felt great after waking up from surgery and did not feel pain at all. She took pain medications for two days only and was off work for just one week! Jenifer was able to achieve a fast and painless recovery because she made the conscious decision to listen to the directions provided by Dr. Lee and the whole team.
Jenifer shares her gratitude, “I want to share the empathy and the approachability that Dr. Lee showed me. That is what drew me to him. I want to be that person to other people who are now at the weight that I was when I started. I would also like to mention the amazing Erika who was so supportive. She meets each patient where they are and tailors the information for them. Josie is a treasure. You can feel how invested she is in the people she meets with.”
Jenifer was 283 lbs. at her heaviest. Due to her commitment and efforts, Jenifer lost almost 100 lbs. in a six month period! “I turned 50 last year. I decided at 49 to do this. Through all my life changes, life at 50 is better than it’s ever been! If anyone is contemplating this in midlife or later, don’t let age stop you,” advises Jenifer. “I didn’t do it just to lose weight. I did it to get my diabetes in remission and to be here for my son and to live the life I want to live. I feel better at 50 than ever in life!”