Joni is a hardworking woman who spent the last 12 years of her career in Alaska’s oil and gas industry in Prudhoe Bay’s oil fields. Known affectionately as “Boney Joni” in her childhood years, Joni never had to worry about her weight in her youth or even after she gave birth to her two sons. But, as she reached her late 40s, she was adding 10 to 15 pounds each year and couldn’t get them off. “The trifecta of obesity had me – a sedentary job, buffet foods in camp (all fried and covered in gravy with dessert at every meal) plus menopause – I was doomed. I felt so defeated as I watched the scale creep up over the last 12 years,” laments Joni. Even though she worked a sedentary desk job, she often wore baggy coveralls for work which allowed for the weight to creep on almost unnoticed. “I would go to put my jeans on after spending two weeks in coveralls and I couldn’t get the zipper up,” Joni remembers. “Then, I would finally get home and be so exhausted from the two weeks of 12 hour work days that all I wanted to do was sleep. I certainly didn’t have the energy to exercise!”
She tried exercising after work and eating healthy foods, all to no avail. “It was a victory if the scale stayed the same, it never went down despite my attempts at a healthier lifestyle,” says Joni. Having watched both her parents struggle with pulmonary, cardiac and blood pressure- related medical issues and rapidly approaching 242 pounds, Joni knew she had to make a substantial change or potentially never get to enjoy the retirement she was working so hard to provide for herself.
“I left the Prudhoe Bay oil fields, started my own business and began working from my home office and client sites, so I now had more control over the food available to me. I was able to lose 15 pounds the first year on my own, but it wasn’t enough. My former neighbor, Kristi, is the nurse and office manager at Anchorage Bariatrics, so I reached out to her to schedule a consultation,” Joni explains. “It was an emotional decision – I felt like I was admitting defeat which is hard for my alpha personality. Dr. Clark was very understanding of my emotions and he had a positive outlook from the start. We discussed my options and decided that I could get on a good track with the Orbera balloon. I wanted something to help me along the way, but I understood that it wouldn’t do all the work for me. I would have to make the lifestyle changes in order to reach my goals.
“With Orbera, you get a full year of support, not just the six months that the balloon is in your stomach. I made the commitment that this would be my year of transformation. Dr. Clark and his staff are available for guidance. If I get stuck, I can call their office and someone will talk with me and help figure out solutions. It’s a wonderful team, they all ‘get it’ and are very supportive and empathetic.”
“I had to spend money out-of-pocket for this procedure,” states Joni, “but it has been worth every penny. In just six months, I’ve lost 76 pounds and have 15 to go to reach my goal weight. I don’t look at it as cost per pound, but at all the other things you can’t place a monetary value on, like better health, a longer, happier life, and now I have the freedom to choose how I spend my retirement. I used to think that all I would be able to do is sit around quilting and reading, but now I’m excited to go downhill skiing again!”
Joni used to love hiking and fishing, but hadn’t enjoyed these activities for more than seven summers because of severe knee pain. “Just last month we attended a wedding in Juneau and I hiked three and a half miles to the top of Mt. Robert. I even walked faster than the other “fit” people I was with. It felt so good, like ‘I made it, I’m here, I did it!’ I love nature, and it’s great to look out your window at the beauty we enjoy here in Alaska, but it is so much more amazing when you can get out in it,” Joni says. “Losing this weight has been a liberating experience. I used to avoid travel to warmer places because I couldn’t deal with the heat under all that weight, but I’ve booked two tropical cruises and can’t wait to wear my capris and tank tops! I’m so happy to be able to get out and experience life again and it would not have been possible without Dr. Clark, his team and the Orbera program.”