5NEWS Fit: Bariatric Surgery

Losing weight can be difficult, especially if you have more than 100 pounds to shed.

Dr. Michael Gooden is a general surgeon at Sparks Health System in Fort Smith. He said certain people may meet the criteria for surgery to help lose weight.

“By the time people are considering surgery, they’ve been through the ups and downs of the diets,” Gooden said.

But bariatric surgery is just one tool to changing your lifestyle.

“Surgery is the easy part of it,” Dr. Gooden said. “The changes that come after surgery, that’s the hard part.”

Just ask Rachel Mounce. She lost more than 110 pounds over the past year.

“I don’t want to be fat anymore,” Mounce said. “I don’t want to be that person who is just content.”

For Mounce, the battle of the bulge began when she was 19-years-old.

“I went through some trauma and became kind of an indoors person and stopped going outside, stopped being active,” Mounce said.

That lifestyle grew with her as she became an adult, but she said didn’t want her unhealthy lifestyle to define her. She was ready for change.

“Change is hard,” Mounce said. “Change is scary, but the reward it worth it.”

According to Dr. Gooden, the criteria to make bariatric surgery successful is rigorous. You have to keep in contact with your primary health provider, exercise, and participate in support groups, just to name a few.

Mounce said her first step was talking with a nutritionist.

“I knew that after I had surgery, I needed to learn how to eat,” Mounce said.

Now she keeps high protein snacks and things like mixed nuts in her desk at work. Her small steps to a better lifestyle are showing big results.

“I was in the dressing room crying,” Mounce said.  “I was like ‘Oh, my gosh! I can fit into a size 12!'”

Mounce has gone down a couple of pant sizes since that break-through moment, and now it’s hard for her look at the size 22 jeans she used to wear. According to Mounce, she still has 10 pounds left to shed, but she’s joined a running club and is confident her new lifestyle after surgery will help her lose what’s left.

“If they can make small changes in their diet or small changes in their activity level, it really can make a difference,” Dr. Gooden said.

He said that advice is not only for patients after surgery, but for everyone. Other small changes Dr. Gooden said you can make include cutting calories by cutting out soda and getting more exercise, even if it’s just walking on your lunch break.

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