Dena Marten, RN, nurse health educator: Teaching from experience
Dena Marten – who helps teach the eight-week, preoperative Lifestyles class to prospective bariatric patients – relates to her students’ weight problems.
Like them, she knows what it’s like to try diet after diet and have health conditions brought on by obesity.
“Each time I went to the doctor, it was one more diagnosis, one more pill,” she says, describing her life before she had bariatric surgery and lost 75 pounds. “I was like a lot of people and thought I could do the weight loss on my own.”
In 2009 – after working with surgical weight-loss patients since the inception of the Via Christi Weight Management program in 2002 — she underwent the surgery herself.
“At first, I thought it was a drastic choice to make to lose weight,” Marten says. “But then I realized that you wouldn't think cardiac bypass surgery is drastic if you needed it to save your life.”
Marten, who has worked in the Weight Management program since 1998, knew the staff was top-notch and that the surgical weight-loss program has been successful for patients.
Now when she teaches classes, she shares about her own weight-loss journey. She teaches the class on postoperative behaviors and lifestyles – how to track food intake, add exercise to the daily routine, and choose healthy foods. She shares from her own experience about how to fight cravings, remain vigilant about food choices and the importance of nutritional supplements.
But she also relates her own success. Says Marten, who turned 50 this year: “I feel young again!”