In late 2009, Gary Stone weighed 402 pounds.
The excess pounds on Gary's 6-foot, 1-inch frame— along with his Type II diabetes and sleep apnea— left him feeling like he was "wearing out."
He could barely get in and out of the cab of the heavy equipment he operates at Spirit AeroSystems. And riding the new Harley Davidson bike sitting in his garage was no longer doable.
"I just had no get up and go and was barely existing," says Gary. "I knew I needed to do something."
So on the advice of his doctor, he turned to Via Christi Weight Management for help. After completing a comprehensive pre-operative program, he underwent gastric bypass surgery in December 2009.
While he's since lost 191 pounds, Gary's gained a lot in return.
His sleep apnea and diabetes conditions have been resolved, and his passion for riding motorcycles, restoring a type of hot rod called rat rods and playing with his grandkids has been resurrected. Plus, he has a new love: his wife, Tammy, who he met through the program's support group.
"If I hadn't had the surgery, I don't think I'd be here," says Gary. "That's how poorly I felt. I was barely getting around and I could hardly do anything."
Now, there's hardly anything Gary and Tammy can't do.
They've participated in motorcycle rallies in Sturgis, S.D., and Daytona Beach, Fla. They've gone on amusement park rides. They've camped in Yellowstone National Park. They've traveled to Nevada to pick up a second rat rod—a 1966 Pontiac LeMans—for Gary to tinker on. They enjoy taking out their camper, Jet Ski and four-wheeler. They're adding a recreation room with Ping-Pong and pool tables to their new home. They take all-day shopping trips to outdoor sports stores.
And soon they'll take their first cruise together.
"We're always on the go," says Tammy, who underwent bariatric surgery in May 2010 and lost 141 pounds. The couple often reminds each other about how very different their lifestyles are now because of their weight loss success.
Not long after the couple moved to their new home, Gary found a pair of pants from his pre-surgery days— a "tight" size 54-inch waist. He was able to fit his slimmer body into just one of the legs.
Before joining the Via Christi Weight Management Program, Gary had tried various fad diets.
"They would work for awhile, but then before I knew it, the weight would all come back, plus more," he says. Like most patients who enroll in the program, Gary felt bariatric surgery was the last weight-loss option available to him.
"The way the Via Christi Weight Management program is laid out, if you do your part, you will see success," he says. "They have such educated professionals who will explain the process in terms you can understand and provide the tools and the resources you need."
At Via Christi Weight Management, patients get the benefit of a pre-operative, six-month medically supervised weight loss program plus the opportunity to start learning to live a healthy lifestyle before surgery through an eight-week class. As part of the post-operative program, patients participate in a support group, which welcomes not only those who've undergone recent bariatric surgery but those who underwent the procedure several years ago.
All those components help with the high rate of successful outcomes for Via Christi Weight Management patients.
Gary's weight loss success has inspired at least two other individuals to undergo similar procedures—his sister and a co-worker.
"When he saw how much weight I lost, he told me, 'I've got to get some of that.'"