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Category: Obesity

Shared Success Story- Heidi

June 02, 2016 7:59 am

My name is Heidi and this is my weight loss journey. I had been struggling with my weight for years and was actively researching different surgical procedures available. I was also trying everything to lose the weight on my own. My wake up call to take action was one night when my husband said, “I’m worried about you and want you around for a long time.” I knew I had to do something. If someone loved me that much I needed to love myself enough to change.

before image back
Before Duodenal Switch
before image side
Before Duodenal Switch
After Duodenal Switch Imaga
After Duodenal Switch with my beautiful son

So the very next day I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician who recommended Dr. Ara Keshishian. That afternoon I called Dr. Keshishian’ office, scheduled a consultation and began what was about to be one of the greatest journeys of my life. I was approved within a month and ready to go.

In 2012, I had my Duodenal Switch with the great Dr. Keshishian. I was hopeful post op and determined to succeed. I knew with my husband’s and family’s love and support I could do it. I wanted to lose the weight for me, my husband and our future children so they had the healthy, happy mom they deserved. My Surgery weight was 220 ( Started at 230) I reached my goal at 10 months post op at 125lbs. Since having my DS I have had 1 (almost 2) amazing son’s. Duodenal Switch made this possible. I have my older son and I am currently 8 months pregnant with my 2nd son. Duodenal Switch did not just allow me to lose the weight that kept me from living life but it allowed me to get healthy and live life to the fullest. I am grateful everyday for my DS, my amazing husband, my boys, and Dr. Keshishian.

I am simply blessed. Would I do it again? In a heart beat.
Starting weight- 230
Surgery weight- 220
Goal Weight- 125

Minimally Invasive Weight Loss Surgery

May 17, 2016 9:02 am

Minimally Invasive does not mean better, easier, proven outcomes or good excess weight loss. Weight loss surgical patients  should be careful of catch phrases such as “less invasive”, “simpler”, “shorter recovery”, “outpatient” and many others that had been used to  described procedures with less than optimal outcome.  We should not forget the lessons learned from adjustable gastric banding which was also promoted as  ” less invasive, simpler to perform, and be done as an outpatient with a short recovery “.  We all know how that story has panned out. The overwhelming majority of patients who had an adjustable gastric banding  have undergone revision, had it removed or had additional surgeries following the complications  which were associated with this simple procedure.

When evaluating outcome data for weight loss surgical procedures, it is important to bear in mind that the long-term success of these procedures will take years to document.  More often than not the early weight loss is significantly better than the long-term stable weight loss. This has been clearly documented in the case of the adjustable gastric banding and the gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy operation. Duodenal switch , as described by Dr. Hess using the percentage based technique, has the best long-term documented success of all of the weight loss surgical procedures.   The scientific data reports 20+ years of  successful excess weight loss with a Hess Duodenal Switch procedure.   There has been an alternative proposed to Duodenal Switch recently, the SIPS and SADI  procedures.  As I have already stated in the past, these are not the same as the duodenal switch operation.  Any suggestion or innuendos that SIPS/SADI is the same as the Duodenal Switch is deceptive and misleading.    We have also seen attempts to use the same catch phrases as described above to promote these unproven procedures. The published data that’s been reported with SIPS/SADI is mostly short-term in small population studies.  There are no long-term studies that have documented the efficacy of the SIPS/SADI procedure and “simpler” or minimally invasive does not mean better.

Enhanced Cognitive Function after Bariatric Surgery

March 18, 2016 6:51 am

The adverse effects of obesity reduce the body’s natural potential of optimal physical, mental health and cognitive function. Obesity is associated with a greater risk of health problems such as hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and sleep apnea. These issues attribute to an increased risk of dementia and cognitive dysfunction.

Glucose homeostasis plays a key role in the neural mechanisms of the brain. Insulin signals nutrients by circulating within the body in proportion to body fat mass. In addition to other regulatory mechanisms, this allows the brain to control feeding behavior by stimulating energy storage and metabolic homeostasis. Metabolic imbalances modify insulin sensitivity and lead to impaired glucose output inhibition [Qatanani and Lazar et al., 2007 (1)].

System effects of free radicals
System effects of free radicals

Free radicals are formed when weak molecular bonds are split. Their instability causes them to attack neighboring stable molecules and lead to a chain reaction of disturbing living cells. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, defend the body from the damaging effects of free radicals by acting like scavengers. They protect cells from tissue damage that can potentially lead to disease.

Moreover, insulin resistance links oxidative stress, which is the continuous imbalance between free radical production and the body’s antioxidant defenses to detoxify its harmful effects. Enhanced oxidative stress is a result of accumulated fat, which impairs the secretion of insulin and damages glucose uptake in muscle and fat. Increased oxidative stress is the underlying cause of pathogenesis in vascular cell walls that lead to the development of cardiovascular problems, plaque formation. Data suggests, in a study conducted by Dr. Convit (2) in 2002, that management of blood sugar levels may enhance memory and possibly decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

In congruence with these findings, added stress due to excess weight can negatively affect the anatomy and physiology of the body. A study in 2010, led by Dr. Thompson (3), concluded that obesity is associated with “atrophy in brain areas targeted by neurodegeneration: hippocampus, frontal lobes, and thalamus” [Raji et al., 2010 (3)]. These brain regions play a critical role in the maintenance of memory, executive function, and sensory interpretation, respectively.

Central respiratory function is also disrupted by the mechanical effects of obesity. Reduced lung expansion is especially destructive during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder where breathing stops for brief periods because of an obstructed upper airway. Excess weight and increasing body mass index (BMI) restricts expansion of the chest wall and increases airway resistance, which decreases lung volume [Zammit et al. 2010 (4)]. This boosts respiratory muscle workload for consistent breathing. Complications of sleep apnea include fatigue, heart problems, metabolic syndrome, and more.

Cognitive impairments lead to deficits in executive function, response, reflex time, planning, and memory [Spitznagel et al. 2013 (5)]. Blood sugar levels, oxidative state, respiration and other mechanisms influence our cognitive abilities. Weight loss from bariatric surgery may reduce the comorbidities of an obese patient. The primary outcomes are improvements with diabetes, blood pressure, glucose levels, sleep apnea, BMI, and excess weight resolutions.

Schematic of how cognition is effected by obesity. Source (1)
Schematic of how cognition is effected by obesity. Source (1)

Weight loss surgery reverses the stressors of the body to permit the development and preservation of cognitive function. By improving anatomical aspects of physical health, the overall mental well-being of patients is remarkably enhanced.

A number of studies have looked at the short [Gunstad 2011(6)] and intermediate  [Alosco 2013, (7)] term improvement in memory function after weight loss surgery

Thank you to Contributor: Mariam Michelle Gyulnazaryan

References for Cognitive Function

  1. Qatanani M, Lazar MA. Mechanisms of obesity-associated insulin resistance. Genes & Dev. 2007; 21: 1443-1455.
  2. Convit A, Wolf OT, Tarshish C, de Leon MJ. Reduced glucose tolerance is associated with poor memory performance and hippocampal atrophy among normal elderly. PNAS. 2013; 100 (4): 2019-2022.
  3. Raji CA, Ho AJ, Parikshak N, Becker JT, Lopez OL, Kuller LH, Hua X, Leow AD, Toga AW, Thompson PM. Brain structure and obesity. Hum Brain Mapp. 2010; 31(3): 353-364.
  4. Zammit C, Liddicoat H, Moonsie I, Makker H. Obesity and respiratory diseases. Int J Gen Med. 2010; 3:335-343.
  5. Spitznagel MG, Alosco M, Strain G, Devlin M, Cohen R, Paul R, Crosby RD, Mitchell JE, Gunstad J., Cognitive function predicts 24-month weight loss success following bariatric surgery. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2013; 9(5): 765-770.
  6. John Gunstad, Gladys Strain, Michael J. Devlin, Rena Wing, Ronald A. Cohen, Robert H. Paul, Ross D. Crosby, James E. Mitchell, 2011, ‘Improved memory function 12 weeks after bariatric surgery’, Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 465-472
  7. Michael L. Alosco, Mary Beth Spitznagel, Gladys Strain, Michael Devlin, Ronald Cohen, Robert Paul, Ross D. Crosby, James E. Mitchell, John Gunstad, 2013, ‘Improved memory function two years after bariatric surgery’, Obesity, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 32-38
  8. Furukawa S, Fujita T, Shimabukuro M, Iwaki M, Yamada Y, Nakajima Y, Nakayama O, Makishima M, Matsuda M, Shimomura I. Increased oxidative stress in obesity and its impact on metabolic syndrome. J Clin Invest. 2004; 114(12): 1752-1761.
  9. Mitchell JE, de Zwaan M. Psychosocial assessment and treatment of bariatric surgery patients. 2011;6: 103-109.
  10. Nguyen JCD, Killcross AS, Jenkins TA. Obesity and cognitive decline: role of inflammation and vascular changes. Front Neurosci. 2014; 8: 375.
  11. Chan JSY, Yan JH, Payne VG. The impact of obesity and exercise on cognitive aging. Front Aging Neurosci. 2013; 5: 97.

Shared Success Story – Albert L.

March 07, 2016 10:46 am

Lose weight, eat smaller portions, eat healthy, go to the gym, don’t eat bread, don’t eat starches, try this diet try that diet….. on and on.
It is so easy for dietitians, nutritionists, cardiologists, family members to speak these words. Being the one with the weight issue, it would drive me crazy hearing all the smart advice everyone had for me. I tried it all without success! Some for one day, some for longer, the results were always the same. I would lose a few pounds and in the end I would gain more. I imagine that the advice givers really didn’t understand the fatigue and appetite that comes with the extra pounds. At 39 years old, 245lbs, on blood pressure and cholesterol meds, all I could see was a life of diabetes and heart disease. Oh, the days I spent in department stores looking at designer clothes I couldn’t wear, talking to women who wouldn’t see past my belly, being the guy at the pool with his shirt on and most of all facing a very rocky future.

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Before surgery
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8 months after surgery

The day I walked into Dr Keshishian’s office was the day my life changed. He looked me in the eyes and told me it’s all going to be better. I had my surgery in June and my recovery was unusually fast. The pounds were dropping daily and within 6 weeks my cardiologist took me off my blood pressure and cholesterol medications. At eight months after surgery,  I am so close to my goal of 180lbs. I have to admit that I would have reached my goal months ago. But a trip to Australia, wining and dining my new fiancé put me off track. But I’m happy to say I’m well on my way to success. Because I am feeling so much healthier, I have joined a gym. Since surgery, I don’t have a huge appetite so I am eating smaller and healthier portions. The future is looking very very bright. Thank you Doc.”

-Albert L.

Sleep Apnea

January 27, 2016 8:11 am

Snoring is often viewed as an inconvenience but it can be a potentially serious issue. It may be the presenting sign of a condition known as Sleep Apnea. Unfortunately, a serious sleeping condition often gets overlooked, which can triple the risk of death for the affected! Certain signs such as consistent loud snoring, daytime fatigue, and weight gain may be indications of this serious illness.

Sleep Apnea is usually chronic issues that results in  one or more pauses in breathing during sleep. People with this disorder can repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping which usually results in a reduced oxygen supply to the brain and the tissues of the body.

Each pause in breathing is called an “apnea” and can last for several seconds to several minutes. When breathing is paused, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream and chemoreceptors in the blood stream instantly respond to the high carbon dioxide levels. The brain is then signaled to wake the sleeping person and breathe in air in order to release the carbon dioxide built up. Breathing normally restores oxygen levels and the person falls asleep again.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:

  • Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
  • Abrupt awakenings with a rapid pounding or racing heart rate
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Attention problems
  • Irritability

Complications of sleep apnea can result in a variety of health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Arrhythmias
  • Obesity
  • Heart Problems
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Weight Gain

Obesity can cause  a specific type of Sleep Apnea called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common chronic disorder that often requires lifelong care.  It is well documented that daytime fatigue can be prevalent in obese patients even though they may not demonstrate symptoms of sleep apnea. However, there is strong data demonstrating the fact that obese patients run a proportionately much higher risk of having sleep apnea.

Bariatric or Weight loss surgery has been shown to be  an effective treatment for OSA in patients who are obese and often also resolves the underlying co-morbidities of sleep apnea. While scientific reasoning for this requires further study it is theorized that the weight loss is associated with a decrease in upper airway collapsibility and obstruction mostly caused by tissues size, which is one of the major causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Effective weight loss through bariatric surgery has helped many patients achieve complete resolution and improvement of their co-morbidities such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea. Studies show sleep investigations performed approximately one year after the bariatric surgery revealed a significant decrease in the number of “apnea” episodes per hour of sleep and an improvement in all sleep quality related measurements as well. Bariatric surgery is perfectly suited for obese patients with OSA.

The correlation between Sleep Apnea and obesity has been well documented and supported through modern science. Clinical data, medical trials, and patient testimonials all underscore major improvements in the symptoms of Sleep Apnea after bariatric surgery.

Success Story: Hasmik

January 13, 2016 2:47 pm

Failed Band: My earliest memory of feeling ashamed of being “too heavy” is from kindergarten. For over 30+ years I have struggled with  gaining weight, trying to lose weight, or going mad maintaining my weight. There is no shortcut that does not come back to bite you in the butt. There is no diet that effectively changes you permanently. For me exercise is a mindful struggle I sometimes successfully commit to over small periods of time.

I was desperate and ready for a real change. I wanted a genuine difference in the way I consumed and related to food and decided the lap band was the way to go. It was marketed as a “non intrusive, non permanent, easily reversible weight loss tool” and that is EXACTLY what I thought I needed and wanted. I was so very wrong, after my surgery I was considered a “success”. In fact up until the removal of my second slipped failed band, esophagus damage, and poor nutrition; I was considered a success. I look back and think how troubling this was/is. How very damaging to the person struggling and dealing with weight issues. Truly, it messed with my mind and my ability to speak up, admit to myself and out loud the band was NOT working for me. In fact, if I’m completely truthful, it was dangerous and turned me into a residue of the person I once was. I was not able to eat comfortably or  eat out any place I happen to be. With the Band, I would need to consider how long I was going to be away from home because I could only eat small bites in small quantities to ensure I did not get stuck or worse vomit what I put inside my mouth. Yes, I had lost almost 100 lbs, but I had given my quality of life as payment. My guilt ensured I would never speak up or complain since I felt “fortunate” and grateful to have had this second chance at life. In my mind, speaking up meant possibly losing the tool (lap band) that allowed me to change my life and reality. Because for the first time in memory, I was the same weight at the start, middle, and end of the year. I did not have to buy different sizes of clothing or underclothing. I could predict what I might wear since my size was stable and my clothes fit. The reality is and was far from this corrupted self truth. I was unhealthy with the restrictive nature of how the lap band worked. In fact my band slipped twice after a severe stomach virus. I later learned of many other symptoms I was making excuses for and quite frankly straight out ignored.

I met Dr. Keshishian (Dr. K) at my lowest weight and at the lowest point in my health. I finally realized, the lap band needed to come out after it had slipped again. It was clear I needed a doctor who would be straight with me and cared for my health and not his/her “success” rates and have the expertise to deal with my failed band. I researched and called several bariatric surgeons then attempted to make appointments with each to discuss the urgent band removal surgery I needed (not as simple as you would think). I was also hopeful I might have the option to undergo the bariatric sleeve surgery because I knew I would not be able to keep my weight under control on my own.  I was unwilling to undergo the emotional and mental torment of gaining and losing weight for the rest of my days. I succeeded in making three appointments and truthfully after meeting and speaking to Dr. K and his office staff I canceled them immediately. Let me start with the staff as that REALLY is important; they help you feel comfortable with the doctor, the procedure, and overall experience. They represent and reflect how the doctor you’re about to see will treat his patients. The expected standard within Dr. Keshishian’s office immediately made me feel like I called the right place. I was taken by the knowledgable, kind tone and efficient manner in which they requested the necessary information to effectively help me get from the starting point to the end goal. When I got to my appointment, Dr. Keshishian BLEW MY MIND. He not only presented himself as an approachable person I  immediately felt at ease with but also reveal my concerns and questions.  He treated me like a person. This may sound strange but this doctor made me feel like a human being with real concerns. He listened to me, asked questions rather than talked at me, and explained how and what was happening to my body and mind. He spent 3 hours with me to answer all my questions (even if I repeated them), draw diagrams, show me video to better help me understand what was happening, and then just sat with me while I cried for a moment. I cried because my 30+ years journey of ups and downs, crazy and insanity finally led me to the door of a man who understood and knew how to help without judgment. WHICH DOCTOR DOES THIS! None that I know.

My life post surgery is what I always hoped it would be. I am able to eat vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, grains and basically a well rounded diet. What’s amazing is that I naturally do not crave sweets, heavy creamy dressings, sauces and fill up quickly. There is after all a difference between the restriction of a lap band and the feeling of being full with the sleeve which Dr. K patiently explained. Today I am able to go any where,  at any time, enjoy the moment and the company rather than worry about what I’m not able to consume. My days of scanning to locate the nearest bathroom in case I need to dash to it are over.

As I write this today, I feel like a real person, not some transient hoping to savor my life at glimpses. I am a person that is balanced in my heart with the average person’s anxiety and mindful eating habits. The sleeve is not a magic end to weight gain, it does give you the fighting chance to make choices in life leading up to results you’re willing to work for.

~ Grateful and Mindful, Hasmik (September 2015 Sleeve Op Patient)

Acanthosis Nigricans

November 16, 2015 9:28 am

There are a a number of skin conditions that are associated with the disease of obesity. Acanthosis Nigricans is characterized as areas of thickened, dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. Usually seen in the armpits, neck, under the breasts, in the skin folds of the abdomen and groin. The exact cause of it at the molecular level is not clear other than seen frequently with insulin excess in the case of benign conditions. This symptom can give a warning about health conditions that require further investigation.

Patients may assume excessive sweating and poor hygiene are the causes of this condition- both of which are incorrect.

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Acanthuses Nigerians is caused by acanthosis and papillomatosis of the epidermis (the outer most layer of the skin)  pigmentation is usually not in this area,  rather than pigment-producing cells. The skin proliferation abnormalities in acanthosis nigrcans are frequently associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. This probably presents the best understanding of the pathology behind it. It suggests that the layer of  skin gets thicker probably caused by some stimuli- as indicated above seen with insulin excess.

There are two forms of this condition: Benign and Malignant.

Benign forms are associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes.

Insulin resistance: Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows your body to process sugar. Resistance predisposes to type II diabetes.

Hormonal disorders: Hypothyroidism, Polycystic Ovarian Disease, and other endocrine disorders of adrenal glands are ovaries

Drugs: Certain drugs and supplements such as high-dose niacin, birth control pills, steroids, may cause acanthosis nigricans.

Malignant forms may be an indication of Gastro-intestinal cancer such as stomach, colon, or liver cancer.

Treatment: No specific treatment is available for acanthosis nigricans. Treating the underlying conditions may restore some of the normal color and texture to affected areas of skin.

Shared Success Story- Stephanie U.

September 22, 2015 7:38 am

Before Sleeve Gastrectomy

When I think back as far into my childhood as I can remember my weight was always a problem. I grew up being made fun of and missed out on the simple things that normal kids do growing up because my weight caused limitations.

Even into early adulthood I was still made fun of, but I learned to deal with it. I tried different methods of trying to lose weight. I went to a gym, tried  diet pills, followed diets, cut out foods, sodas, alcohol, etc.  Sure these things worked (very slowly) for a period of time, but then I would plateau and became discouraged and gain whatever little weight I lost plus some. By the time I was 27yrs old I found myself at my heaviest at 245lbs and I was also pregnant with my first child. I was lucky enough to have a healthy pregnancy.  However after I had my daughter, I went up to 265lbs and just couldn’t get it off. I felt the toll the weight was taking on my body. My hips would ache, go numb, my lower back would get stiff, I would become winded just walking upstairs, it was difficult to get up from sitting, my feet would be sore if I was standing too long. I began to realize this was just going to get worse as time went on and as my daughter got older parenting would become more difficult. It became an even bigger concern to be healthier now that I had a little one depending on me and looking up to me.
I decided to explore the option of surgery in late 2013. I knew it was something that my insurance would cover so long as I met the requirements so I set out to find a reputable surgeon in my area.
Surprisingly I reached out into a Facebook group and was overwhelmed with recommendations for Dr. Keshishian (I was originally interested in the DS surgery). I went for my consultation in December of 2013.  Upon meeting with Dr. Keshishian I knew I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to perform this surgery on me. He was very upfront, honest, and straightforward with information regarding what was to come and the effort that needed to be put forth in order for this to work. The Gastric Sleeve was brought up and I decided to go with the sleeve surgery. I pushed forth and the staff at Dr. K’s office began the process of approval which happened to move very swiftly and smoothly.

I ended up having my surgery on 4/11/14 and I weighed 265lbs on the day of. Today, as I write this I am, approaching my 30th birthday healthier than I think I have ever been and I currently weigh 152lbs. The adjustment post-op was not an easy one, but it was well worthwhile. I am much more active, able to keep up and play with my daughter. I feel like I am living a normal life for once. I was scared, nervous, and had so many worries running through my head prior to surgery but now that I have gone through it I would make the same decision all over again in a second’s time.

After Sleeve Gastrectomy

Shared Success: Kurtis R.

September 08, 2015 5:27 am

For most of my life I had always been on the heavier side of the scale. Since I was a kid I’ve been extremely active with sports and other activities that required me to be running around, but my diet wasn’t on the right track. Even with all the working out or running I did, my diet is what led me to having the body I didn’t want anymore.

I didn’t have the same troubles a lot of bigger or heavier kids had. I wasn’t picked on or depressed. I was liked by just about everyone and had a large group of friends. That part of my life has never changed. What did change was the way I looked at myself in the mirror. I never had confidence in myself when it came to most aspects of life. Sports, I had all the confidence in the world. Nobody could strike me out, or get passed me with a football. The day it really changed for me was about 3 years ago. I was sitting on my bed, about to go to the store and realized I couldn’t bend down far enough to put my socks on without sucking in, holding my breath and leaning my legs out to the side. I got on the scale and realized I had hit 410LBS. 410LBS with a BMI around 50% at 22 years old. A weight I had never thought about, but also a weight I never thought I would be. I was lazy and didn’t care about what I ate. I worked from 7-4 and then played video games until it was time to go to sleep. No exercise and a terrible diet only lead to one result, and that’s a very unhealthy body. I brought this all up to my mom (who had gastric bypass ~15 years ago) and she said if I wanted, we could look into the weight loss surgery options.

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She did the work in the beginning, finding out where we needed to go and when I decided I wanted to do this, she was there with me at the group meeting where we first met Dr. Keshishian. I knew from the second I saw his bow tie that he would be a pleasure be around. He brought out pictures and described the differences, pros and cons of each different surgery, I knew Dr. Keshishian was the doctor I wanted. Originally I wanted to just have the Gastric Band, but after hearing Dr. Keshishian go through every option, I ultimately decided to have the Sleeve Gastrectomy done. This was one of the best decisions of my life.

I had the surgery done in March of 2013 (~2.5 years ago) with a starting weight of 410 LBS. Now, 2.5 years later I weigh 250LBS and have lowered my BMI to about 20%, a number that I’m focusing on now. I didn’t have the surgery to become a skinny man. I like being a bigger guy. I just want to be healthy and get my BMI to about 12-15%. With the help and motivation from my parents, friends, family and beautiful girlfriend Kori, there are no doubts in my mind that I’ll be able to reach my end goal and continue on this path of health and exercise for the rest of my life.