Weight Loss Warrior

June 18, 2014

Many people who have difficulty controlling their weight say that they have been heavy their entire lives.  April Hernandez does not fit into that mold.  She was fit and active growing up.  She enjoyed activities such as running and hiking, and she was a baton twirler in high school.  So how does someone who is healthy and enjoys being active develop a weight problem?  A combination of factors led to her seemingly impossible uphill battle with weight.

April and her husband both served in the military; April in the Navy and her husband in the Marines.  As many who proudly served their country can attest, life in the military can be mentally, emotionally and physically demanding.  Training and running become an integral part of your life.  April thrived in this structured environment, and she even says that she enjoyed the physical training, especially the running, for the camaraderie and the competitive aspects.  That intense competitiveness is a trait that will be very important when facing the adversity that is to come.

After leaving the military, April began to experience a different lifestyle that can be equally, if not more, demanding; that of being a wife, a mother of two and working a full time job as a social worker.  Absent the structure of military life and with so many new demands on her time and energy, she fell into an unhealthy eating pattern that included lots of fast food, often late at night. She quickly gained 40 pounds after leaving the Navy. The unhealthy eating, coupled with a job that tends to have long hours and is primarily sedentary, caused her weight to continue to increase until she reached her heaviest at 278 pounds.

April had difficulty keeping up with her family on walks, because she would quickly grow short of breath. The extra weight limited her ability to do many of the activities that she loves, such as running, hiking in Palo Duro Canyon and cave exploring. April and her kids love to go to water parks, but even this once enjoyable family experience became stressful for April. She had a powerful fear that she would be told that she couldn’t get on certain rides due to the weight limit. She knew that she had to do something.

She channeled her competitive spirit and made some changes.  She tried diets, weight loss pills, B12 shots, and frustratingly, nothing seemed to work. She realized that she needed some help. She found the help that she needed in the team of healthcare professionals of BSA Bariatric Surgery.  Barbara English, RN, Bariatric Surgery Coordinator, and many others helped April through every step of the process including precertification, pre-op testing, nutrition counseling and mental health counseling. They made sure that she was given the knowledge and skills necessary to have a successful experience following weight loss surgery.

April had a sleeve gastrectomy on October 2, 2012. About 18 months after her surgery, she has lost 120 pounds. She looks great, feels great, and she is able to do all of the things she loves, that she previously struggled to do because of her weight.  She renewed her passion for running; completing her first (post-op) 5K only 3 months after her surgery.  Since then she has completed multiple 5Ks, 10Ks and a 15K race, even finishing second in her age group in one race.  On June 8, 2014, April finished her first half marathon along with her husband in the Wounded Warrior Half in Arlington with a time of 2:24:08.

April’s exceptional weight loss results can be attributed to three factors: a strong support system, a trusted team of healthcare professionals and her competitive nature. She has always had a good network of support in her family and friends. Her loving husband is her rock and a source of motivation and positive energy, and her kids help her stay on track by encouraging her to be mindful about what she is eating and drinking. As an added bonus, the whole family has adopted healthier eating habits through this process. In addition to the nurses, dietitians and fitness trainer of BSA Bariatric Surgery, April also benefited from working with a therapist. Surgery can fix the stomach, but attention also needs to be given to the mind. Therapy has helped her improve her self esteem and understand the emotional triggers that can lead to unhealthy eating habits.

April attends monthly weight loss support groups at BSA, and enjoys mentoring others who are on their own weight loss journey. She continues to improve her health and her race times, and she no longer worries about weight limits at water parks.

About the BSA Bariatric Surgery Program

The BSA Bariatric Surgery Program has earned the designation of Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. BSA offers high quality surgical services, outstanding nursing care and ongoing support for bariatric surgery patients.