Finish How You Start: Taking charge of your weight loss journey
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - New year. New me. It’s a common motto most of us use to kick off the new year, especially in- regards to living a healthier lifestyle.
But sometimes, it’s not as easy as hopping on a treadmill or changing your diet.
“You’re only starting with the surgery, you have to do everything else to keep it off. It’s not the easy way out, there’s still a lot of work involved, but it can have great results.”
Temeika Cunningham is a 45 year-old mother and realtor here in the Midlands.
Today she’s about 115 pounds and goes to the gym at least 4 times a week.
But 17 years ago, things looked a lot different.
“I started living a sedentary life, next thing I knew, I as at 230 pounds, and as I continued to get older, I was not losing the weight and keeping it off,” says Cunningham.
So Temeika did some research, and decided to consider surgery.
“In 2004, I had a friend who had had the surgery, and originally I was very judgmental.”
But that soon changed. Temeika met with Dr. Glen Strickland, Director of bariatric surgery at the South Carolina Obesity Surgery Center.
“If you’ve gained 100 pounds over your ideal body weight, you have about a one percent chance of losing the weight and keeping it off,” says Strickland.
He says the weight loss battle Temeika was fighting wasn’t uncommon.
“It’s got to be a personal decision on when to have surgery. People coming to the conclusion themselves that they have really made a good effort to lose weight, and more commonly than not they did lose the weight, but they put it back on, and it’s this yo-yo cycle that they see,” says Strickland.
Temeika received a laparoscopic gastric bypass and says after her short procedure, she already felt like a new person.
“I just came out mentally already feeling thinner, but had lost like 20 or 30 pounds before I even left the hospital.”
But even with her new body, she had to change her lifestyle.
“The surgery changes your body physically, but it doesn’t change your mind. It’s about exercise, it’s about eating right,” says Cunningham.
She admits, staying motivated hasn’t always been easy.
“Life gets in the way, and it’s like okay I’m bored doing this, I’m bored doing that. I’ve consistently watched what I eat watched how I exercise.”
However, having strong support from her friends and family helps her stay on track
“I can at any time say hey, someone want to come workout with me? And they will because everybody wants to know well what’s it like? How does she keep doing it? Because these are friends who have seen me at my top weight,” says Cunningham.
Dr. Strickland says that’s the key element.
“Surgery will make you lose weight, we’ll get you back to where you used to be. But then, that’s the first year, after that it’s a joint effort, and she’s been able to get up everyday and do the right thing,”
Temeika says her journey has been less about her, and more about setting an example for the ones she loves—to get the chance to live fulfilling, healthy lives.
“That’s all I want, is for everybody to have more life, live as long as I am, because I want my friends and family around as long as I am.”
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