We have created a series of short videos where a group of our patients speak about their weight loss journey:
Believing in myself
It was my doctor who suggested having a gastric band. I researched it and felt it was the right thing for me. I wish I had listened to David Schroeder (surgeon) when he suggested it may not be the right thing for me. He knows best and my advice is always listen to what he says. I went ahead at the end of January 2011 and had a gastric band. The first few weeks were different, it was adjusting and taking it's time but I was losing weight. I was really happy with the outcome and I was working really hard. Then the most amazing thing happened, I fell pregnant. Not the best timing at all as I was 6 weeks post surgery. I wouldn't change that for anything, was it bad timing…hell yeah but did i care? No I did not! I have a beautiful baby boy now aged 4.
I didn't lose the baby weight and again slowly put on the weight I had lost. I hadn't had my band adjusted as I was having trouble with the band becoming too tight during a certain time each month and so I was unable to tighten it. I remember talking to David around the 1 year post band surgery and he suggested I think about having a conversion from a gastric band to a gastric bypass. I was thinking no! There’s no way can I do that as my mind had not got there yet. It took another 2 years before I made that decision.
In hindsight now, I realise I did the first surgery (Lapband) for the wrong reasons and I am no longer ashamed to say that, however on the 20th March 2015 I made a decision for the right reasons and it was only about me. I had a conversion from a band to a bypass. It was the best decision I have ever made. I do not regret it and I have worked so hard at this. I am doing this for myself, I have worked my ‘ass’ off to be the person I am today. I am no longer defensive, I am outgoing and I love my friends and can't get enough of spending time with them. Am I a different person than I was, and I'm sure my husband sometimes wonders what happened to his wife!
I won't lie, the hardest part of my journey has not been exercise or eating or losing so much weight, it was my brain. I sometimes think it's the devil because your head is your own worst enemy. It takes time so be patient. So yeah, I started at 134.8kgs and today I am 78kgs. What is my goal weight? I have no idea, but I have made the goal I set for myself the day i had surgery. How much more I want to lose, I don't know. But I am no longer focused on numbers. What is important is how I feel about myself. I’m not gonna lie, some days are harder than others, but I believe in myself and know I'm becoming the person I always dreamt of being happy.
Nick was elected mayor of Porirua in 2010. So he decided to have a gastric band operation. Becoming mayor motivated the former real estate agent to shrug off his "big" self.
Years of overeating and gorging on takeaways had caught up with him and he did not like what he saw. So, in February, he had an $18,000 gastric band operation.
"The operation took 30 minutes on a Friday and I was back at work on the Monday," he says.
"It was just the realisation that I didn't have as much control over my eating as I needed and that, in terms of being in good health and wanting to be fit, the best way of doing that was having a tool that helped me and it certainly has.
"I was always active, I was never sedentary, so I knew that my problem was not my lack of physical activity but rather what I put in my mouth."
The gastric band is inserted at the top of the stomach and affects the nerves that tell the brain you are hungry.
Mr Leggett, 32, has since lost 15 kilograms and dozens of centimetres and has never felt better.
"The thing is you can still have a life. I'm just a lot more cautious with what I eat."
Becoming mayor in October motivated the former real estate agent to shrug off his "big" self.
"I see the gastric band as being indefinite but not necessarily permanent, because it can be removed.
"I didn't see myself as cutting my stomach in two in my 30s. It was more about having a tool that helped me to be more active."
And active he has been – he hits the pool for an hour three times a week and runs or walks once a week. He has also given up fatty food, fizzy drinks and beer
Stephen Houghton has completely turned his life around. Six years ago he was very unwell. He weighed 151kg, had heart and cholesterol problems, sleep apnoea and was pre-diabetic. But fast forward to now and Houghton is 67kg lighter and is targeting his second Triathlon World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico later this year.
"Six years ago all the doctors had been pleading with me to lose weight and sort my life out. I had a high-pressure job in a large petrol-chemical company so stress was affecting my health as an obese person at work too. I started making some really strange choices in my personal life, as I was convinced I wasn't going to be around much longer and I did not want to leave my family with financial burdens".
"One day it all dawned on me that these morbid thoughts were all wrong. I had everything I ever wanted - a great job at a very supportive company, a wonderful caring wife and awesome kids, so I realised I needed to make some drastic changes if I was to be around for them".
Houghton, who lives in Taranaki, met a man who had been and had a gastric bypass. He decided to look into it and went and met the medical team in Hamilton.
"They make you realise what sort of person you are, what makes you tick, what your problems and addictions are and what you're doing wrong. Most importantly they give the knowledge and support needed to overcome these problems. Once I learnt all that, I realised that I did need a bit of help so I decided to go ahead with the gastric bypass.
I actually lost 26kg before I had the operation just through changing my diet and walking. I had to lose fat around my organs before they could operate on me because I was that big and it reduced risk during the operation".
"18 months after the operation my stomach size was back to normal and I had to work hard to keep the weight off. I'm just like everyone else now to a degree where I just have to watch some things I eat because some things my stomach can't handle. During this period I learnt all about nutrition and this changed the way I looked and ate food.”
He decided it was time now to get real fit. Houghton did a couple of half marathons and was pleasantly surprised at how well he went. He then got addicted to watching the ITU series on TV.
"I just love watching triathlon and the sort of person I am I thought that's a hell of a challenge to do three complete different disciplines and do them well. That was about three years ago and I thought right I'm going to give this a crack. I looked into a club and thought they had some cool events that I could start off on".
"So I literally just hopped in a pool one day and thought right lets do this and I started to swim. I always remember I swam one length of a 25m pool and stopped, then I swam back again and after swimming 50m thought how the hell am I going to do this, but I just kept going and got pretty determined".
Houghton taught himself how to swim and had a go at a local Triathlon in Taranaki.
"I got myself a coach, Jeff McGrath, this was the smartest thing I did. I trained with Jeff, the JME crew and Tracey Wales for swimming and they really got me into shape to tackle last season. I went to Wanaka and qualified for the Worlds there and went to Kinloch and qualified there too and next minute I'm in Chicago". He represented New Zealand at the Age Group World Champs in Chicago last year and was blown away by the experience.
Stephen Houghton can now happily say that he's addicted to triathlons. Life has never been better for him. He quit his job so he could focus more on family time and the sport he loves. The last six years has really made him see what is important in life. What a credit to Stephen!
We Asked Our Patients: "If someone asked you about our service what would be your comment?" Below Are Some Of The Responses:
"I would not hesitate to recommend you because of the support I received. Also the fact that you invest time in your patients and really are in it for the long-term"
"It was great. They all treat you like a friend and don't make you feel guilty because you are overweight"
"Friendly and professional team, a pleasure to deal with"
"Strong focus on patient wellness and preparation for surgery. Good team"
"I would recommend any obese friend to come along to the information evening. It has all been positive for me"
"I would highly recommend this service"