From Fried to Fresh
Physicians: James Kroeze, DO; Jill Gorsuch, DO, MPH
Growing up in Alabama meant Stuart Fenton was blessed with warm summer nights and old fashioned southern comfort food.
“I love fried food,” joked Stuart. “Always have, but it didn’t catch up with me until l I was older.”
Now at 52-years-old and living in Stevensville with his wife, Stuart’s eating habits hadn’t change. Over the years Stuart’s weight continued to increase resulting in high blood pressure, diabetes, and a diagnosis of morbidly obese. At only 5’4”, Stuart weighed 265 pounds at his heaviest, with a BMI of 45.5.
“Over the years I had tried every diet,” said Stuart. “Diets are great for getting you into a nice outfit for an event, but it’s all short term. I needed a permanent lifestyle change.”
Not being able to get on the floor and play with his five-year-old grandson is what ultimately pushed Stuart to speak with his primary care physician, James Kroeze, DO, about his weight issues. Dr. Kroeze referred him to the Lakeland Weight Loss Center to learn more about his options.
Stuart attended a weight loss seminar and decided to make an appointment to learn more. He spoke with bariatric surgeon Jill Gorsuch, DO, MPH, and together they decided a vertical sleeve gastrectomy would be the best fit. This procedure makes your stomach smaller, so that you feel full a lot quicker —something that Stuart had always struggled with.
“I felt like I didn’t have an off switch,” said Stuart. “I couldn’t stop eating, and didn’t need the size of stomach I had.”
Making the decision to have surgery wasn’t the hardest part. Stuart understood this was going to be a long and difficult road and he was going to need his wife, three children, and friends to support and guide him. He went through the six months of shared medical appointments at the weight loss center and saw how many people were struggling due to lack of support at home.
“I was blessed with a great support system,” said Stuart. “This experience wasn’t only changing my life; it was changing my whole family’s.”
Before surgery Stuart set small goals. Cutting one thing out of his diet at a time. Starting with sweets, then caffeine, and so on. He created a list of dos and don’ts and discussed them with his family so they could help keep him on track. In the six months prior to his surgery, Stuart lost a total of 65 pounds.
“Dr. Gorsuch asked me if I still wanted to go through with the surgery,” said Stuart. “I never felt pressured and I genuinely believe she wanted what was best for me.”
Ultimately, Stuart knew himself and knew that a permanent change was what he needed. Stuart had his surgery in August of 2017 and since then has seen amazing results. To date he has lost a total of 105 pounds and has gone from a size 42 pant, to a 30. He is officially off all medications and is no longer feeling the aches and pains in his joints due to his excess weight.
“When you compare the cost of blood pressure and diabetes medication over a lifetime to the cost of bariatric surgery — it’s a bargain,” said Stuart.
While the physical changes are clear to see, it’s the change on the inside that has made the biggest difference in Stuart’s life.
“Throughout this process I learned so much about myself,” said Stuart. “I realized I had a food addiction and that I didn’t need to eat as much as I was.”
While Stuart has had great success, he is fully aware that this is going to be a lifelong battle and he will make mistakes along the way.
“I’m not perfect, but I burned the bridge behind me when I had my surgery and I am going to continue to eat right and make healthy decisions,” said Stuart.
Stuart believes in leading by example and hopes that his weight loss story can help someone else who may consider visiting the Lakeland Weight Loss Center.
“The staff is supportive and truly want to help people,” said Stuart. “They changed my life, but more importantly they probably saved my life.”