Eating Less, Savoring More

Scale2Tie your shoes. Get dressed. Walk across the room. Go to the bathroom by yourself. Get in a vehicle.

For most people, these are everyday events. At 410 pounds at the age of 52, these things were a struggle for Jerry Mostad, of Walhalla, N.D.

“I was big,” said Jerry. “Four hundred ten pounds is huge.”

Jerry’s outlook on life changed drastically, thanks to Altru’s Bariatric Center and his commitment to his new lifestyle.

“I’m living proof it can work,” he said.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Jerry has dealt with club feet since birth and has been on disability most of his life.

“I couldn’t be real active, so I sat around the house and ate,” he said. “I love food. I didn’t get to 410 pounds because I didn’t like to eat.”

“If I went to a baseball game, I’d sit in a lawn chair and break it,” he continued. “I couldn’t even walk through a store by myself. There were days I didn’t want, or literally couldn’t, get out of bed. I got depressed. I was a grumpy guy and not nice to be around.”

After visiting with Gwen Witzel, a certified family nurse practitioner at Cavalier County Memorial Hospital, Jerry began a regimen of medication and vitamin D. She also discussed the possibility of weight-loss surgery with him.

“I was at risk of developing diabetes and having a heart attack,” said Jerry. “I didn’t want that to be my life. I want to live to be old and see my grandchildren get married.”

Jerry then met with physician assistant Shellie Wright at Altru to discuss bariatric surgery.

“A good candidate is motivated to make changes, not just see what the surgery will do for them,” said Shellie. “Support is important because lifestyles must change for success. Making and sustaining big changes is often difficult. Jerry told me when he struggled, his wife and grandchildren were there to remind him of what changes he needed. Perseverance is important as weight loss may be slow, and learning how to work with the band may take time.”

With full support of his friends and family, including his wife of 35 years, Annette, Jerry moved forward with lap band surgery. This procedure reduces the stomach capacity, helping the patient feel full quicker and longer after meals. An inflatable silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a new stomach pouch roughly the size of an egg. The band can be adjusted by injecting or removing saline through a port. Dr. Robin Hape performed the surgery on April 13, 2011.

Commitment to Embrace Life
Knowing compliance was a determining factor in his success after surgery, Jerry made the commitment to embrace his new life.

“I’m working hard, every day, to stick with the program,” he said. “I want to do it for myself. I have to give 100 percent to the program. Mrs. Wright and the folks at Altru helped show me the way, but I have to do it.”

One of the first changes Jerry made was in how and what he ate. Because of his reduced stomach size, the amount of food he is able to eat is significantly reduced. He must chew his food well and work to make meals last at least 20 minutes for proper digestion.

“I have to watch what I eat,” he said. “I love potato chips, especially barbeque ones. But I know they’re not good for me. Instead of having a bag every day, I might have a few chips once a month.”

“Eating in restaurants has taken some getting used to,” he continued. “It’s tough to pass up the steak I see at the next table, but I know I can’t go down that road. Instead, I choose the salad bar. There are so many different things to choose from, and the offerings are different everywhere you go.”

Jerry also had to become more aware of his eating triggers.

“I realized I got hungry when I was bored inside the house by myself,” he said. “I try to keep my mind occupied with other things now. It helps just going outside for fresh air.”

Different Person
Two years after the surgery, Jerry, now 54, has lost 120 pounds. He’s hoping to lose another 50.

“The system does work, as long as you work at it,” said Jerry. “I’m a different person. I’m not so dependent on my wife for everything. I can help around the house.”

Jerry regularly visits Altru for maintenance checks. Shellie utilizes a body composition scale that measures his fat percentage, fat mass, lean mass, body water, BMI and weight.

“Jerry is now physically able to do things he hasn’t done in years,” said Shellie. “He has an amazing amount of energy and smiles from ear to ear. He has great support and encouragement.”

With every visit to Altru, Jerry is reassured he’s doing well.

“When I walk into the office, it’s always, ‘Hi, Jerry,’” he said. “Everyone works together like a family. They congratulate me on how far I’ve come and motivate me to keep going. They make you feel you’re accomplishing something.”

“You have to take care of yourself,” said Jerry. “No one else will do it for you. I can go to the doctors and they can tell me what to do, but unless I do it, it’s not going to happen. It’s not an easy journey, but the more weight I lose, the easier it gets.”

Have you had success losing weight? What lifestyle changes worked for you? Are you able to do things now that you weren’t able to before you lost the weight? Let us know.

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