Surgery is just one tool in a successful bariatric journey

Sarah Cox Bariatric patientSarah Cox, Otsego, spent years of her life struggling with her weight. “I’ve gained and lost weight my whole life. I’ve tried everything—name a diet, I’ve done it,” Sarah shared. “I was usually successful losing the weight—as much as 100 pounds at times—but I always felt so restricted and would gain it all back.”

Like many, the Covid-19 pandemic caused Sarah to pack on even more pounds. She was stress eating, had lost the motivation to exercise and was dealing with the anxiety of the pandemic in unhealthy ways. After a few months, her clothes didn’t fit and seeing her face on-screen during video calls made her feel worse about herself. She hit her breaking point, which prompted her to research bariatric surgery in August 2020.

Sarah’s mom had bariatric surgery years ago, so Sarah was familiar with the process, but had many questions of her own. Her online research led her to Ridgeview’s Bariatric & Weight Loss team. When she called and spoke with Kristyn Baker, bariatric managed care specialist, she immediately felt a weight lifted off her shoulders. “I felt reassured about my decision to pursue weight loss surgery and I looked forward to my consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Baker,” Sarah said.

A comprehensive approach for long-term weight loss success

At Sarah’s consultation, Jeffrey Baker, MD, bariatric surgeon, discussed all of her options. Sarah appreciated how personable he was, and they quickly made the connection that Dr. Baker’s father had performed her mother’s bariatric surgery 20 years prior.

“Dr. Baker was very clear on the process and knowledgeable about which option was the best choice for me,” Sarah said. “I left excited, informed and I completely trusted his judgment.” Sarah decided to move forward with a sleeve gastrectomy, a surgery that decreases the size of the stomach, limiting the amount of food that can be eaten. However, the surgery itself is just one of the many tools involved in a successful bariatric journey—exercise and nutrition are also important.

During the month leading up to her surgery, the bariatric team educated and prepared Sarah for surgery and what to expect afterward. She learned more about what types of food she should be eating, and what her body needed in terms of nutrition and activity—igniting Sarah’s desire to make some real changes. Though, just as Sarah began preparing for surgery, Covid-19 was spreading rapidly throughout Minnesota—resulting in postponement of elective surgeries, including Sarah’s.

Learning to eat purposefully and to find joy in being active

Sarah had surgery in March 2021, a day before her 38th birthday. She was eager to wake up on her birthday as a “new person.” The surgery was a success and post-surgery, Sarah continues to see the bariatric team. She meets with a dietitian as well as an exercise physiologist who closely monitors her body composition and metabolism—helping to build and maintain strength during the period of rapid weight loss—while introducing exercise routines for long-term results.

Sarah Cox bariatric patient before and after

Two years post-surgery, Sarah has lost more than 100 pounds and she continues to keep it off—to which she credits the entire bariatric team. “I love the team. I never have to worry about getting the support I need—from the exercise physiologists, dieticians, psychologists, and so many others,” She said. Sarah felt well prepared and educated before and after surgery. She learned how to eat purposefully, and the importance of finding joy in exercising and being active to foster long-term habits.

“I wish I had the surgery sooner,” Sarah shared. “It’s not a quick fix. It’s a big change, but so worth it.” Sarah now enjoys playing catch and chasing after her two young boys on the football field, which she says she wouldn’t have been able to do prior to surgery. “Even walking around at the park with the boys, I would have to take breaks before because my back or knees were hurting. I love that my sons see my commitment to my health now—both mind and body,” she added.

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