After Bariatric Surgery, Jennifer Doesn't Diet. She Lives.

Weight-loss surgery opened the door to a healthier life for Jennifer.Jennifer Russ didn’t have a role model for healthy eating. She came from a family where obesity was prevalent. At age 11, she weighed 185 pounds. Her weight affected on her mood and her confidence, but it wasn’t until decades later that she decided to make a major change.

Jennifer’s main motivation was not the number on the scale—it was her 3 young daughters. She wanted to set a good example, teach them how to be healthy and love themselves.

Like many women, Jennifer gained additional weight with each pregnancy. After baby number 3, she weighed 320 pounds. She worked hard and lost 35 pounds, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

Back pain and migraines got in the way of her life. She spent afternoons wishing that she was more active with her daughters, but instead she was laid up on the couch.

While visiting a friend who’d recently had bariatric surgery, she decided to step on his scale. She was shocked to see the number 393 staring back at her. It was the heaviest that she had ever been. She was afraid if she didn’t do something soon, she wouldn’t be around to care for her daughters.  

Jennifer found Virtua bariatric surgeon David Greenbaum, MD, and together they developed a plan that fit her health needs and her weight-loss goals.

Now, 15 months after vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery, Jennifer weighs 182 pounds. That’s more than 200 pounds less than when she stepped on her friend’s scale and 3 pounds less than her 11-year-old self.

Weight-loss surgery opened the door to a healthier life for Jennifer. With the additional help of a Virtua dietitian and bariatric support group, Jennifer shed the weight and years of learned behavior—changing her life and the lives of her daughters.

“I am more active, outgoing and energetic,” says Jennifer. “I go on my kids’ field trips and volunteer in their schools. I finally feel free to be the real me. I am no longer depressed or disappointed in myself. Yes, I have some extra skin, but my ‘bat wings’ are my battle scars. I have fought hard to get where I am and I will never go back. I love my life. I don’t diet. I live.”

Jennifer can now open her refrigerator and not feel stress about what she’s eating, because it’s all healthy. She chooses healthy options that give her energy, not take it away.

“My biggest victory is showing my girls that health and self-confidence go hand in hand,” she says. “The day my 11-year-old said ‘I’m proud of you mom and I know that I’m beautiful no matter what my size, just like you are.’ That’s what brought tears to my eyes, not the number on the scale.”

Is bariatric surgery right for you? 

Learn more about bariatric surgery at Virtua, or call 1-888-VIRTUA-3 to schedule a consultation with a Virtua bariatric surgeon. 

Updated April 5, 2018

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