Confessions of a Fat Cardiologist…One Year Later

As is prone to occur in many of our endeavors of life, best laid plans did not come to fruition from the standpoint of my intention to keep shorter intervals in my blog-writing.  As I’m nearing a year from my introductory blog, “ Confessions of a Fat Cardiologist “, I felt it well past time to update my many encouragers…and the few disparagers to my initial decision to undergo Bariatric Surgery (Vertical Sleeve  Gastrectomy ).  It has been immensely successful and has greatly improved my quality of life as well as allowing me entry back into the High Intensity Interval Training exercise that I love to do.

Cutting right to the chase, I have as of today lost 115 pounds from my peak weight! Yes, I’ve essentially lost a small adult from my body!  Was it easy? Yes!  Was it effortless? No!  Was it worth it? In my case, the answer is “absolutely, YES !!”. I’ll follow with some brief paragraphs about my main observations- both good and bad about my journey.

We’ll start with the bad

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…it can also mess up a good hat!
https://twitter.com/HeartOTXHeartMD/status/1119837501823254533?s=20

…and the bad is quite trivial. 

  • On the rare occasions that we do eat out, I truly leave ¾ of the food ordered on my plate much to the consternation of waitstaff who assume that I did not like the food and that it would show up in their tip!  With that said, my wife. Suzi, and I now frequently will split a meal (and typically still have left-overs) or I’ll have a doggy bag sizeable enough for me to eat 2-4 more meals!
  • With weight loss comes blood pressure drop.  I was able to discontinue my anti-hypertensive medications but am still prone to orthostasis if I’m not careful to maintain adequate hydration.  I’ve had some real “doozies” transitioning on occasion from heavy squats to interval running on a treadmill!  The only falls I’ve had, however, were longhorn induced !
  • I also had one episode of misjudging my “fruit of the vine” tolerance.  I don’t indulge all that frequently, but when one weighs north of 300 pounds, one’s tolerance for a glass of wine or two on an empty stomach is significantly higher than it is at a normal weight.  Apparently, this issue is not uncommon after bariatric surgery and people seem to do best when abstaining at least a year after surgery. I’d highly encourage this given all of the other changes that are happening in one’s body after surgery.
  • It’s been expensive…on my clothing budget!  I can say that it feels much better buying smaller clothes to fit rather than having to buy larger clothes! The out of pocket costs with my insurance plan was paltry and money that I consider well spent.

The Good

  • I’m sleeping well again.  My sleep apnea has essentially resolved, and I no longer wake up with joint pain from placing heavy weight on the body parts carrying the brunt of my sleeping position.  I’ve never had a huge requirement for the numbers of hours of sleep needed and I still don’t, but those few hours that I do need are much more restorative than before.
  • My body fat is now in the “athlete” range again! Despite my BMI still being classified “overweight” at 25.2, I’ve had a “dunk tank body fat analysis” which shows me to now be ideal composition for fat and muscle mass.  I can tell this in the way that my body responds to training now as well.
  • People do speak to me and treat me differently now.  There is a societal stigma against fat people (which technically puts this issue into both the “good” and “bad” columns).  For people who have known me well for a long time, things have not changed aside from their being happy for me being healthier; however, from those new acquaintances and for people who had previously known me only superficially, there is a palpable change in how they interact with me.  This is good in that I can continue to call it out publicly and bring awareness to what really needs to be done to change the direction that the world is going with obesity.  I also know that my medical colleagues who had previously not considered referring patients to surgery now are doing so after seeing my anecdotal experience. My patients who have previously ruled it out as an option are now taking a look at it as a viable course of action.
  • I can now focus more time on other important efforts to use my God-given gifts.  I’m only realizing, after the fact, how much the time and effort spent trying to fight my weight issues consumed my thoughts and distracted me from focusing on other “bigger picture” issues.
  • Lastly, I want to leave you with some images and thank all of those many supporters…as well as some of you naysayers, who have encouraged me along this path.  Regaining one’s health is best done while working in an environment of friends and loved ones who want for and cheer for one’s success.  From my surgical team, to the entire bariatric team, family, friends, and colleagues, you all played a part in helping with my restoration. I will spend the New Year praying for your health and happiness!

DISCLAIMER: I do know that there are many who have lost weight after this type of surgery and gained it back.  My surgeon required me to sign a contract with him to see him every 3-6 months for the rest of my life in order to help to keep me accountable.  This blog and making my journey public also serves an accountability role of sorts for me.  Thank you and Happy New Year!


Post-0p Day 1- January 2019
Same Robe Christmas 2019
Suit that I wore to work the day before my surgery.
…a few alteration needed now! Donating to: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/interview-attire-for-disadvantaged-job-seekers-2061162
I was hesitant to post this one, but Suzi says it’s obligatory. It’s the first time that I’ve been able to see the bone callus from the broken rib that I suffered in High School Football!

Happy New Year from Witten and I! Be well, my friends.

16 thoughts on “Confessions of a Fat Cardiologist…One Year Later”

  1. Congrats John. Truly inspirational blog. Oh oh the unwanted “weight “ we carry around. I am sure your journey last year along with the openness and vulnerability will be an inspiration for patients and colleagues. Struggles are real!! Thanks a lot for documenting and sharing this journey..

  2. John,
    Your story is one that needs to be retold and shared with those needing the confidence to step out. Thank You for sharing the insight on continued stigmatizing of the overweight. We must be self-aware of the messages we might inadvertently send people As a Lifestyle Medicine practitioner, we have come to realize that Bariatric surgery is an important adjunct to lifestyle change,
    Congratulations on getting back the life you had enjoyed before , and careful with the fruit of the vine 🙂

  3. Dear John
    Without having known your history previous to today, I had come to enjoy your tweets because of their thoughtful and uplifting nature.
    What’s changed in my perspective now is an even greater respect for you for sharing your journey in truth not solely to document your success but clearly to inspire others and reduce the stigma of weight and obesity.
    I’m grateful for our twitter friendship!

  4. Being at the heaviest weight of my life and having formerly been thin, the way people interact with me is most certainly different. There is definitely a fat stigma. Thanks for sharing your journey and cheers to continued success!

  5. Thanks!!

    Coming from an extremely well regarded physician-leader like yourself will inspire so many of my patients. They are afraid to undergo surgery – this blog will help me reassure them that it’s totally worth it – rather than OSA/AFib & repeated Ablations. Will share!!

  6. This transformation is incredible and your honesty can help many other people. Thanks for taking the risk and putting yourself out there. Here.

  7. Congratulations on your successful journey! One of my employees recently had the gastric sleeve procedure and is doing well. Another took on an exercise and weight loss program that resulted in dropping >100lbs and surgery to remove the extra skin. Like yours, each journey was not easy, but was worth it. Having a long term support system is critical to keeping the weight off, and sharing “non-scale successes” helps! Thank you for sharing your story!

  8. Being new to a mutual orbit I had no idea John. You have walked the walk and have an incredible story to tell. You can confidently counsel knowing that you have been there before. Congratulations on this amazing transformation of lifestyle.

  9. I personally need to thank you as your blog was the impetus for my own journey to VSG. I’m currently just over 4 months post op and I’m down over 80lbs. Your story resonated with me and I owe you so much. Thank you.

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