Gastric Sleeve Surgery Patient Story – Kevin Gutknecht
After high school, Kevin became the manager of a small restaurant. Although active — he ran track in high school — his weight started to creep up. “I was working long hours and eating a diet that consisted mainly of wings, soda pop, and pizza,” he says.
His mother’s death motivated Kevin to lose weight and get healthy. First, he changed jobs. Although he still worked long hours, the new job was less stressful and he wasn’t working with food all day.
But losing weight proved to be very challenging. “I tried a variety of diets, just about everything around, with very little success,” he says.
A Life-Changing Decision
In January 2015, Kevin ran into a former colleague who’d had bariatric surgery three months earlier and had already lost 100 pounds. She talked about her experience and shared the pre-op diet. By the time Kevin and his wife attended a new patient seminar at UPMC Hamot in March 2015, he had lost 27 pounds.
Kevin was so motivated that he completed the pre-surgery process — including a sleep study, psychological evaluation, one-on-one consult with the surgeon, and pre-operative testing — in just three months. He also cleaned up his diet, completely eliminating dairy and cutting back on red meat. “I wanted to be in the best condition before surgery, so I started walking six miles a day,” he adds. He weighed 231 pounds on the day of surgery in September 2015. Now at 163 pounds, the married father of two has gone from a 42 to 28 in pants size and from a 3XL to a small in shirts. “I had to buy a whole new wardrobe,” he chuckles.
Today, Kevin follows a vegan diet and a daily exercise regimen of walking or jogging. In the winter, he goes to a local gym to walk on the treadmill, lift weights, and practice Brazilian jiu jitsu.
“I’ve never felt this good,” he says. “My body feels 100 percent better, which makes me feel better mentally. And I haven’t had to take all those medications since the week before my surgery.”
Importance of Support
“After hearing from an actual patient at the new patient information session, there was no doubt that I was going to have the surgery,” says Kevin. And there was also no doubt that he wanted to share his story. In addition to speaking at a recent support group, Kevin stays in contact with other bariatric patients through Facebook.
“My family has been extremely supportive,” he says. “My wife and children don’t bring junk food into the house — not because I banned it, but because they don’t want me to be tempted. They don’t have to worry because I’m not ever going back to my old eating habits!”