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Lori Inserra loves riding roller coasters. But, at 291 pounds, it was almost impossible for her to fit into the seat of the "Superman" coaster at Ohio's Six Flags resort.
"I was so big, the attendant had to use his leg to push the bar closed," she remembers. "I was scared that the ride would pop open and I'd fall out."
She had tried a variety of popular diets and weight loss support groups, but her success with them would be short-lived.
"I would do well for a while, then fizzle out," she says.
Lori was mindful of the many health challenges brought on by excess weight. There were cardiac problems in her family; her father died of a heart attack at age 49.
Over the years, Lori:
When her doctor told her she was a good candidate for Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, she decided it was the time for a change.
Before undergoing gastric bypass surgery at UPMC Horizon's Bariatric Surgery Center, Lori had a full physical and psychological evaluation. She also consulted with a dietician for six months and kept an extensive food diary.
On surgery day, in May of 2007, Lori was 291 pounds and had a body mass index (BMI) of 42.
After surgery, Lori followed the bariatric surgery diet plan, progressing from liquids to pureed and soft foods. By six months, she was eating small pieces of chicken and beef for lunch and dinner.
Now, she enjoys most of the same foods as she did before gastric bypass surgery — with the exception of soda pop — which, she says, she doesn't really miss.
As for sweets?
"I might try a bite or two of dessert, but if I have more, I start to feel sick," Lori says.
Lori's weight now stands at about 155 pounds. She's lost 136 pounds and dropped from a size 26 to a size 12.
Her doctor took her off blood pressure medicine, and she no longer needs medication for depression. Her blood levels, which are normal, are checked every six months.
She eats breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack each day, and is slowly inching her weight down another ten pounds or so.
"I don't want to overdo it," she says.
She credits her weight loss success to her husband, Emerson; her mother, DeVee Riley; and gastric bypass surgery at UPMC Horizon's Bariatric Surgery Center. For social support, she still goes to a gastric bypass support group at the Womancare Center of UPMC Horizon.
For her accomplishment, the hospital auxiliary treated Lori to brunch and a makeover. At the event, she shared her memorable bariatric patient story about her life-changing weight loss journey.
"I stood up and started talking, and I'm not a person who usually feels comfortable doing something like that, I said that the end result is worth it, in how much better you feel. Now, I can do so many things that I wasn't able to do before."
Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.