At 6-feet-3-inches tall and 200 hundred pounds overweight, Jake Smith was tired.
He was tired of being the “big dude.” Tired of not being able to keep up with his friends. Tired of feeling lousy.
“I had my whole life ahead of me. Something had to change,” says the 25-year-old from New Castle, Pa.
With mounting health issues, including high blood pressure and sleep apnea, Jake made the tough decision to have gastric sleeve surgery.
In one year, he:
“Everything changed,” says Jake. “I feel amazing, and I’m so glad I did it.”
As a child, Jake Smith was always the biggest kid in class. In grade school, he had to kneel for soccer photos to match his teammates in height.
Despite his husky build, he was active throughout high school — hunting, fishing, and playing sports.
By senior year he no longer was the tallest, but he was the heaviest as his weight edged up to 280 pounds.
“I could still keep up with my skinny, fit buddies until my 20s,” says Jake. “Then my weight really started to be a problem.”
After two years of college, Jake earned his commercial driver’s license and began working as a truck driver.
“I love driving trucks but sitting behind the wheel took its toll,” he says.
By the time he was 25, he weighed over 400 pounds, making it too hard to play softball and basketball with friends. The real eye-opener came when his buddies picked up biking.
“I realized, even if I could find a bike that could hold a 400-pound dude, it would be impossible to keep up. I didn’t feel good. I was always tired, and not sleeping well,” says Jake.
A visit to his family doctor revealed he was pre-diabetic and had high blood pressure. Further testing showed he had sleep apnea.
“It was a big wake up call. My doctor warned me I’d be on blood pressure pills — and worse — if I didn’t do something,” Jake says.
Knowing family members and friends who’d had success with surgery, Jake went to a bariatric surgery information session at UPMC Jameson.
He then completed a six-month program, including meeting with a nutritionist.
“The nutritionist was a huge help,” says Jake. “I had been eating wrong my whole life. She taught me a lot and prepared me well.”
Still, things did not go smoothly at first. At his second weigh-in, Jake found out he’d gained three pounds — topping out at 413 pounds with a BMI of 52.32.
“I was being lazy and not taking it seriously. I had to get my act together,” says Jake.
With a renewed commitment, Jake became more mindful of his diet. And he made exercise part of his daily routine, including working out in his hotel room while on the road.
He was down 30 pounds by the time Christopher Myers, MD, performed his gastric sleeve surgery in June 2018.
Over the next eight months, Jake dropped another 150 pounds — getting down to 230 pounds and a much healthier BMI of 28.7. His pre-diabetes is gone, and he no longer has high blood pressure or sleep apnea.
Jake maintains his weight loss by exercising at least four times a week — at home and on the road. He follows a healthy low carb/low fat/high protein diet and dreams of running a half marathon and biking across the state.
“Everything is easier now — getting in and out of my car, putting my shoes on, doing things with my friends,” says Jake. “But looking in the mirror and feeling so much healthier — that’s the biggest highlight for me.”
Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.