DALLAS, TX--(Marketwired - Jul 19, 2016) - In November of 2015, Christine Carter's @weightlosshero Instagram page boasted 1200 followers. Just eight months later, that number is at 128,000 and counting. The Dallas area resident has been profiled by major media organizations ranging from Us Weekly to the Daily Mail, a British newspaper. She has become a prominent advocate for weight loss, and her popularity continues to grow as she documents a journey similar to that of many individuals who are engaged in a battle for their health and their future. When Christine was in her 20s, she says she gained more than 110 pounds and began suffering the many physical and emotional effects brought on by severe obesity. "After high school, I didn't gain the 'freshman 15,' I gained the freshman 50. Once I quit smoking, I really just transferred that addiction to eating, and then started gaining weight very quickly -- at least 110 pounds in about a year-and-a-half."
Christine says she tried all kinds of diets without any meaningful success, and the weight gain was affecting both body and spirit. "I lost all confidence in myself. I had no self-esteem at all. I didn't see a bright future, and I was depressed. At my heaviest, I was just miserable. Physically, I was very sick as well. I was probably going to the doctor at least twice a week with weird ailments that continued to occur."
Finally, Christine said enough was enough.
Taking the First Step
Christine noticed that others in her life who had undergone weight loss surgery seemed to have found a magical key to success. They were losing weight effectively, and looked happier than she had ever seen them. She decided to seek the advice of Dr. David D. Kim, a bariatric surgeon in the Dallas area. During her initial consultation at Kim Bariatric Institute, Christine and Dr. Kim agreed that an advanced procedure called laparoscopic gastric sleeve resection, also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy, was the best option for her needs and goals. A minimally-invasive procedure, gastric sleeve surgery removes a large portion of the stomach and reshapes the remainder, creating a slender tube that allows patients to feel full after eating much smaller portions of food. Once Christine had the procedure, she began losing weight, but there was a problem: Christine suddenly realized that, for all intents and purposes, weight loss surgery was not some kind of immediate cure. In fact, it was just the beginning.
A Setback, and a Realization
After the surgery, Christine felt that she was not losing as much weight, or as quickly, as others were. She felt defeated, like this was yet another thing she had tried that was not going to have a satisfactory result. But, at her lowest point, she made a realization that transformed her entire way of thinking, and led to a complete turnaround: weight loss surgery is a tool, not a cure. It gives patients the power to make an enormous leap forward on the road to better health, but what they do along the way is up to them. "At first I thought weight loss surgery would be the easy way out. It's not, and part of my journey was learning that. Surgery is not a one-size-fits-all cure-all. I had to fix my eating and my workout habits."
Christine understood that, even with the help of surgery and the aftercare support offered by the weight loss program at Kim Bariatric Institute, she would ultimately determine whether she reached her goals by altering her way of life. She started fixing her mindset on eating healthy and getting adequate protein. She began figuring out how to eat right while sustaining a good workout routine and building muscle. She set about finding things that worked for her. Christine felt that, once she lost the weight, she would need tummy tuck surgery to eliminate loose, inelastic abdominal skin that would likely be left over. She decided that scheduling that surgery would give her something to work toward, so she went ahead and set a date for it -- nine months away. "Realizing that I'm going to have to change -- that was the hardest part. I went into it with a mindset that was totally wrong. I was losing weight much slower than most of Dr. Kim's patients because I wasn't eating healthy and I wasn't doing everything that I should have done. I realized that [the surgery] allowed me to start getting weight off of me, giving me an initial burst of success and making it easier for me to exercise and follow a diet. Now, I'm going to have to take it to the next level."
She did. Christine changed her outlook, and thus began a journey that would see her lose more than 150 pounds... and become a new voice in the fight against obesity.
Finding and Embracing a Voice that Inspires
Once Christine changed her mindset and began embracing the guidelines of a healthy diet and new exercise routine that are critical to success after weight loss surgery, the pounds kept shedding. Her body was becoming more svelte, and her health was improving. As the process unfolded, Christine began looking to the Internet to see what others in similar situations were going through. "When I started my weight loss surgery journey, I remember going on Instagram looking to other people to see 'what are they eating?' and 'how are they exercising?'. There wasn't a lot out there. I realized that there were a lot of things about me that might be relatable to others, and I felt that if I could help just one other person with my [Instagram] page, then it would be worth it."
So, she began telling her story. Bit by bit, day by day, Christine shared little words of wisdom and humor, published photos comparing what she looked like before the surgery and after the procedure, and fielded questions from people who had been following her journey. In just a short span of time, thousands of individuals were flocking to her Instagram page, many coming with kind words of support or simply to seek advice. "When I feel like giving up or when I feel like I just can't do this, there are certain people I look to who inspire me. Not that I'm some big inspiration, but I feel like people can relate to what I'm going through. I get hundreds of messages saying 'Because of you, I don't give up...', or 'I love what you have to say...', or 'I look at your page every day...' -- that's what fulfills me and keeps me going now."
Christine says some of the most common questions she receives from people who are struggling with their weight involve how to get started, how to find the motivation to do it, and how to stick to it. She has an answer for that: "Just pick one thing to change and commit to yourself that you're going to change that one thing. Even if it's just like: 'Instead of doughnuts, I'm going to have a protein shake for breakfast and I'm gonna do that every day for the next 30 days.' You make that commitment for yourself and you can build on that. Change one thing today and go from there. Say 'I'm gonna do better right now. Even if I messed up this morning, I'm gonna do better right now. I'm going to make that choice to improve my health and my life. Even if I messed up just five minutes ago, I'm going to fix it."
A Changed Life
As for herself, Christine says the beginning of her weight loss journey marked a turning point in her life in many ways. Once the weight started coming off and she was able to maintain it, virtually nothing has been the same. "I've talked to a lot of Dr. Kim's patients who have had bariatric surgery and the feeling is very similar among us. You just start feeling good about yourself. Everything in my life changed. I got promoted; I became an executive at my company -- everything changed because my confidence and my self-esteem changed. My happiness changed. It was a complete turn-around and completely changed my life."
By sharing her story, Christine hopes that others who may be fighting obesity can take solace in the fact that they are not alone, and that hard work really can pay off. "I'm a completely different person. I feel like I'm the person I was supposed to be all along. I feel like I found myself."
About Kim Bariatric Institute
Kim Bariatric Institute is a comprehensive bariatric surgery practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Colleyville, and Frisco, Texas area. Dr. David D. Kim, the head of Kim Bariatric Institute, is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a Fellow of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). He has been designated a "Surgeon of Excellence" by the ASMBS (formerly known as the American Society for Bariatric Surgery), and has been recognized in Castle Connolly Medical Ltd.'s list of America's Top Doctors®. Dr. Kim is the creator of the David Kim Inverted Gastric Sleeve™, a technique that adds an extra step to traditional gastric sleeve resection surgery to enhance the benefits of that procedure for patients. In addition to gastric sleeve resection, Dr. Kim and his bariatric surgery team offer surgical weight loss procedures such as adjustable gastric banding, gastric bypass, and duodenal switch surgery. Non-surgical options available at the practice include ORBERA™ and ReShape™ managed weight loss programs that utilize advanced gastric balloon techniques. Treatment programs at Kim Bariatric Institute are focused on providing patients with the tools, support, and confidence they need to achieve effective weight loss and reduce risks to their health. Dr. Kim is available for interview upon request.
For more information about Kim Bariatric Institute, visit drdkim.net and facebook.com/kimbariatrics.
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