Lisa Brack - Manton, MI
"I love the results. I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
With Hard Work and Bariatric Surgery, She's Active and Healthy Again
When the factory where Lisa Brack worked closed years ago, the pragmatic, hard-working mom wasted no time finding another position. "I got my CDL (commercial driver's license) and drove trucks cross-country for a living," she said. While she earned a good paycheck, the job was stressful. "I was never home. I got no exercise and ate bad food. I'd throw a bag of chips on the dash, and they were gone before I knew it." As the miles and years went by, she kept gaining weight.
"Eventually, I weighed 248 pounds," Brack said. The added weight destroyed her self-esteem; other than working, she almost became a hermit. "Before I gained the weight I was a really active person. But after, I didn't go out and I didn't do anything with friends. I was just too embarrassed about being so heavy."
Brack said she began thinking about bariatric surgery after spending time with relatives who had undergone the procedure. "Among them, I have an aunt who is still successful after 13 years, and an uncle who has kept the weight off for almost 20 years," she said.
Inspired by their success, Brack made some phone calls and started the process. Like all prospective bariatric surgery patients, she had to take specific steps, and undergo medical and psychological screenings, before she could proceed. "They prepare you for the changes that come with surgery, permanent changes, but I knew I wanted to do this," she said. She chose to work with General and Bariatric Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D.
On October 6, 2015, Brack underwent a sleeve gastrectomy at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot. A sleeve gastrectomy maintains the basic function of the stomach. However, the volume the stomach can handle is significantly less. Patients who undergo sleeve gastrectomy feel full quickly and consume less food at each meal. On average, patients lose about half of their excess body weight in 12 months.
Despite the fact that she was in some pain during the first 24 hours, Brack reports an overall positive experience at the Medical Center and offers high praise for her surgeon. "Two hours after surgery, they had me up and walking," she said. "They were right there all through the night and the next day, I was moving even more," she said. "Dr. Bonacci is an excellent doctor and I had a really good experience with him."
After recuperating for a week at her daughter's home in Mt. Pleasant, Brack was back at work and on her way to a different life.
"In the beginning all I could have were protein drinks," she said. After six weeks, she began re-introducing solid food. "As soon as I felt that weight coming off, I was on my way." The more she lost, the more motivated she was. Just six months after her surgery, Brack was down to 167 pounds.
Then and now, her first task is to eat enough protein, to eat frequently and eat much smaller quantities than before. That was actually quite easy, according to Brack. "I can't eat very much at one time," she said. "They removed a big part of my stomach and I'm not as hungry."
A little more than a year after her surgery, the 49-year-old weighs 140 pounds and is committed to staying healthy. No longer driving for a living, she is back at a factory job she enjoys and that keeps her moving during her 12-hour, 4-day-a-week work schedule. "I'm very active on the job but when I get home, I still work out," Brack said. "I'll hit the treadmill or do step aerobics in the living room but I do cardio almost every day and I do crunches every day."
Brack went from wearing a size 20, to a size 4 or 6. "That does wonders for your self-esteem," she said. "I love how I feel and look but the most important thing is that I learned how to eat right. Going through the process, I learned so much about food, about portions and preparation. Now I eat grilled meat and drink protein shakes."
She has learned from experience what she cannot eat. "I don't eat fast food or drink pop anymore, and I can't eat rice, bread or fried foods," she said. "They sit like a rock in my stomach."
Brack said it's easy to focus on the positive because she feels so good. "I don't deprive myself, I just eat a little bit and enjoy it," she said. "I can even have a couple tablespoons of mac and cheese now and again."
Her friends are inspired by her dedication and discipline. She is quick to offer encouragement and advice to others who struggle with weight issues. "I tell them bariatric surgery is not a quick fix and it's not a miracle. People have to change their habits and lifestyle – it takes work," she said.
And the work is well worth the reward, Brack added. "I love the results," she said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat. I'd recommend the surgery to anyone."
MidMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like more information about surgical weight management may register for a free in-person information seminar at www.midmichigan.org/bariatricseminars or watch MidMichigan's online seminar video series at www.midmichigan.org/bariatriconlineseminar.