'This is life-changing'

For years, James had a dream. Here's how Adventist Health Bakersfield helped make it come true.

Looking at James Lacher today, it’s hard to imagine that he was once more than 400 pounds. At his heaviest, James weighed 403 pounds. He was taking seven different medications for conditions brought on by his weight, including diabetes and sleep apnea.

That’s what brought James to Adventist Health Bakersfield. “I had never even been to Bakersfield before,” he says. “I met with Dr. Hormuz Irani and knew I was finally going to get the help I needed.”

When the weight was over

On March 16, 2015, James had his surgery. On that day, he weighed in at 360 pounds—because his journey actually started with pre-surgery preparation. “Many people think you can just go in and get the surgery. But it’s a good six months of losing weight and starting to eat healthier,” he says. Was it worth the wait and the work? No question, James says. Within the first year, he lost a remarkable 165 pounds. “It’s amazing to see the weight fall off within the first year. But you must commit to it,” he says. “I thought, ‘This is my one shot.’ I didn’t want to blow it.”

On the road to greater health

James’ weight loss also set his life in motion. “When you have surgery, you must change your eating and exercise habits,” James says. So he got a bike and tried running, but never did either consistently.

Then in late 2016, he developed shingles in his left leg.

“I couldn’t work out and got into bad habits with eating, and I still hadn’t gotten to where I wanted to be weight-wise,” James says.

So he gave running another try. “I just started running longer and longer. I ran a 5K in February 2017 and I’ve been signing up to run races ever since,” he says.

Since then James has run a long way, competing in 5K, 10K, and half and full marathons. “If you told me years ago I’d be running marathons, I would have laughed,” he says.

In April 2018, he ran the San Luis Obispo half marathon in a little over two hours.

Feeling like a million bucks

James now weighs in at 200 pounds—half his previous weight. He no longer takes medications, and he’s excited to do things that were once difficult. “I get to buy normal-size clothes… and walk around places like Disneyland with my friends,” he says.

Beyond the physical changes, he’s happier and more confident too.

“People motivated me. It’s really nice to get compliments and to have people tell you, ‘Keep going, you look great!’”

James even finds himself waiting for others sometimes, because they are winded or tired. “I went from being the unhealthiest to the healthiest,” he says.

His advice to anyone wondering if bariatric surgery is right for them: “You should seriously consider it.”

“I know everyone wants to do it natural,” he says. “But it’s hard, and this gives you a tremendous jump-start. It’s like someone giving you a million dollars to start your own business.”

Considering weight-loss surgery?

Our Surgical Weight Management Program is the first in Bakersfield to be recognized as a Level 1A Certified Bariatric Center by the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery—one of the most prestigious certifications for bariatric surgery in the nation. We’ve also partnered with local board-certified physicians that specialize in weight-loss surgery.

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