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Stories from recent Weight Loss Surgery patients

Mele Pochereva Weight Management

The following are three stories from recent patients who had weight loss surgery at Castle Medical Center.

Walking the road to success

With four married children and 11 grandchildren, ages 12 months to 21 years, family is a big part of Maggie Kahiapo’s life.

Kahiapo plans to be around for years to come so that she can enjoy time with her younger grandchildren as they grow up. In 2011, she opted to have weight-loss surgery.

“I was big all of my life,” she says. “I wanted to exercise, but because of my weight (nearly 270 pounds) I had back, knee and ankle pain, and no energy.”

Kahiapo and a co-worker talked with others who had had bariatric surgery and both decided to have the gastric bypass procedure. “We started the whole process together, to support each other, and we had our surgeries within a month of each other. She was there for me, and vice versa,” Kahiapo says.

Dropping 50 pounds in the first six months enabled her to start walking and to discontinue her hypertension medication. Eventually losing more than 125 pounds, Kahiapo surpassed her weight-loss goal.

“You need to be honest with yourself about why you want to do it,” she says. “Surgery is just a tool, a boost to get you started.”

Learning to accept support

As a clinical social worker, Kori Kiesel has spent much of her life helping others get their lives on track, ignoring her own health and well-being.

“I was active but carrying so much extra weight that I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin,” Kiesel admits. “I dreaded going to the gym and comparing myself to all of the fit people, but I viewed it as a necessary evil.”

When her physician suggested an increase in medication to control her diabetes, Kiesel decided it was time to get healthier. “I didn’t want to be on insulin for the rest of my life,” she says. “After attending a free weight-loss surgery seminar at Castle, things came together. A gastric bypass was recommended for reversible diabetes. I had surgery on Election Day 2012 and was off all meds by the next day.”

Kiesel describes Castle’s support before and after her surgery as “awesome.”

“Being a therapist myself, it was interesting to be on the receiving end of support groups,” she says. “But now I’ve learned to accept support from others. My own health is now a priority.”

Two years after her surgery, Kiesel’s new lifestyle is going strong. “I am mindful of what I eat, and I love going to the gym now,” she says. “I schedule my gym workout into my day.”

It takes two to jujitsu

Kainani Alvarez shares a story that is familiar to many: struggling to lose weight by dieting, only to put the pounds back on. Marriage and the prospect of starting a family changed that. Her wedding in 2012 motivated her to lose 70 pounds before the big day, but when she gained them back, Alvarez decided it was time to do something different to lose weight— and keep it off.

“My husband, Alex, and I were both pretty inactive, and we liked to eat out a lot,” Alvarez says. “But we wanted to have a healthier lifestyle, for ourselves and so that we could be good role models when we have children.”

In January 2014, Kainani had gastric bypass surgery at Castle’s Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Alex had the same procedure two weeks after. A year later, Kainani had lost 145 pounds; Alex had lost about 150 pounds. Best of all, the couple has adopted a healthy new attitude about physical activity and how they eat.

“In the beginning, I learned to have a better relationship with food, and I took up walking, then Zumba,” Alvarez says. Seeing the positive results motivated her further, and she returned to the exercise boot camp program that had helped her lose weight for the wedding. “I told my husband that he needed to find an activity he liked and suggested he return to his jujitsu training.”

The couple found a jujitsu gym where they can work out together five or six days a week. “We can support each other to make sure we stay on track,” Alvarez says. She also continues to attend boot camp classes a couple of times a week; hikes with friends on weekends; and has fun modifying and cooking healthier versions of her favorite recipes, which she shares with friends.