“The Longstreet team and Dr. del Mazo were a huge, huge, huge impact to the journey, just from the first phone call to all the things that you have to do during the process to after surgery to even after that, they just went above and beyond,” Christine said.
That is because Center for Weight Management providers understand that meaningful, lasting health is the result of a journey, not just a surgery – as important as the procedure is to a successful journey. And that’s why Dr. del Mazo maintains a relationship with Christine, ensuring that she receives all the support necessary along the way.
“When you’re going the right way, don’t stop. And that’s one of the things that we provide at Longstreet Clinic is that long-term care and support model – to keep her enthusiasm up, to keep her journey going – because she’s worth it,” Dr. del Mazo said. “The challenge is to keep doing it. And Christine has found what works for her. She found what approach to food and what approach to exercise works for her.”
Following recovery from surgery, Christine followed a determined path that included a strict dietary and exercise regimen – a routine that she maintains to this day. And that is a big part of why she is now able to enjoy lake living to the fullest – including the boat that she and her husband purchased during the height of the global pandemic to provide a needed escape.
“We go out every weekend; we enjoy time with our friends and our family; we stay out on the boat at night. It makes my soul happy,” Christine said. “To be able to sit on the front of the boat and feel how thankful I am for everything – I mean even just climbing on the top of the boat to drop the anchor, I never would have done that before. I never would have felt confident enough.”
Dropping significant weight at a steady pace, however, has given Christine a source of self-assurance she once thought impossible.
“My goal at first was just to do like 20 pounds, so I went from 20 pounds to 50 pounds, and then my ultimate goal was 100, and now I’ve reached 125, and I do feel confident, just to be able to be me and just to be able to be with my friends, my husband, the kids and just not have to feel like I’m not good enough,” Christine said. “I feel like now I am good enough to be able to accomplish everything.”
It is a very different reality from the one Christine faced before beginning her journey with the Center for Weight Management.
“I started having heart palpitations; that’s when I knew that I had to do something and do something immediately,” Christine confided. “I started thinking about my two kids and how I wanted to be around to see them graduate from college and get married…I decided right then to change my life.”
It is a moment frozen in time, one that Christine will always remember as the instant she took control of her life – in a way she previously believed unattainable.
“I wish I would have done it sooner,” Christine said. “So much has changed.”
Bariatric surgery is far from a miracle or shortcut to better health, however. In fact, it is a decision which requires full involvement and commitment from any prospective patient – and Christine is no exception.
After meetings with Dr. del Mazo and Center for Weight Management staff, as well as plenty of her own research, Christine determined that following a bariatric medicine protocol was the best option to not only help her lose stubborn weight, but also keep it off for good.
Together, Christine and Dr. del Mazo selected gastric sleeve as the best option in her lifelong journey. A gastric sleeve, also known as surgical sleeve gastrectomy, is a procedure during which a bariatric surgeon removes 85 percent of the patient’s stomach in order to change the way the body digests and processes food.
“It changes the metabolism of the body. With a gastric sleeve, patients generally lose two-thirds of their excess weight within a year,” Dr. del Mazo said. “It’s a major surgery completed through several little cuts. By and large people do very well with it. And the day of the surgery, I want people up and walking.”
That proved the case for Christine, who underwent a successful sleeve procedure at Gainesville’s Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
The surgery is only a small part of the path to success, however.
“Bariatric surgery is not a one-and-done process,” Dr. del Mazo said. “We are building long-term relationships here. The entirety of our practice at Longstreet Clinic is medically improving people’s health through weight management. That requires the patient to be actively involved.”