Gastric bypass surgery has changed my health and my life. I feel 20 years younger, 125 pounds lighter and I've gone from size 26 to size 6.

I should have done this 15 years ago, when my sons were younger, but I always thought it was too drastic. Before the surgery, I'd lost a hundred pounds three times over, and it always came back fast and sometimes I gained more back than I originally lost.

Lynn H

I had accepted the fact of being heavy. Then, in my early 50s, my blood glucose level began slowly rising, right below the diabetic threshold. As a nurse, I know the serious complications of diabetes. Plus, I was taking three medicines to control high blood pressure and was short of breath with almost any activity.

My health was my main motivation for weight loss surgery. But I also saw how my weight was affecting my lifestyle. I travel four to five days a week for work, and riding in planes was very uncomfortable.

On one trip, a co-worker and I visited Yosemite and decided to hike about a mile up a gentle hill to see an ancient tree. About a quarter mile into the climb, I had to stop. I just could not continue walking uphill.

I knew I had to lose weight, and I wanted something that would prevent me from coming back to what I was. My husband had gastric bypass surgery in 2007 at Vanderbilt. He went from 400 pounds to 210 pounds, changed his eating, walks five miles every day and looks fantastic.

One of my co-workers had the surgery and looked wonderful. I decided, If everyone else can do it, maybe I need to do it, too.

I went to the same surgeon my husband had at Vanderbilt. Because of the risk factors that accompany obesity, I wanted to go to a bigger hospital with the most advanced medical therapies at my fingertips. Any potential service I needed was at Vanderbilt.

I had a bunch of screening tests to make sure the surgery was safe. My insurance required me to lose 30 pounds before surgery, and Vanderbilt helped me do that.

My doctor went over my options and answered all of my questions. The Vanderbilt dietitian customized what I needed for me, especially on the road. The surgery itself was one of the easiest I've had, with no pain once I went home. I was back on the road traveling for work a week later.

It's hard to learn to say no. To listen to your body. To only eat small portions. But now I can eat a spoonful rather than a bowlful and dont feel like I'm on a diet. At restaurants, I have learned it is OK to split a meal with my husband or my traveling companions.

Before the surgery, I didn't have the energy to exercise. Once I lost some weight, I started with a slow walk, then running a teeny bit, and, over time, I now run. I look forward to it. I strive for five miles every day. My friend and I want to do a 10K in every state before we retire.

My blood pressure is normal, my blood sugar is low and I'm as healthy as I can be. I take vitamins, but no medication.

I have my life back.