I can't remember a time in my life growing up when I was not overweight. I remember countless diets; none of them ever worked. I would manage to lose a few pounds, and then gain it back. After college, I really started to gain weight. With a desk job, daily fast food meals, and no exercise program I let my weight slowly climb to over 500 pounds. I had a primary care physician sit me down one day for an honest and blunt talk. I was 28 years old and I had high blood pressure, sleep apnea, a heart murmur, borderline diabetes and was on nearly a dozen prescription medications.

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My doctor told me if I didn't do something big, I would probably not live to be 40. That got my attention. I researched options for a while and found information on gastric bypass. It was a big decision to make.

After a family trip to Florida, I was looking through photos we had taken at the amusement park and one photo in particular made me stop and stare. There I was in the happiest place on earth, sitting in a rental electric scooter and looking pale, hot and miserable after spending only four hours at the park. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I couldn't ride most of the rides. I could barely walk to the front gates, much less through the whole park. I was posing in pictures with a cane I had to use to get around. The time had come. I needed to change my life.

I came to Vanderbilt in July of 2006 for a seminar. I learned about the procedures and understood the path I needed to take. I started the paperwork that day and was soon scheduled for surgery and began a pre-diet.

In October 2006, my life changed forever. The Vanderbilt Center for Surgical Weight Loss gave me the tool I needed to fulfill my dreams. Within one year I had lost 272 pounds. With the help of Vanderbilts doctors, nurses and dietitians I have been given the guidance to maintain my goals ever since. Every single member of the Vanderbilt staff was always right there, with answers, encouragement and an honest loving attitude to make me feel like family. The difference in my life has been incredible. I live in a new world of freedom and joy, and I have only just begun to live it.

Would I recommend weight loss surgery? Only if you are ready. Ask yourself the honest questions. Think about your health, your family, and your goals. When the time is right, turn to the professionals who can help answer your needs with the greatest of care, and you too, can save a life your own.