Newfound Simplicity: A Patient Story

By Sarah Senn

A self-proclaimed “all-or-nothing dieter,” Kathy Gallagher has struggled with her weight from an early age. Home-cooked, family-style meals did not afford her any breaks as a child. Kathy continued to struggle with her weight through high school and up until she got married. At her peak, Kathy weighed 290 lbs.

Kathy, who has worked for the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, for over 30 years, has tried every diet in the book, including one that restricts you to one hamburger and one candy bar a day. The success of those diets was short-lived and the results never lasted longer than a few months.

“I told myself, ‘If I keep doing what I’m doing, it’s never going to change,’” she remembers.

After reading countless articles about the serious complications of obesity, Kathy became even more motivated to lose weight when one of her friends had gastric bypass surgery. Determined not to be left behind, she started with baby steps by eating less and moving more. In just a few weeks, Kathy began to shed the pounds.

Realizing the difficulty of losing weight by herself, Kathy formed a support group with a couple of her friends where they could meet weekly to share the burden and encourage each other. Together, the group confronted the challenges of losing and maintaining weight and proved the value of strength in numbers. Kathy acknowledges that while her friends were essential to her success, she could not have accomplished her goals without the support of her husband and family as well.

Now at age 53, Kathy weighs 165 lbs and is healthier than she’s ever been. She maintains her weight by eating well-balanced meals and staying active. Kathy’s recent weight loss has inspired other members of her family to do the same. Her two brothers, sister-in-law and niece have lost more than 300 lbs combined.

While she admits that she still wrestles with food choices and daily workouts, Kathy has a positive outlook on life. Her self-esteem is higher and she doesn’t worry as much about weight-related health complications.

For Kathy, the simple changes have been just as rewarding – things such as finding clothes that fit great – no more plus sizes! – and fitting into an airplane seat with room to spare have made life more enjoyable. “I marvel at the little things,” she reflects. Looking back on how far she has come in just a couple of years, Kathy can’t help but be amazed at the difference the weight loss has made in all aspects of her life.

“It is so worth it. It’s difficult, but the rewards are astronomical,” Kathy says. “It can be done,” she continues. “You just have to believe in yourself and never let the little missteps along the way derail you.” And on those days when she most struggles, Kathy reminds herself: “It’s hard to follow a meal plan, and it’s hard to maintain your weight. But living is harder when you’re obese.”