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COVID has become a sort of blessing for Laura and Bill Barlow. They say the pandemic accelerated a long overdue lifestyle change.

“It still kind of boggles my mind but for dinner over the weekend, I had three ounces of salmon and a couple green beans and I felt like I just finished Thanksgiving dinner,” Bill Barlow said in an interview with CBS12 News about a month after weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery.

The Barlows used to love going out to eat. Whether it was for date night, a meal with co-workers, or friends. And when watching TV, snacking was big.

As it happens, the couple moved to Delray Beach from Atlanta on March 13, 2020. That was the day President Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency. Nearly two years later, they felt like COVID-19 and their weight was a personal emergency. Because according to the CDC, being obese triples the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection.

“Oh yeah, that was a big factor,” Laura Barlow said, who is now two weeks out from her weight loss surgery. “We both at one point joined a different gym we have three kids, like let’s buckle down and we want to be here for our kids.”

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Bill would go first. He had weight loss surgery in early January. The 39 year old was prediabetic and on medication.

“The last (dose) I took was two days before the surgery and I’ve never since. I’m off my blood pressure medication. I’m off my cholesterol medication. I’ve off everything, it’s crazy,” he said.

Two weeks later, it was Laura’s turn. The 34 year old struggled with acid reflux induced asthma.

“I’m now just two weeks out from surgery and haven’t had acid reflux once when I was having asthma attacks from it every single night,” she said.

“With COVID awareness, our program actually increased 50 percent last year,” said Doctor Erica Podolsky. Podolsky is in charge of the surgical weight-loss program at the Delray Medical Center, where the Barlow’s went. “Obesity is a disease that makes it easier to get covid, harder to get rid of COVID and people don’t do well if they get COVID and have obesity. Recently, that’s become a big focus.”

Bariatric surgery itself makes the stomach smaller, so you feel fuller quicker and it’s a metabolic surgery, so doctors say diabetes and acid reflux go into remission. However, doctors caution, there may also be side effects, including reflux and heartburn, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hypoglycemia, bowel complications, and increased risk for ulcers.

According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric surgery, a quarter of a million Americans got the surgery in 2019. The trend had been more and more people were getting it every year. But then in 2020, we were hit with the pandemic. And there’s been an ongoing debate in some states about whether this is an elective surgery or an emergency surgery. And many surgeons stopped doing them during COVID.

“I’m someone who’s been doing weight watchers what feels like my entire life. It wasn’t hard for me to mentally understand that I was going to restrict myself. What was eye opening was getting in front of the doctor and realizing that there are people who just need a metabolic reset. I could have dieted the whole rest of my life, and this is where my body was always going to sit. By doing the surgery, you get that reset,” Laura said.

The procedure itself is just one step.

“I think sometimes people think the surgery is an easy way out and which it’s not. It’s hard work,” Dr. Podolsky said.

It’s a change inside and out. You have to break old, hardened habits and create new ones.

“If you’re not ready for it, not just physically, but also mentally, it can be too much,” Bill said.

The fridge and pantry in the Barlow house are transformed.

“Before normally, it would be a lot of cereal, a lot of chips a lot of snacks and processed easy grab items, but now, it’s all protein,” he said.

Staying away from junk food is a team effort: husband and wife cheerlead for each other.

“I think mostly we commensurate, instead of having 1 person sitting on the couch, eating a pizza, and then the other person on the couch eating their 2 ounces of purée retried beans, we both get to eat it all together and I think that that’s more important. We got rid of the temptation,” Laura said.

“Doing it together definitely has made the difference,” Bill said.

Already, they’ve seen results.

Bill said, “Right now, (I’ve lost) 48 pounds and it’s been 32 days.”

Laura said, “I’ve lost 22 pounds in the two weeks:

But what they see on the scale is not the true measure of success.

“The number doesn’t bother me as far as what I weigh. I want to look good; I want to feel good, I want to be around long enough to see my kids grow up and be with her. That to me is the most important part. Weight is just a number, I think a lot of people get hung up on that,” Bill said.

To qualify for the surgery, you have to be 80 to 100 pounds overweight, which is a BMI (body mass index) of 35 with underlying health issues or 40 without.

It takes some major sacrifices. Post op, you can’t drink coffee for a month, no alcohol for at least six months and you have to ease back into foods with much smaller portions.

For the Barlows, they noticed a surge in energy. When they would normally go socially eat or drink, they find themselves out for a walk with their dogs and kids now. On top of increasing their life expectancy, they’re spending way less on food than they used to.

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By Betty C. Giordano

Welcome to my site. My name is Betty C. Giordano and I am a blogger of everything related to mobile, news, events and reality in general. I hope you enjoy reading my content.

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