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A January birthday, a new copper blonde hair tint, fresh makeup, and fashionable clothes are just a fraction of Tiara Jenkins’ transformation. On December 18, she underwent surgery as part of her weight loss journey.
Under the care of IU Health physician Ambar Banerjee, Jenkins was a candidate for the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. The procedure basically shrinks the stomach so Jenkins will feel full more quickly than when her stomach was its original size.
“Tiara has been extremely motivated and compliant with our recommendations over the past several months. This was evident from the weight loss she achieved prior to surgery,” said Dr. Banerjee. “She still remains well above average in terms of weight loss at one month after surgery. She understands that lifestyle modification is most important in her weight loss journey and surgery is a tool to help achieve her goal. She feels great and has much improved energy. She is excited that she has lost about 70lbs since joining our program and almost 100 lbs. since she decided to take charge and improve her health. I expect her to do incredibly well.”
Jenkins received the news of her progress at a recent follow-up visit with Dr. Banerjee.
“Honestly, it’s crazy how great I feel. I have so much energy that it’s hard to sleep,” said Jenkins, who began her journey a year ago. The first step was contacting the IU Health Bariatric & Medical Weight Loss Clinic for guidance. She weighed 445 pounds at the time and had tried a series of diets and weight loss programs with limited success.
The IU Health Medical Weight Loss Program specializes in treating the whole person. Before clients can have surgery, they spend about six months in nutritional, psychological and exercise counseling. Every patient must complete specific steps to prepare for surgery.
Jenkins learned early on in the process that the transformation would involve a commitment. Part of that was changing how she viewed her eating habits and self-care. She took up hobbies – working puzzles and taking photos – and began exercising. She also worked to reach a pre-surgery weight goal, necessary to prepare her body for the procedure.
“Having surgery before Christmas was really the best because I didn’t have any of the temptations going through the holidays,” said Jenkins, a graduate of Avon High School. “People around me would be eating all the cookies and sweets and I didn’t even want them.” She’s also noticed a difference in other senses. “The smell of bacon isn’t the same. I just don’t crave the same things.”
Surgery lasted about two hours and she spent one night the hospital. She will continue with check ups through the first year following her surgery.
In just a month, she has eased back into her workout routine, and is making plans for a few celebrations.
“I don’t remember going to King’s Island since I was five. I got to a point I couldn’t fit on the rides. So I’m hoping to take my little brother for his senior trip.”
And there’s another goal too – “I’d love to take a cross-country road trip and just see things I’ve never seen.”
To prepare for that goal she has something else that’s new – a shiny red new Nissan Rogue.
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health. Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.