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She Would No Longer Live for Food

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Laura Zabriskie

December 20, 2017
Karen Woolsey remembers the day exactly — she was at the bank where she ran into an old friend who she hadn't seen in months. They struck up a conversation and Karen learned that her friend was active in GBMC's Comprehensive Obesity Management Program (COMP) and was preparing for weight-loss surgery. This was the first time she had heard specifics about the surgery, although it didn't occur to her that it was something she could do. She didn't know it at the time, but this was the beginning of her journey towards better health and a better life.

Karen struggled with her weight for years. Although she tried many ways to lose weight, she could never stick with it. She bounced between weight-loss programs, without success and paid for gym memberships that she didn't use. She recalls once calling to cancel a gym membership and having to tell the person on the phone that she hadn't gone a single time. Karen described this time in her life as an emotional roller coaster.

When she was younger, Karen was very active in high school sports, to the point that she was voted "most athletic" in her senior yearbook, but once she graduated, her activity levels decreased significantly. When she was 21-years-old, she lost her mother to breast cancer and everything went downhill from there. Suddenly, she was taking care of her 11-year-old sister, all the while dealing with grief from the loss of her mother. Food became a comfort and any time for exercising went out the window. In her words, she "simply stopped taking care of herself." This behavior continued when she had her own children; she gave them all of her energy and neglected her own health.

It wasn't until she ran into her friend later that year that Karen thought about weight-loss surgery again. It was now several months after her friend had undergone surgery and Karen was shocked by how happy she was and how successful she had been in such a short amount of time. When her kids became teenagers, she had a bit more time for herself and she decided to attend an information session at GBMC. It was an easy decision from there. After discussing it with her husband, she decided to enter the program and promised herself that she would no longer live for food.

Now two years out of surgery, Karen is down 90 pounds and feels better than ever. She goes to the gym three to four times a week and is in the best shape of her life. For the first time in years, she is able to walk into any store and find clothes that fit her and now, she enjoys being in front the camera instead of hiding behind it. Her advice is simply this: learn more about it. Talk to family and friends and dig deep within yourself to figure out if surgery is your next step. If it is, you’ll know it.
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