As a child, Alyssa Becker struggled with her weight. As with many kids in that same situation, she was frequently teased, which negatively impacted her self-esteem. She tried many diets with little success.
As an adult, she managed to lose one hundred pounds with severe restriction of her calorie intake. She was happy with her weight, but the method was ravaging her health and leaving her constantly sick.
"Then when I became pregnant with my son," Alyssa recalls, "my OB/GYN told me that I had to eat more for the health of the baby."
So as a caring and committed mother, she followed that advice.
Halfway into her pregnancy, it was discovered that her son had a heart condition, and the now two-year old boy had had six surgeries since his birth. The stress of being a new mother with a sick child was substantial, and she found herself binge eating to help cope. By the time she reached 295 lbs, she noticed her health deteriorating in a way that was scary — especially to a woman who was only in her early twenties.
Having tried everything else to lose weight, she turned to bariatric surgery as a weight loss tool.
After attending a bariatric surgery seminar given by Hanafy Hanafy, MD, and then having a consultation with him, Alyssa decided that she wanted to have a sleeve gastrectomy. During that surgery a portion of the stomach is removed, leaving patients with a smaller sleeve of a stomach that is about the size and shape of a banana. This weight loss surgery works primarily by restricting the amount of food that you can eat.
As a person who always seeks out information, Alyssa did a lot of research before making her decision. She read about weight loss surgery online, watched videos of surgeries and joined online support groups. She chose the sleeve because she wanted to avoid any potential for malnourishment from rerouting the digestive tract and given her age felt like the sleeve gastrectomy offered a lower-risk, less-invasive alternative to gastric bypass.
She went in for surgery on Dec. 28, 2015, weighing 295 lbs. In April 2016, just four months later, she was already down to 208 lbs.
Bariatric surgery has been a tremendous tool in helping Alyssa develop a new mind set and live a healthier life. She now finds joy in eating foods to power her body. She has also learned how to plan ahead so that she can make healthy choices when life gets hectic, as it often does for a busy mom of a toddler. With a smaller stomach, she has learned to drink more slowly and listen to her body’s cues that it is full. Unlike before, she feels that she is losing weight in a way that feels healthy and doesn’t make her sick.
Best of all, as her weight has decreased, Alyssa has found that her self-worth has increased.
"I'm happier with myself," she says, "And I'm able to be the kind of example for my son that I've always strived to be."