Bariatric Surgery Changed Her Mindset and Then Her Life

Overweight for most of her life, Escondido nurse and mother of twins Brigit Davis said she had resigned herself at one point that she was always going to be obese after losing, and then gaining back even more weight, during multiple weight-loss programs. She peaked at 266 pounds.
The turning point came when she realized she wasn’t going to be able to be an active part of her kids’ lives because she couldn’t fit into roller coasters, got winded pushing her kids on a swing and couldn’t chase them around the yard.
She had considered but discounted, multiple times, bariatric surgery even though her primary care physician said she’d be an excellent candidate.
“There is definitely a stigma about bariatric surgery,” Davis said, “that it is the easy way out.”
Finally, after meeting with Palomar Health surgeon Ramin Sorkhi, MD, F.A.C.S., at the Palomar Health Weight Management Center, she decided to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which removes a portion of the stomach.   
“In researching the surgery, and talking with my doctor about it, this was the only option I felt would be a permanent change in my life,” Davis said.
Surgery by itself isn’t enough to achieve life-changing results; it must be accompanied by diet and exercise. The need for post-surgery lifestyle changes has some critics contending patients can receive the same results without surgery. While this may be true for some, Davis said she needed the physical changes achieved through surgery to activate the mental changes necessary to keep the weight off.
“It’s almost like it (bariatric surgery) translated to a change in my mind; my mindset is completely different,” Davis said. “I want to eat healthy; I want to nourish my body with good foods that give me energy and keep me strong.”
Because her stomach is biologically smaller post-surgery, Davis says she becomes physical ill if she eats too much or the wrong kinds of foods. This was never the case for her growing up, when she says food became a source of comfort.
Her parents divorced when she was 12 and her father’s way of caring was buying her whatever food she wanted. She was often home alone, but pizza and ice cream were readily available and became like a friend to her, she later discovered through therapy. She would eat to mask her pain. However, since bariatric surgery, she says exercise has become her source of comfort. She now puts on her headphones and walks or jogs around the neighborhood.
“Using my new body and pushing it and being successful with it really brings me good feelings,” Davis said.
The Palomar Health Weight Management Center offers a holistic program to help patients through the entire process, including counseling, nutrition consultation, physician follow up and weekly support groups. Davis says more than one year later she continues to work with her dietician and will attend the bariatric support groups forever.
“I like having a cheerleader when I’ve had success or struggles…people who’ve gone through the same thing,” Davis said.
She’s also receiving positive reinforcement from buying new clothes, being able to reach her own feet, not needing a seatbelt extender and playing soccer with her kids. People are now complimenting her on her looks.
“Before, I was so heavy I would often try to hide my body in oversized clothes. I wouldn’t do my hair. I didn’t care to try. I wouldn’t do my makeup,” Davis said.
“Now I feel like I don’t have to hide anymore. I want people to see me.”
To learn more about if bariatric surgery is right for you, contact the Palomar Health Weight Management Center at 858-613-4022 or visit our website.
Photo caption: Brigit Davis lost half her body weight, and has kept it off, after visiting the Palomar Health Weight Management Center.