March 05, 2019

Bariatric Surgery Leads to Better Health for New Jersey Woman

Since the age of 18, Audrey Gholston had struggled with her weight.

“Like a lot of women, I started gaining weight after I had my first child,” said Gholston. “I tried different weight loss methods but I always gained back any weight that I had lost.”

After more than a decade of weight problems, she started experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath so she began seeing a cardiologist.

“Once I met with my cardiologist and had some tests done, he explained to me that my heart problems were stemming from the amount of weight I had on my heart,” said Audrey. “All of the extra weight was pushing down on my heart and not allowing the valves of the heart to close all the way. He told me that the only way this would stop was if I lost weight to reduce the amount of fat around my heart. I also knew a young woman who had died of a heart attack at age 26, which made me realize I needed to make my health a priority. She didn’t even make it to her daughter’s first birthday. As a mother of three, that really hit me hard. That’s when I knew I needed to start making changes.”

Soon after, Audrey met with her primary care physician to discuss a new diet plan and lifestyle changes. When she didn’t see results from these changes, her physician referred her to Dr. Karl Strom, bariatric surgeon at Mountainside Medical Center.

“Once I met with Dr. Strom, I felt at ease,” said Audrey. “Everyone on my care team at the Center for Advanced Bariatric Surgery were so nice and made me feel very comfortable, so I decided to move forward with the surgery.

Audrey underwent bariatric surgery in December of 2017. After having surgery, Audrey has adapted a new way of thinking when it comes to eating.

“Since having this type of surgery greatly reduces how much food your stomach can handle, it’s up to you to make good food choices,” said Audrey. “You could still eat the way you ate prior to having surgery, but why put your body through that again? I quickly realized that it’s all about moderation. If I have a craving for fried chicken every now and then, I know I could eat one piece and be full. It’s not about how many pieces of chicken you eat, but rather tasting that food that you loved so much before. Being conscious about portions helps me make better choices.”

Audrey has experienced several non-scale victories since having bariatric surgery, one putting a lot into perspective for her.

“One summer before I had surgery, I took my kids to the playground one afternoon,” said Audrey. “My youngest son, who was only two years old at the time, got stuck on the jungle gym. I tried to go up and help him but I couldn’t fit through the bars, so I had to ask another parent on the playground if they could go up and help him. Not only was that extremely embarrassing, it made me feel bad as a mother because I couldn’t help my son, especially thinking about what would have happened if another parent wouldn’t have been there to help. When we went to the playground this past summer, it was a different story. I wasn’t even thinking about it when it initially happened, but I was able to slide through the bars on the jungle gym with ease. That’s when I knew I had made significant progress in my weight loss journey.”

After this personal win, Audrey was even more motivated to live a healthier lifestyle.

“I used to live my life for my kids,” said Audrey. “Now, I tell people I’m not living my life for my kids, I’m living my life for me. If I live my life for me, then I will be the best version of myself for my children and we will all be happier and healthier.”

For anyone considering having bariatric surgery, Audrey’s advice is to go for it.

“Don’t overthink your decision,” said Audrey. “I had been thinking about it for quite some time, but when I started having heart problems, I knew it was something I needed to do for myself. Even though I was only 29 years old at the time, knowing that my heart health was in jeopardy really put a lot into perspective for me.”

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