George Pacciello/staff photographerGlenn Mamary wore these pants before undergoing bariatric surgery at Hunterdon Healthcare’s Center for Advanced Weight Loss and shedding more than 100 pounds.
The two years leading up to his wedding, Glenn Mamary didn’t touch a single sweet. He was 25 and marrying the love of his life, nine years after meeting her inspired him to slim down, shape up and stay that way. On his wedding day he was 6’2” tall and 190 pounds.
But it wouldn’t have been right to refuse his own wedding cake that day 25 years ago. And the couple’s honeymoon to St. Thomas included unlimited meals.
“You can see it in the pictures. We went to St. Thomas and I looked good. By the end of the week I started to ‘fill out.’ People started saying that I looked very ‘content.’”
That’s because he weighed 210 pounds within a few months of his wedding.
Weight-wise, it was “the beginning of the end. I kept yo-yoing up and down and each swing was bigger than the previous one,” he said from his office at Hunterdon Medical Center in Raritan Township, where he is vice president of information services and chief information officer.
On June 23, 2011, the day he underwent bariatric surgery, he weighed 361 pounds. Seven months later he had dropped almost 110 pounds and was on track to lose 42 more and reach his target weight of 210 pounds. His 56-inch waist in February was 32% smaller, allowing him to buy pants with a 38-inch waistband.
More importantly, he no longer takes 90% of the medications he once needed to treat a myriad of health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.
George Pacciello/staff photographerBariatric surgery, along with workouts at Hunterdon Health and Wellness Center in Clinton, including strength training, helped Glenn Mamary lose more than 100 pounds in about seven months.“I feel like a different person!” says Mamary, a Branchburg resident. “I’m flexible, I have energy. I’m just enjoying my life, doing so much more with my family,” wife Maureen and children Nicholas, 23, and Amanda, 21.
Anyone interested in learning more about Hunterdon Healthcare’s Center for Advanced Weight Loss, a multidisciplinary program that meets the growing need for bariatric surgery and weight loss services, can attend an information session held the last Wednesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. at Hunterdon Health and Wellness Center, 1738 Route 31 north, Clinton. Center doctors and dietitians attend to answer questions.
Mamary said that he struggled with his weight as a child, forgoing sports in favor of computers and marching band. “I was definitely self-conscious,” he says. At age 16 he met Maureen and, hoping to impress her, dropped 45 pounds by “starving and working out,” and then keeping it off until their marriage.
It didn’t help that Maureen, and their children, don’t struggle with their weight. For instance, when his wife would fill a bowl with ice cream at night Glenn says he would think, “I can eat that too! It made it very difficult.”
Mamary knew his weight was dangerous. Diabetes cost his maternal grandfather both legs and his father had diabetes and a heart condition. And, he’s worked at the hospital for more than 16 years.
Last year Mamary went on yet another diet, lost 60 pounds and then, within a couple of months, gained back those 60 and another 20.
“I was 49 years old and I had diabetes, sleep apnea, reflux, high cholesterol and hypertension,” he says. “I love to swim, I love the beach and I still went, but it was embarrassing.”
George Pacciello/staff photographerSurgeon Naveen Ballem speaks with Glenn Mamary, a patient whose weight-loss surgery has inspired the Branchburg man to lead a more fit lifestyle.
Then he walked into a work meeting at which the new director of the weight loss center, Dr. Naveen Ballem, spoke about the new bariatric program.
One slide in the presentation “just got me, all of the co-morbidities of being overweight,” says Mamary. “I said, ‘Oh my God, I have every one of these. What am I waiting for?’ It just hit home.”
He had never undergone surgery, but feared for his future more than he feared an operation. In part, that was because he works at the hospital. “I know the quality of care here, I know they’re good people. It’s safe, it’s clean,” he says, lessening worries about infection.
Surprisingly, his family didn’t share his enthusiasm for surgery. They thought it was too dangerous. He replied, “My weight is more dangerous. I’m going to die young.”
He explained to them, “I’m not enjoying this. The last yo-yo is going to be what, a 100-pound swing? I can’t do this.”
Mamary qualified for the surgery because he was more than 100 pounds overweight.
Weight loss surgery changes the way the body handles food and limits the amount of food that can be eaten. But, in order to be successful, patients need to commit to making healthy food choices and changing their behavior.
“It’s about changing your lifestyle, your mindset and your habits,” explains nutritionist Velta Soucie, from the Center for Nutrition and Diabetes Management at Hunterdon Medical Center. Soucie counsels and educates patients, before and after surgery, on nutritional needs.
Mamary says that he went into the surgery understanding that “it’s not a miracle tool. But I know it’s the tool I needed.”
George Pacciello/staff photographerAerobic workouts are helping Glenn Mamary to reach his weight-loss goals following bariatric surgery at Hunterdon Healthcare’s Center for Advanced Weight Loss.
A patient who decides to undergo bariatric surgery meets with various members of a team at Hunterdon, including a clinical psychologists and physiotherapists. The goal is to help patients achieve sustainable and lifelong changes. Mamary rates them all “excellent.”
Before the surgery he had to be cleared medically. And he was counseled that eating “is very behavior oriented. I can no longer turn to food for my comfort. At first, after the surgery physically you won’t be able to do it and when you can you don’t want to. You have to re-focus, make sure you’re emotionally ready for this.”
Pre-surgery, Glenn remembers that he “felt OK. I didn’t feel like a very, very old person,” even though he “had a hard time breathing and speaking” and wasn’t able to climb a flight of stairs or ride a bicycle. He couldn’t fit in booths at restaurants and was uncomfortable on airplanes.
Now, he frequently takes the stairs to his sixth-floor office.
Mamary says that before the surgery he usually worked out at Hunterdon Wellness Center a few times a week. “I’d go, but it wasn’t a priority.” Today he’s encouraged by his progress and works out at least five times weekly, on cardio and strength training. He loves taking walks in his neighborhood and is shopping for a new bicycle.
“I look normal, I don’t look like a big person anymore,” he says.
Recently Mamary got a $20 gift certificate in the mail from one of the few shops where he was previously able to find clothes that fit. “When I walked in the clerk said, ‘We don’t have anything here for you.’ I wanted to kiss him!”
According to Dr. Ballem, “Obesity is the single-largest public health concern the country is facing. In New Jersey, one of three people is considered overweight and has an obesity-related medical problem.”
For more information on the advanced weight loss program, call program coordinator Christine Meny at 908-237-5529.
Have you struggled with your weight? If you’ve lost weight, what was the impetus? If you haven’t and want to, what’s holding you back?