For many patients, the hardest part of losing weight through bariatric surgery is not the operation itself. The hardest part comes later, with the difficult task of developing and maintaining a healthier lifestyle and diet. Unless people can make changes in these areas, they are unlikely to sustain their health and weight loss following surgery. Too many patients find that within 5 years after surgery, they are back where they started.
Social support from friends and family is key to helping people meet these challenges—before, during and after the actual surgery. And what more natural support group is there than other patients? That’s the insight behind a program in Columbus, Ohio, at Riverside Methodist Hospital’s Fresh Start Bariatrics weight loss program.
Surgical Weight Loss offers a Fresh Start to Ohio Patients
The Fresh Start Posse was actually created by patients of the Fresh Start Bariatrics program in 2006, with the active support and encouragement of Dr. Stephan Myers and the Fresh Start Bariatrics staff. According to their website, members of the Posse have “committed themselves to remaining active in order to make sure that the tool they’ve been given continues to work for them and to make the most of their new lives.”
Posse founder and Columbus 9-1-1 dispatcher Chris Burkhardt explains, "The Fresh Start Posse serves as a way for us to stay connected, and participate in various new activities together; we’re energized by our new lifestyle and the friendships and support from other Fresh Start patients is important for our continued weight loss success.”
The Fresh Start Posse has no regular meetings and there are no requirements for membership. It simply provides an informal support system and a way to share information about activities that provide opportunities for high-energy exercise activities and interaction and friendship with people who’ve gone through the same experiences, both pre- and post-surgery. Burkhardt notes, "It’s so helpful to have a group, especially right after surgery, that you can ask, ‘Is this normal?’ You don’t want to have to call the doctor every time you experience something new. Plus, it’s that extra support to stay on track and not fall in to old habits after a few months; the Fresh Start Posse keeps you accountable."
Posse members have participated in marathons and half-marathons, parasailing, and a sprint triathlon—activities they might never have imagined before their weight loss. “It’s just an amazing feeling to do something really thrilling that you know you could have never done before losing weight.” Their website keeps members updated with information about upcoming events, and information and photos from past events.
For more information about the Fresh Start Posse and Fresh Start Bariatrics, visit: