Updated 8:13 am, Monday, May 1, 2017
State Sen. knew lifestyle changes were needed to improve his health. But what to do? After unsuccessful attempts at dieting, he made the choice to undergo bariatric surgery and the results have been positive.
“I think it has been a great opportunity for me to find a lifestyle change. It’s been a very encouraging journey, but also a tough road. It’s not always easy,” Stamas said. “If you are overweight, there are a lot of programs and support groups out there; finding the right one for you is the most important thing.”
The first endeavor was into the world of diet.
“I looked at dieting and tried multiple diets,” Stamas said. “I would lose 40 pounds and then gain 50. If I lost 50, then I gained back 60. I knew that I needed to make a lifestyle change and not a diet.”
It was a conversation with a friend at church that started Stamas on the path to losing almost 100 pounds.
“He had the procedure and it was amazing to see how well my friend was doing. We had been talking about diet programs for two years and doing things,” Stamas said. “I knew I was too heavy with the schedule that I have and the lifestyle. I have two young professionals for children. Hopefully someday I’ll have grandchildren and I want to be around to enjoy them.”
Choosing to have the procedure at MidMichigan Health, Stamas began the eight month journey toward surgery on Dec. 22, 2015.
“It is not something you can wake up one day and schedule surgery,” Stamas said. “The process prepares you for that lifestyle change, it’s not just another way to lose weight. You need to first have a conversation with yourself and your spouse, second a conversation with your doctor, and then it’s with your family. On top of that, it was a lot of prayer. My wife, Marsha, has been nothing but hugely supportive.”
To make sure he was a candidate for the surgery, Stamas underwent an EKG and other testing. He was asked to lose some weight to prepare for the greater weight loss after surgery. Nutrition classes were required along with a seminar on the various types of bariatric surgery. The seminar shared the individual procedures along with complications of each one.
“All of these things helped to make the decision, but also to prepare me for the surgery and afterwards,” Stamas said.
Finally, he was ready to choose between the different types of bariatric surgery: sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass or gastric banding.
“I did the stomach sleeve. It’s really about understanding some of the consequences. Each of those is an individual choice based on where you are at with your weight, health and how big of a change you really need,” Stamas said. “I want to stress that the surgery is only a means to help you, but you have to be ready for it and want the change. It’s a lifestyle change.”
Following surgery, dedication to the lifestyle change became the issue.
“That first six months after the surgery is a challenge, with the lifestyle change, with the food you can’t eat,” Stamas said. “My wife has had to learn to cook with different portion sizes. She almost cooks for one now. When we go to a restaurant, I either order an appetizer or I order a meal, but I split it with my wife.”
The adjustment also meant being regimented, making sure each day includes a breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“It was learning about my body. I now understand my body a whole lot better than I did before,” Stamas said.
However, the rewards have been very beneficial, including a decrease in blood pressure, better cholesterol levels and an improvement in dealing with sleep apnea.
“Emotionally I feel better, physically I’ve feel a lot better,” Stamas said. “The energy I have to get through the day, it seems like it is getting longer, not shorter. I get out and am doing more things at home, doing some of those projects. We bought kayaks five years ago, and last summer was the first time we’ve used them regularly.”
When the need for encouragement arises to maintain the weight loss of 96 pounds, Stamas looks to the world of pizza for motivation.
“We make 55 pound batches of dough at Pizza Sam’s. You add in water to the dough and that is almost exactly the same weight that I’ve lost. I think about what I was carrying with me. I try to keep that image in my head just to remind me,” Stamas said.