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Losing Weight Can Come Down To Last Resorts

Photo Credit: St. Barnabas Health System

David Cruz is the editor for Norwood News, covering the Bronx. This
piece is part of our collaborative series called “Bronx Connections: The Health Impact”.

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Roughly a third of Bronx residents are considered obese, according to state health
statistics. Losing weight can be a challenge that comes
down to last resorts.
 
Jennifer Hernandez of Soundview faced a brick wall when it came to losing weight. At
248 pounds, Hernandez attempted to reverse the outcome for her obesity. It’s a disease
that’s often a nexus to even more debilitating conditions such as heart disease or
diabetes.
 
Stubborn obesity genes can be the culprit, with poor eating and sleep habits, and a lack
of exercise, the engines to obesity. Hernandez experienced that first-hand.
“I tried a lot, and I wasted a lot of money.”
 
Even after all the rigorous dieting and exercise, Hernandez, who works as a school bus
driver, couldn’t make dieting work anymore. “The gain was still there.”
 
She was referred to her primary care doctor to consider sleeve surgery, where surgeons
dramatically reduce the size of a stomach. The surgery was done at the Center for
Weight Loss Surgery at St. Barnabas Hospital Health System in Belmont. Dr. Nissin
Nahmias is the center’s director. He stresses the surgery is not a quick fix.
 
“It’s definitely not going to be cured by surgery. It’s a lifestyle, and education, and
understanding of all the possible reasons why people end up in this situation. It’s multi-
factorial, and it’s not simple.”
 
Bariatric surgical procedures can help prevent, slow down, or even reverse certain
obesity-related conditions. In some ways, the sleeve procedure resets the clock, allowing
patients to eat the kinds of nutritious foods that won’t tip the scales.
 
In September, Hernandez underwent the procedure. Today, she’s at 164 pounds with a
goal of coming down to 140 pounds.
 
Hernandez is now a pescatarian, exclusively eating fish. It’s a lifestyle she hopes Bronx
residents can embrace. But she says it’s not for everyone.
 
“If you don’t have that mindset of this is-what-I-want and I’m going to do it, it’s sad to
say, but you’re going to fail again. You’re wasting your time.”