One resident of Grand Prairie, Texas gets stopped on occasion. People tell him, “Excuse me, but you look familiar.” That’s when Roger Lopez, 52, pulls out a picture from his wallet. He replies, “You probably recognize this guy.”
The photo he carries is of himself, but weighing 335 pounds with nearly a 50-inch waistline. This was Roger before he had weight loss surgery, a gastric sleeve operation performed at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine in November 2015.
In a year, Roger has lost over 130 pounds, and he is now down to a size 34 waistline. He carries the photo with him as a reminder of just how far he has come.
Family History of Obesity
Obesity was common in Roger’s family. His grandmother weighed nearly 400 pounds and needed surgery to remove dangerous tumors from her stomach area. She was the first among many to have surgery to help with obesity. Roger’s mother had a lap band procedure and lost 50 pounds, but struggled to stay committed to the process. It wasn’t until Roger’s youngest brother had a gastric sleeve procedure, that Roger saw the dramatic health benefits of his brother’s 180-pound weight loss.
“I knew I was overweight,” Lopez said. “I had a lot of joint pain, and I was on my way to diabetes. I didn’t want to take medications. That was the kicker for me.”
In his youth, Roger was an avid kickboxer. He managed his weight and exercised regularly. However, injuries curbed his exercise, he became depressed and turned to food for comfort. Roger broke his tailbone, injured his elbows and knees, and found it uncomfortable to be active.
Along with the pain, Roger suffered from high cholesterol and was borderline diabetic. He was also classified as severely obese. This classification is when people have a Body Mass (BMI) greater than 40, or they are more than 100 pounds over their ideal body weight.
Patient Turned Advocate
Roger made the call to request a consultation with Sina Matin, MD, a surgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine. Dr. Matin is a leader in weight loss surgery and performed Roger’s initial appointment and gastric sleeve surgery.
“There was a lot I needed to do prior to surgery, but it was worth it,” Lopez said. “I am now an advocate for others, to help them get surgery arranged. They see the change in me, and they want that.”
Roger’s wife and family were hesitant at first due to risks common with any surgery; however, Roger had made up his mind, and the surgery was successful.
In the first three months following surgery, he lost 40 pounds. Dr. Matin told him that this was the crucial period to begin light exercise to avoid sagging skin. Roger reentered the world of exercise, and now works out six days a week with no evidence of excess skin.
“It’s a must now,” Lopez said. “I wake up at 5:30 a.m. every morning, and I’m happy and content. It’s part of my day, and I have so much more energy. I’m constantly on the move and looking for something to do.”
Roger stays active working in the fraud industry and as a baseball umpire. Before his surgery, he had trouble walking up and down stairs as an investigator, and he could only officiate a few games a week as an umpire. Now, Roger fills his schedule and can handle five weeknight games and multiple baseball games on Saturdays. It is a hobby he enjoys, now that his children are all grown.
It’s a Mind Thing
Roger’s eating habits have changed drastically post-surgery. He has impressive discipline. His portions are similar to those of a child, and he has had to learn how to listen to his body so he doesn’t get too full. He has a protein shake and Greek yogurt for breakfast, a taco without the shell for lunch or a half-can of tuna, and grilled chicken for dinner.
“My friends and family have seen the change in me and what I eat,” Lopez said. “I already know what greasy chicken or fast food tastes like, and I know where it got me. There’s a big change now, and it’s just a mind thing.”
Roger admits that sometimes his eyes are still bigger than his stomach. He’ll dish a plate for dinner and his wife teasing tells him, “You know you’re not going to eat all that.” Roger replies, “I know, but my eyes are satisfied.”
Roger’s commitment to healthy eating is getting easier each day, and he is sharing his exercises mentoring young men in the gym.
“I love to talk about my journey and help anyone I can,” Lopez said. “I’ve been in those shoes, and you don’t have to be there.”