“We’ve never had a place where physical therapists could send people to go work on their own between sessions,” said Andrea Zimmerli, bariatric coordinator at Highland. “It’s been a huge benefit to have some place for people to go and know that they have someone to check in with here once they’re cleared from physical therapy.”
Since starting the program, Hobson has lost 24 pounds — the first weight loss she’s ever experienced in such a setting.
Today, she compares the decision to move forward with her weight loss to her long struggle with alcohol.
“You can’t quit until you’re ready,” she said. “You can’t be on this path and be on track with bariatric surgery until you’re ready.”
For patients like her, some say this sort of mental readiness is important in setting the stage for a permanent physical improvement.
“If somebody is in denial, they don’t want to exercise or they don’t want physical activity, that’s a struggle,” said Laura Fasano, director of program development at the Greater Rochester YMCA. “When folks are in that preparation stage of ‘I’m ready’... this program matches up with them so they can move through to the action stage.”
Hobson lives in Macedon with her 8-year-old son, and looks forward to living a more active life her life after surgery.
“Most of our patients are in the mindset of ‘I’ll lose the weight and then I’ll exercise,’” said Zimmerli. “I think to introduce this to them at an early stage is a huge benefit.”
In several months she will be getting a duodenal switch — a rare surgical procedure that shrinks the stomach and gives it a banana-like shape. This process generally leads to more weight loss than the more popular gastric bypass procedure.
Many patients in her position shy away from exercise before the surgery.
“I think a lot of people my size are scared to come to the gym,” said Hobson. “They think, ‘People are going to look at me,’ and I won’t lie, sometimes people do stare ... I do feel for those people who are just scared to get up off of the couch. They’ve shut themselves in so much that they’re afraid of their bodies that they won’t even walk outside of their house.”
She hopes her willingness to hit the gym without shame will help inspire others to do the same — with or without the weight.
“I can say, here I am. I can do it, and you can do it too. As they get more people in the program, (you) can get through the door and see someone who looks like you.”