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Body Mass Index (BMI) is a general indicator of whether or not you are maintaining a healthy weight based on the ratio of your weight to your height. It’s an imperfect scale as it doesn't account for differences in body types. For example, a 5 foot 9 inch bodybuilder who weighs 215 pounds and has a 6% body fat would be labeled obese. And there is already a new scale just for people from Southeast Asia where the ranges are lowered.

While it can be a good indicator of the healthiness of your weight if you fall within certain statistical norms that were used to develop it, it should be taken with a significant grain of salt and should not be used as a substitute for a professional evaluation of your health by a doctor.

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Center for Weight Management
Two locations:

20 Research Place
North Chelmsford, MA 01863

203 Turnpike Street
2nd Floor
North Andover, MA 01845

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Phone: 978-788-7200
TTY: 978-937-6889
Phone: 877-LGH-WELL

Jake Robbins (from Leominster)

Feeling Good

Gastric banding surgery gives Jake Robbins a “normal” life

Jake was only 30 years old, but a simple task like tying his shoes exhausted him.

“I’d have to take a break between tying my left and right shoes because I got so winded bending over,” he recalls.

At 5 feet 9 inches, Jake weighed 320 pounds.

“I’d battled with weight for most of my life,” he says. “My mother used to say I was just ‘big-boned’ or ‘husky.’”

But by the time he reached 30, Jake had to admit he was obese.

“You could say I was lucky because I didn’t have any weight-related health problems like high blood pressure or diabetes,” he says. “But I did have joint pain. And I just wasn’t motivated to do much anymore. I had no enthusiasm for anything.”

For the married father of a then three-year-old daughter and with another baby on the way, it was no way to live. Inspired by three friends who had successfully lost weight after undergoing gastric banding surgery, Jake decided to check it out for himself.

“I had tried everything else, different diets, but my weight just kept yo-yoing,” he says. With a referral from his primary care physician, he first looked into having bariatric surgery at a clinic near his home in central Massachusetts. Jake also works nearby as a correctional officer.

“But it seemed to take forever to get things started,” Jake recalls. “A friend who’d had the procedure at the Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery at Lowell General suggested I go there, and everything went a lot smoother and faster.”

Jake attended a series of mandatory meetings with Center professionals who evaluate each patient’s readiness for bariatric surgery and help them plan for long-term post-operative success. In January 2009, he underwent a procedure in which the surgeon places an adjustable gastric band around a portion of the stomach, creating a smaller upper stomach pouch. The reduced stomach capacity, along with behavioral changes, can result in lower caloric intake and consistent weight loss.

“The gastric banding procedure appealed to me because I saw how my friends who’d had it could still live a normal life,” he says. “It basically forces you to control your food portions, and I needed that.”

A year after his surgery, Jake has lost more than 100 pounds. He works out on an elliptical trainer at home, three or four times a week, and lifts weights. And he sticks with a diet of “a lot of chicken and salads, and low-fat yogurt for breakfast.”

“I told the dietician at Lowell General that I don’t stray too far when it comes to my diet,” he says. “It’s kind of boring, but it works."

“A lot of people think [bariatric] surgery is the easy way out,” Jake notes. “But there’s nothing easy about it. It may not seem like work, but you get out of it what you put into it. When it comes to diet and exercise, you still have choices to make.”

The best part of Jake’s journey to a healthier weight?

“It’s great to actually have the energy of a 31-year-old,” he says. “I’m a lot more motivated to play with my kids, to go outside for a walk, to just do any type of physical activity.

“I just can’t believe how good I feel!” he adds.

Click here to learn if you are a candidate for Surgical Treatment and find out when you can attend one of our FREE Weight Management Information Sessions.

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