"It has totally changed my life"
At six feet, three inches, Jeff Reim had always been a big guy. But when he transitioned to a desk job after 15 years as a TV cameraman, he really started to gain weight, tipping the scale at 340 pounds.
"I seesawed for years, trying to lose weight, but I'd always gain it back," he says. "Plus, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and was taking seven different medications."
The weight not only affected his health but also his lifestyle.
"Although I was still fairly active, I just didn't have the energy to do a lot of things," the Chelmsford resident continues. "The sleep apnea became a real burden since I had to bring the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure device) everywhere. I loved to go camping, but couldn't bring it, so couldn't go.
"If I wanted to see my kid have kids, I needed a more permanent solution than just dieting," he adds. "So after talking to people at the Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery at Lowell General Hospital, gastric bypass surgery seemed like the way to go."
Reim underwent his procedure in September of 2011. He was 48.
"It has totally changed my life," he says. "I'm an avid cyclist now and ride, on average, 100 miles a week. I just did the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure which was 150 miles in two days, and I'm doing my first century (100-mile) ride next month. My wife has become a cycle widow," he jokes.
"When I first got back on my bike, I hadn't ridden in 25 years," he adds. "Now it's become my addiction, but it just feels great... I have a whole new energy and life! I'm in shape now — something I never was."
Reim initially lost 150 pounds, including some muscle mass, so he has worked with weights to rebuild muscle, gaining back a few necessary pounds in the process.
And all the health issues relating to his weight have been resolved.
"My A1c [a measure of a person's average blood glucose level over a two- to three-month period] is 5.8," he says (the normal range is 4.5 to 6.0). "I've gotten rid of the CPAP, I have no more high blood pressure and my cholesterol numbers are spot on.
"As for medications, I take absolutely nothing now except for vitamins and allergy medication," he adds. "It's really amazing."
The best part of Reim's transformation?
"My new found health and love for exercise," he says without hesitation. "And not having to shop for XXXL-Tall clothes. My 15-year-old son and I wear the same size pants now!"
What's his advice to anyone who's considering weight loss surgery?
"There's a sign on the wall at the Center that says how it takes hard work, that it's not going to be easy," Reim says. "You have to realize that. Also, understand that you're making a change for the rest of your life, and it takes dedication to do it."
"But," he adds, "the results are just phenomenal."