Changing Lives At The Genesis Center For Weight Management
Patient to blog about her
Brenda Barnhart’s first diet came at age 11, when
her mother dropped her off at her first weightloss
meeting in the early ‘70s. It was the
beginning of a lifetime of dieting.
She tried many popular diets over the next four
decades, swallowing everything from liver and
homemade ketchup to beets, powdered drinks
and pre-made diet meals. She lost weight -- one
time as much as 80 pounds -- only to gain back
more whenever she stopped the diet.
With every failure, she would return to her own
diet plan: sweets and fast food. With every gain
came feelings of guilt, shame and a return to her
“drug of choice” -- sugar.
By the time she was age 50, she tipped the scales
at 255 pounds on her 5-foot, 3-inch frame. The
size 22 jeans and the 3X tops were growing too
“I couldn’t see beyond the food,” she says. “That
was when it hit me. If I continued this path, I
wasn’t going to have a life at all. I was already
developing medical problems due to my weight. I
had to stop the denial and deal with the
In January 2011, she made the decision “to stop
the madness that yo-yo-dieting and sugar had
caused.” She joined Overeaters Anonymous. She
also attended an orientation session at the
Genesis Center for Weight Management.
She began a journey that would ultimately take
her to gastric bypass surgery in June 2011.
Now more than a year later, she is documenting
her experiences online in a blog on the Genesis
website and looking forward to helping others.
“Since June 20th, I’ve lost 70 pounds,” says
Barnhart of West Liberty. “I was a size 22; now I’m
a size 14 and am not done losing weight yet. I
have more self-confidence. When I was so heavy,
I was starting to become reclusive and shy about
speaking my mind. Now, I have more courage.
My weight loss has made a huge difference.”
Her weight loss also has improved her back and
knee pain, sleep apnea, borderline diabetes, acid
reflux and high blood pressure. As a result, she
can enjoy being outdoors again and take walks
without being out of breath. She can go to the
park and fit into the swing.
“Weight-loss surgery has changed my life
immensely, and I can’t say enough about the
support I’ve received from the Genesis Center for
Weight Management,” she says.
Four weight-loss options
The Genesis Center for Weight Management
offers three surgical weight-loss options: Roux-en-
Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and Lap-
Band®. Recently, the center became the only
program in the region to also offer the Optifast®
Program for overweight people who want a nonsurgical
but medically supervised program.
Barnhart opted for the laparoscopic Roux-en-Y
procedure after researching the options and
talking with her surgeon, Dr. David Aanestad.
The surgery decreases the amount of food a
person can eat at one sitting and the absorption
of nutrients. Stomach size is reduced from the
size of a large grapefruit to a golf ball, which
decreases the amount of food the stomach can
physically hold. At the same time, the length of
the small intestine length is reduced by about 2
feet, which reduces the number of calories the
body can absorb.
Since its launch in 2003, the Genesis program has
been the regional leader in innovative
approaches to weight loss surgery.
Surgeons Matthew Christophersen, M.D.,
Michael Phelps, M.D. and Dr. Aanestad were the
first in the region to perform the Roux-en-Y
bypass procedure with a laparoscopic approach.
They were also the first in the region to offer
vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a third approach to
weight loss surgery.
Patients at Genesis must first go through a
rigorous process before qualifying for surgery.
They undergo several months of education and
have consultations with the surgeon, nursing staff,
dietitian, physical therapist, pharmacist and
recreational therapist. Psychological evaluations
are done through Genesis Psychology Associates.
Only patients who follow the pre-surgery
requirements are scheduled for surgery.
Barnhart used the months leading up to surgery
as a time to examine her relationship with food
and become accustomed to the changes life after
gastric bypass surgery would bring.
“I felt good about Genesis, my doctor, and that
everything would be fine,” she says. “What I
feared was giving up the food. I had used food to
get me through all of my emotions and soon I
would not be able to do that any longer.”
Patients introduced to the Genesis program
discover quickly that weight loss surgery is not
cosmetic. It is major surgery that demands a
lifetime of post-surgical compliance.
“This is something we stress to every patient we
see,” explains Kathy Crooks, Supervisor of the
Genesis Center for Bariatric Surgery. “Weight loss
surgery is a tool. We can provide the patient with
the tool, but they need to be an active participant
and use the tool provided to them.”
Barnhart concludes, “Genesis changed my life by
giving me a new chance on life.”
Find Out More
The Genesis Center for Weight Management is
recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of
Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic
and Bariatric Surgery.
For more information about weight-loss
surgery options, call (563) 421-8361. To sign
up for Brenda Barnhart’s blog, go to