Changing Lives At The Genesis Center For Weight Management - Genesis Health System

Published on March 09, 2012

Changing Lives At The Genesis Center For Weight Management

Patient to blog about her journey

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 tight.

“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 problem.”

Weight-loss surgery

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

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