Joaly S Finding Fitness after Bariatric Surgery: Joaly's Story

"I can ride my bike like when I was a kid"

Prior to her bariatric (weight loss) surgery, Joaly Sanes, 53, of Belleville, weighed 225 pounds and was often asked by slender friends, “Why don’t you just exercise?”

“That made me feel guilty,” she remembers. “But at my size, I couldn’t do much. I was in such pain from arthritic hips and sore feet. I wasn’t even able to get on a bike.”

Naveen Ballem, MD
Naveen Ballem, MD

“Weight gain is a real catch-22. The more pounds you add, the less ability you have to exercise,” says Naveen Ballem, MD, Interim Chief Medical Officer and Chief Clinical Effectiveness Officer at Clara Maass Medical Center.

“Bariatric surgery is a tool that can help people lose weight. As they take the weight off, patients feel great, have less pain, and are more mobile. They become more active and make better food choices, and they snowball into a good place.”

Rollerblading and Biking

Down to 140 pounds after surgery, Joaly joined a gym. But, like many others during the COVID-19 pandemic, she has had to find other methods to remain fit.

“I have a teenage daughter, but I couldn’t do many activities with her when I was heavy,” Joaly says. “Now we exercise together, with daily walking or rollerblading. And I can ride my bike like when I was a kid.

“Exercise has given me so much energy, and my arthritis pain is gone. My daughter now says she wants to be a nutritionist in order to help people like me.”

Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery alters the digestive system and metabolism, but it’s not the end of the weight loss journey. It’s the first step toward a new way of life that includes healthy eating and exercising.

Often, it’s a necessary step. Many people who are severely obese (over 50 pounds overweight or with a BMI, or body mass index, over 35) find that their bodies are resistant to long-term weight loss through diet and exercise. In fact, the National Institutes of Health Experts Panel has stated that in such cases, long-term weight loss is nearly impossible by any means other than bariatric or metabolic surgery.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all exercise regimen for after surgery,” advises bariatric surgeon Naveen Ballem, MD. “Work closely with your bariatric surgeon and team to find the right exercise plan for you.”

To learn more about weight loss and bariatric surgery, visit Clara Maass Medical Center, request an appointment or call (973) 450-2393.