Jefferson University Hospitals

Jackie Runs Half Marathon After Life-Changing Weight Loss Surgery

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If you asked Jacqueline Lutz this time last year if she could see herself running a half marathon, she would have laughed and called you crazy.

At that time, Jackie, a grants administrator at Jefferson and South Philadelphian, hit a point where she knew she couldn’t lose weight on her own. She gained 40 pounds in six months after starting a new job and tried every diet, including Paleo, Ketogenic and Weight Watchers. No matter what, she couldn’t stick with a diet and exercise program. To complicate matters, Jackie has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the thyroid gland, which helps set the body’s rate of metabolism. Her symptoms included weight gain and difficulty losing weight (despite reduced food intake), extreme fatigue, weakness, joint and muscle pain, depression and a slowed heart rate.

“Your body will fight against losing weight,” Jackie said. “When I cut my portions and started exercising, I always felt tired and hungry. It’s hard to ignore.”

On a friend’s recommendation, Jackie scheduled a consult with her doctor to talk about weight loss surgery. He recommended a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve, which removes the portion of the stomach that makes ghrelin, significantly reducing the level of hormone that signals hunger to the brain. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of the stomach is removed while creating the new smaller stomach in the shape of a “sleeve.”

Jackie had her surgery in February of 2016. She describes the change as a 180. Her glucose numbers before surgery indicated pre-diabetes and now they are within normal range. She’s happier and has lost 58 pounds so far.

“I feel amazing!” she said.

Jefferson’s program is built on a foundation of lifestyle modification, including significant changes to diet, activity and other health behaviors. “It is a mental and physical process,” Jackie said. “The surgery is a tool. I can’t eat the amount I used to and for the reasons I used to. But I have amazing support from my nurse practitioner, dietician, and weekly group meetings.” 

To alleviate stress, Jackie started running. And she kept running. Way to go, Jackie!