Weight Loss "After the surgery, my mentality regarding food changed. Finally, food was no longer a habit."
"After the surgery, my mentality regarding food changed. Finally, food was no longer a habit."
Brittney Barnett was sitting at the dining room table with her family discussing her transformation—specifically her 140-pound weight loss—when her brother said something that would always stay with her.
"My little brother looked at me and said, ‘I feel like I have my sister back.’ I had to try really hard not to start crying. What he said meant so much to me, and it was true," remembered Brittney, now 32.
A West Monroe native, Brittney struggled with obesity throughout her life. "My weight made me feel self-conscious and worthless. It felt like everyone looked at me with disgust. I wanted to be normal; I wasn’t concerned about being healthier. I just wanted to fit in."
Eventually, Brittney suffered from joint aches, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure. Life became painful for the full-time licensed practical nurse and mother of two small children.
"The children and I would get home from school, and I would think, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t chase after them. I need to sit. My back and legs hurt.’ So, I would call out to them from my chair and tell them to be careful," Brittney said. "But I couldn’t play with my kids. I was so out of breath. And sometimes, I just had to lie down while my husband took over. And then, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed."
When she realized how much her weight affected her children, Brittney experienced her "ah-hah" moment. Dr. Walter Sartor performed her gastric sleeve procedure in 2016, and she subsequently changed the way she viewed food.
Brittney’s biggest misconception about weight loss surgery was that it would solve all of her problems. While losing weight did alleviate her medical issues, she still needed to work on her relationship with food. "I always have to be mindful of stress eating or emotional eating. No matter how much weight you lose, you will always have stress. So, you have to find an alternative."
She hasn’t consumed a carbonated beverage since the procedure and continues to eat much smaller portions. Also, food is no longer an impulse. "Everything was always centered around food, whether we were celebrating something, or I was bored," she said. "After the surgery, my mentality regarding food changed. If I found myself sitting on the couch, thinking about food, I made myself get up and start working in the yard with my husband or cleaning my house. Finally, food was no longer a habit."
Her healthier lifestyle influenced her husband, who also adopted a more nutritious diet and encouraged her throughout her weight loss journey.
"About a year after surgery, I walked into the kitchen where my husband was sitting at our table. He looked up at me and smiled. When I asked what he was smiling about, he replied, ‘I love how happy you are now. You've always been beautiful to me, but now you are happy, which makes you even more gorgeous.’ I could feel myself glowing after he said that."
Her family members weren’t the only ones to notice her transformation. "I can walk, hunt, fish, hike, and camp—without pain. I’m enjoying all of the physical activity that was so difficult when I weighed 330 pounds," she said.
Brittney, a nurse since 2008, has noticed a change in her professional life, too. "Overall, I’m a happier person. I’m more approachable because I no longer suffer from chronic pain and low self-esteem."
She works at the Surgery Clinic of Northeast Louisiana, owned by Dr. Walter Sartor, Dr. Bart Liles, and Dr. Patrick Smith. She finds her job fulfilling.
"Because I had the gastric sleeve surgery, I can better educate our weight loss patients and tell them exactly what to expect. So, it’s rewarding," she said. "And it’s a great place to work. We don’t have downtime, but we are always helping each other when necessary, and we laugh. And that’s because of our doctors. All three of our physicians are kind."
She is grateful to Sartor for performing her surgery. She said, "Not only is he brilliant, but he is always listening to every word a patient says. I experienced that firsthand. He and Marci Parker, the registered dietitian, genuinely want to see our patients succeed."
Brittney’s son, now 6, looks at his mother's photos before her weight loss journey and doesn’t recognize the woman in the pictures. That’s ok with Brittney because now she is the person she is meant to be.
"If I could describe my life in one word, it would be ‘joyful.’ I'm able to enjoy myself and live my life without constantly worrying about my weight."