A former bodybuilder and current youth pitching coach in southern New Jersey, Fred Jimenez recalls when he was “probably the fittest person I knew.” But then he changed jobs and began travelling more and working out less, and muscle was slowly replaced by fat. Jimenez would ultimately carry 487 pounds on his 6’2” frame. “I tried every diet,” he says. “I even made up some diets. And I just couldn’t do it.”
Ultimately, he got to a point where he no longer cared about his weight, or all the health problems that came along with it. He’d devour eight slices of pizza in a sitting and was regularly taking in 10,000 calories a day. Things worsened when Jimenez developed high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and got one scary cholesterol reading of 400, but nothing his doctor said seemed to affect him. Jimenez refused diet advice and wouldn’t take any medications he was prescribed.
The once-active 53-year-old was no longer able to keep up with his young grandchildren, and had resorted to coaching from a stool because it was too much effort to stand. Then one day, he fell. “I didn’t know how to get up,” Jimenez says. “I had to crawl to the sofa to get some leverage.” The situation actually brought him to tears, but it proved to be the sign he needed to get help. “I told myself, I can’t do this again. It was truly my deciding factor for getting the surgery.”
Jimenez made an appointment with the team at the Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery program at Penn Medicine. “I almost backed out,” he says, “but when I met my surgeon, he put me at ease.” Fred attended support meetings and nutritional counseling sessions to prepare for life after the surgery. “When I went for my psych evaluation, they said you are so ready for this surgery,” he recalls.
The sleeve gastrectomy, which took place in July 2013 was an even bigger success than he anticipated. Jimenez lost 170 pounds in less than eight months. “I would have been satisfied with 100!” he says. He also reversed his high blood pressure and cholesterol (the latter is now a little more than half his all-time high of 400), and a thyroid problem.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Jimenez says. “I have no regrets. It was way more than weight loss. It was living again.”
Learn more about the Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery program and sign up for a free weight-loss surgery information session today.