A Great Weight has Been Lifted

AHS bariatric supports give Alberta man a new lease on life

Story by Tara Grindle; photo by Paul Rotzinger

Leslie Young is half the man he used to be.

And he couldn’t be happier.

ns-bariatric-youngAfter losing 165 lbs. with the support of Alberta Health Services (AHS) Adult Bariatric Specialty Clinic in Calgary, Young is embracing adventures he never dreamed possible, including horseback riding, whitewater rafting and skydiving.

“I’m on a better track in my life than I have ever been before,” says Young, who has maintained a healthy weight for more than a year. “I’m just having too much fun not to stay here. I think I want to try zip-lining and bobsledding next.”

Like the six in 10 Canadian adults who are overweight or obese, Young’s weight was preventing him from fully enjoying life. After seeing his doctor for numbness in his leg, the 39-year-old was told he had nerve damage due to his weight, which then topped 385 lbs.

“My leg felt like it was on fire,” says Young, who was referred to the Adult Bariatric Specialty Clinic in November 2012.

“I balked at first. I didn’t think it would work because I’ve lost weight before and I’ve never been able to keep it off.”

But this time, things were different. The clinic – which offers support from a variety of health care providers, including dietitians, exercise specialists, psychologists and others – gives patients the medical management needed to effectively treat obesity.

“Obesity is a chronic disease,” says Wendy Shah, a registered dietitian who worked with Young at the clinic. “We need to treat it that way and that’s where a team of health professionals can really help people be successful.”

Young couldn’t agree more.

“Obesity is a condition. For me, a meal plan is like the instructions on a pill bottle. This program has been my prescription to managing my condition.”

Since his weight loss, Young’s leg pain is completely gone, he has more energy and has felt more productive at work and in life.

Through one-on-one and group education, the Adult Bariatric Specialty Clinic provides counselling for nutrition, physical activity and mental health, teaching tools and techniques like food journalling, meal planning, understanding calorie intake and promoting activity.

In addition to weight management education, the clinic also supports those undergoing bariatric surgery as a treatment for severe obesity. There are five Adult Bariatric Specialty Clinics across Alberta, located in Medicine Hat, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.

Young says he will never consider himself cured of obesity; he realizes it will be a lifelong commitment to managing his health.

He also doesn’t consider himself done at the clinic quite yet as he continues to attend monthly support group meetings as often as he can.

“It is nice that I can now go back and help inspire other people in their weight loss journey,” he says.

For more information on weight management service in your area, talk to your family doctor, visit www.albertahealthservices.ca or call Health Link Alberta at 1-866-408-5465.