GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Paul and Aimee Koenig from the Kiln had been struggling with weight gain for the past ten years, and they finally decided to try a new approach to weight loss. They turned to Garden Park Medical Center's weight loss surgeons for help.
It has been just over six months since the two opted for gastric sleeve bypass surgery. Since then they've lost a combined 152 pounds.
"I lost 80 pounds in seven months; and there has been a lot of shopping for new clothes," Aimee said.
The weight loss has made a dramatic difference not only in their appearance, but more importantly in the way they feel. Paul says he feels so much younger.
"I'm a whole different person. I feel better than I have in 25 years."
Those words are music to the ears of weight loss surgeon Dr. Don Balder, who performed the surgery at Garden Park on Aimee in October, and Paul in December.
"It's the most rewarding job. I get to watch the metamorphosis. They look younger, feel younger, and their health problems have melted away with their excess weight," Dr. Balder said.
Paul's health problems before the weight loss were numerous and serious; everything from high cholesterol and high blood pressure to sleep apnea.
"My goal wasn't necessarily weight loss. At 40, I was taking six or seven pills a day and my goal was to get off the medicine."
And he reached that goal. After losing 72 pounds, he no longer takes those six pills every day, and he doesn't have sleep apnea.
Aimee's goal was to lose weight. She says she started struggling with weight gain about the time she hit her 30s, and had tried every diet you could imagine. At 39, she was ready for a major change.
"You hear people saying they're sick and tired; well I was tired of feeling sick and tired," she remembered. "My weight held me back; kept me from doing things with my children."
Dr. Balder says patients add years to their lives with weight loss, and for those with more than 75 pounds to lose, surgery is often the best option. He says the laparascopic sleeve procedure they had is probably the most common weight loss surgery performed today.
"It involves taking out 90 percent of the stomach permanently, the floppy part of the stomach that controls hunger."
Balder says like the Koenigs, almost 90 percent of his patients lose their excess weight in about six months.
The Koenigs say thanks to the weight loss surgery, they're healthier, happier, and more active.
"It inspired me to be healthier," Aimee said. "I watch a lot less TV and I'm outdoors a lot more."
Paul says it has already changed their lives in a big way.
"It's a good feeling; feeling good and having energy, being able to go do things with our children and not being tired anymore."
The Koenigs say this is a lifestyle change for them. They still have to work at it by eating healthier and exercising, but they say the weight loss surgery has given them a great start toward a healthier more active life.