My Patients


Personal Stories

Lisa D - San Diego, CA



ecember 6, 2010 will be a date that I will always remember…as that date was the beginning of my NEW life.

Growing up, I don’t really remember having any weight issues, however, I was VERY active. I walked to and from school and we had a swimming pool in our back yard, so I spent a lot of time in it. I also grew up in a different generation than now - I was always playing outside…hiking the canyons, climbing trees, skating, and biking. With that being said, I did have eating issues. My family ate all the time. Our family time was always based around eating events. And it was never healthy type foods - lots of sweets and high fat type items.

Then in my twenties…I continued to eat the same way, however, my exercise lacked, to say the least. I also injured my lower back and required two surgeries, so I spent almost two years on the couch and/or in bed, as that was the only comfortable position for me at the time. And of course, I was feeling very sorry for myself, so I ate everything in sight to feel better. All that really did was make me feel worse, because I gained a lot of weight. I really hated being told that I had “such a pretty face!”

Then the denial set in…it got to the point that I didn’t even want to know what my current weight was and I would never step on to the scale. I would start my diet in the morning and by the afternoon I was off and eating whatever I wanted…again! It felt like I had lost all self-control! It also seemed as though my friends and family always wanted to go out to eat, because that was our way of having a good time and a visit. It always centered around food.

One day, I just woke up and told myself that enough was enough! I had to do something about my situation. I was tired of the way I looked in photos and all the teasing about my weight gain. All my joints hurt all the time, even during rest. I was also tired of all the constant doctor appointments and overnight stays in the hospital, as I had developed very high blood pressure, anxiety issues, acid reflux, sleep apnea, swollen joints, and diabetes. I felt as though my former healthy life had disappeared and I didn’t know myself anymore. What had happened to me?!

After much research, I consulted with Dr. Julie Ellner. Dr. Ellner spent a lot of time with me discussing my situation, my lifestyle and what I needed out of an operation. She told me what I could expect out of the different operations and we decided that gastric bypass surgery was the best option for me.

On December 6, 2010, I finally had the surgery and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as what I had expected. Like any other surgery, the first couple of days were rough, but after the first week, I felt like I was a new woman. I had read Dr. Ellner’s “Toolkit”, which is the outline of how the surgery and recovery goes, and what to expect on a daily basis in the hospital. This is a really important book to have on hand – it had the answers to my questions as well as the outline of what I was going to have to do after surgery to be successful. I recommend that everybody read this! I have lived by her guidelines and have followed the directions to the letter and let me tell you this – it works.

I believe my heaviest weight was 285 lbs. and today I weigh in at 140 lbs. I lost my weight in approximately seven (7) months. This is faster than most people lose the weight and I attribute my success to the fact that I really committed to doing everything she told me to do. I went to all of my appointments and asked lots of questions along the way – after all, that’s what Dr. Ellner is there for! She always says that “no one knows naturally how to use the surgery” so that’s why it’s important to go and sit down with her every month to make sure you stay on track. Whether you talk on the phone or see her in person, getting personal coaching on how to use the surgery properly is the most important part of success!

I found that exercise was no longer painful, so I worked out, every day, for about 2 to 3 hours and I followed Dr. Ellner’s plan to the tee! I know that many people don’t have the schedule to be able to spend that much time exercising, but I was lucky enough to be able to do that, so my weight came off faster than most other people. I know it may sound daunting to many people who have been heavy all their lives to exercise that much, but trust me, when something goes from being painful to being fun, the time flies.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean plodding away in the gym, either. Lots of people take up hiking and other outdoor activities. Those things all become possible after weight loss. It’s great to have so many options for how to spend my time! It seems like nothing is impossible anymore.

So, I’m not only smaller in size, I’m also healthy. It’s almost as though before surgery, my body had forgotten what it was like to feel strong, confident and PAIN FREE. Because of all of this, I was able to return to my full time employment. This means that I can’t exercise 2-3 hours a day anymore, but I can maintain my healthy weight now with much less effort. On the weekends, my husband and I really enjoy hiking in our local mountains. This is something that I could not enjoy before surgery, because my weight and overall poor health not only made my joints hurt, but I would also feel like I was having a heart attack! I am at last able to again do the things that I did when I was a young girl – I can’t express how happy that makes me. My next goal is to go rock climbing…I just have not found the time yet, but I will!

In closing, day to day is still a continuing commitment. I do weigh myself almost every day, I drink a lot of water, I walk every day and try to hike on the weekends, and most importantly, I watch what I eat. You do hear of gastric bypass patients gaining weight back, however, that WILL NOT BE ME!!! I will not be one who falls off track with eating and exercise, after coming all this way! I have learned from Dr. Ellner that it takes an ongoing lifetime.

commitment to keep it all working right. I made this commitment to myself and I have the surgery and Dr. Ellner to help me maintain my success.


If anyone wishes to contact me, please feel free to email me, or find me on Dr Ellner’s Facebook page