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A Bariatric Success Story: Nicole Lamonica Shares How She Stayed Active During the Pandemic

December 4, 2020

When I was at my highest weight – which was around 459 pounds – I was emotionally and physically drained. I felt like I couldn’t do anything; when I wasn’t working, I just sat around. None of the diet programs I tried were sustainable. I was unmotivated, and I was at my wit’s end.

I knew I needed to make a change. More than anything, I wanted to get healthier for my kids – to be able to play with them and keep up with them again.

A close friend of mine had weight-loss surgery with Dr. Louis Balsama and spoke highly of him and the process, so I decided to give it a try. I was afraid, at first, but if I would’ve known how easy it was going to be for me, I would’ve done it years ago.

I had my surgery in July 2018, and I’ve lost nearly 200 pounds so far.  

My state of mind has been completely different ever since. I’m constantly trying to stay active, hydrated, and properly nourished, which my dietitian, Christine Arroliga, taught me all about. There were so many things I was doing wrong before – like drinking soda instead of water and not eating enough vegetables – but she never made me feel ashamed.

I typically go to the gym five days a week. My 6-year-old daughter, Giavanna, loves to go with me (she sits in daycare, of course), and it’s wonderful to have that support.

I was doing my best and feeling great; however, no weight-loss journey is seamless. My biggest setback was an emergency spinal surgery, which made it difficult to stay on track. Eventually, I got back to my normal exercise routine, but then the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in gym closures. I had to persevere and find an alternative; I couldn’t go back to sitting around again.

I started to walk in the park and around my parent’s neighborhood – my daughter by my side on her scooter. When summer hit, we spent entire days swimming in my parent’s pool, which was not only enjoyable, but a great form of full-body exercise. Now, for the time being, I’m back to the gym.

Every single day, I set goals for myself. Some days, I have stricter expectations, and on other days, I allow myself to cheat. Weight-loss isn’t about deprivation, it’s about moderation. If you’re not realistic and kind to yourself, you won’t succeed.

It’s also important to have a strong support system; in addition to my daughter, my sons, Dominick and Robert, my mom, Anna, and my niece, Amber, have all been so encouraging and helpful.

If you’re hesitant to have the surgery, do your research and weigh all the “pros and cons.” There are always possible side effects, but everyone’s body works differently. Before deciding, meet with a bariatric surgeon first to discuss whether or not surgery is right for you.

Dr. Balsama is the most caring, down-to-earth doctor I’ve ever met. He spends as much time with you as you need and clearly explains the process, not just in technical terms. Plus, his staff is easy to work with; any questions you have, they answer right away. You’re not left waiting. If I had to do it all over again, I’d come back to Jefferson.

To read more bariatric success stories like Nicole's, and for more information on bariatric surgery at Jefferson Health New Jersey, click HERE.