Byron Franz struggled with his weight most of his life. He tried different diets, played sports, walked in the hills and skied through the winters—but the extra weight was hard on his body. “Every time I would try to exercise to lose weight, I wound up getting injured,” Byron explained, making it nearly impossible for him to keep moving. He even lost sixty pounds on his own once, only to regain it and a little more. “I was never able to really have an effective long-term weight loss.”
At 270 pounds, about 100 pounds over a healthy weight for his height of six feet, he was borderline diabetic, seeing a specialist for a lipid disorder and taking high-dose statins for his cholesterol. He knew something had to change.
“I sat there and looked at all the problems that I had and, really, the root cause of all my problems was the fact that I was 100 pounds overweight,” Bryon said. “I was like, I can either ignore all those problems, ignore my weight, or I can fix my weight and . . . all these things will get better.”
As a registered nurse working for St. Luke’s, he knew about bariatric surgery, but for many years he hesitated to do it—for many of the same reasons that others wait. “I would say that some people feel embarrassed that they have to have the surgery,” Byron said, including him. But once he began telling others about wanting to try surgery, he encountered nothing but support.
In October of 2016, Byron opted to have the sleeve gastrectomy, which limits the amount of food he can take in. “You’re opting to have this one surgery and, yes, it’s a surgery,” Bryon said, “but in the long-term you have to say this could be saving me a total joint replacement, a lifetime of diabetes, a lifetime of medical problems and, potentially, many surgeries.”
Today, at 55 years old, he has lost that 100 pounds and feels better than ever. He focuses on the quality of the food he eats, rather than the quantity, which was where he often had trouble. Lifestyle changes, too, are key components of his success. “You can’t just have the surgery and then lay there and expect to magically get better,” Byron explained. “You still have to embrace the whole foundation of better health, which is diet and exercise.”
As he sees it, “A sleeve is a tool in your tool chest, but you’ve still got to do some work on your own.”
For anyone considering bariatric surgery, he says the first step is definitely finding that support system—people who will encourage you on your weight loss journey. After that, it is about embracing the program. “If you do your part, the doctors will do their part, and you will be successful.”
Today, “My health is 180 degrees better,” Byron said. His only regret is that he didn’t have the surgery sooner.