Since the age of 12, Rafael Maldonado remembers weighing more than others kids his age.
"My Latino background was a big factor in my eating disorder," recalled Rafael. "Puerto Rican families cook with incredible flavor and seasoning and it was very hard for me to turn down a meal or not ask for seconds."
By the age of 21, 5'1" Rafael weighed 270 pounds. He decided to try a few diets and started working out at a local gym.
Success Was Always Temporary
After eight years of on-and-off training and trying a variety of diets, Rafael weighed close to 300 pounds. He moved to Connecticut with hopes of changing his lifestyle. With help from a health coach, he lost 45 pounds in six months. He also met his future wife, who lived in Pennsylvania. Things were changing for the better.
Discovering Gastric Bypass Surgery
At age 30, Rafael got married and a soon after became a father.
"That is when I began to think about my long-term health and being able to do things with my son as he grows," said Rafael.
After his wife shared some information on gastric bypass surgery, he made the decision to move forward with the procedure.
"I trained myself to think of only positive results. I left no room in my mind for doubt," said Rafael. "That was the most important part of the entire process in my opinion."
The staff at LG Health Physicians Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery gave him all the information he needed to succeed. Their detailed explanations, experience, and step-by-step coaching was key. Rafael had motivation and knowledge, along with support from friends, family, and a support group. He lost 40 pounds before surgery.
Hungry for Knowledge, Not Snacks
"My surgery was successful; everyone involved was pleasant and very accommodating," recalled Rafael.
At home, self-control was key. Living with a four-year-old meant snacks were often available.
"I give a lot of credit to my wife for helping me stay strong throughout the transition," said Rafael.
Rafael was disciplined to stick with the meal plan his dietitian provided, and stayed motivated at the gym. He says he became hungry for new ways to train instead of hungry for junk food.
At 165 pounds, he feels like a new person.
"Everything in my life has improved and I am so happy I chose to get this surgery," said Rafael. "I learned how to believe in myself and reach any goal I set. Self-confidence is no longer an issue. I wake up in the morning with energy I never knew existed. Looking in the mirror and actually seeing results is a dream come true. Going to the gym is no longer something I fit into my schedule; it is something I schedule the rest of my day around."