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Published on September 24, 2018

Weight Loss Surgery: Kelly 2.0, New and Improved

Kelly Sutphin

“I have the life I always envisioned for myself, the one I always wanted.”

Last fall, Greensboro residents Kelly Sutphin and Jenny Beale stood on the start line of a 10K race in Las Vegas, clearly astounded by what they had signed up for.

Seeing their emotions, the thousands of other runners there might have wondered: Were they worried about being able to finish? Amazed by the crowd, or the fact they were in Las Vegas? The answer is “no” to each of those questions.

These two relatively new friends were astounded by the fact they were just about to begin a race they would never have considered just 12 months earlier, a time when both had serious weight and health issues. And they were overwhelmed to realize how very far they had come.

“We were holding each other, crying, before the race even began!,” Kelly says. “After thinking for so long that my life would always mean being overweight and unhealthy, I had successfully started things over. I was Kelly 2.0, new and improved!”

How Kelly got to Vegas

Just a year earlier, she would never have considered running to the mailbox, much less this feat, a 6.2 mile road race. Kelly, 38, credits the support of the people with the Cone Health Bariatrics Program for her weight loss, new level of fitness and better health.

For her entire life, she struggled with weight, she says. She would lose 60, then gain 80 back. She developed diabetes and high blood pressure. But she found it hard to find motivation to change, given her lack of success in the past.

So the decision to explore weight loss surgery did not come easily. She looked at several programs close to her before she decided on Cone Health.

“Even with that decision, I signed up three times for their information sessions before I actually made it to one,” she says, laughing. “Once I met the team, that lit a fire under me! It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Though it can be hard, I do not regret one minute of it.”

Jenny Beale Kelly Sutphin

Jenny Beale and Kelly Sutphin, just before running their first 10K

When Kelly enrolled in the Cone Health Bariatrics Program, she shopped for size 24 clothes. Just nine months after surgery, she hit her goal to lose 120 pounds. Today, a slender size 8 fits just fine! More significant to her is how she feels now, compared to then.

“I honestly did not know how miserable I felt with all that weight, until I lost it,” she says. “Before, I had lots of ‘couch time.’ Today, my life is absolutely full.”

One of the biggest helps to changing her eating habits came from the behavioral health therapist on the Cone Health team. “He helped me identify things that cause me to overeat, including stress, and how to handle it differently,” Kelly says.

The Cone Health program also makes ongoing support a big part of the program, she says. “The people at Cone Health are amazing. I loved it every time I met with my physician, my dietitian, and my therapist. They always have a smile and are so encouraging.”

She also attends support group meetings and is active on the group’s Facebook page.

“The things I’ve learned from all the people in the program have become routine,” she says. “Diet and exercise aren’t my whole life. I’m just living life now, in a way I never had before.”

Getting out and living life

Kelly likes being active now. With her new energy and fitness levels, she planned a trip to Europe with her niece last Spring. “We walked 10 miles a day, and I was never sore or exhausted,” she says, with some amazement still.

“I love being in a place in my life where I’m willing to put myself out there, to get to know other people, versus being shut in and not feeling worthy.”

Kelly also has many new friends. Some she has met from new activities, like an adult kickball league, running and a try at paddle boarding. She calls friends from the program, “bari-sisters.” It is these friends who have encouraged her to do so many things she never would have considered before.

“At Christmas 2016, just two months after my surgery, Jenny (Beale) joked with me about running a 10K the next November, in Las Vegas. I laughed it off. ‘This girl doesn’t run!’, I said.” But after seeing Jenny train, Kelly decided to give it a go.

The thought of running over six miles was mind-blowing, she says. But after six months of training, she was ready. And that’s how she found herself at the start line last fall with her now-dear friend.

Paying it forward

“When you make health a priority, life just bets better!,” Kelly says. And she wants others considering bariatric surgery to know that.

She says the Cone Health Bariatric Surgery team helped her get things in order, before and after surgery, so she would succeed. She wants to be part of others’ success, so she still attends the Cone Health support group, which meets twice a month.

“It’s exciting to see people at the start of their journey,” she says. “We all know it’s not the easy way out, and we all struggle at times. But every day, we make good choices. It’s a lot of work, but I want them to know it sure is worth it. And I credit all my bari-sisters and the team at Cone Health for helping me find the life I had envisioned for myself, the one I always wanted.”

To those thinking about bariatric surgery, she says: “It’s going to be worth the work. Cone Health will help you through it.”

See Kelly in her appearance on the “Fox 8 House Call” television segment.

Read about her friend Jenny’s story.

About Cone Health Bariatric Surgery

The Cone Health Bariatric Surgery Program is the only program in the Triad that is recognized as a Center of Excellence by North Carolina’s top four health plans:

    • Aetna Institute of Quality (IOQ) for Bariatric Surgery
    • BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center Plus (+) for Bariatric Surgery
    • Cigna Designated Facility for Bariatric Surgery
    • UnitedHealthcare Center of Excellence for Bariatric Surgery

Stories of Exceptional Care