Laura's Weight Loss Surgery: Dietitian's Journey

Dr. Christopher McGowan
June 14, 2021

While the twists and turns of life can be unexpected and challenging, sometimes they take us right where we were need to be. Nothing could be truer for Laura Sebring, MS, RD, LDN, bariatric and weight loss dietitian and nutritionist at True You Weight Loss. Her very own weight loss journey, after a vertical sleeve gastrectomy in 2013, not only helped her lose 91 pounds but it also led her to a new career and a new level of health and happiness that she never thought possible before.

“I started struggling with my weight around age 15,” Laura explained. “My mother prepared healthy meals and rarely kept junk food in the house, but I started eating too much and didn’t know how to control my intake.”

By the time Laura went off to college, all bets were off. She gained 20 pounds by eating what she wanted, when she wanted, from Oreos and pizza, to diet soda and dining hall buffets.  Laura even stopped eating fruits and vegetables entirely. A few years later, she got married and joined her new husband in his favorite pastime—eating out.

“We dined out a lot, which led to even more weight gain,” remembered Laura. “Then, I had my first baby and gained 50 more pounds. Those were pounds that I just couldn’t lose.”

The birth of another child followed by divorce led to more weight gain, and when she hit a body mass index (BMI) of 40, she knew that she had to do something. While obesity did not run in Laura’s family, dangerous health conditions such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes did. She tried many different weight loss strategies, including the ready-made meal diets and a physician-assisted weight loss program, but nothing worked with long-lasting results. 

“I was in that frustrating cycle—ignoring my weight gain for a while, then trying to start somewhere with dieting, then failing, stopping, and starting again,” explained Laura. “No one could offer me the nutritional guidance I really needed. Then, a friend told me she was considering weight loss surgery, and I was motivated to do the same.”

laura sebring
Laura Sebring

Not only did Laura go through with her surgery, but she was also finally able to lose the weight and create a healthy new life for herself. She was also inspired to go back to school and start a new career as a bariatric weight loss nutritionist, helping others to understand the weight loss process and supporting them on their individual journeys. Here are a few things Laura has learned along the way—straight from the nutritionist herself! 

  1. It’s Not a Quick Fix: Between Laura’s personal life and supporting her many patients’ journeys, she is well aware of the commonly held belief that weight loss surgery is “taking the easy way out.” She explains that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Any weight loss procedure requires a personal commitment and a dedication to the journey. Regardless of which path you choose, it’s not an easy fix. There are physical, social, and financial considerations to think about. In Laura’s case, she had to undergo 12 months of testing before receiving approval for her weight loss surgery. This included a psychiatric clearance, a cardiac clearance, a gastrointestinal clearance, an ultrasound of her gallbladder and liver, sleep study, a stress test, and a liver reduction diet. 

While none of these hoops are needed for the procedures offered by True You Weight Loss, Laura notes that it still requires the same commitment—particularly after the procedure when the real work begins of changing your habits for the long-haul. “Patients have to know what they want and be willing to stay the course in order to be successful,” Laura concludes.

  • Ongoing Nutrition Counseling is Key: At her bariatric surgeon’s office, Laura was paired with a staff nutritionist who guided her throughout her entire journey. She credits her nutritionist and ongoing nutrition follow-up sessions with inspiring her to keep going and even to eventually enroll in graduate school to become a bariatric nutritionist herself.

“I’m not just a dietitian to my patients. I’m their cheerleader, I hold them accountable, I encourage and inspire them, and give them ideas when they’re not getting the results they want. It’s an incredible career, and I’m so thankful to be able to help patients find themselves again. I’m living proof that they can be successful, and that is powerful for both my patients and me.”

  • It’s Ok to Be Open About Your Procedure: Laura tells all of her patients, friends, and family members about her surgery and how it helped her lose the weight. She knows getting the help you need through having a weight loss procedure is nothing to be ashamed of.

“I want people to know that weight loss procedures can help patients end the cycle of failed dieting,” explained Laura. “I have been through it all, and I understand the frustration. For me, having the procedure was finally the answer.” She adds, “Those who haven’t personally battled obesity can fully grasp what we’ve been through, and they don’t have to understand why we made the choice to have a procedure. It’s your choice alone, and you don’t have to explain yourself, but you can still be honest about your decision.”

  • The One-Year Mark is Not the End: Laura did not reach her goal weight until three and a half years after her surgery, and during that time, she never stopped putting in the work. 

“Don’t be discouraged if you do not reach your goal weight at the one-year mark post-surgery. It took you a lot longer than a year to put on the weight, so there is nothing ‘magical’ about that one-year date. I want others to know that there is no deadline—keep eating right, exercising, and doing everything you need to reach that goal,” said Laura. “It will come eventually, so don’t give up on yourself.”

  • Focus on Off-Scale Victories (Rather Than Pounds Lost): Laura feels healthier and happier today than she has in a very long time. As a bariatric nutritionist for True You, she continues to follow her own nutrition guidance and enjoys educating her patients on how to do the same. Laura knows that off-scale victories are often more powerful than the actual weight loss—having more energy, confidence, better overall health, enthusiasm, and freedom to do things you couldn’t do before are all great examples.

“I am not perfect, and I know that I am not at my ideal body weight. But that’s okay,” Laura reflected. “I’m now at a healthy weight, and since my health is better than it was before, it was all totally worth it for me.”

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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