Weight Loss Tool

Bariatric Surgery: Discovering the Weight Loss Tool that Worked For Me

May 15, 2019

I have been at war with my weight since birth. I struggled with every diet you can imagine, only to lose, gain it back and often add more weight in the process. It has been a vicious cycle.

My ah-ha moment came at a point where it should have been a happy moment. I was vacation-bound at the airport, preparing for take-off. The airplane was overbooked, and they seated me in an emergency exit row. As the plane was preparing for take-off, I realized that my seatbelt didn’t fit.

I asked the flight attendant for a seatbelt extender. She approached another flight attendant, whispered something to her, went into the cabin, and the plane literally came to a stop. She approached me again and explained that FAA regulations stated that a person who needs a seatbelt extender is not permitted to sit in an emergency exit row. The flight attendant asked a young lady sitting across from them to change seats with me.

But the young woman’s father began arguing with the flight attendant asking why his daughter had to move. This argument went on for a few minutes, and then the flight attendant whispered to the gentlemen why his daughter was asked to change seats with me. He eventually agreed but looked at me with such disgust, and I could feel my heart sink.

I wanted to cry at that point and felt helpless.

What was supposed to be a happy family vacation turned into a nightmare, or so I thought at the time. It wasn’t until later that this nightmare moment proved to be a blessing in disguise!

Getting Healthy for the Second Half of My Life

After arriving home, I started making serious inquiries about having bariatric surgery; I never wanted to experience anything else like that ever again.

My search brought me to Dr. Seun Sowemimo’s office here in New Jersey in May 2017. Dr. Seun explained the surgery and what to expect in great detail. Then and there, I decided to make the change in my life and go forward with gastric sleeve weight loss surgery in July.

I knew at that moment for my surgery to be successful, I would have to prepare myself mentally, emotionally, and physically.

I spent the next two months evaluating all aspects of my life. I searched deep inside to understand specifically why I wanted to undergo surgical weight loss. I started to eat mindfully and began a food journal to keep myself accountable.

Not surprisingly, the healthier food choices I chose, the better I began to feel about myself. Using visualization, I saw how my life might be without the burden of weight and obesity. I saw an active, confident woman, which was a vision I certainly did not see before my gastric sleeve.

Ultimately, the surgery could be the conduit to living a healthier, happier life.

Overcoming Resistance and Moving Forward

Once I decided this was the right path for me, I encountered some roadblocks along my journey. Some people close to me didn’t understand my choice. They didn’t understand how this weight loss choice would be different from the countless others I had tried over the course of my life.

I often say that having bariatric surgery was the best decision of my life, and it was. I have lost 110 pounds, but more importantly, I have gained my love for life back.

Since my weight loss began, I’ve developed a love for exercise. Keep in mind; I went from sitting on a couch to training for my first half marathon this April. (Did I just say that?)

 “Barbara has a soft shell and a hard core, the personification of determination. (She’s been running 5Ks every week through the winter!) I’m proud to be on her team.” - Dr. Seun Sowemimo

If I Can Exercise, Anyone Can Exercise

My advice is to find something you love to do. Try many different forms of exercise and give them a chance. You never know what you may end up loving.

weight loss success

I discovered a love of running. It provides me with a sense of mental clarity and an amazing feeling of accomplishment. Last year, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and as part of my New Year’s resolution, I’m trying a new class at the gym every month. Some I loved, some not so much, but it was a great experience.

After Losing 110 Pounds, I Look at Food Differently

I have recently started to incorporate more of a whole food plant-based diet into my life because regular exercise is only part of the equation for living a healthy lifestyle.

To be successful, one must incorporate exercise, healthy eating, and a positive mindset.

Life is a balance.

I’m teaching myself how to cook using healthier options; I try new recipes with new ingredients all the time. Just like the classes at the gym, there have been recipes I really enjoy and others not so much.

But I’m expanding my horizons in every aspect of my life. If I want my body to perform at optimal levels, I need to feed it properly.

Weight Loss Success is Also a Mind Game

This leads me to my final attribute for weight loss success - keeping a positive mindset. Just as I make healthier choices with food and exercise, I also read positive affirmations daily.

I remind myself I am worth it, because I am.

Persevering through the resistance of some people in my life, I prepared myself for what was ahead, with my eye on the goal of health, not just weight loss.

I have allowed nothing to distract me. As I started to lose weight and become more active, others began to look at me for inspiration and encouragement, a compliment I had never experienced before.

Having just reached age 50, I am happier and healthier than I have ever been in my life. Best of all, I have more energy than I did when I was in my 20s.

I wish the event on the plane never happened, believe me, but today I understand it was a way to launch this journey of a lifetime.


Barbara Vargas is a weight loss surgery patient of Dr. Seun Sowemimo at Prime Surgicare. She had VSG surgery in July of 2017 and has lost 110 pounds. Barbara is a passionate advocate of proper nutrition, exercise, and support following weight loss surgery. Since her surgery, she has discovered a love of running and has finished numerous 5k runs and plans to be in many more!