Patient Races Towards Weight Loss Goal with the Help of Bariatric Surgery at Crouse Health

Bariatric Patient Erin Felix

Erin Felix was determined to run a marathon before her 40th birthday.

Overweight since childhood, Felix had still always been physically active, says the wife and mother of three from Phoenix, New York. “I feel like I’ve been on a diet all of my life, but I always made sure I was eating the right things and working out. Still, I was considered obese. After having my third daughter, I just could not lose the weight the way I did when I was 20 years old. I had to make a change.”

Five years ago, she started walking — then running — eventually competing in two half-marathons and losing 60 pounds on her own. But, her body hurt so much after each race that she knew she was never going to be able to run a full marathon – 26.2 miles – without losing more weight. However, working a full-time job at the Salvation Army and running a local café with her husband didn’t leave much time for additional training.

In January 2020, she started researching bariatric surgery. “I wanted to see if it was an option for me,” she explained. “The biggest reason I chose Crouse was that they follow you for life. This is a journey. It’s not, ‘Oh, I lost the weight, and it’s just going to stay off forever.’”

Felix and her husband first met with bariatric surgeon Kenneth Cooper, DO, and his team in February 2020. “I already had my mind set that I was ready to do this,” she admitted, “but Dr. Cooper and his team answered all of our questions.”

Unfortunately, just weeks later, COVID-19 shut down elective procedures, so Felix’s surgery was postponed for a year. However, she remained fully committed.

Finally, in March 2021, Felix had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery at Crouse Health. Done laparoscopically with small incisions in the abdomen, the procedure reduces the size of the stomach to a small pouch. This limits the amount of food a person can eat and bypasses part of the stomach and small intestines so fewer fat and calories are absorbed.

After surgery, Felix spent a night in the hospital, where the staff made sure she felt ready to go home. For the next several weeks, she was fatigued and sore but never regretted going through the procedure. Five weeks later, Cooper gave her the OK to start walking again – starting with just one mile. Before long, she had worked her way back to running five mornings a week.

While she had to make some dietary changes after the surgery, Felix says she still enjoys many of the foods she likes —  in limited portions. She continues to work with the nutritionist at Cooper’s office to make sure her high protein diet and hydration level support her running and overall health.

Almost a year-and-a-half after her surgery, Felix has lost 110 pounds (plus the 60 she lost on her own). “I’ve made the choice to meet with Dr. Cooper every four months to make sure I’m staying on track,” she said. “The nurses congratulate me on my progress every time I come into the office.”

“This is the first time in my life that I’ve not been considered obese, and that’s so important to me,” she added. “It doesn’t hurt to run anymore. And, I don’t feel exhausted by the end of the day. I’m able to  do things like attend my daughters’ softball games and mow the lawn. Being able to join in my family’s life is better than any food.”

In March 2022, Felix reached her goal by crossing the finish line at the Myrtle Beach Marathon in South Carolina just short of her 40th birthday this April -– and has a gold medal to prove it.

“I’m already signed up to run another marathon in Syracuse this October,” she said. “This year, my goal is to run 1,000 miles, and right now I’m on track. Next year, I hope to start strength training and compete in a Tough Mudder obstacle event.”

“I’ve never felt better than I do now,” Felix added. “I’m at the prime of my life, and I’m beyond thankful for everything the team at Crouse Health has done to support me in my weight loss journey.”

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