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Healthy You

Putting Diane First: How I Lost 40 Pounds and Kept It Off

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 1:34 PM

By Diane Helin

There are few things I enjoy more than taking long walks in the woods, making English toffee, during the holidays, and rocking out to heavy metal music.

But one thing always held me back from truly feeling good: my weight. 

Weighing in at 210lbs, I knew I needed to do something to improve my health. I tried every diet I encountered and, even with a strict workout routine, I still couldn’t shed the weight. I felt like I was stuck on an endless plateau until I learned about the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty. It was life-changing.

I had the procedure two years ago at NorthShore and I’ve lost 40 pounds. It gave me a new wave of energy and a renewed drive to do better.

Before image of Diane kayaking:

Diane Helin before

Unexpected Ease

Dr. Michael Ujiki and his team truly wanted to work with me to improve my health. Everyone was supportive, upbeat and optimistic, which kept me on a positive track before and after the surgery. I knew I could trust Dr. Ujiki after seeing the incredible results my friend achieved under his care.

I had no idea how easy the procedure would be. I was in and out of the hospital within hours. Other than some slight nausea when I woke up from the anesthesia, I felt great the same day. And the best part? No scar! 

Dr. Ujiki put me on a full liquid diet the first two weeks after the procedure and then soft foods the next two weeks. Before the surgery, I could eat a whole pizza before I felt full. Now, I’m satisfied after one or two slices.

Proactive Power 

Diane Helin portrait

I’ve learned that sustained weight loss is not a one-and-done. Dr. Ujiki explained that it’s a combination of surgery, diet, and exercise that leads to success in the long term. That philosophy paid off, as I’ve already lost 40 pounds and I’m still going strong.

Now I meticulously pre-plan all of my meals to ensure I get three to four ounces of protein and half a cup of vegetables or fruit with each meal. One of my favorite hobbies is baking for my friends and family. My secret weapon is using teeth whitening strips to resist the temptation to lick the spoon or eat the dough.

I love doing Pilates, ab challenges, and especially yoga. I get in my steps by walking in the woods, around art museums, and I burn extra calories when I'm belting out the lyrics to my favorite songs by High on Fire, even at 58 years old.

I love the way I look, I love the way I feel, and I love the ability I have to do more. It's a lot easier to do a burpee now than it was when I was 210 pounds. Everything is easier; and because of that, I am happier now than ever before.

(Image to the right: After image of Diane feeling good!)