Mario Hernandez accomplished a lot after retiring from the Department of Justice, where he served as a Lieutenant in a federal prison. He had a beautiful wife of 33 years, two children and five grandchildren to dote on. He had good self-esteem and was enjoying life. But watching his weight creep higher on the scales and reflecting on a family history of cardiac disease and diabetes that claimed his mother at age 50, Mario gave himself a reality check and decided to make a big change in his life – one that would give him many more years with the family he loves so much.
“I liked to smoke cigars occasionally, wasn’t working out at all, and didn’t watch what I ate,” he said. “Then I started thinking, I’m a lot like my mother and I don’t want to end up in an early grave. I want to be here for my family.” Hernandez said that it wasn’t a lack of information about diet (his daughter-in-law is a registered dietician) or time to work out. He said it was just laziness on his part and a lack of focus. “At 60, I weighed 297 pounds and I’m 5 foot 6. That isn’t good. So I made the decision to go see Dr. Anthony Wright at Capital Regional Surgical Associates to talk about gastric bypass surgery.” After meeting with Dr. Wright and finding that he was a candidate for a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, Mario was referred to the Bariatric Center at Capital Regional Medical Center for counseling in preparation for the procedure. “Through the center I received good education about how to take better care of myself,” he said. “I also started an exercise program through the hospital’s Cardiac Wellness Program. Between learning more about nutrition and their supervised exercise program, I lost 20 pounds before I even had the surgery this past April.”
Now, a year after his health improvement journey began at Capital Regional Medical Center, Hernandez has lost nearly 100 pounds and feels great. “The surgery, counseling and exercise program are tools to living a better life, but you also have to work at it,” he said. “I no longer smoke cigars, I still go to the Wellness Center three times a week and I’m eating the way I should. Now when my wife and I go to dinner, we share an entrée rather than ordering two.”
“I’m blessed to have the support of my wife and family and I can’t thank the people at the Bariatric Center and Wellness Program enough,” he said. “Working out with others helps give me incentive to work harder. With the support of family and the professionals at Capital Regional Medical Center, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and see myself as a real success.”
“Instead of worrying about bad health shortening my life, I tell my kids I’m going to live to be 100, or whatever the Good Lord gives me,” he said. “But I’m going to do it in a healthy way.”