Bike Trekking After Bariatric Surgery
Auburn, Calif., June 17, 2009 - Shawn Cullen is preparing for his second four-day NorCal AIDS Challenge bike ride, a more than 300 mile trek beginning May 14 and ending May 17. Two years ago he wouldn’t have been able to participate due to weight and health issues. But after undergoing bariatric, or weight loss surgery, and losing 110 pounds, Cullen was able to ride his bike again and begin training for long-trek rides.
Like many who struggle with obesity, Cullen tried various diets and exercise plans throughout this life. "I had some success," he said. "But the results wouldn’t last." In addition to his size, Cullen had been dealing with other health issues including gouty arthritis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Cullen’s family medicine doctor referred him to Bariatric Surgeon, Jeffrey Jenkins, M.D., medical director of the Sutter Bariatric Center in Auburn.
Before Cullen underwent the surgery, Dr. Jenkins advised him to find an enjoyable activity to pursue that he could continue after the surgery. Reflecting on how much he used to like bicycling Cullen decided to give his bike a whirl. Prior to the surgery he attempted a 20-mile ride that left him huffing and puffing and very sore. "It was such a chore to make that ride," he said.
Even after the surgery it took a while to build his strength and stamina. After practicing numerous short rides he began riding his bicycle to work and back, a little over 100 miles round trip. Then Cullen started participating in bike rides---his first benefited MS; his next one was for fun—The Waves to Wine ride, which was 175 miles from San Francisco to Healdsburg.
Although bariatric surgery worked well for Cullen, he advises that this type of surgery is not a short cut for weight loss. He explains that it’s a tool and that with a commitment to a lifestyle change to eat healthier and to exercise, this tool will work successfully.
"The decision to have weight loss surgery involves significant life changes," said Dr. Jenkins. "Long-term success depends on permanent changes in diet, fitness and emotional well-being. Support for changes to diet and exercise should be part of a patient’s weight loss program."
Cullen also says that people considering bariatric surgery don’t have to exercise as much as he does; exercising moderately for about 30 to 40 minutes a day is fine. For the past 11 months, Cullen has been able to maintain his weight goal and says he’d choose the surgery again in a minute.
He no longer needs medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol, and his gouty arthritis is under control. In addition, as a firefighter he can now work longer and harder in adverse conditions. "I really feel good about myself these days," said Cullen. "I enjoy my new lifestyle and I’m much happier from having had the surgery."