Anetra Dexter is a busy woman. With a son who is 11 years old, a daughter who is 9 and 4-year-old twins, it is all she can do to keep up with her kids. These days, she is finding it easier to keep up with her children than she once did. Anetra credits that to being more than 150 pounds lighter following weight loss surgery at North Florida Regional Medical Center.
"I can now do things with my children that I just couldn’t do before because I weighed 298 pounds," Anetra says. "Now, I can go for long walks with the children and even play basketball with my son. When we go to places like Busch Gardens, I can actually get on the rides with my children. I feel great."
Anetra’s gastric banding surgery was performed laparoscopically by surgeon Timothy Hipp at North Florida Regional Medical Center in March 2008. She has since reached her goal weight of 140 pounds. She wears a size 6 in clothes and now works only to maintain her weight.
When I was younger, I was always on the chunky side," Anetra says. "After I had my children, everything ballooned and got out of control. I made the decision to do something about it, and I am so glad I did."
Anetra says obesity is a problem that is common in her family, and so are the medical conditions that often accompany being overweight – high blood pressure and diabetes. She has lost family members to heart disease and diabetes, and she didn’t want to continue that tradition. Anetra wants to be healthy to take care of her children and be a healthy example to them.
"What I love now is that people look at me as an example of what is possible," says Anetra. "I have had many chances to talk to people and give them encouragement and hope that they can get rid of the weight and live a healthy life."
Anetra says she also reminds those who are considering gastric banding for their weight loss surgery that – although the procedure offers great chances of success, it still represents a commitment for them.
"The band won’t do it all by itself," Anetra says. "You have to work and do your part by watching what you eat and how much and becoming active. If you do your part, it works. It can change your life. It changed mine."