Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America

Saving lives one grant at a time

RUNNING: AFTER THE GOAL – The LA Marathon is Today go TEAM!


RUNNING: AFTER THE GOAL…by Carlshawn Stovall



For any athlete, the task of running a full marathon, (26.2 Miles) would be a daunting task. However, four Bariatric patients say the challenge is a welcome one. “I thought only crazy people ran marathons,” says Wendy Campbell, age 37. Campbell, who had Lapband surgery in March of 2009, and who since has lost 100 plus pounds, says she was always athletic, but a full marathon always eluded her. “It just wasn’t physically possible before.” After the weight was lost– a new world of physical activity options opened up. Campbell and her group are self described BariAthletes – patients who not only want to be successful in weight loss, but also in athleticism, a field that was not an option to explore until the initial obesity problem was confronted.

Obesity affects 34 percent of adults age 20 and over in the United States, which equals to more than 72 million people. 32.2 percent of American men and about 35.5 percent of American women are obese. Obesity is described as a disease that occurs when an individual’s mass index (BMI) is over 30 or weight is 20 percent or more above normal weight. “Morbid obesity” refers to being more than 100 pounds over normal weight or having a BMI of 40 or greater. “I wasn’t happy with myself anymore,” Wendy says. “I mentally couldn’t handle the physical shape of my body.” Recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 65 percent of all U.S. citizens are overweight. Even worse, the organization has estimated that 30 percent, totaling more than 60 million Americans, are obese. And more than 12.5 million children age 2 to 19 are overweight, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. For the BariAthletes, these facts are true and have been lived firsthand. “At my heaviest, I hit a low point,” says Hua Her, “I had tried every diet and I was exercising, and I would lose weight—but I could never maintain the weight loss.” Hua says weight loss surgery was her last only hope. “If weight loss surgey didn’t work, well, it had to work.” Since undergoing her Lapband surgery in February of 2009, Hua has lost close to 100 pounds, and the March L.A. Marathon will be her second venture into marathon running. “I use to watch Marathons on television, and always dreamed of running one myself. The truth is, before, I didn’t think I could. But I think I’ve always secretly been a strong athlete,” Hua says. Wendy and Hua, along with their partners Joelle and Amy, met each other shortly after all undergoing separate weight loss procedures, respectively, in 2009.

Social media has changed the way bariatric patients receive information both pre and post op. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, have made it simple for patients thinking about the surgery to ask questions. Sites like Youtube, produces thousands of video options when words like “weight loss surgery” or “bariactric” are used in searches. The four women found kindred spirits of inspiration on Youtube. Wendy, who goes by the Youtube moniker “BandedWendy”, has found a community of strong fighters through the site. Those who’s battles were just getting started post op—those looking for the next challenge. Marathon running was it, but not without its reservations. “There was always a fear about running for me,” Hua says, “that low self esteem from being the last kid in every race because of my weight.” Hua, goes by the Youtube channel “Rainsh01“. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” says Joelle Murray, 43. Joelle, who had gastric bypass surgery, has had the idea of running a full marathon for a while. “I use to work out when I was heavy, but realized I wouldn’t be able to run a marathon that way. I’ve lost 130 pounds since the surgery, and I’m not going back—I’m going forward!” For Joelle, participating previously in a half marathon was no discouragement for going the longer distance. Joelle’s YouTube channel is “BypassJo“. “I did the L.A. Half marathon with Hua last year,” Joelle says. “It was tough. Hua finished before me, then came back and found me. She told me to go at my own pace.” And this upcoming full marathon run is, “For the four of us. The four of us who push each other. And for anyone out there who thinks they can’t do it. They can. I can, they can”. “Running makes me stronger,” Hua said, “physically, mentally and spiritually. It builds my self confidence.” The number of weight-loss surgeries performed at California hospitals increased by nearly 7% from 2005 to 2009. Weight loss surgery is a serious surgical procedure that decreases the size of the stomach, reduces food intake and can enable you to lose a significant amount of weight. The permanent procedure requires a lifetime commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Weight loss surgery not only helps you to lose weight, but can help improve your overall health, well-being and self-esteem. There are a variety of different weight loss surgeries to choose from, including the most talked about, Lapband and gastric bypass.
Amy Polozzolo underwent the VSG procedure 3 years ago and her YouTube channel is “AmySDMom“. During the VSG procedure the stomach is restricted by stapling and separating it vertically and removing 85% of it. This part of this particular procedure is not reversible. The stomach that remains is shaped and then measures 1-5 ounces, depending on the surgeon. No matter what the surgery chosen, all four ladies echoed the same previous frustrations about their numerous attempts to lose the weight beforehand. “I just couldn’t keep it off,” Amy says. “I had lost the same 100 pounds four times—over 10 years, never getting to a normal BMI. There’s also a history of weight related health problems in my family, like diabetes. I was already dealing with knee problems.” Amy also points to her daughter as a cause of inspiration, “My daughter is disabled, and it was also hard to chase her around at almost 300 pounds. “ Amy wasted no time in making sure that her new life included fitness. “I started working out as soon as I could.” The idea of running a full marathon was not on her mind in those early moments, “I had tried the Couch 2 5K program with no results before losing 149 pounds. Then I met the girls and they said I could do it.”

Any long distance runner will tell you that a top notch mental game must be played to go for such long runs. This extra focus and energy is almost always associated with athletes preparing physically via food for fuel before a race. Carbs, protein, and more carbs are the usual suggestion for such endurance challenges as marathons. But how does a bariatric patient get those all too important carbohydrates in? There seems to be no real answer, although a few websites claim to have bariathletic nutrition plans, all four ladies say like the results of surgery, their preparations for the marathon in terms of food, are different and varies on the person. “It’s a struggle,” says Hua. “For instance, certain foods just don’t work well with the Lapband, certain foods it can’t tolerate. Trying to find the right nutrition to fuel my body especially as a bariatric patient is challenging. I believe there is a need for more research in regards to nutrition for weight loss surgery patients who have become athletes.” For Amy, “No gluten or sugar.” For Wendy, “I’ve done the carb load thing in the past for preparation runs, and also tried it without. I’m still figuring it out.” While their food for fuel consumption varies, the plan of action in terms of physical prep, starts with literally hitting the ground and running. “It’s hard,” says Joelle, “but the further you go out in terms of distance, it’s like, that’s it.” The group has been meeting on and off for the allotted 18-20 weeks of marathon training. They’ve been meeting everywhere from Downtown Los Angeles, to Oceanside. “Last week we ran from Santa Monica down to Marina Del Rey”, Wendy said. “When I first moved to L.A. from Ohio, I had friends who lived up and down that length. I never imagined one day I’d be able to actually run it.” The training doesn’t stop at just running, says Wendy “I’m doing biking and swimming. Alot of cross training.” Wendy also echoed the groups sentiment when it comes to the importance of this race, as it pertains to the approaching 3rd year of having had weight loss surgery. All the girls hail from the same “class year”. “It’s 3 years out, and it’s a milestone. I want to prove to myself that I can. This is my first full marathon. This is the longest I’ve kept the weight off in my entire life! It’s a milestone for my journey,” Wendy says with pride in her eyes. “I wanted to push myself,” says Amy, “and get healthier along the way.”

Sunday March 18th 2012, the L.A. Marathon will take runners starting from historic Dodger Stadium along a path through Hollywood and on to the beach. No doubt there will be many standout stories and runners with various reasons for their run. The group keeps it in perspective. “5 months ago I started this marathon journey,” Amy says, “and it was Wendy and Hua. They showed me I could by saying, look, we’re doing it, and you can too!” “It really change my life,” Joelle says, mother of 2. “I couldn’t properly exercise when I was heavy. Now, I’m running a marathon.” Wendy and Hua, however, find the marathon experience to be a personal one. “This one is for me, all the way,” relates Hua. “I’m running for me,” Wendy says, “because I can.”

Additional Information: Wendy Campbell is on the National Board of Director’s of the WLSFA. Wendy’s Marathon is also a fundraiser for the WLSFA.
Please consider supporting Wendy with your donation. http://www.crowdrise.com/proofwlsworksyoutube
All funds raised go directly to the WLSFA

The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America is a 501(C)3 Public Charity
If you have questions please contact the WLSFA:
On the web: http://wlsfa.org

Together we are saving lives one grant at a time… Please Join US!

Tagged as: , , , , ,


  1. All of these women are a huge inspiration to me. There is nothing they cannot accomplish. This was a great article.

  2. I continue to be amazed by what can be accomplished when the chains of obesity are broken! Excellent job!!

  3. I’m also from the class of 2009 and gearing up for my first 10 mile, first 1/2 marathons and finally (but not last I’m sure) the Disney full marathon in Jan 2013. I also cross train with rowing crew….all things I would have NEVER imagined doing a few short years ago! Social Media has been a wonderful support. Join our group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/WLSDistanceAthletes/.

  4. These women inspire me to keep running and keep working my tool every single day! I’m so proud of their efforts to be trailblazers for the WLS community into the world of long-distance running.

Leave a Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.