The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 23, 2013

Bariatric surgery and obesity support group being formed

By Brandi Underwood
Register-Herald Reporter

— Current, past and prospective bariatric, or weight-loss, surgery patients, as well as any individuals interested in learning about basic dietary needs and nutrition, are invited to participate in a newly developed bariatric surgery and obesity support group.  

The group’s first meeting will be held Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the West Virginia Vascular Institute, located on the second floor of the ARH Southern West Virginia Clinic, 250 Stanaford Road, Beckley.

Meetings will be led by Tammy Sauls, a family nurse practitioner with Matrix Medical Network. Sauls said she realized the need to form a support group after seeing many people undergo bariatric surgery only to lose weight and later gain it back.

As a bariatric surgery patient herself, Sauls is no stranger to the struggles that accompany weight loss.

“I want to help people develop diet plans that they can stick to,” Sauls said, after citing the confusion often caused by doctor’s instructions to follow rigid, measurement-based diets.

Sauls has 12 years of nursing experience, including two master’s degrees, one master’s earning the distinction of family nurse practitioner and the second in nursing administration and education.

She is currently finishing her doctorate in nursing practice. Her capstone project focuses on long-term weight loss maintenance after bariatric surgery.

“Since there’s such a stigma associated with obesity, people can get discouraged easily,” said Sauls. “But we have to eat to live. My goal is to help educate people so they can better help themselves.”

Sauls plans for the group to meet once a month and is also planning to involve the help of a local chef and dietitian to supply recipes and further healthy eating education.

She also said that family members and friends are encouraged to attend the meetings with participants.

“In order to lose weight and keep it off, people have to commit to a lifestyle change,” said Sauls. “That’s why I believe that family support is so important in those situations.”

Any doctor or medical professional interested in working with or sharing education with the group, as well as anyone with questions about the group should contact Sauls at 304-222-1752 or tsauls@yahoo.com.

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com