John Stoffa was in constant pain. At 6 feet 1 inch and 379 pounds, he had difficulty operating heavy equipment at his job. Stoffa also couldn’t go fishing or hunting, or walk his beagle, Sparky. After applying for disability and being denied, the Drums resident was left with one option: weight-loss surgery.
In August 2015, Stoffa, now 51, met with the weight-loss surgery team at Lehigh Valley Physician Group (LVPG) Surgery–Health & Wellness Center, which includes registered dietitian Molly Sweeney. “I see weight-loss surgery candidates to help them begin changing their lifestyle habits,” Sweeney says. “I help them learn to eat slower, eliminate foods they aren’t allowed after surgery and increase their physical activity.”
Exceeding new goals
One of the first goals Sweeney shared with Stoffa inspired him. “Molly told me to lose 5 pounds before our next meeting the following month,” Stoffa says. “I lost 20.” “Actually, 26 pounds. I’ll never forget that. He went above and beyond what I expected,” Sweeney says.
His inspiration was twofold – his insurance company wouldn’t approve the procedure without pre-surgery weight loss, and he was inspired by what he heard at the program’s weight-loss surgery support group meetings. One man in the group lost 150 pounds on his own before having surgery. “All he did was listen to advice from a registered dietitian. I thought, if he can do that, so can I,” Stoffa says.
Lose weight without surgery
Stoffa continued attending the weight-loss support meetings, but with a different goal in mind. He focused on exchanging old eating habits for newer, healthier ones:
- Instead of drinking 12 gallons of sweet tea every other week, Stoffa now drinks 120 ounces of water every day.
- When he wants a snack at night, he reaches for apples and pears instead of chips and ice cream.
- When wife Patricia wants pizza, he joins her but with a twist. “I used to eat six slices of pizza. Now I have a big salad first and then enjoy one slice.”
Those changes added up to significant weight loss. “Once I lost 75 pounds, I realized I could lose weight without surgery,” Stoffa says.
Today he’s a new man
Stoffa’s new job as a property manager for a home rehab business keeps him moving. He’s also back to hunting – walking five miles on each trip – and fishing for smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River in spring. Dog Sparky now gets three-mile walks.
Overall, he’s lost 139 pounds and hopes to lose 20 more. The dramatic weight loss causes people to take a second look. “They say, ‘Oh, you got the surgery,’ and I reply, ‘No, I didn’t,’ then I give them Molly’s card. She changed my life.”