Alex Brecher, founder of BariatricPal, is over a decade-long success with Lap-Band weight loss surgery. In 2003, the same year that I had my gastric bypass surgery, Alex underwent the Lap-Band procedure. At age 27, it took Alex a little more than a year to drop roughly 100 pounds. And he vows to keep it off forever!
Today Alex loves working out at the gym and running the weight-loss surgery community at BariatricPal. Let’s take a look at a day in his bariatric life and how he’s maintained long-term success with Lap-Band.
Alex Brecher’s Success with Lap-Band
My Bariatric Life: Alex, in your words, “I had struggled with my weight my whole life.” What weight-loss approaches did you try before bariatric surgery?
Alex Brecher: You mean, “what didn’t I try?” I tried all the diets, or at least what felt like all of them. I tried enough diets to learn that they worked when I followed them, but I wasn’t able to stay on them long-term…and that’s when the weight would come back, and then some. I knew I couldn’t manage my weight for the rest of my life with those diets.
How did you get to a point where you realized you needed obesity surgery? What research did you do to arrive at the conclusion you’d have success with Lap-Band surgery?
I realized what I was doing wasn’t working. There was no way I’d be able to keep a healthy and happy weight for life by following diets. I also didn’t want to struggle with weight and food for the rest of my life.
I learned about the Lap-Band procedure from a friend. I noticed that he lost a lot of weight, and he told me he had gotten the Lap-Band. After some research, I found a bariatric surgeon who was encouraging and seemed competent, and I got the surgery.
I have the best kids in the world and live for them. It is such a gift to be able to be healthy and enjoy my life with them. Being able to bike with them and go to all of their activities is a huge motivator for me to stay on track with healthy eating and workouts.
You’ve maintained success with Lap-Band for more than a decade. To what do you owe your success?
I owe my success to…
1. My Lap-Band. It is so much easier to eat the right amount and not way too much when you’re not starving – and the Lap-Band helps reduce hunger. It’s also reduced my cravings for junk food. I eat pretty healthy now, and am usually able to pass up foods I know I shouldn’t have.
2. My kids. I have the best kids in the world and live for them. It is such a gift to be able to be healthy and enjoy my life with them. Being able to bike with them and go to all of their activities is a huge motivator for me to stay on track with healthy eating and workouts.
3. My work. I love my work. How many people are lucky enough to be able to work at something they are passionate about? I love BariatricPal and advocating for the weight loss surgery community. It is so rewarding, and also so motivating. Meeting all these dedicated and hard-working and sometimes struggling people inspires me to keep living a healthy lifestyle.
Your surgery was over a decade ago. Thinking back, what were those early years like learning to be healthy? What gets you off track today?
They weren’t too bad. I knew what a healthy lifestyle was. I knew what healthy eating was. I knew what moderation was. I just hadn’t practiced any of those for any length of time. The Lap-Band forced me to do those things, and I got into the habit relatively quickly.
Of course, I had and have my setbacks just like anyone. For me, unexpected events can be the problem. I’m fine in daily life; I know what to expect, and what I’ll eat, and when I’ll exercise. But sometimes I’ll be with people and all of a sudden I’m faced with too much junk food, and it’s hard to know how to handle those situations. I just do the best I can and try not to worry about it.
I occasionally crave a treat. I’ll wait for a while, maybe a few days or even weeks, to make sure it’s some I really want. If the craving is still there, I give in. I savor it; I don’t consider it a binge. I enjoy every bite, and then get right back on track. I actually find the ability to plan and enjoy treats really empowering compared to pre-Lap-Band, when I was constantly eating too many “treats,” and probably not enjoying them much.
Please give us an idea of a typical day’s menu, including supplements and hydration.
Supplements: I’m not as rigorous about them as maybe I should be.
Hydration: water, water, water. I just keep it with me all the time. I don’t necessarily count the ounces, but I make sure to get enough. I have my patterns: drink in the morning after waking up, before and after workouts, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, etc.
A typical day…three meals, no snacks. This might be a day in my life:
Breakfast: oatmeal, blueberries, Greek yogurt
Lunch: Tuna salad with greens, tuna, olive oil/vinegar dressing, maybe with some add-ons like almonds, garbanzo beans, or shredded cheese. Maybe an apple or orange.
Dinner: Something with protein and vegetables…maybe something plain like chicken breast or a piece of fish with a side of steamed vegetables, or maybe chicken or fish stir fry or fajitas (no tortilla) or a veggie burger. I’ll have a side of starches sometimes, like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta or beans or acorn squash.
If I do have snacks, it’ll be fruit or vegetables usually, maybe with protein like yogurt or cottage cheese or string cheese.
We’ve looked at what you did to address nutrition. What did you do to address body, mind and spirit?
I’m a pretty happy person by nature. I generally see the positive sides of things. To be honest, it’s not that tough when I feel like the luckiest man in the world. I have a wonderful life. I have beautiful, healthy children who make me proud every day.
I am thrilled to be managing my weight. I am always touched whenever people tell me BariatricPal has touched their lives and helped them reach their goals. Even though I don’t do anything specifically for mind and spirit, I just stay positive and keep myself involved in things I love, like being involved in the WLS community and watching my kids grow up.
I also relish the time I spend working out, whether running or lifting weights or doing something else in the gym. The exercise clears my head and keeps me focused.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life