Dr. Montgomery’s Retirement

Dr. Montgomery’s Retirement

In January 2020, Dr. Kevin Montgomery retired after 30 years in medicine!

Dr. Montgomery founded Northwest Weight Loss Surgery (now Northwest Weight & Wellness Center) with his surgeon partner, Dr. Brad Watkins, over 15 years ago. They initially started the bariatric surgery program at EvergreenHealth Medical Center before transitioning into their private practice. They were pioneers in the field offering gastric banding surgery in an ambulatory surgery center instead of a hospital setting. Over time, Dr. Montgomery brought Dr. Michaelson and Dr. Chock on board and they expanded the practice to include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, revisional surgeries, and medical weight loss.

Before his career in medicine began, Dr. Montgomery was a talented ballet dancer! He danced for several ballet companies, including Idaho, Boston and Hartford. He moved to New York City and worked as a massage therapist for ballet companies. An orthopedic surgeon, who shared several mutual clients with Dr. Montgomery, invited him to observe surgery so he could learn more about the muscles and tissues of dancers. It didn’t take long until Dr. Montgomery was assisting in the operating room weekly and developing the foundation of his future surgical career.

Now that he’ll have some spare time, Dr. Montgomery is excited to spend more time with his horses. He owns two reining horses which he rides and shows and he manages a riding stable with nearly 50 horses. His girlfriend, who also enjoys dancing, might even be able to get him back on the dance floor.

Dr. Montgomery has been instrumental in transforming thousands of lives and we are deeply grateful for his contributions. Please join us in wishing him the best in this next chapter of his life.

“It really does change people’s lives. So many medical problems get better with one surgery. You can treat all those conditions with one laparoscopic surgery. It’s phenomenal. That was always the big inspiration.” – Dr. Kevin Montgomery

JoAnn’s Bariatric Success

JoAnn’s Bariatric Success

JoAnn had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in October 2017.

What is the best part about this journey?

How great I feel about myself! My blood pressure is down. I feel ten years younger. My sleep apnea is better. I am off acid reflux medicine. I can walk up and down stairs without huffing and puffing. My ankles and knees don’t hurt anymore. I can fold my arms across my chest and cross my legs easily. Sex is better!! So much better. I can drive my car more comfortably since my belly doesn’t hit the steering wheel. I can paint my toes again. I can use any bath towel in the house; before I had to use those giant bath towels and we only had a couple. I can scratch any part of my back by myself. Since I am not stressing about my weight and appearance anymore, I can use my brain energy to think of other more creative things. I literally have more time to think and focus.

I feel amazing. I have so much energy. I feel like “JoAnn” again.

What has been the hardest part?

The hardest part of my journey was making the decision to do it. I had taken every pill and done every fad diet. When I tried so many times to lose weight and was unsuccessful, I blamed myself. I thought I just hadn’t tried hard enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I had no will power, and I was destined to spend the rest of my life with obesity. I thought if that if I couldn’t do it myself, then surgery would be like a cop-out, like cheating. I thought people would judge me. I thought, “Wow, this is SO drastic. They will be cutting one of my organs and it’s permanent.” I was worried about how painful it would be… would it really work… can I take time off work… how much will this cost me… there are so many appointments… My excuses went on and on.

Getting the support from my family and friends was scary. I thought they would all make fun of me or tell me I was copping out or taking the easy way out. But they backed me and that was comforting. They said, “If you decide to do this, we support you 100%.” I wish I would have done it 10 years earlier. I wasted 10 years because I was so unhappy with myself.

What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?

JoAnn gets a wedding day lift from her boys

A few years ago, I wrote my “dream list” in the back of a notebook. I tried to use positive affirmations in hopes that my dreams would come true someday. Well, recently I found that notebook. I had forgotten about this list although I had dreamed of those things often. My “dream list” was:

  • A crimson Ford Explorer
  • The house of my dreams
  • For my twin boys to go to college
  • To be fit and thin again
  • To marry the man of my dreams

As I read the list, a tear came to my eye and I got goosebumps.

  • In my driveway sits a crimson Ford Explorer.
  • We bought the house of our dreams last November. I got the keys on my birthday.
  • My twins are in their 3rd year of college at UW & Western.
  • I lost over 100 pounds and feel better than I have in 20 years.
  • After spending 12 years together, I got married to the love of my life on August 24th

I got everything I dreamed of and didn’t even realize it until I read the list. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. My two older children have great jobs and homes and I am so proud of them as well. Life is GOOD!!! Everything is better. I could go on and on. I need to make a new list!

What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?

JUST DO IT! Making the decision is the hardest part. I listened to a lot of testimonials before doing this. When they got too negative, I would turn them off. I was terrified. But why be ashamed to help yourself? Why not get surgery to help your heart, your breathing, your health? Once you decide to do it, just think positively and do everything your doctor tells you to do. You will be brand new again!

I was sitting in the waiting room one day and had almost reached my goal weight. A lady in the waiting room asked me, “Why are you here?” I told her that I had had surgery. She said, “You don’t look like you were ever fat. I’m too afraid to do the surgery so I’m getting a diet plan.” I told her, “Just do it. It’s the best thing I did. You’ve tried everything. It’s not a cop-out.”

I see people and I know how they feel. I wish they could feel as good as me right now. There’s a lovely person inside there that’s suffering. I just want to help them. It’s so worth it.

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

A Bariatric-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is arguably the biggest food holiday in this country. People are encouraged to eat to the point of needing to sleep. How do you enjoy the holiday after surgery when your relationship with food has changed?

First of all, food doesn’t need to be everything. Enjoy time with family and friends with non-food activities. Participate in a “turkey trot” walk or jog. Turn up the music and dance with your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews. Pull out the board games. Watch old family videos. There are lots of ways to spend your day without the focus on food. But eventually, you will be seated around the table for the big meal.

Turkey – Enjoy this protein-based food! Each ounce of turkey has 7 grams of protein and even the dark meat is relatively low in fat. The dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) is more moist than the light meat so you may tolerate the dark meat best. Keep the skin on the turkey while it’s cooking to lock in the moisture. If you deep-fry or pan-fry your turkey, avoid eating the skin soaks up the oil and may feel too greasy for your stomach.

Gravy – Gravy is a condiment. Just like salad dressings, you can put some on the side and dip each bite of turkey into it. If you are sensitive to high-fat foods, gravy will likely be too rich for your stomach. Trader Joe’s makes boxed turkey gravy that is low in fat and still has good flavor.

Potatoes – The nutrition profile really changes based on how your potatoes are prepared – mashed, baked, roasted, twice-baked. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and they contain many nutrients in their skins. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, which is how they get their orange color, but they are still a starchy vegetable. Because of their dense, starchy texture, they may feel heavy in your stomach. You can slim down mashed potatoes by using skim milk or plain Greek yogurt to add creaminess in place of butter or cream. You can also swap cauliflower in place of potatoes for a dish lower in calories and carbohydrates that feels lighter on your stomach.

Stuffing – This staple of the Thanksgiving plate might not feel good in your stomach since it is bread-based. Bread products tend to swell up in the stomach and make you feel uncomfortably full. You can try a small amount of the real deal or experiment with reducing the bread and adding more vegetables. Eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, and chickpeas can add bulk to a stuffing in place of bread.

Green Beans – The casserole version with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions will likely be too rich for your stomach. How about roasting your green beans and topping with good quality Parmesan cheese? Or sautéing with some garlic and olive oil? These are great cooking methods for any Thanksgiving vegetable including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots.

Dessert – Sweet foods can be as problematic for the stomach as high-fat foods. They can cause dumping syndrome in extreme cases, or nausea in more mild cases. For many people, a couple small bites are all they need to feel satisfied with sweets after surgery. If that’s your situation, have some of the real deal and savor each small bite. If you are looking for a slightly larger quantity, there are lots of bariatric-friendly dessert ideas, including protein shake ice cream, sugar-free pudding “cheesecakes”, and protein balls.

My favorite bariatric food resource is The World According to Eggface blog: http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com . Shelly has been blogging about delicious bariatric-friendly recipes for 13 years. Use the ‘Search’ function to find Thanksgiving recipes that will delight everyone at your table, whether or not they’ve had surgery. Happy Thanksgiving!

Fitting in Fitness

Fitting in Fitness

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself: My physical and mental health is worth 4-6 hours a week. When I take time for my health, not only does my personal health get better but my relationships with my kids, husband, co-workers, family, and friends become healthier too. But I’ll admit that being a parent is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. Throw in a full-time job and life gets very hectic. How do you possibly fit in time for fitness?

My exercise routine has changed drastically over the years. Twenty years ago, in my BC life (life before children), I never struggled to get my workouts in, even working 60+ hours per week. I often worked out in the evening to meet people. Having just moved from Montana to Washington, my exercise program was an amazing way to help me shake my homesickness. Fast forward to 2003, I’m married and working at Columbia Athletic Clubs. I was still living my BC life and I was able to exercise after work. Often my husband would meet me so we could exercise together.

In 2006, my daughter, Ella, was born. During my 4-month leave, my exercise program consisted of walking outside with Ella in a jogging stroller and DVD workouts I could do while she was sleeping. When I went back to work, I found myself wanting to get home right at 5pm to spend time with my new baby girl instead of doing a workout. On the days I wasn’t teaching fitness classes, I worked out during lunch. On the weekends, my workouts were fun and social. I took group tennis lessons with my sister and we put our kids in the club’s daycare. We were terrible at tennis but we had fun together while exercising.

In 2013, my husband and I welcomed baby number two. With my son, Jase, I was able to stay at home for 12 months but my workouts really changed. Jase was diagnosed with sleep apnea when he was 6 months old and he would wake up 1-4 times every night. I was so sleep deprived I could no longer work out while he was sleeping like I did with Ella. When Jase was sleeping, I was sleeping. The way I fit exercise into my day was to walk while Ella was at dance class. I always kept my jogging stroller in the back of my car. While Ella was in dance class for 45 to 90 minutes, I would walk the dance studio parking lot with Jase in the stroller.

In October of 2014, I joined NWWC part-time. I now had to work out with small bits of time such as walking at work between patients, walking when Ella was at dance, and using my elliptical trainer at home when my husband could watch the kids. My workouts were not one hour sessions; they were small sessions here and there. By age 3, Jase had surgery for his sleep apnea and could finally sleep through the night. I had survived 3 years of waking up 1-4 times a night. Mom WIN!

By 2016, I was a full-time mom to 3- and 10-year-olds and working full-time at NWWC. My kids had activities and my husband was working his full-time job plus had started a small business. My workouts were suffering. I felt like my weekdays were shot and I was only getting workouts in on the weekends. How in the world was I going to exercise? I had to have an honest conversation with myself, look closely look at my days, and set myself up to be successful.

I asked myself:

  • Can you exercise after work? Before work? On the weekends? At home? At the gym?
  • How many hours do you have during the weekdays? I started with 120 hours and subtracted the number of hours I worked, commuted, slept, managed household chores, and spent with family.
  • How many hours do you have on the weekends? I started with 48 hours and subtracted the hours I had committed to kids’ activities, household chores & errands, and family time.
  • How many hours per week are you willing to dedicate to your health?

I realized my windows of time were early in the morning, late evening, and weekends. I knew late night workouts were not good for me because I get hyped up and then I can’t sleep. It was beginning to look like early mornings and weekend mornings were my days to get exercise in.

I’m that annoying morning person that doesn’t hit the snooze bar when the alarm goes off. I’m used to getting up at 6:00am. But 4:45am? OMG! That’s early, people. To become a successful early morning exerciser, I had to start with my bedtime. I had been going to bed at 11:00pm but that would give me less than 6 hours of sleep. With 15 minute increments, I changed my bedtime to 10:00pm.

I also needed to get myself organized. Before I went to bed, I put my workout clothes and shoes in the bathroom, put a water bottle in the fridge, placed a sweat towel on the elliptical trainer, and placed the TV remote next to the elliptical trainer. I eliminated all excuses I could use to not get up and work out in the morning.  

I’m not a perfect Pinterest mom and my house is not spotless. I am a mom that can keep up with a busy 13-year-old dancer and a crazy 6-year-old football player. Don’t think that one hour of exercise a day is being selfish and taking time away from your kids. You are actually adding time to your life by becoming a regular exerciser. You are going to be the active parent you want to be for your kids. Taking time to care for yourself will give you more time to be with your family.  

Staff Spotlight: Lindsay Berndahl

Staff Spotlight: Lindsay Berndahl

NWWC Staff Spotlight

Name: Lindsay Berndahl

Role: Nocturnal Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Joined NWWC: October 2018

Personal Life: Lindsay is a Washington native. She is grateful to have all of her extended family in the state for lots of fun family memories. She has a very sweet dog-son, Dexter, who thinks he is human. J She spends her free time enjoying life with her friends, family, and boyfriend.

Life Before NWWC: Before joining NWWC, Lindsay worked as a patient care technician on the cardiology and intensive care unit floors at a busy urban hospital. She transitioned to health unit coordinator and monitor technician roles. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient, outpatient, telemetry, neurology, intensive care unit, adult family homes, and private in-home care. She also cared for her grandma in the last years of her life. 

A Day in Her Job: As a nocturnal CNA, Lindsay works with patients overnight while they are recovering from surgery. She measures vital signs, assists patients with moving, helps with pain management, and provides emotional support. At night, Lindsay and a nurse manage care for all of the patients in the surgery center so it’s essential that they work well as a team. Each patient is extremely different. Lindsay prides herself on being able to read individuals and meet them on their level. During her night shifts, she tries to pick up any “puzzle pieces” that may linger from the day and assembles them to provide the next shift with all of the information they need to provide the best patient care. When she works day shifts, she helps with admitting patients to the surgery center, turnover of the operating rooms, and discharging patients to home.

What Else to Know about Lindsay:

  • The summer of 2005 served as a catalyst in Lindsay’s decision to pursue a job in healthcare. Until then, her main experience with hospitals was for her sister with diabetes. In a crazy turn of events, Lindsay became the patient after being a victim of a random drive by shooting. Three weeks later, her father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. This was the tipping point that drove her to her healthcare career. “As many of us can attest to, it seems like medicine sought me out and I love it to this day.”
  • It is fitting that we are spotlighting Lindsay during the month of her favorite holiday: Halloween! She has thrown many elaborate Halloween house parties over the years.
  • She loves friends, family, laughing, music, tattoos, and the outdoors! “I love to laugh and spend as much time as possible with those who I can make laugh in return.” She enjoys camping in the summer and spending time near the water. Her “pseudo-nieces” are the loves of her life. “Watching them develop their own strong, vibrant personalities has been so special.”