quality of life Archives - Northwest Weight & Wellness Center
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.  

Jeanne’s Bariatric Success

Jeanne’s Bariatric Success

Jeanne had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in August 2016.

What is the best part about this journey?

Getting healthy is the best part. I find that I can do so much more in my life. I’m more social. I get out and I meet more people. I’m doing more projects at home. I don’t have heartburn anymore. I have bursitis in my hip and occasionally it flares up but not like before. I exercise, which felt very difficult to do before because I got winded. We just got back from Disney World. For 7 days, I walked the park and didn’t struggle with it at all. It was so hot and muggy and I was pushing my son in the wheelchair up the hills. If I would have gone 3 years ago, there’s no way I would have survived. I wouldn’t have done anything.

Shopping is amazing now. Before, I couldn’t find anything. I wouldn’t shop because I would get depressed that the clothes wouldn’t fit. Now I can shop on clearance and find clothes that fit.

My main reason for having surgery was not just to lose the weight but to prevent diabetes. My grandmother had 9 children and all but 1 had diabetes. My brother and sister have diabetes. My mother passed away from diabetes. I didn’t want that. I was told surgery could prevent diabetes. So far, I don’t have it.

It helps you enjoy your life and puts into perspective what’s important and what’s not. Before, food was important and now it’s not. I have a whole different relationship with food.

What has been the hardest part?

In the beginning, the protein shakes were really hard for me. I didn’t like the taste and I really struggled with drinking them. Over time, I’ve learned to love them. Now every morning I have a protein shake and take my vitamins.

The other hard part was that I was never hungry so I had to remind myself to eat. When I went back to work, I had to prepare things like meats or cheeses to have on hand because I would forget to eat. It was hard for me to remember. I would keep snacks in my purse so I could munch on something when I needed to eat.

Outside of that, I really didn’t struggle with anything. It was the simplest surgery I ever had. Everything just kind of came natural for me after surgery. Mentally, physically, it came easy.

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

My goal was to lose weight and I lost 20 pounds more than my goal.

I wanted to be able to get out more and start exercising. I’ve been out a lot more – walking and doing things. For my exercise routine, I use the treadmill for 30 minutes and lift weights at the gym.

I wanted to just be healthier. I do believe that I eat healthier now. Before, I would eat because the food was there. I used to overeat and feel so miserable. Now, food is like fuel for my body. I eat because I need to feed my body. I don’t overeat. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I try to plan my meals out. When I’m hungry, I eat meat or cheese and vegetables.

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

I would highly recommend it to anyone with weight issues. I’ve been there. You become like a hermit because you’re embarrassed and you don’t feel good. Think long-term about your health and how much happier you will be to be able to go out and do things. You’re going to feel so much better. People tell me, “But I love to eat and I won’t be able to eat.” You can eat. You just eat small amounts. You’re not going to feel as hungry so it allows you to make better choices.

I wish I would have done it years ago when I was raising my kids because I could have done so much more with them. If I were speaking to a younger person, I would say, “Do it now to be able to enjoy time with your children.” Now I can enjoy time with my grandkids. I kick the soccer ball and run with them.

I don’t try to push anybody into it. It’s an individual decision. Look into it. Talk to people. You have to be ready. That was something Dr. Michaelson told me the very first time I met him. He said, “This is a tool. If you think you’re going to come in and have this surgery and it will do it for you, don’t bother doing it. You have to be ready to do the work.” I was ready to do the work and I continue to do the work.