Luana Dunn

54

Medford

Middle school health teacher

Height 5-foot-3

Before: 218 August 2014

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After: 155 June 2015

Her story

Dunn describes her younger self as "never skinny, but not pudgy either." As an adult she battled 15 to 20 pounds but, living in Manhattan and walking everywhere, prevented further weight gain. In her early 30s, married and living in the suburbs, "I became one of those who got married and gained weight," Dunn says. She loved buffalo chicken wings and potato chips.

Her weight grew after a pregnancy until her "new normal" was in the 180-pound range. She stayed there for 10 years until perimenopause. At age 50, she weighed in the low 200-pound range and felt miserable. She tried to convince herself that weight doesn't define a person or what that person is about. "But it didn't change the fact that I hated the way I looked in a mirror," Dunn says, adding she didn't attend a high school reunion solely because of her appearance. It also bothered her that she wasn't practicing what she preached to her students and children.

On a whim Dunn attended a weight loss surgery meeting at Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson with no intention of signing up. But she decided to go with a gastric sleeve surgery. With that procedure, 80 percent of the stomach is stapled off and removed, leaving a small sleeve. She qualified for insurance coverage and had the procedure in September 2014. While there was discomfort for two weeks post-surgery, Dunn says, "It's the best thing I've ever done." The benefits? "My confidence level, not feeling self-conscious, wearing nice clothes and not turning down invitations." She wants to lose another 10 pounds.

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Her diet

Dunn says that she eats toddler portions, but there's nothing she can't eat. Breakfast is string cheese and an hour later a handful of nuts. She focuses on protein and produce. A scoop of tuna salad suffices for lunch, and dinner is a small portion of whatever she makes for her family. When dining out, she orders an appetizer for her entree. Dunn takes a multivitamin and iron supplement and no longer needs a water pill or blood pressure medication.

Her exercise

Dunn exercises 30 minutes every day using Jillian Michaels' circuit training DVD. She also walks 12,000 steps daily.

Her advice

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"Weight loss surgery may seem drastic . . . If it's not feasible for some people, I'm living proof that it's all about portion control and calorie counting."