HER STORY

In her job, O’Donnell talks to patients about staying healthy, not smoking and losing weight. She never needed her own advice until she reached her 50s and metabolic changes resulted in weight gain. “It creeps up and the next thing I knew I had my own challenge,” she says.

With a BMI of 34, O’Donnell was characterized as “modestly obese.” For a long time she didn’t qualify for any bariatric procedures. Earlier this year, she learned about Orbera, a temporary nonsurgical balloon system. With this approach, a patient is put under anesthesia briefly and a balloon is inserted through the mouth into the stomach and filled with about three cups of a saline solution essentially to create the sense of feeling full.

O’Donnell said she was motivated to lose weight: She recently welcomed her fourth grandchild and just received her doctoral degree. Plus, her mom recently celebrated her 90th birthday. “I had a lot to live for and I wanted to live the second half of my life in a healthy fashion, she says. She had the procedure March 15. The first week was tough she said. Until her body accepted the balloon, she had nausea and drank only clear liquids. The discomfort lasted a week. Any subsequent periods of nausea she “talked herself through.” “I haven’t missed a beat. I work full time and am active with my family,” said O’Donnell. The balloon will be removed Sept. 2, just shy of six months.

HER DIET

O’Donnell makes a fruit smoothie with protein and yogurt for breakfast. She’ll have half a turkey sandwich for lunch, and usually a small portion of baked fish, meatballs, or chicken and vegetables for dinner. She does little snacking and instead has noncarbonated fruit-flavored water (drinking liquids while eating is not recommended).

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HER EXERCISE

O’Donnell works on muscle training once a week with a personal trainer and walks or bikes for 40 minutes four nights a week.

HER ADVICE

“Consider this if you’re in the 30-40 BMI range and have been through the normal diet and exercise route [unsuccessfully]. It’s perfect for people who don’t want surgery or who are not “big enough” for bariatric surgery.” (Although approved by the FDA, this program is not yet covered by all health insurance policies.)