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Gastric bypass helps LIer drop weight after Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig fail

Barbara Bittarelli, 42, of Levittown, is pictured in

Barbara Bittarelli, 42, of Levittown, is pictured in September 2012, when she weighed 355 pounds, and in a more recent photo, showing off her 180-pound weight loss. Credit: Bittarelli family photos; Newsday / William Perlman

Barbara Bittarelli

42, Levittown

Occupation Assistant at a funeral home

Height 5-foot-6

Before 355 pounds, September 2012

After 175 pounds, October 2017

Barbara Bittarelli, overweight her entire life, says she has tried virtually every weight-loss method out there — Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Fen-Phen, gastric banding. “You name it, I tried it,” she says. In January 2013, she had gastric bypass surgery.

“It drastically changed my life. At first I regretted having it done. It was painful, and I had a hard time finding foods I could eat. Some foods you ate before, you can’t eat after surgery. Plus, you have to chew your food really well and can’t drink liquids immediately before or after eating,” says Bittarelli.

She eventually made the changes necessary to accommodate her smaller stomach and lost 100 pounds in 8 months. “When you finally realize the weight is actually coming off, you want to keep going. It almost becomes an addiction to better yourself,” says Bittarelli.

The surgery has seemingly changed her life, and she no longer gets mocked in public.

“I used to barely go out. Kids would make mooing sounds behind me at the mall. I’ve actually had people tell me to kill myself. Now that I’m at a normal weight, people are nicer to me. It’s true,” says Bittarelli.

Bittarelli has a few bites of a banana and some Light & Fit Greek yogurt for breakfast. Lunch can be a salad with grilled chicken (she eats half and saves the rest for dinner.) When there are no leftovers for dinner, Bittarelli has grilled or baked chicken, usually with a green salad and sometimes with pasta. “I have sweets once in a while. It’s in moderation though, something I never did before.”

Bittarelli is dealing with a sciatic nerve issue right now that is affecting her ability to exercise.

“If you have honestly tried everything and are honestly ready to change everything about your life, then consider surgery. But you need to be committed. Surgery is only a tool. You must retrain the way you think about food. You can’t use if for comfort anymore. If you don’t learn how to deal with underlying emotional problems, you will keep eating and expand your stomach.”

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