OCCUPATION Manager at an IT company
BEFORE 343, November 2016; AFTER 220, September 2018
The only regret Ryan ONeil, 49, of Mastic Beach, says he has about his weight loss surgery was its timing. “I wish I had done it when I was younger. I feel like I lost a whole decade of my life.”
His weight was in check, he says, until his ankle was shattered in a skating accident when he was 19. “I was down for six months. The weight came on, and never came off,” says ONeil. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. He lost significant amounts of weight on the Atkins, Paleo or Weight Watchers plans, but each time he regained it -- plus more.
Meanwhile life with his two kids, now ages 13 and 14, was passing him by, he says. “I was avoiding doing so many things with them, like going to Splish Splash. Who wants to be that big, awkward guy walking around? That’s what triggered it for me,” says ONeil.
He decided on gastric sleeve surgery, saying his ex-wife had weight loss surgery 14 years ago and has kept the weight off. His insurance company required a six-month waiting period, during which ONeil saw doctors, nutritionists and mental health experts as part of the process. He attended classes, which he found invaluable, he says, because they prepared him for learning a new way to eat. “Recovery the first couple of weeks was a little painful. You don’t realize how much you use your abdominal muscles,” says ONeil, who has lost 123 pounds in one year.
He took up running, completing his first 5-kilometer race in April at Yankee Stadium, and recently completed his seventh 5k. ONeil says his finish time has gotten shorter with each race.
“Having this procedure gave me a second lease on life. I’m able to do anything I want with the kids. It’s built my confidence, and that affects everything.”
“It’s about mindful eating,” says ONeil, who focuses on high protein, low sugar and low fat foods. Each of his meals weighs no more than 8 ounces.
ONeil says he runs 5k (3.1 miles) two to three times a week. On days he doesn’t run, he works out at home building upper body strength with free weights and resistance bands.
“The key for me was having good support from family and friends . . . I’m very mindful of what I put in my body. I’ve seen a lot of people who had surgery put weight back on. It’s not the magic bullet some people think it is.”