Steve Horstman knows firsthand about the challenges that come with being overweight. At his max, he weighed 571 pounds. Physical activities were virtually impossible and his self-esteem plummeted.
Through the years, he signed up for countless diet workshops, seesawing up and down the scale. When between 1999 and 2000 he lost 320 pounds on the Atkins diet and was lauded nationally on NBC’s "Today” show, Horstman thought he’d "conquered the world”. Eventually, though, he strayed and regained 120 pounds.
Horstman says he can’t escape food—as a professional restaurateur, he works in a fast-paced environment filled with tempting, not-so-healthy foods at his fingertips.
At the age of 41, he decided it was time for a real change: No more fad diets. He’d heard of gastric bypass surgery, but the potential complications of such a radical approach left him fearful. Gastric banding seemed like a safer option.
"I’m not sure if it was luck or help from above, but I found the UC Health Weight Loss Center through my then-teenage daughter. Her friend had lost a significant amount of weight and it came up one day in conversation. It turned out she had a gastric band,” Horstman recalls.
He attended a free informational seminar at the center where patients shared their success stories and the physician team explained gastric banding surgery.
"After 10 minutes, I had no doubt it was the right path for me. I asked: ‘Where do I sign up?’” he recalls.
Horstman chose the UC Health Weight Loss Center for its comprehensive follow-up care program.
"I knew the nurses, staff and physicians would all be there for me when I needed them, whether it was for a band adjustment or mental support to move beyond a specific challenge,” he recalls. "They were there to lift me up if I was struggling and to push me when my commitment started to sway.”
In the first year, Horstman lost 120 pounds and 16 months after his surgery he reached his goal weight of 195 pounds. He has maintained that weight since October 2009. As the weight came off, he ramped up his exercise—regularly running, walking and cycling.
"I’m never going back to the person I was. When I see other people who are morbidly obese, I want to help them and tell them they can change their lives, too,” he says.
"I’ve been in the restaurant business all my life so I understand temptation. I still have those temptations, but I’ve changed the way I think about food. I now have the mental willpower to overcome it. I eat in moderation and in an overall healthy way, but I don’t deny myself. That isn’t sustainable. What I do is recognize my food triggers and avoid them.”
Horstman says he is happy with the person he is today and looking forward to marrying his fiancée, Melissa, in late September.