by Brian Rosemeyer
Sun sailor Newspapers
Greenfield resident Terri Wehling has found a new lease on life. Once nearly 100 pounds overweight, the 58-year-old spokesperson for AmeriWell Bariatrics of Plymouth now works to promote alternative weight-loss methods publicly as a walking success story.
While Wehling said she wasn’t always overweight, she did note that persistent body image issues kept her on a path of gaining.
After having each of her four children, Wehling said she was faced with losing 25 pounds. A common pattern found her losing 15 pounds, and gaining the weight back quickly … and then some.
“I would go on different diets, lose the weight and then put it back on plus about 10 pounds,” she said. “When you do that for several years pretty soon you’re 70 or 80 pounds overweight.”
With health problems including high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and kidney failure, Wehling’s health forced her to say, “This needs to stop.”
After running the gamut of trendy diet programs, calorie counting and self-help books, Wehling approached her doctor for a solution. According to Wehling, the doctor gave her the same answer that didn’t seem to fit – “diet and exercise.”
“I think a lot of people get tired of the yo-yoing. That’s where I was at,” Wehling said. “It’s just depressing. You’re excited and on a high when you lose a little weight, but with some of [the programs], you get sick of the food or a clinic would close down. And then you’re left high and dry again.”
A life-changing answer appeared to Wehling in an unlikely setting – Las Vegas. She was visiting her son in Nevada when she saw an advertisement for bariatric surgery – commonly known as a lap-band procedure.
The new method of weight-loss surgery hadn’t found its popularity in the Midwest at that point in 2006, so Wehling began her research.
Through bariatric surgery, weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band or by re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch.
Bariatric surgery is suggested only for those roughly 100 pounds overweight or with a body mass index of 30 or greater. Wehling found what she was looking for.
A difficult road
with significant rewards
Wehling met the criteria for bariatric surgery and was able to work with her insurance company to have the procedure.
She said many people view a “lap-band” procedure as the easy way out or a simple solution. Wehling said that simply isn’t the case.
During the first few months post-surgery, Wehling found herself in the midst of a significant medication regime. She was also required to ingest 65 grams of protein a day, and she was having trouble keeping up with her body’s needs.
Wehling then enlisted her husband, Fred, for help.
Through the Wehlings’ company Amerilab Technologies – a Plymouth firm that produces a number of health products – Fred worked on a solution to the apparent lack of vitamin options for patients such as Terri.
“I could get Jell-O down pretty well,” Terri said. “So we worked on a similar product to help with my vitamin intake.”
The result was Fred inventing a gelatin-like vitamin product line – AmeriWell Bariatrics, which is now marketed on a large scale.
With the help of the new product, Terri was able to achieve her weight-loss goals.
“It just felt like my solution,” she said. “I was hoping I could do this, but I was so used to failure with weight loss. With these new tools I feel like I can conquer it.”
Terri once weighed around 230 pounds. Today she has trimmed down to 180, and she says her prior health complications are correcting themselves.
“I have lots of energy now, and a positive outlook,” she added. “I like how I look in my clothes. I love shopping for things more than just shoes. When you’re heavy, you can only happily shop for jewelry and shoes. Now I can shop for everything.”
Sharing her story
Wehling’s success inspired her daughters, who also work for Amerilab. They encouraged her to share her story with others who may find themselves locked in the same run-around diet routine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in four Minnesotan adults – 24.8 percent – are considered obese with a body mass index of 30 or greater.
“A lot of times we feel like our weight loss is our own personal issue when it really isn’t,” Wehling said. “It impacts your family, your friends and your coworkers. Nobody likes talking about weight, but we all know it’s a problem.”
To spread the word, Wehling began blogging about her day-to-day weight loss experience. Her first blog was posted May 1 and she has since published 25 posts at ameriwellbariatrics.com under the title “Time With Terri.”
She also recently organized a team of nearly 100 people to participate in Walk From Obesity – a 1.9 mile walk abound Normandale Park in Bloomington on Oct. 9 to raise awareness and battle obesity.
Wehling said being public about her struggle helps her be accountable to continue on a successful weight-loss path.
A lot of life left to live
While Wehling has achieved significant success, she said she has a clear goal ahead of her – to get down to 160 pounds by age 60.
Working toward that goal, Wheling sets out everyday to be an “active grandma.” She had even arranged a Grandma’s Olympics this summer for her grandkids.
“We played basketball, swam and ran,” she said. “And I did it all right along with them.”
Other future plans for Wehling include traveling to visit some of the 14 foreign exchange students the Wehling’s have hosted over the years, many of which now have children of their own. Being healthy makes that travel possible.
“Honestly, I now plan on living to be 100,” she added. “I want to keep getting things under control and be active right up to the end. I have a lot of life ahead of me.”
Contact Brian Rosemeyer at [email protected]