Mary's Story I have been overweight since I was in third grade, always dealing with the low self-esteem by hiding it with shyness! No one ever knew who I was and I made sure they did not notice me.

I have been overweight since I was in third grade, always dealing with the low self-esteem by hiding it with shyness! No one ever knew who I was and I made sure they did not notice me.

The more I felt bad with my weight the more I ate to feel better.

I was a very thin child but my family did not like me to be so skinny, so we ate large portions and high fat! Lots of barbecues and typical Hispanic meals — tacos, menudo, regular sodas! I would wear big clothes to hide the fat. Unfortunately, it gave me more room to grow into; it was always so upsetting to try to find an outfit for special occasions.

I am blessed to work in an organization that cares about their employees. Through work, I attended the 'Naturally Slim' program online. I also started seeing Dr. Peterson and his professional staff – Cindy, Jane, and Anna.

With the assist of PA G. Cossio and frequent visits (every month for 6 months), I attempted to lose weight on my own. I struggled and was able to lose 20 lbs. prior to my surgery.

After the surgery it was so exciting to see the weight start falling off so fast! I love weighing myself!

I also have had to buy a whole wardrobe twice! I can work all day and be able to go home and do housework. I like the attention I get! It is easy to 'diet' when your stomach does not hold so much. I wish I had done the surgery sooner!

I strongly recommend it to my patients who have diabetes due to their weight. I realized if I had not been able to lose the weight on my own yet, I never was going to get the weight off.

I needed the help of the surgery to start my healthy lifestyle. Because I was seeing the weight loss, I was ready and determined. I followed the directions recommended by Anna, Dr. Peterson's dietitian. Anna was so encouraging and understanding of the struggles. Jane is also a great mentor for encouragement — because Jane has gone through weight loss surgery herself, she understands.