Food is Curtis Isley's life.
As a professional chef at Wichita's Hyatt Hotel, he loves cooking it. As a friend, he loves sharing it with others. As a person, he's carried the weight it caused through some unhealthy habits.
By early 2012, Curtis — who had initially learned to cook from watching Julia Childs' cooking show as a teenager — had reached a peak weight of 350 pounds.
After losing 150 pounds through two weight-loss options with Via Christi Weight Management, Curtis now has a much healthier relationship with food. With his culinary expertise, he's helping other weight-loss patients share that healthier relationship by teaching cooking classes and offering dining suggestions.
“A lot of people want to be able to go out to eat and cook for their family in healthy ways,” he says.
Having earned a food service management degree from a North Carolina college, Curtis was very familiar with food nutrition. But a bad back, a lack of interest in physical activity, a varied work schedule and taking a bite of food here and there in the kitchens where he worked meant a continuing struggle with weight.
In his mid-30s, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He was hospitalized twice for pancreatitis, an inflammation of the organ that normally creates insulin. He wasn't managing his diabetes very well, Curtis admits.
“I knew I couldn't keep going the route I'd been going,” Curtis says.
He realized he needed to take control of what food was doing to him physically.
A two-course, weight-loss plan
Before Curtis could undergo gastric bypass surgery, he needed to complete a six-month, medically supervised weight-loss program. Via Christi Weight Management offers the HMR weight-loss program, a scientifically based and medically well-respected, very effective option for overweight individuals.
During that time, Curtis lost 80 pounds and no longer needed to use insulin for his diabetes. He also “forced” himself to start going to the gym.
“It was really hard,” he says, but he found a time that works best with his lifestyle and profession and committed to it.
In July 2012, he underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, the most common and effective type of gastric bypass surgery in which the stomach is stapled to create a very small pouch that will hold little more than 1 tablespoon of food. The small intestine is divided and connected to the small pouch.
Via Christi Weight Management provides surgical patients with a pre-surgery healthy lifestyles class. It also facilitates a support group for weight-loss patients.
“The support group is key,” says Curtis. “Most people know they need to find healthier solutions and they need others to help them do that.”