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Dan and Holly's Story

Dan and Holly Elbert lived a relatively sedentary lifestyle prior to having their bariatric surgeries at the Avera Bariatric Institute. Due to their weight, the couple was often limited in the types of activities they were able to participate in, and typically stuck close to home. “We didn’t do a lot of things that we probably would have liked to do because of our weight,” says Holly.

Holly struggled with her weight from adolescence into adulthood. “Before the procedure, I had tried several diets. I had attempted and failed many times. I would lose some and gain it back,” says Holly. Dan was an athlete in high school, but his activity level trickled down to virtually nothing upon graduation. “I was highly active in high school, and it slowly went down. In the last few years before I had my surgery, I didn't get off the couch, it seemed like,” says Dan.

Despite a wide range of diets, the couple was never able to achieve the substantial weight loss they desired and needed. Several years later, Dan and Holly finally reached a breaking point, and grew tired of feeling bad about their size and lack of energy. “For me, I just got tired of being big, and nothing was working to lose the weight,” says Dan. “So, I decided to take the next step forward to have a lap-band surgery and I never looked back.”

Dan and Holly Elbert lived a relatively sedentary lifestyle prior to having their bariatric surgeries at the Avera Bariatric Institute. Due to their weight, the couple was often limited in the types of activities they were able to participate in, and typically stuck close to home.

The couple researched the pros and cons of each weight loss procedure on the Internet. “I watched the YouTube videos and did research online,” says Dan. “I chose the lap-band procedure because it had a faster recovery time, and I knew I wouldn’t have to take any work off. I also didn't have to change my life a whole lot besides eating smaller portions.”

On Nov. 14, 2011, Dan underwent bariatric surgery at Avera Bariatric Institute. At the time of the procedure, he weighed 318 pounds. “My husband had the surgery first,” says Holly. Not long after Dan’s surgery, Holly witnessed his remarkable transformation, and was eager to have weight-loss surgery herself. On June 7, 2012, Holly underwent lap-band surgery. She weighed 258 pounds. “I saw that he was having good success with it. I had tried other diets in the past and not had success. I have been overweight my whole life. So after seeing him have success with it, I decided to give it a shot and started the process myself.”

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Holly opted to have the lap-band procedure versus the sleeve or gastric bypass because the recovery time was shorter, and it wouldn’t change her anatomy in any way.  “My mom had had gastric bypass, so I knew about that procedure and how she followed her rules. Obviously lap-band is a little bit different than that, but I had not known anyone who had lap-band surgery other than my husband.”

Dan and Holly’s bariatric surgeries were both performed by Dr. Bradley Thaemert. “Before surgery, I met Dr. Thaemert and Darcie, a bariatric coordinator. They told me that I could expect to lose a pound to two pounds a week as long as I followed their guidelines of exercising and eating smaller portions, cup-sized for each meal, chewing very well,” says Dan.

The couple was given a set of dietary guidelines and rules to follow after the surgery, such as to eat balanced meals that were low in calories, fats and sweets, eat slowly and chew small bites of food thoroughly, and not use straws or drink carbonated beverages. To-date, Dan has lost 112 pounds. “I've got tons of energy back and feeling good again,” says Dan. Holly has lost a total of 90 pounds, and is only 30 pounds away from her goal weight. “As soon as I get to my goal weight, my plan is to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe and have great clothes to wear,” says Holly. “It’s crazy. People don't even recognize me now. I can walk by people, and I have to say hi to them first because they just can't believe that it's me.”

Dan and Holly credit a majority of their success to each other. “We go out and exercise together. We eat the same things now, so that helps out quite a bit. We hold each other accountable. This experience has brought us closer together.”

Several months post-operative, the couple is happier and healthier than ever. Dan is off his high-blood pressure medication, runs five miles per day, and is currently in the midst of training for his first half-marathon. “Today, I'm full of life. I run quite a bit. I'm doing 5Ks. Last year I found it hard to do a 5K. By the end of last summer, I was doing 10K runs. This year my goal is a half marathon,” says Dan.

From the physicians to the nurses, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center has been there to provide support every step of the way for Dan and Holly. “My experience has been wonderful with Avera from the time I went to pre-op surgery to the time I'm out. They got me in right away, told me what was going on. It happened really fast. I was in and out, probably four or five hours from the time of surgery. Before surgery, talking to Dr. Thaemert, he answered all of the questions I had. It's just been a wonderful experience,” says Dan.

“If someone is on the fence to have the surgery or not, I would highly recommend it. It's been a life-changing experience for me, and it's been a lot easier than I thought it was. After the recovery from the actual surgical procedure, the rules are easy to follow. Darcie and Dr. Thaemert have been there to answer all the questions that I've had to help me through the process,” adds Holly.

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