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Tammy's Story

Weight Management
“There’s no question this took a lot of blood, sweat and tears – it’s a lot of work and you have to be committed. It’s all worth it – so many people have encouraged me not to limit myself. I am enjoying living life to the fullest.”

Tammy promised to make her health a priority. Through her own hard work and with CentraCare Weight Management, she has lost over 100 pounds. Today, she looks to the future with renewed hope and enthusiasm.

Tammy Habiger recently wrapped up her 12th 5k run. And she’s got a couple of 10ks under her belt as well. Words like yoga, toning, pilates, hiking and camping pepper her vocabulary.

Not bad for a petite 44-year-old who thought she was going to be disabled for the rest of her life when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2000.

“I had this ‘label’.  It was very limiting and depressing,” Tammy noted. “I was in a lot of pain.”

Fast forward to 2013.  Tammy’s weight ballooned to 252 – a lot for a 5’ 1” frame. She didn’t exercise and tried every type of diet. “I didn’t have the mindset or determination so I basically gave up,” she said.

A clinical services assistant in CentraCare’s Obstetrics and Women’s Health Department, Tammy was familiar the bariatric center (now CentraCare Weight Management). She attended a seminar in 2014 and met with a dietitian but wasn’t ready to commit to a program.

Tammy Before and After Weight Management

A pivotal year

Then came 2015 – a pivotal year in her life.  “I had an arthritis flare up – everything hurt – and I missed a lot of work,” Tammy explained.  “Mentally, physically and spiritually, I was in a very dark place.  I thought I was going to have to go on permanent disability.”

Back she went to CentraCare Weight Management. Her health became her top priority. After discussing it with her providers, she decided to pursue bariatric surgery but needed to lose some weight before having surgery. She lost 70 pounds through a specialized low-calorie diet through CentraCare and began exercising. 

More big changes came her way. She ended a long-term relationship, and mourned the passing of her beloved pet and her mother early in 2016. “Life, as I knew it, changed.”

With the success of the 70-pound weight loss, Tammy moved forward with the sleeve gastrectomy procedure which she underwent in March 2016.  This procedure involves removing the left side of the stomach. The remaining portion of the stomach is stapled into a narrow tube. The reduced stomach size causes a feeling of fullness after eating a small amount of food.

A new life

She’s dropped another 40 pounds and is under her goal weight of 140.  In her words “I am starting over and building a new life.”

That “new life” includes exercising five times a week and trying new activities such as kayaking, horseback riding and zip lining.  “I just love the outdoors.  I went camping last summer for the first time in 20 years,” she remarked.

Tammy looks forward to the future with renewed hope and enthusiasm. She’s motivated and sets goals and her deep faith helps sustain her. She’s mulling a possible return to school to pursue a master’s in social work degree. Eventually she’d love to teach exercise classes that welcome people of all abilities. The support and affirmation she has received from co-workers, her family and even strangers has been humbling.  

“There’s no question this took a lot of blood, sweat and tears – it’s a lot of work and you have to be committed. It’s all worth it – so many people have encouraged me not to limit myself. I am enjoying living life to the fullest.”