When you talk to Marc Olbash about the results of his weight loss surgery at North Shore Medical Center, the numbers make a big impression. Since August 2015, his weight has dropped from 398 to 215 pounds. His pants size has gone from a 56 waist to a 34, and his shirt size, which was formerly 4XL, is now just plain XL. Even his shoe size went from a 13 to an 11.
Despite the dramatic results, the Lynn resident is quick to point out that bariatric surgery (a gastric bypass in Marc’s case, performed by bariatric surgeon Jaime Rivera, M.D.) is not the “easy fix” he used to think it was. “That’s the largest misconception,” he explains. “The surgery is an aid. It will work, but you have to stick with the program in order to be successful.” The program to which Marc refers is NSMC’s Weight Management Program and it provides intensive pre- and post-operative support for all of its patients. Support takes the form of regular meetings with the surgeons and other medical staff, as well as clinical support with nutrition, exercise and overall motivation. Peer support groups are also provided on a bi-monthly basis.
While he gives a lot of credit for his healthy new body to his team at NSMC, Marc is most thankful for the support his wife of seven years has given him throughout this journey. “I’ve been a big guy all my life. I struggled with giving up sweets, caffeine and the unhealthy ‘go-to’ foods that were my safety net. In the beginning, there were times when I was ready to quit, but I didn’t, thanks to my wife,” he says. “In order to be successful, your home life has to be supportive of the surgery.”
So what’s next for Marc Olbash? His post-surgery to-do list is long, but his main focus right now is pursuing a degree in nursing. In addition to working full-time for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Marc is taking pre-requisite courses at North Shore Community College, after which he plans to study nursing at UMASS Lowell. “I used to work as a home health aide and personal care assistant. I love working with patients of all ages,” he says. “My goal is to eventually be a nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetist,” he adds.
Marc has other, smaller goals that he finds equally exciting. “I want to take up golf this year. Previously, it was too difficult to walk the course. I also look forward to being more comfortable at Fenway Park. I had reserved seats but couldn’t fit in mine, and would have to watch from the standing area,” he explains. “I’m dying to sit in a seat at Gillette [Stadium] as well.” Marc continues rattling off his diverse list of goals. “I have always wanted to take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon but would have had to buy two seats at my previous weight. Now I don’t have to worry about that,” he says.
Struggling to find seating that was large enough to accommodate his former frame was a common theme for Marc. Even something as routine as dining out was challenging as he was too large to fit in a booth, and sitting at a table often involved trapping his wife in a corner. “Now I’m a whole lot more comfortable going out to eat,” he says.
Marc, who has always been active, has been able to take his fitness regimen to a new level, doing about an hour of cardio three-to-five days per week. He’s even taken to running, something he never thought he would do. “My goal is to do a few 5 and 10Ks, then run my first half marathon in October. After that, I’d like to travel the U.S. and run half marathons throughout the country. It’s only 13.1 miles! People who run the full marathon are crazy. Doing half-marathons means I am only half-crazy,” he says with a laugh, before turning serious. “I chose the surgery to improve my health. My cardiovascular fitness and stamina have improved four- or five-fold. I did this because I wanted to be there for my family, and I plan to be there for a long time to come.”
FREE INFO SESSIONS:
NSMC’s Surgical Weight Loss Program is now offering free information sessions at NSMC Salem Hospital and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers. These sessions offer a great opportunity to learn more about weight loss surgery options and ask questions. Register online at nsmcweightloss.org or call us at 978-825-6505.