Nicole trembley The first time Nicole Trembley considered weight-loss surgery, she decided she wasn’t quite ready for it. Young, married, working and going to school full time, the then-21-year-old Trembley found the prospect of bariatric evaluation, preparation, surgery and follow-up more than a little intimidating.

The second time Trembley looked into surgery, it was nine years later. She was remarried with two small children and an established career. She was also motivated, energized and ready to take control of a life that had been sidetracked by her weight.

Trembley had weight-loss surgery, a Roux-en Y gastric bypass procedure, at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital on Aug. 20, 2010. Her surgeon was Raymond J. Washington, M.D., of Pinehurst Surgical, who quickly became one of her favorite people.

“Dr. Washington has a lifelong fan with me,” Trembley says. “He has the best bedside manner I have ever seen in a surgeon, and he is very dedicated to what he does. The minute I met with him, I connected with him.”

In addition to being a successful bariatric patient, Trembley has become a passionate spokesperson for FirstHealth’s weight-loss service. She has attended several of the program’s free weight-loss surgery information sessions, sharing her story with prospective patients and encouraging them to investigate the many services the program has to offer.

The extensive pre-surgical assessments and the indefinite post-operative follow-up have greatly affected her own weight-loss success, Trembley says. “The program is good,” she says, “and there are good people behind the program.”

Trembley, who lives in Sanford, made her commitment to a personal lifestyle change in February 2010. The younger of her two children was just a few months old, and Trembley was “ballooning up and down” around her greatest weight – 395 pounds.

Since her parents also have a history of now-controlled weight issues and have battled high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes since their mid-30s, Trembley figured she was headed in the same direction if she didn’t make some changes in her life.

“That’s when I said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to live this way,’” she recalls. “I was completely headed there. I was heavier than either of my parents at their heaviest. I knew if I didn’t resolve this, I would be suffering the same health problems.”

Nicole trembley Even as she initiated “subtle changes” in her lifestyle to start losing weight on her own, Trembley began the bariatric process, learning along the way that an emotional attachment to food was affecting her poor lifestyle choices. In the six months before her surgery, she lost 50 pounds even before her surgery and was ready to undergo her procedure within four months of the time she started the pre-operative process, qualifying solely on the basis on a Body Mass Index of 58.8 when she met Dr. Washington and after she had already lost 30 pounds on her own. (At the time of her greatest weight, 395 pounds, Trembley’s BMI was 64.)

Trembley is now “feeling good” and, by mid-September 2011, was down to 179 pounds, her lowest adult weight. She strictly follows her nutrition plan and the home-based exercise regimen she started 12 weeks after her surgery.

“It was a slow progression for someone – me – who had never established any routine exercise,” she says. “I started out 20 minutes three days a week and have worked up to 45 minutes six days a week.”

Nicole trembley Her lifestyle changes have also had a ripple effect on her family. Her husband and small children also eat healthy, and her husband and several members of her extended family join her when she exercises.

“Without them, I would not be as motivated to get the exercise in,” she says. “They show up every day.”

Trembley knows, however, that only personal motivation keeps her committed to her new lifestyle.

“If I was to be a complete human being and love myself and be there for my family,” she says, “I needed to do this for me. It’s my personal desire to be active and healthy.”