Erika Littles is the Director of Corporate Business Development & Partnerships for a new national television network, the Black News Channel. The 49-year-old's days are filled with sales and advertising responsibilities, in addition to those of wife and mother of an active 13-year-old daughter. But until this past year, Erika's stamina and ability to keep up with her job and family were impacted by her weight.
“It started when I was 18 and left home for college,” she said. “I gained the 'freshman 15' and just couldn't lose it. I had always been active but in the last 10 years that activity level dropped significantly as my weight increased. It affected my ability to do things with my daughter. When other mothers were cheering their daughters on, I was sidelined. I'd say in my weight loss journey, my daughter has been my key inspiration.”
Erika's weight loss journey began in February 2019 at the Capital Regional Bariatric Center. “When my weight hit 289 pounds and I was a stone's throw away from 300, I thought this is not my life,” she said. “But I saw no way to stop. I was getting up in the middle of the night snacking. I was stress eating. But I knew, that as an older mother, if I wanted to be around to see my grandchildren, I had to make a change. I want to live a good, long life. I want to be present for my family.”
It was a google search that initially put Capital Regional on Erika's radar. “I did research on their services and the physicians associated with the bariatric program and surgery,” she said. “They had very positive reviews. “Then, a discussion with her primary care resulted in a referral to the program. “I asked my doctor if this was a good choice and he said yes.”
In June, Erika's surgeon, Roy Schwartz, MD performed the sleeve gastrectomy which reduced the size of her stomach. This procedure reduces the amount of caloric intake needed to make an individual feel full.
Fortunately for Erika she had no co-morbidity issues to deal with. She wasn't on any medications. “I was as healthy as a fat person can be,” she said. “The mental part of the process was the most difficult for me. I got a little depressed after surgery. A friend pointed out that I was in mourning, missing the food. This was a huge issue for me.”
“This journey is different for everyone,” she said. “I feel great as far as losing the weight, but it will always be a process. I still have cravings. I still want to eat after 7 pm. It's like an addiction – it's always going to be there. That's why using all the tools you are given at the Bariatric Center is key to success. I attend monthly support group meetings. I've benefitted from the nutrition classes. When I am on the verge of making a bad decision about food, I remember something I learned in a class and use it to make a healthier choice."
Since her weight loss journey began, Erika has lost nearly 90 pounds. She has more work to do to hit her goal of 155 pounds, but her life is already transformed. “Now when cheer competition comes around, I'm the first mom on the floor with my daughter. She tells me to slow down now.”
“I'm blessed to have found Capital Regional's Bariatric Center, and they are still here for me. If I have a question, or just need to talk, I know I'm welcome there. For anyone who has fought their weight like I did, I highly recommend checking out this program. It can change your life.”