January 3, 2024
For two decades, Aimee Cashion had researched and tried everything: Diets, medications, injections, hormone treatments and exercise regimens. Her inability to lose weight was far from a lack of effort or commitment.
A referral to wellness specialist Melissa Livingston, DNP, FNP-BC, at Memorial Weight Loss Center and Memorial Wellness Center got the 42-year-old on the right track to finding a lasting solution. Melissa was her biggest cheerleader and advocate, doing everything she could to help and support Aimee.
“Eventually, we came to the conclusion that I knew how to eat right and I was eating the right things, but I was eating too much of it,” Aimee recalled. “My hunger never stopped. I never knew what it was like to not be hungry.”
“The infinite diets, starvation with intermittent fasting, and juice cleanses that she had tried over the years left Aimee more ‘hangry’ with short-term weight loss that quickly reaccumulated once she ate ‘real food,’” Livingston said. “Aimee tried every prescription weight loss medication only to meet frustration when every medication, including injectables producing unpleasant side effects.”
After working through the weight loss program’s nutritional, psychological and pre-surgical steps, a sleeve gastrectomy performed by Dr. Fermin Fontan in April 2023 provided the major step to help Aimee “reset” her body. The surgical procedure removes approximately 75 percent of the stomach, inducing weight loss by restricting food intake.
“It’s just a great program”
In seven months, Aimee has lost 45 pounds and is only 5 pounds away from her target goal. Her metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea are gone, and her bloodwork is back in a healthy range. What’s more, her weight loss has alleviated excess stress on her lumbar scoliosis.
What Aimee most appreciates about Memorial Weight Loss Center is its comprehensive wellness approach that is tailored to each patient’s needs. “It was a really great experience for me. I just think it’s a great program,” she said. “I know that people from all over New Mexico come here and I just feel fortunate that it happened to be where I live.”
“Our providers collaborate with patients to assist in identifying the cause of hunger and cravings, recognizing emotional triggers, identifying related genetic predispositions, evaluating sleep patterns, and implementing self-care activities and stress reducing hobbies,” Livingston said. “Multiple tools, strategies, and interventions including weight loss medications are carefully selected for each patient to offer the best outcome for lifelong health and wellness.”
Using surgery as a tool, not a quick fix
Although she eventually hit the required BMI for insurance to cover her surgery, Aimee has always been met with the perception that she doesn’t fit the mold of a typical bariatric patient. “It’s just getting past those stigmas of what everyone thinks a bariatric patient should look like. I’m just glad that I got the opportunity.”
And while looking to lose weight, she said she always understood that surgery alone would not deliver the healthy lifestyle she sought.
“Surgery is a tool. It’s not a miracle,” Aimee said. “This procedure has helped me lose the weight, so that gave me the opportunity to just focus on my diet and the mental aspects. Losing weight because you’re not eating is not healthy. I’m losing weight but I’m eating, and I’m eating the right portions and the right food.”
Aimee also credits her primary care provider, Dr. Mai Oushy, for being so supportive during her journey. Dr. Oushy was yet another example of someone who provided Aimee with personalized and compassionate care within the Memorial system.
“Just take the first step”
In the new year, Aimee said she looks forward to taking on some strength training, something that was previously painful due to her weight’s impact on her scoliosis. And with so many people looking to fulfill health resolutions as the calendar turns to 2024, she encourages those struggling with weight to at least consider the services offered at Memorial Weight Loss Center.
“Our center offers comprehensive and personalized methods fit for each patient targeted to achieve their personal goals,” Livingston said. “Our interventions encompass a holistic design to influence all aspects of physical and mental health and wellness including management of obesity-related comorbid conditions.”
“My hope is that people who feel like they would like to do it, but they’re scared they might not meet criteria, is to just go for it,” Aimee said. “Don’t worry about other people and what they think. Don’t worry about insurance. Just take the first step to start the program.”
Learn about Memorial Weight Loss Center by calling 575.556.1849 or visiting MemorialWeightLossCenter.com. Register for a weight loss seminar at mmclc.org/weight-loss.