Tonya Bertram has been going through a breakup, and it’s been quite emotional for her. As is often the case, she will be better off in the long run. But it’s not what you think.
The breakup was with food – at least food in the same portions that Bertram was used to eating. Tonya, who works in one of the medical office buildings on the Alton Memorial Hospital campus, went through the AMH bariatric weight loss program last year, including gastric sleeve surgery performed by Dr. Matthew Musielak.
“I’m down 90 pounds,” Bertram said. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride, very emotional for me. Food breakup is real. But Dr. Musielak is fantastic. He doesn’t judge you. I was scared of all this at first, but it’s so worth it. I did have a goal for weight loss, but the main thing was to feel good.”
Dr. Musielak says the program is designed to help patients who have been limited by their weight to get their lives back.
“With hard work and following the recommendations, patients can be successful,” he said. “Tonya is a great example of that.”
And she feels great. Naomi Ward, RDN, LDN, a dietitian at AMH, has also been a big help to Tonya, coaching her on the right things to eat, particularly the correct amount of things to eat.
“I struggled with food addiction and ate according to my moods,” Tonya said. “I still struggle at times, but it’s protein first and limit the carbs. Bread and rolls were a big weakness for me. Now it’s lots of chicken, lunch meat, shakes and liquid protein.”
Ward said that Tonya has been one of the more persistent and diligent patients to go through the bariatric program, which started at AMH in 2020.
“I have watched her struggle with what Dr. Musielak and I would say versus what she heard on numerous bariatric support groups on Facebook,” Ward said. “She finally realized she needed to listen to us and make her own journey be successful. Tonya is much happier now. She is determined to succeed -- and I totally expect her to succeed.”
Tonya has three adult children, and a new grandchild has been motivation for her.
“I want it to be a little easier to get down on the floor with her,” she said. “Exercise is still an issue for me, I’m certainly not a gym rat and I don’t like to sweat. But I do a lot more walking now, take the stairs, park a little farther away. I used to have a bad ankle, but the pain is gone now and I have a lot more energy than when I started in the program.”
As Tonya meets with Ward in the dietitian’s office, a sign above the table reads: “Believe you can & you’re halfway there.” The positive thinking has paid off.
“I absolutely recommend this program to anyone who might be considering it,” Tonya said. “It’s a lifestyle change, but if I can do it I think anyone can.”
For more information about the bariatrics program at Alton Memorial Hospital, call 618-462-3191 or visit www.altonmemorialhospital.org/weightloss.
Pictured above: Tonya Bertram in dietitian Naomi Ward's office at Alton Memorial Hospital.