Shawn’s Story: Track Small Steps Toward Large Goals

Shawn W taking selfie in car after bariatric surgery

Shawn Walsh had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy at Penn Medicine with weight-loss surgeon Dr. Gary Korus in December 2017. In this blog, he talks about his newfound love of exercise and shares how he tracks his progress and celebrates his achievements.

Celebrate Where You Are

For Shawn, regular exercise wasn’t always part of his routine.

“I was never a big active person,” he said. “I love video games, which doesn’t really help you lose weight.”

However, there was one workout he liked, and recently, he’s come to enjoy it even more.

“Biking was one activity that I did before, but I really fell in love with it after surgery,” he said.

Shawn can be found on his bike several times each week. He said he likes taking in the sights and sounds of Philadelphia many miles at a time via the Schuylkill Banks trail that winds its way just west of Center City, past many historical and cultural landmarks.

“People are constantly surprised at what I’m able to do,” he said.

Look at Where You’re Going

Shawn also said his colleagues have taken notice of his progress – not only to his shrinking figure, but also to his expanding endurance. He’s now able to move quickly and easily across the sprawling University City campus where he works in IT, all while hauling the tools necessary to do his job.

“I couldn’t do all that before. If this was before surgery, I would have been exhausted before 10 a.m.,” he said.

As his fitness continues to improve, Shawn sets new goals for himself, including one he’d like to hit by the end of this year.

“There’s a rock wall at my gym, and I would have never considered climbing it before surgery,” he said. “I had a fear of climbing, a fear of falling and a fear for the poor person who has to stand at the bottom and hold the rope.

“For my first anniversary I’m going to climb that wall. And if it’s not for me, it’s not for me … But I can say I did it.”

See How Far You’ve Come

Shawn uses a spreadsheet to track his progress.

“I make what I call micro goals,” he said. “They’re little goals, things I can achieve in a certain timeline — but fairly quickly.”

This makes it so if Shawn misses the mark, he can see where he went wrong, and can also celebrate his successes when things go right.

“It keeps me on track, it keeps me accountable,” he said. “I can see where I started, where I’ve been. It’s really important.

“I’ll have months where I don’t think I did so well, but I look back at the numbers and it tells a different story.”

And those numbers, for Shawn, are life changing.

“If stay on my current trajectory, I should hit another 8-to-10 pounds a month for the next four months,” he said. “That will put me at the smallest I’ve been in my entire adult life.”

Keep Up with Shawn

Over the next several months, we’ll be checking in with Shawn to see how he’s progressing along his weight-loss journey. You can follow along here and on our Penn Medicine Weight Loss Facebook page.

About this Blog

Learn about bariatric surgery and get the support you need to continue on your weight-loss journey. We offer workouts, recipes and tips from Bariatric Surgery program team members, and stories from patients like you.

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