Troy and Misty Aucoin love to spend time together. But while most couples spend date night at the movies or a restaurant, the Aucoins often find themselves adventuring to new states for themed races or benefit runs. If you had asked the couple five years ago if they considered themselves active, they would have said no.

Both have a history of living healthy, active, even physically demanding lifestyles before battling health and weight issues later on. They weren’t ready to change their health habits and be more active until their size prevented them from safely doing so. The Aucoins needed to lose weight in order to become more active, not the other way around. Bariatric surgery was a healthy solution and has served this couple wonderful results.

At 230 pounds, her heaviest weight, 46-year-old Misty had already undergone a knee surgery due to weight-related strain. She was on over five medications for various health issues, including diabetes and high cholesterol.

“Doctors kept having to increase insulin. I was too young to go through that, but I almost felt like I was cheating if I got the surgery,” she says. Misty was skeptical. She not only feared the procedure itself, but worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep off the weight or maintain a new lifestyle.

“I could never lose more than 30 or 40 pounds, and I had always gained everything back,” she adds.

In December 2016, during the holidays no less, Misty began the three-month preparation period to have gastric bypass surgery in March. She followed a 1,400 calorie diabetic diet and completed the insurance requirements for the surgery. After a smooth procedure, she drank only liquids, then ate pureed foods, then moved to soft foods. Regular food was still a while off. She had to give up rice, soft drinks, and being able to eat more than two to three ounces of food at a time, but the benefits were almost immediate. Within a month of the surgery, Misty was off all of her medications and had lost enough weight to exercise safely. Misty lost 90 pounds in total. Three years later, she’s still at a healthy weight of 140.

“I didn’t think I would lose as much as I did. I wanted 50 pounds off and would have just been happy with that. I didn’t think I’d become so physically active.”

Troy, 51, supported his wife through her journey and recognized the same desire in himself. Growing up and into early adulthood, Troy played sports in school and later served in the military. When his service was finished, he struggled to be active and began to gain weight. He encountered the same issue as Misty: even after making a commitment to becoming more active, his weight prevented him from doing so without injury.

“Misty had inspired me to get physically fit, but my weight was hindering that,” he says. He weighed 300 pounds and signed up for a program at the Saint Francis Center for Surgical Weight Loss under the supervision of Dr. Robert Wegner. For six months, Troy followed a doctor-monitored diet and attended weigh-ins. Eighteen months after Misty’s surgery, Troy had the same procedure.

“I thought I wouldn’t like the fact that I couldn’t eat certain things, but now I eat to survive, not for enjoyment,” Troy says. He attests that his cravings have disappeared. Troy lost a total of 135 pounds, and best of all, he enjoys an active lifestyle.

“Even if I’m in the office, I try and get up at least once every hour. My phone tells me to get up and walk,” says Troy, who is now a certified running coach. Misty’s passion for health also led her to become both a certified fitness trainer and running coach. She completes yoga teacher training in March.

Last June, the couple made a goal to run a race in all fifty states, and six are already done. This December, the couple even completed the St. Jude Half Marathon, their longest race to date. Down the road, after they retire, the couple aspires to open a health and wellness center specific to helping bariatric patients adapt to post-surgery life.

“This process has been far above our expectations. We’ve had a complete turnaround in our priorities,” says Misty, “I can’t even remember life before this.”

By Lydia Podowitz

Photo by Tindall Stephens