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Former bariatric surgery patient gives new life a tri

[December 21 2011] - Two years ago, Jeff Singer came to a realization: "I calculated that my daughters would never make it to middle school without going to their father's funeral."

At age 43, the West Hartford resident weighed 458 pounds and struggled with type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, an irregular heartbeat and other health problems. He had tried non-surgical weight-loss programs with limited success; and had pursued bariatric surgery a few years before but wasn't ready. When his doctor told him he couldn't take any more insulin, he decided to have the surgery. "I knew, it's either do this or die," Singer recalls.

In 2009, bariatric surgeon Carlos Barba, M.D., FACS, medical director of The Hospital of Central Connecticut's Center for Bariatric Surgery, performed Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on Singer. The procedure involves stapling part of the stomach to leave a small pouch, and bypassing parts of the small intestine to reduce food and fat absorption.

In the following months, Singer began rebuilding his life, changing his diet and exercising, of course, but also re-evaluating his goals. "This surgery is no magic bullet; It's a lot of work," Singer says. "The changes go beyond weight-loss. In the end, you need to do a complete transformation."

And he did. In September 2010, less than a year after his surgery, Singer competed in the Dave Parcells Madison Triathlon. Singer achieved his goal of finishing, but didn't stop there. He has since completed four more triathlons - participating in the Parcells event again this year and beating his previous time by 27 minutes. He was joined this year by Jason Reese, a physician assistant at the Hospital of Central Connecticut's bariatric surgery center.

In addition to triathlons, Singer spends two to three days a week weight training, does a Spinning class once a week and is back skating as a Level 1 USA hockey official, a passion he'd given up 12 years ago. His weight is down to around 200 pounds and he's gained nine pounds of muscle mass.

"There's no such thing as ‘maintenance'" after bariatric surgery, he says. "You constantly have to adjust your diet, your workouts."

Singer plans to compete in more triathlons with ultimate goal of doing an Ironman triathlon.

He still attends The Hospital of Central Connecticut's bariatric support group meetings, talking with those who haven't yet had surgery and those who, like him, have found bariatric surgery an invaluable tool in building a new future.

On his phone, Singer keeps a picture of a trip he took to Disney with his three young daughters before surgery. He's sitting in the photo - something he had to do a lot, he says. When he returned to Disney in November 2010, he was half his original size, and was carrying one of the girls on his shoulders.

"Life was different this time," he says. "Life was good."





Jeff Singer of West Hartford proudly crossed the finish line in the Olympic Revolution3 Triathlon in Middlebury June 4. Singer weighed nearly 460 poun