As a veteran of the United States Army, Keith Speights had always been a relatively healthy, physically active person.
But things changed in his mid-30’s when he fractured his foot and hurt his back. Unable to play sports or hit the gym because of his injuries, Keith found himself living a more sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, mindless eating and snacking became part of his daily routine. As the number on his scale gradually climbed, Keith would change his eating habits for a few days, weeks, or even months in order to shed some unwanted pounds. He would lose 12 pounds, then gain 15. He would drop 20 pounds, then regain every ounce right back. It was a vicious cycle.
“I was pretty unhappy,” recalls Keith. “I couldn’t do what I wanted. I couldn’t even walk through the grocery store without having to sit down three or four times to rest.”
In fall 2017, tipping the scale at 346 pounds, Keith scheduled an initial consultation with Isam Hamdallah, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Saint Agnes Hospital. He feared the idea of surgery but wondered if it could be the solution he desperately needed to turn his life around.
A few months later, together, Keith and Dr. Hamdallah decided sleeve gastrectomy surgery was the right course of action, and the procedure was scheduled for May 1, 2018. The surgery went as planned, and it was during Keith’s recovery time in the hospital that he made a new, personal promise to himself.
“I decided I was going to take this very seriously and follow the program to a T,” said Keith. “The surgery is a tool. It was up to me to make the changes I needed to, to get my life back.”
Eating smart and clean has become a daily priority for Keith. He now prepares high protein, low carbohydrate meals; a typical dinner might include salmon, green beans, and a spoonful or two of sweet potato. He has cut sugar out of his diet completely. Instead of filling up on junk food, Keith drinks 64 ounces of water or low-calorie sports drinks throughout the day. As his weight has dropped, Keith’s motivation levels have skyrocketed. The idea of going for a long walk, bike ride around the block, or even a run, is no longer out of the question. In fact, he enjoys running 5Ks and is considering training for longer distances races in the near future.
“Through the process of losing the weight, I have learned so much about myself,” said Keith, now weighing in at 204 pounds. “It’s not about winning the race. It’s about getting into the race. It’s seriously a great feeling.”
Most recently, Keith launched a web site, letsgethypeoveryou.com, and began authoring a book, both of which encourage others to pursue their goals, celebrate their small victories, and embrace their personal triumphs. He unveils his own personal story of success, as a way of inspiring others to believe in themselves and take the steps necessary to become the best version of themselves. Perhaps his most important “bucket list” item, however, is a simple one: enjoying everyday life with his children and grandchildren.
“I no longer worry about whether or not I’ll be here to watch my kids and grandkids grow, and be part of all of the special moments in their lives,” Keith said. “I feel 20 years younger and have a new take on life. Saint Agnes gave that to me and I will forever be grateful for that.”