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Messer is Manteca Unifieds big loser
Superintendent drops 90 pounds to turn health around
LEFT Messer 4 Oct 2013
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer went from extra-large size shirts to small after undergoing gastric bypass surgery six months ago. He is pictured at his office on the third floor of the district office. - photo by ROSE ALABNO RISSO/The Bulletin

Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer is a big loser. But he came out of that being a winner.

Big time.

And he is not mourning his loss. In fact, his goal is to maintain that status quo because his life-affirming gain hinges on that. That is easy to see when the loss-gain balance is put into a graphic equation, which would look like this: weight loss = good health = a win-win situation.

Since May of this year, Messer has shed 85 to 90 pounds as of the first week of October, going from 245 pounds. down to a range of 160-165 pounds. That’s only five to 10 pounds more than his weight of 155 pounds when he was in high school.

As for his wardrobe, he has gone from extra-large shirts down to small size; his slacks from a waistline of 38 to 40 inches down to 32 inches.

He doesn’t own any of his pre-surgery clothing; he doesn’t fit into them anymore. All his clothes are totally and completely new.

On top of all that loss, the three ailments that were the bane of his existence six months ago are all gone – high blood pressure for which he took four pills a day, sleep apnea and diabetes. He was actually two points away from being pre-diabetic. After his wife, Kristen, noticed his breathing problem at night, he took a CPAP test which confirmed he had sleep apnea. An EKG (electrocardiogram) procedure also revealed abnormal activity in his heart. But those health problems are all behind him.

And, quite understandably, the 43-year-old superintendent is happy with his life today.

The simple explanation behind all that is summed up in three words: gastric bypass surgery.

Surgery was for

health reasons

“It’s not a diet but a tool,  said Messer of the laparoscopic surgical option he chose which removed 80 percent of his stomach.  I did it for health reasons because I was always feeling exhausted, not feeling good. I hated being worn out,” and being grumpy when he got home because of all his weight-related health issues.

“I love this job so much,” he added, and would like to retire as superintendent in 13 years, which is why he made the decision to be pro-active and go the gastric bypass route to be in the pink of health.

The surgery was performed at Valley Care Hospital on Estakhri Drive in Pleasanton. It was not an invasive procedure; the entire operation took only one-and-a-half hours.

After the surgery, he was put on a liquid diet and had to drink water every five minutes. After that short regiment, his diet consisted of pureed food such as pudding and apple sauce followed by very small portions of solid food such as yogurt. Those diet limits were intended to allow the stomach and digestive system to heal.

On a typical day, he ingests one cup of 25-50 grams of protein. His goal is to go to one cup or one-and-a-half cups of that three times a day.

Today, six months after the surgery, “I can eat anything,” he said, but has to watch portions - half a cup of solid food each time. He also to make sure the food is high in protein such as beans, meat, tofu, and hummus. He takes three regular meals a day plus 70 grams of protein shake.

For the rest of his life, he has to take calcium pills three times a day as well as multi-vitamins, and B12 twice a week.

Time off from work that someone would need to undergo this type of medical procedure is around four to six weeks. But Messer was able to use two weeks of medical leave plus one week of vacation which about cut in half the time he had to take off from work. In light of that, it would probably be best for one who is a teacher to have the procedure done in the summer, noted Messer.

He reiterated gastric bypass is not a form of dieting and that there are rules one has to follow for it to be successful and problem-free. He doesn’t eat and drink at the same time so as not to overload the reduced stomach size. No carbonated drinks either, for the same reason, and no beer. Wine is okay, but only in small doses.

The cure rate for diabetes as a result of a successful surgery is 90 percent. For apnea, the cure rate is even better - 100 percent.


Better choices

post surgery

“I make better choices now,” he said, when it comes to food as a result of the gastric bypass surgery.

“I don’t eat potato chips. I eat little starch. I eat little carbohydrates. And I eat fruits and vegetables now.”

The removal of 80 percent of the stomach also means cutting off that much hormones in that part of the body. Those are hormones that are related to food cravings, hormones that make one want to eat. With a large part of that gone, the craving for food is lost as a result. Sometimes, Messer said, “I have to tell myself to eat.”

He does a lot more exercise post-op, too, although that is a lifestyle change, he pointed out. He did buy a bicycle but it s mainly hanging in his garage.  However, he makes up for that by taking the three flights of stairs up and down the district office   his office is on the third floor   and parks farther out in the parking lot for additional leg work. He also does more yard work at home than before.

One evidence pointing to the positive effects of the surgery happened while on a cruise to Puerto Rico. During stop there, they went on a two-mile hike at a national park. At one point, his mom needed some assistance walking.

“I was able to help Mom. I never would have done it a year ago,” Messer noted.

And, he added, “I’m more happy with myself,” than before.