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Jaquita Hayward

“On the outside I was fine, but inside I was crying. I knew I wanted to make a change and commit myself to weight loss but wasn’t sure it was the road for me.”

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Trust the process

For Jaquita Hayward, 50, of Cleveland, snacks and sweets were some of life’s greatest pleasures. A self-described “junk food junkie” there was never a shortage of treats in her household.

“On the outside I was fine, but inside I was crying. I knew I wanted to make a change and commit myself to weight loss but wasn’t sure it was the road for me,” said Jaquita.

Several of Jaquita’s family members and friends had elected to have weight loss surgery at the Center for Bariatric Surgery at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. Jaquita was impressed with the results but had called her insurance provider a few years earlier and was told the procedure was not covered. When she called to see if anything had changed, she was pleased to hear there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the surgery was now covered.

“If I had never made the call I would still be wondering and sulking, wishing I had the help. Choosing St. Vincent was easy. It was always a neighborhood hospital and a staple in the community. You ask yourself who would be the best to do it – how about the ones who started it in the first place?” exclaimed Jaquita.

“I realized I needed that time to learn. I had a whole life of unhealthy eating habits, I needed that time in order to retrain my mind for success.”

— Jaquita Hayward

Moving Forward

Making the decision to undergo surgery, Jaquita felt it was important to let her family and friends know about her decision.

“The first people I told were my husband and son. My husband didn’t really understand why I wanted to make this change since I had been this size for so long, but he understood the decision was something that meant a lot to me. It was also important for me to show my 11-year-old son that I was walking the walk. I always talk to him about healthy eating and exercise and I wanted him to see me going down a healthier path.”

Prior to her surgery, Jaquita spent time with an integrated health team at St. Vincent who walked her through the steps and taught her the tools for continued weight loss success. The process is more than just a surgical procedure, it’s a change in lifestyle and daily habits and the team made sure Jaquita felt confident the entire way.

“I had to lose weight prior to even having the surgery. It was around a four-month preparation period and during that time I learned good habits from the team- what to eat, what not, how to not overdo it.”

At first, Jaquita felt a bit frustrated with the idea of waiting for the procedure, but then found the process to be very helpful with keeping up her weight loss goals.

“I realized I needed that time to learn. I had a whole life of unhealthy eating habits, I needed that time in order to retrain my mind for success.”

“If I had never made the call I would still be wondering and sulking, wishing I had the help. Choosing St. Vincent was easy. It was always a neighborhood hospital and a staple in the community. You ask yourself who would be the best to do it – how about the ones who started it in the first place?” 

— Jaquita Hayward

The Sweet Taste of Success

Jaquita underwent the sleeve gastrectomy and successfully lost over 70 pounds. Afterwards, she looked forward to milestones some take for granted like being able to shop in certain stores or pull the seatbelt all the way across on an airplane.

What does this reformed junk food junkie do now to satisfy her sweet tooth?

“Fruit can really satisfy you, a few cranberries and nuts or just pure fruit can give you that sweetness. I’ve also found low calories protein bars with real fruit and yogurt that do the trick!”

To maintain her weight, Jaquita focuses on using the tools provided by her support team at St. Vincent.

“Healthy eating and exercise is key because that helps not only get more weight off, but keep it off while keeping your heart pumping right. I don’t just want to be thin and not able to walk up steps. Thin can be unhealthy too. I want to be healthy in every way possible and I am able to achieve that with the tools that I learned.”

When asked what advice she would give to someone who is considering bariatric surgery, Jaquita encourages them to trust the process.

“It can seem like your goal is far off, but it works, everyone who had this surgery walked the same walk, you can do it, trust the process.”

“I don’t just want to be thin and not able to walk up steps. Thin can be unhealthy too. I want to be healthy in every way possible and I am able to achieve that with the tools that I learned.”

— Jaquita Hayward

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