St. Charles woman loses 170 pounds
ST. CHARLES – St. Charles resident Colleen Wartman used to work up a sweat just walking across a parking lot.
“Going to appointments, I would be like, ‘I’ve got to just wait for somebody to leave, because I can’t possibly walk from the back of the parking lot,’ ” Wartman said.
These days, she is 170 pounds lighter following bariatric surgery at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva in December 2016 coupled with healthy eating habits and exercise. The 53-year-old Wartman is now ready for her next goal – running in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7.
She has been training since April for the 26.2-mile race. Her goal is just to finish the race.
“I’m not a competitive runner,” Wartman said. “I’m really about finishing. I want to be able to finish the race, that’s it.”
Wartman is now down to 179 pounds. She is happy with her current weight.
“I know I’m at a healthy weight for me,” she said. “I feel really good.”
Wartman had struggled with her weight for most of her life.
“I kind of gained and lost,” she said. “I did tons of diets. I’ve always been a pretty active person, but after I had kids, I really was much less active and never really lost that weight. And then it just ballooned. I wasn’t living my fullest life.”
She admitted she was addicted to food. Wartman said she would turn to food for comfort.
When she reached a high of 350 pounds, Wartman decided to undergo bariatric surgery.
“I knew that I was shortening my life,” she said. “I was lucky. A lot of people at my weight have diabetes and heart disease. Luckily, I didn’t have that. I wanted to live a long life and a high quality life for myself and my family.”
After losing the weight, Wartman said she now “feels free.”
“I feel free to walk places,” she said. “I feel more comfortable in my body, so I feel more comfortable around people. I just feel different.”
Wartman will be running in the Chicago marathon as part of the Team World Vision marathon team at Chapelstreet Church in Geneva. She has a goal of raising $3,000 to support Team World Vision’s mission to provide clean water in some of the most remote areas of the world.
“We have a really big team and a lot of us are first time runners,” she said.
As it turns out, Dr. Matthew Pittman, medical director of the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital in Geneva as well as bariatric dietitian Audra Wilson are also running in the race.
By making the stomach smaller, gastric bypass surgery restricts the amount of food eaten and reduces the number of calories the body absorbs. Pittman said he is more than pleased at the progress Wartman has made following the surgery.
“Colleen had told me that she wanted to be one of those patients that you want to put on a billboard,” Pittman said. “She has been absolutely that. She’s just done incredibly well. It’s always tough post surgery, and she had the same battles that everybody else does, but she really pushed through them and really embraced exercise and just made it such a big component. That’s why she has been so successful.”
Pittman said that Wartman “exceeded expectations” with the amount of weight she lost.
“But there’s no limit on what somebody can lose,” he said. “You want them to get down to a healthy weight. She’s done it in a really healthy way. She’s maintained her muscle mass and she’s become more athletic. She’s really done well.”
Wartman admitted that training for the marathon has been physically challenging.
“I carried a lot of weight on my joints for a long time and I’m 53,” she said. “And I’ve never run. It’s been painful.”
But running in the Chicago Marathon it is something she is determined to do.
“It’s something I never, ever thought I would be able to do,” she said. “I probably am as equally afraid as I am excited. I did a lot of praying about it and I really feel like I was led to do this.”
She also is committed to not regaining the weight.
“The way I feel now, I don’t ever want to go back to the way I felt then,” Wartman said.