3 Generations of One Family Lose More than 500 Pounds Combined

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You can see it in Donna Pitman's old family photos -- weight has always been a struggle.
"We're five generations of people that have the "'fat gene'," says Donna Poole.
Donna weighed more than 300 pounds. Her son Mike more 400 pounds, and his wife Lori was big. So was their son, Josh.
"I was 300, right at 350 pounds," says Josh Poole.
The more the Floyd County family dieted, the bigger they got.
"I'd try so hard. And it would stay off a year, or whatever. But if I ever slowed down, and lost my focus, it came back with a vengeance," says one of state's first female prison superintendents.     
Her son, Mike Poole, says he wasn't always a big guy. It changed when he got married and started commuting close to two hours for work. 
 "In looking back, I didn't realize how trapped I was, within my own skin. How much I limited myself," Mike Poole.
Mike decided to make a change. He came to see Dr. William Johnson, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Northside Hospital-Forsyth.
If Dr. Johnson would permanently alter - his digestive system - to limit how much Mike could eat, he promised to pull his weight, after the surgery.
"And that's where it comes down to lifestyle changes. Making changes in your diet. Making changes in your lifestyle, the exercise you're doing.  These surgeries, at the end of the day, are just tools," says Dr. Johnson.
Mike got the tool he needed.  And, three months later, Lori took the plunge.
"She  thinking was I was the guinea pig.  If I got through it, right away she would do it," says Poole.
Gradually, Josh started noticing big changes in his dad.
"His voice changed; energy levels were up, he wasn't just sitting around the house. He was up and doing stuff."
 and  then Josh says, "That's what got me thinking.  About myself."
So, two years ago, at 24, Josh became the third Poole to undergo weight loss surgery with Dr. Johnson.
"As I saw them shrink, it really made my heart just overflowed with joy.  And I wanted to be part of it. I was jealous,"  says Donna Poole.
 So, Donna - struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes, followed Josh's footsteps.
"I haven't met my goal yet, but so far I've lost 116."
Together, the four of them have dropped just over 550 pounds. Coaching each other through this new whole new life. 
"You cannot, you physically cannot eat more than a certain amount, our you're going to get sick. And eventually your weight will come back, if you push that boundary," says Josh Poole. "And that's the hardest thing, is trying to remember where that boundary is sometimes."
They're a work-in-progress, but finally on the right path.


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