Meet Laura Van Tuyl - CEO of the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America
Laura Van Tuyl has not only been a member of the WLSFA board of directors for the past eleven years, she is also the President and CEO of the Foundation. Many in the WLS community know her as the lead planner of our annual WLSFA Bariatric Conferences.
Volunteering is in Laura’s DNA. In fact, Laura’s husband of 50 years, Larry, describes her as a “Professional Volunteer.” He would know. Larry and Laura spent 40+ years deeply involved in Christian ministry and training of church leaders, working side-by-side all around the world, including a span living in Russia.
Together the Van Tuyl’s have 2 adult children and 12 grandkids! They live in the Pacific Northwest, where Laura not only runs the WLSFA but also supports her local WLS chapter. A world traveler, when she gets an opportunity to escape, she likes to travel to Hawaii or Asia.
Laura is approaching the 20-year mark as a WLS patient. Not many people stay active in the WLS community for two decades. Laura has stayed active to both support others on their WLS journey, and also to support her own journey... "I give a lot to the WLS Community," says Laura, "but I get so much support and positive energy back - and that helps me navigate my own Journey, and for that, I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve."
Laura’s WLS Facts and Data
WLS Procedure: RNY
Age when you had WLS: 53
Where you had the procedure: Pacific Bariatrics in San Diego (under Kaiser oversight)
Your doctor: Dr. Tanneka
The date of your procedure: April 4, 2003
Favorite NSV participating in 5k and 10k events
Let’s learn more about Laura as we interview her about her weight loss journey.
QUESTION: What was your primary motivation and/or your thoughts that led you to WLS?
LAURA: I wanted to live to see my grandkids graduate from high school and get married.
QUESTION: What has been your favorite part of your WLS journey?
LAURA: living life rather than being an observer. I always felt like I was watching others live life -- the life I would never be able to participate in. I was not obese growing up. I began gaining weight after my first pregnancy. I graduated from high school at 110 lbs.
QUESTION: What was your least favorite – or hardest – part of the journey?
LAURA: Being self-accountable at times.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for pre-ops?
LAURA: Set your mind to stay the course of the journey. Begin setting down a foundation of good habits before wls. Don't let yourself look at WLS as the "end" of the journey of struggle. View it as the beginning of the journey with lots of learning and application of healthy principles out in place.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for newbies?
LAURA: Don't ask yourself or others … when can I add such and such a food item to your menu? It reveals a "diet" attitude. Ask -- what do I need to be successful and work that plan. Rejoice in your NSVs. Set MBS goals … 5K, going on a trip, buying a certain clothing item, etc.
QUESTION: How has WLS changed your life?
LAURA: It has given me the ability to live life and it has put a smile on my face as I have conquered things that have held me back. I feel comfortable in crowds.
QUESTION: Have you experienced any regain? How do you deal with regain?
LAURA: Yep. Staying away from evil processed carbs helps keeps me in check. Easy to say, harder to live.
QUESTION: What are your favorite foods – before WLS and after?
LAURA: I was a big-time bread eater before. Now, I just stay away from it. It helped me to understand my love of bread. It brought back hidden good memories of having garlic bread with my sister almost daily after a day of high school. Eating garlic bread and lots of talk and laughter. When I realized that, my love of bread actually came from my love of those happy moments it helped me gain control over the "call of bread". Lol
QUESTION: What are your favorite exercises – before WLS and after?
LAURA: - Walking
Laura’s Role with the WLSFA
Laura: I have been on the board for 11 years. I attended the very first "official" WLSFA meet and greet in Las Vegas. I was immediately intrigued and impressed with the vision of Antonia Namnath, WLSFA Founder, to raise funds to save lives. I have been involved in most of the different aspects of the WLSFA through the years. For the past several years, I have been the event planner for conferences as well as the Stomp Out Obesity virtual 5K, and I am currently the Foundation's President and CEO.
Laura can be reached at Laura@wlsfa.org