Mike Killmon doesn’t hesitate when he says Dr. Tarek Waked, MD, saved his life. The Salisbury, Md., native, who now resides in Rehoboth Beach, has been on a journey since 2020, when he decided that surgical weight loss was his best option to return to a healthy life.
He is an active figure in the entertainment industry, representing some of the top talent across the globe. The fast-paced and demanding nature of his job, paired with the shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in weight struggles and its related diseases. With additional health issues piling up by the end of 2020, he realized that he could not manage those struggles on his own and turned to weight-loss surgery to help.
“I didn’t have a roadmap before I met Dr. Waked, in terms of how to live a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “And it’s not just about food. It’s a whole personal reset, reinvention. It’s a process. It’s trial-and-error. With Dr. Waked, I have a blueprint now for what works for me, that’s customized to my lifestyle, life, to the work that I do.”
His lifestyle transformation, like many bariatric patients, didn’t change overnight with his gastric sleeve surgery. That is where he said board-certified surgeon Waked, Kim Hyatt, MPH, RD, LDN, and the rest of the Beebe Center for Weight Loss team helped him make permanent changes for the future.
“You always hear people say weight loss surgery is the easy way out, because they think, ‘OK, I’m going to get the weight loss surgery and that’s the easy way out. You know, everything from now on, it’s going to be so easy.’ And that’s a huge misconception, said Waked. “You know, I call it the healthy way out. That’s how it is, because you still have to put in a lot of work after surgery.”
The surgery provides patients tools so that they are biologically equivalent to someone who doesn’t struggle with weight. But Waked said one then must put in the extra effort after that.
“You have to follow a healthy nutrition plan,” Waked said. “You have to be more active. You have to deal with all the stressors that you have in life. You have to watch which medications you take, a lot of them. There’s a lot of what you, as the patient, have to put into it. And I see that daily in my patients. They put forth a lot of effort. And I always say I do the easy part. The surgery is the easy part. You do the hardest part, which is, changing your lifestyle for the years to come after surgery.”
Beebe’s Center for Weight Loss Surgery is led by Waked, an experienced surgeon who trained at the Mayo Clinic and has performed more than 2,000 successful weight-loss procedures.
The Center is designated as a Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) — an accreditation recognizing centers that set national standards for care with quality and safety measures.
In September 2021, Christopher Manieri joined the center alongside Waked and Hyatt to make up the center’s team.
Hyatt, a registered dietitian, guides bariatric patients through their pre- and post-operative period, which includes classes, support groups, and addressing any questions or concerns that patients may have along their journey.
Seeing the results
Once the surgery was complete, the real work began. Killmon said he understood that the surgery was just the beginning, and the tools to succeed were provided by the Beebe team to successfully lose weight.
It is this long-term relationship with his care team that helped him not only get back to a healthy weight, but also adopt and embrace meaningful holistic lifestyle changes that has permanently impacted his outlook on health and well-being. His Beebe team has collaborated closely with his fitness trainer, Eli Lynn, to provide a healthy balance of nutrition and a physical regime that has been paramount in his journey, it’s all about partnership and not isolated to a single surgery, or diet plan; Waked’s program is dynamic, multi-faceted, collaborative and long term oriented.
“With Dr. Waked and with Kim, they are always available to talk, and it’s comfortable and it’s easy because they care,” he said. “It’s rare, you know. I mean, before I started seeing Beebe providers, it was nearly impossible to get in touch with my physicians.”
The Beebe team has taken the time to get to know him not only as a patient, but as a person — to understand the unique challenges he will continue to face due to the nature of his work and associated lifestyle.
Rather than simply telling him to change, they have worked closely with him to come up with effective and simultaneous realistic plans that work for him and allow him to do what he loves without compromising his health.
“With Dr. Waked and Kim, even though their schedules are chaotic and busy, it doesn’t feel that way. It’s very personalized, and I feel very privileged and I’m sure that they make everybody feel like that,” Killmon said. “When I’m in the office or talking to them, it’s genuine energy and it makes me want to be a better patient and it makes me want to live a better lifestyle — it’s inspiring.”
Mike’s transformation isn’t complete. It is a lifelong journey filled with ups and downs. In addition to the motivation from the Beebe Center for Weight Loss team, he draws upon his career experiences, too, for inspiration every day.