Triumph Times Two

After losing her husband seven years ago, Amy Stidham was faced with raising her two children singlehandedly while mourning the loss of her partner. As the years went by, she often found herself turning to food for comfort. Dieting helped Stidham shed excess pounds, but she was never able to keep the weight off for long. Having reached 257 pounds, Stidham began experiencing weight-related conditions such as sleep apnea, high cholesterol and back pain.

“I’ve been a lifelong yo-yo dieter,” says Stidham, 52. “I’ve tried different things and inevitably I would get going and then I would fall off the plan and gain the weight back again.”

Stidham’s children also struggled with weight issues. But things changed a year-and-a-half ago, when her 22-year-old son, AJ, told her he was ready to lose weight. Standing by his side, Stidham registered AJ and herself for Inova Medical Weight Loss Program, a nonsurgical weight loss approach, at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital. Although she didn’t know what would happen next, she hoped for a positive change that would get her family back on track.

The results were life-changing. During the program, Stidham, who is 6’2” tall, dropped 45 pounds. AJ, who is close to 7’ tall, weighed 427 pounds at the start of the program, shed 70 pounds, then went on to lose another 100 pounds on his own.

“AJ was a different person from when he started,” says Kajal Zalavadia, MD, a board-certified weight loss physician who guided Stidham and AJ throughout the program. “He was extremely dedicated and motivated because he saw all these changes he was making were definitely having a positive impact on his health. Both Amy and her son, AJ, were very successful.”

New Outlook

At the beginning of the program, Stidham and AJ were given a baseline weight report, a complete medical exam and a body composition analysis. During the next 12 weeks, they attended weekly weight-loss classes on the Inova Fair Oaks Medical Campus and had personalized consultations with Dr. Zalavadia and a dietitian who specializes in weight loss. In addition to weekly 45-minute workouts with an exercise specialist, they were given pedometers to help them track the number of steps they took each day.

“It’s helpful having the support system,” says Stidham. “They give awards out every 10 pounds you lose and it’s nice to go in and be cheered.”

For Stidham, the program proved to be much more than a way to achieve her desired weight-loss goal. All of her weight-related conditions were resolved through changes in diet and increased exercise.

“Amy was a perfect candidate for the program because we helped her reverse her current weight-related conditions and we talked about preventing any future ones from occurring,” says Dr. Zalavadia.

Life-Changing Impact

For AJ, getting started in the program took a tremendous amount of courage.

“I felt nervous at first, but once I started going regularly it felt normal and I felt welcome,” says AJ, who takes college-level classes online and walks dogs to earn extra money.

With help from Dr. Zalavadia and her team, AJ learned about meal portion control, the power of a positive self-image and the benefits of strength training. He even learned to incorporate new foods into his diet.

“I feel better overall,” says AJ. “The treatment got me to where I am now. In some ways I don’t think I could’ve done this on my own. So it was a good start and I’m looking forward to meeting my goal of getting to a healthy BMI.”

According to Dr. Zalavadia, he’s well on his way to achieving his target weight. “The goal of the program is to put people on a healthy diet that they can sustain even after they complete the program,” she says.

A Healthy Choice

Inova Weight Loss Surgery Program is another option for candidates seeking a permanent weight-loss solution and improvements in their overall health.

“Bariatric surgery should be looked upon mainly for its medical improvements, not just a weight-loss and cosmetic type of operation,” says Medical Director Amir Moazzez, MD. “It is by far the most effective way to get rid of chronic conditions caused by obesity, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.”

The specially trained staff includes a bariatrician, board certified bariatric surgeons who have performed over 8,000 surgeries, a nurse program coordinator, a licensed professional counselor, registered dietitians and exercise specialists. A fully accredited Comprehensive Center for Bariatric Surgery, Inova Fairs Oaks Hospital offers a customized program tailored to the needs of each patient.

Get Healthy

Sign up for a free informational weight-loss seminar or webinar by calling 703.348.4716, visiting or emailing


  1. Golda on March 10, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Help, how do I sign up

  2. andrea on March 26, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    can I get some information on the non surgical weight loss program I am interested I also work at Fair Oaks Hospital. Thanks

    • InovaNewsroom on April 9, 2015 at 8:53 am

      Thank you for your interest! It is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary 12-week program that will help you lose weight and learn how to healthfully keep the unwanted weight off. You will be provided with all the weight loss and weight management educational materials and behavioral tools you’ll need to meet your goals. Learn more on our website at or call us at 703-348-4716.

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