SALEM, Oregon — Two friends turned podcasters — Mel Gottfried and Kellie Wilson — are sharing their weight loss surgery journey every week in Our Sleeved Life Podcast. The two have created a community and will honor others with an awards show Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.
“We both had gastric sleeve surgery. I’m seven years post op and she’s three, but we’ve been friends for 23 years. It’s kind of crazy,” Gottfried said.
Our Sleeved Life is a podcast knocking down the stigma of weight loss surgery one episode at a time. It’s an open, honest conversation between two best friends.
It started as a way to help others by sharing their own experiences with bariatric weight loss surgery. It’s become an online community of hope, support, and information.
“I hope that they feel like we’re their best friends,” Wilson said. “That they feel comfortable and that maybe will help somebody out there make that decision to save their own life.”
Gottfried was the first to undergo surgery and then Kellie a few years later.
“I watched Mel go through it. I saw her blossom into this really great active person and I was like, I need help. I need something to help me get through this,” Wilson said.
While Wilson had that friend to lean on during her surgery, seven years ago Gottfried went through it alone.
“I didn’t have anybody. I didn’t have social media to lean on,” Gottfried said.
In 2020 Gottfried enlisted her best friend to create the community and support she never had.
“I have obesity. I have food addiction problems. I didn’t know until I put myself out there and now I can fix all the things and I feel great,” Gottfried said.
They rely on the expertise of dieticians, doctors, surgeons, life coaches… and other people going through their own weight loss journey. They’re also breaking through the stigma surrounding weight loss surgery.
“People think we’re dying over here. People think we’re regaining. People think we’re talking the easy way out, it’s just a staple,” Gottfried said. “If you’re not in this community, you don’t realize how hard people work. And it’s a full mindset change.”
The award show will be a way to shine a spotlight on everyday bariatric patients who are inspiring others with their stories, struggles and overall weight loss journey.
“Now we’re like, this is going to be annual because people want to be celebrated, and they should because people are putting in a lot of hard work just to get healthy and feel better,” Gottfried said.
It’s another step in their journey as they connect with others through their own experiences and create a community to get and stay healthier together.
“Just know that there’s a whole community here and if you want the help — you will get the help,” Gottfried said.
“The surgery gave me my life back and I think that’s, a lot of the time what people don’t understand — they call it 'the easy way out' but it’s not easy, but it saves lives," Wilson said.
For more information and tickets, visit www.oursleevedlifepodcast.com.