Health Victories

Phat 2 Fit: Renee Morton’s Weight Loss Journey

Renee Morton was born and raised in Augusta, GA.

Three years ago she set out on her weight loss journey. She was motivated to get her surgery after having her yearly physical. “I saw how fast my heart was beating carrying all of my weight. That was the turning point and I needed to do something. I would walk a few steps and be out of breath. I got plantar fasciitis in both of my heels. I work at the hospital and used to deliver beds to the floors every hour. My knees were bothering me and I couldn’t keep doing this.”

As part of her physical, Renee was hooked up to an EKG machine. “I saw my heart pumping. Your heart is so small, so to see something that small going that fast and hard is scary.” Her doctor told her to go to the store and pick up a 5 lb. bag of sugar and walk every hour until tired. “I got tired after the second one. Even when you lose 5 lb.’s it’s a big deal.”

Renee says she has always struggled with her weight. “I have hypothyroidism, which is a condition where my thyroids are underactive. This causes my metabolism to be really slow. I would always lose weight and then gain it back. My primary doctor told me not to call myself fat and that for someone my size I was healthy. I didn’t have any health issues accompanied with someone as heavy as I was.”

Her doctor referred her to Dr. Renee Hilton, director of Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery at Augusta University Health. “I heard that Augusta University Health had a great weight loss program. When I called and spoke with Maria Immonen, Bariatric Program Coordinator, she helped me sort through and figure out my insurance coverage so that I would be able to cover the cost of this surgery. Maria was so sweet to me and helpful!”

Getting tested for sleep apnea is a requirement in order to have weight loss surgery. “I discovered through this process that I had sleep apnea. Sleep apnea does not run in my family. It really scared me, because if I wasn’t about to have weight loss surgery I never would have known I had it. The tech said my heart stopped beating 19 times every hour. I hollered. It started making sense why I woke up so tired. After finding out this news, I had my family go and get tested too.”

Renee says that weight loss surgery was her last resort. “I was going to be that success story. I put my mind to it and I did it. Dr. Hilton told me I was going to be a success, because of my mind.”

Her surgery started at 4 am and took about 2 hours. She was prepped and got her IV upon arriving. The standard recovery is 2 weeks, but Renee stayed out a month because of the physical demands of her job. “Some people get acid reflux. I had no complications afterwards. The body achieves what the mind believes. The only thing I had to do was to walk at night to help with gas. I followed all of their directions to the “T”.”

Renee made up her mind that this was going to be her journey and wanted to be as transparent as possible. She called her journey “Phat 2 fit” and has shared her experience through Facebook. “I took pictures of everything along the way. I gathered over 2k followers and people were telling me that I was a motivation, because I was so transparent. I showed people the good, the bad, and the ugly.”

Dr. Hilton knew about Renee’s journey and that she wanted to capture everything. “On the day of my surgery, I tried to sneak my phone in because I wanted people to see. After the surgery, I found out that Dr. Hilton had pictures taken and gave them to me!”

Renee says that “The surgery is just the tool. You still have to put in the work. You can’t just have the surgery and think you are going to go and get a Big Mac. You have to eat right and exercise, but if you follow the Bariatrics Weight Loss plan that Dr. Hilton provides to you, I promise you it will work! To be able to jog on the treadmill for 3 miles without stopping is an accomplishment. I am happy with where I am now. I have love for myself regardless of what weight I am, but I am not going back.”

Every year she does a photo shoot. “The girl I was then cannot sit with the woman I am now so let me reintroduce myself. It has been a powerful journey.”

Since her surgery, Renee is no longer on her sleep machine and doesn’t have heel spurs. “I have loved my journey and I love where I am at. Saving lives and helping people lose weight, one person at a time! This is what it’s all about.”

Start your own journey today.

To learn more about Augusta University Health’s weight loss program and the team that helped Stacey achieve her goals, visit

Take our Healthy Weight Quiz and find out if weight loss surgery is right for you.

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Augusta University Health