"It's like being an alcoholic," Garcia said. "Our thinking gets us into this situation, and that's why they have the 12-step program with the surgery, so you learn to deal with your thoughts."
Once he had the surgery, in May 2011, he said that changes began happening immediately.
"My sugar levels came down drastically," Garcia said. "I was on insulin, but now I don't have to take any medications at all."
He now weighs 232 pounds and does 6 miles on an elliptical exercise machine every day. He's also been lifting weights and building muscles. His waist circumference, at 48 inches when he had the surgery, is now 36 inches.
"Exercise has really motivated me and changed my depression," Garcia said. "It was hard having so many issues with my health."
When first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Garcia's hemoglobin A1C levels (a measure of blood sugar levels for the previous two to three months) were 16 percent. Someone without diabetes generally has levels below 6 percent. His last A1C was 5.6 percent. And, his triglycerides were down to normal, at 133.
Garcia said he's still very careful about what he eats. He tries to stay away from meat and processed foods. A typical day's diet begins with a protein drink and a banana, followed by a salad for lunch and a Portobello mushroom quesadilla for dinner.
"It's a big adjustment and a lot of hard work," he said. "You have to be committed. You can't just think that the surgery is going to be a miracle."
But he said the hard work has been worth it.
"I feel like someone just turned the lights on," he said. "I had a glaze in my eyes, but in the last four months I can see everything clearly again. I feel like a totally new person."
Find out more about weight-loss surgery's effects on diabetes, here.
All rights reserved