Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Christie reveals secret stomach surgery to lose weight

Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent lap-band stomach surgery to aggressively slim down for the sake of his wife and kids, he revealed to The Post last night.

The Garden State governor agreed to the operation at the urging of family and friends after turning 50 last September.

He told The Post he was thinking of his four kids and how it was time to start improving his health when he decided to have the procedure.

"I've struggled with this issue for 20 years," he said. "For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them."

He also insisted that, contrary to what observers may say, the effort to slim down was not motivated by thoughts of a presidential bid.

"It's so much more important than that," he said.

Christie checked in to a surgery center on Feb. 16. A source said he registered under a false name.

The operation included placing a silicone tube around the top of his stomach, where it restricts the amount of food he can eat at one time and makes him feel fuller, faster.

"A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full," he said of his newly tamed appetite. He declined to say how much he lost, but sources said he has already shed nearly 40 pounds.

Christie has struggled with his weight for decades. He sometimes jokes about it, while other times, it's a sensitive topic. Insiders said it was the only thing keeping the straight-talking executive from higher office.

Despite Christie's denials, political fund-raisers say that the surgery is a clear sign that he's going to join the 2016 race — and will do whatever it takes to win.

"This means he's running for president. He's showing people he can get his weight in control. It was the one thing holding him back," a top political donor told The Post.

Sources said Christie didn't make the decision lightly — he even had private conversations about the operation with once-rotund Jet coach Rex Ryan.

Ryan lost about 100 pounds — down from a massive 350 — after he had the same procedure done in 2010.

Christie has never revealed his weight, but estimates have run from about 300 to 350 pounds.

He hired the same ace laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon as Ryan — Dr. George Fielding, head of NYU Medical Center's Weight Management Program.

Christie employed cloak-and-dagger tactics to hide the operation. First, he never went into Fielding's office for medical visits — instead, the doctor came to the governor's house in Mendham, the sources said.

He managed to keep it under wraps for nearly three months.

Christie said he went under the knife at 7 a.m. for 40 minutes and was home the same afternoon.

As he drops pounds, doctors will pump more saline solution into the lap band, restricting his stomach further and forcing him to eat even less.

In 2006, Christie said in an interview that getting a more involved surgery — gastric bypass — was never a consideration because it was "too risky."

Christie, a Republican who is running for re-election as governor this fall, saw his girth become a campaign issue in the 2009 governor's race, when Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine's campaign ran TV ads with extremely unflattering videos of his rival.

But Christie defeated Corzine.

The enlivened pol said that he knew the clock was ticking on his health and that the time had come to do something drastic.

"I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, ‘I have to do this for them, even if I don't give a crap about myself,' " he said.

This article was originally published at nypost.com

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