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Go for Bold helps Meritus employee take off pounds put on during COVID

February 16, 2024 - Meritus Story

Tammy Ware says that determination runs in her family.

The clinical educator at Meritus Medical Center noted her father had a heart attack at 45. But through determination, he not only recovered but went on to run – and complete – five JFK 50-miler ultramarathon races.

Her mother suffered two bouts with cancer. With the second, doctors gave her two years to live. Through determination and treatment, she made it eight.

So, when Tammy, a mother of five and grandmother of 11, realized the weight she gained was exacerbating symptoms she was experiencing from multiple sclerosis, she was determined to do something about it.

“I couldn’t walk very far,” she said, noting she would be out of breath and barely able to take another step.

Through bariatric surgery and participation in Go for Bold – an initiative sponsored in part by Meritus Health to lose 1 million pounds as a community by 2030 – Tammy was able to shed 130 pounds since 2016 with 55 pounds from Go for Bold participation.

“My goal is to see my grandkids grow up,” she said, adding that they range in age from 2 to 13.

The Go for Bold initiative was started by Healthy Washington County, a coalition of public and private organizations with a mission to strengthen the health and wellness of our community and residents.

The initiative was sparked after a Community Health Assessment found Washington County residents had high rates of chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, among others.

To achieve the million-pound weight-loss goal, the initiative:

  • Focuses on increasing physical activity personally and through fun and engaging community-wide events
  • Incorporates mindfulness and stress reduction techniques into daily activities
  • Offers nutrition tips and healthy recipes that focus on fresh fruits and vegetables

Tammy’s journey started when she was diagnosed with MS in 2015, about five years after she started working at Meritus. However, she began to have symptoms starting in 2009. She went to cardiologists and pulmonologists at Meritus to get treatment for her heart and lungs.

“But the weight was my own,” she said.

She decided to consult Meritus Bariatric Surgical Specialists and underwent a sleeve gastrectomy. As a result of her surgery in December 2016, she dropped about 100 pounds.

Through diet and exercise, things were going fine, until COVID-19 happened. She added back another 25 pounds.

That’s when Go for Bold, started in 2020, helped her lose that weight and some. It was having to get on the scale once every two weeks that motivated her.

“It held you accountable,” she said.

She would exercise before or after work, visiting a gym or just walking 3 to 5 miles on the towpath at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. She also participated in classes and used tools Meritus offered in connection with Go for Bold.

With the final push from Go for Bold, Tammy was able to meet her long-term goal: Weighing less than what she weighed when she got her driver’s license when she was 16.

The whole process hasn’t been easy, but she credits the example set by her parents for her success.

“You have to be determined,” she said.

To learn more about the Go for Bold initiative, visit

Tammy Ware   2014 Crop

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