Maryellen Picchiello-Ruggiero


Bariatric Support Group Leader
Bariatric Life Coach
LIPO Founder

My name is Maryellen Picchiello-Ruggiero and I had RNY laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery on July 31st, 2006. I've lost 120 pounds. I went from a size 20, 2x to a size 8. I’m a Bariatric Coach and the Founder of LIPO (Long Island Post Ops).

I have struggled with my weight as long as I can remember. I began on my first diet at approximately 10 years old and have unsuccessfully dieted ever since. Before weight loss surgery, my experience with dieting was terrible; it was the only subject that I failed repeatedly. I had tried numerous diets such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, Overeaters Anonymous, along with any crazy fad diet that was suggested to me such as the "grapefruit diet", the "veggie soup diet" and probably the craziest of all the "frankfurter and vanilla ice cream diet" only to lose a lot of weight quickly but to regain it all back and then some!

My self-esteem has increased tremendously since my surgery and the positive results have allowed me to fulfill several goals and dreams. I now have a Bachelor of Science Degree with a concentration in Organizational Management. I've earned undergraduate certificates in both Leadership & Supervision and Human Resources Management. I am enrolled in a Masters Program. My work history includes numerous years in the travel industry as well as several years in Higher Education at a local college as the Associate Director of Admissions.

In 2007, one year after my weight loss surgery, I decided to tackle the free Obesity Help training to become a Support Group Leader and initiated my own group. My support group, LIPO, has enjoyed unparalleled success and currently claims membership of over 300 active members from all over the United States and Canada.

In 2008, I took advantage of Obesity Helps free Bariatric Coach training. I get tremendous satisfaction with helping others lose weight, maintain it, and achieve their goals. Weight loss surgery has helped me attain the confidence to be successful at these goals.

In the future, I hope to continue to earn more certifications in both nutrition and fitness. I feel that completing these certifications will not only help me to continue to "give back to the bariatric population" but also to continue to help myself live a healthier , longer life, as well as set the example for my children.

In 2007, one year after my weight loss surgery, some wonderful things happened: John T. Mather Memorial Hospital Bariatric Surgery Center along with my surgeon, Dr. Arif Ahmad, announced that they have been jointly named a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. To promote this distinction, they wanted to film a television commercial , and they needed some successful bariatric patients to audition. I decided to throw my hat in the ring.

Since my surgery in 2006, I have had numerous "WOW" moments. However, by far, one of my biggest is when I was asked and then chosen to be in my Bariatric surgeon’s very first television commercial. Click here for my 20 seconds of fame.

I have been called MANY things during my lifetime, but a “model” has NEVER been one of them! I feel humbled and honored by this experience.

I am finally at a point in my life’s journey where I consider myself VERY fortunate to have this second chance at life. My weight loss surgery tool and maintaining this weight has contributed to my current state of happiness.

Since having my surgery, I have achieved goals I NEVER thought was truly possible, such as running a 5K race for charity and modeling in several bariatric fashion shows. Today life is more fulfilling than I ever remotely imagined.

I originally started my support group-- LIPO (Long Island Post Ops)—because I felt the need to focus on more "post-op" issues and not so much to act as a selling agent for the pre-ops. (That seemed to be the case in several hospital support group meetings I had attended). I advertise my meeting as an additional support group meeting to supplement their doctors’ meetings, not in any way, shape or form to replace them. The key to success is support. Commitment, support, passion and motivation will assist anyone who is willing to try this mission. LIPONation has enabled me to encounter amazing lifelong friendships and for this I will always be grateful.

To all future bariatric or “post ops” reading this, I’d like to end this with my favorite quote. The author is a fellow weight loss surgery friend, Faith Thomas, "WLS is a journey, not a destination (don't get comfortable) ... it's a road that we must travel daily to succeed".