While most spouses strive to see as much of their soldier as possible while they’re deployed, one spouse spent nine months keeping in contact from only the neck up.

“We Skyped every day,” said Sarah Alber, wife of Sgt. Patrick Alber, a heavy construction equipment operator assigned to the 232nd Engineer Company, 94th Engineer Battalion. “But I always wore high-collared shirts and never let the camera go below my shoulders.”

Sarah said she was determined to change her lifestyle and to be a happier, healthier person for Alber and their 4-year-old daughter, Delila.

At 327 pounds, Sarah said she suffered from a long list of health-related issues including diabetes and high cholesterol. She said her weight also led to chronic back pain resulting in surgery.

Sarah’s health issues eventually led to physician approval for a gastric bypass surgery, but the surgery date was to take place two months before her husband was scheduled to deploy.

Both Sarah and her husband said they were concerned about her recovery in his absence, but they eventually agreed that the potential for a great outcome outweighed the risks.

“I was worried for her,” said Alber. “I just wanted her to feel better, she had been battling with the weight loss for a long time and I just had faith that it would all work out.”

Alber said he spent the next couple of weeks after the surgery helping Sarah recover before he left.

After Alber’s deployment to Kuwait in January, Sarah enlisted help from friends and family members as she continued her journey toward a healthy lifestyle with changes to her diet and a new exercise routine.

“I cannot tell you all how much it means to have you here to help support me in this journey as I hope that I can help inspire people as well,” Sarah wrote in June on her online journal titled, ‘My Everyday Struggle.’

With more than 600 followers, Sarah held a virtual 5-kilometer run with supporters running from around the world including Alber who ran in Kuwait and finished first among the group. She also posted daily challenges, ran in marathons and encouraged others to live a healthier lifestyle through fitness and healthy eating habits.

“It’s been truly inspiring to watch Sarah go through this weight loss journey,” said Krystal Shea, a friend of the Alber family. “It’s been challenging, but incredibly rewarding. Her inner beauty has blossomed for everyone to see.”

Alber and the rest of the 232nd Engineer Company returned to Fort Leonard Wood Oct. 8.

Sarah had written a list of all of the things she had done while Alber was away that had contributed to her weight loss and once Alber had read the list, Sarah removed the poster and revealed her 148-pound figure.

“My heart stopped,” said Alber, who said he was speechless that day.

But the Alber family said that the healthy lifestyle doesn‘t stop here. They plan to continue the new exercise and diet together.

And Sarah says that the journey has been worth it.

“Even the sick parts, even with the struggle,“ said Sarah. “I wouldn‘t change a thing.”