|“I was a heart attack waiting to happen. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea,” says John, a 37-year-old husband and father of two young boys. “I was taking several medications. My weight was out of control.”
As a professional sales manager who was on the road a lot, John’s weight crept up over a period of years. “I put on most of the weight during my twenties and thirties,” he says.
At 340 pounds, and after several futile attempts at dieting, John had reached the point where he wanted to take action. “My primary care doctor suggested looking into bariatric surgery. I did some research and went to an informational seminar at Columbia St. Mary’s,” he says. The seminar was conducted by Joseph Regan, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at Columbia St. Mary’s Bariatric Center. “I met with Dr. Regan and we agreed that gastric bypass surgery was a good choice for me,” he says.
John’s surgery was done in March, 2006. “I went into this with the mindset that it would be a second chance that I didn’t want to take for granted. I lost 100 pounds in the first year and I wanted to get down to about 175 pounds. Now, I weigh between 185-190 pounds. I have been at this weight for a while, so I think that’s where my body wants to be,” he says. To top it off, he has been able to stop taking all medications.
Exercise was no piece of cake at first, but it’s now a permanent part of John’s routine. “I leave the house at 5:00 a.m. and go to the gym before work. I spend about 90 minutes on cardio and weight training. Now it’s a habit,” he says. “When I’m on the road, finding a hotel with a fitness center is a priority.”
One of the achievements that John is happiest about is his participation in The Best Dam Bike Tour, a 150-mile bike ride that benefits the illness Multiple Sclerosis. “My mom struggled with MS for more than 20 years. After she died, I wanted to do the ride as a tribute to her, so I set that as a goal for myself, and I completed it,” he says.
Not only did John complete that bike tour, he has also begun doing triathlons. He competed in the Pewaukee Triathlon, finishing the event in well under two hours. “I introduced my boys to the activity, too,” he says. “I want to be a positive influence on them.”
John’s wife and sons are very excited about his progress. “This experience has done a lot for us. My wife and I share the cooking, which is much healthier now. We’re reading labels,” he says. “One of the biggest challenges has been to train myself to eat the right way. It’s almost like learning to eat all over again. Now, I think twice about going through the drive-thru. And, I’m wearing the same size pants I wore in high school!”
Another great result of John’s weight loss and newfound health is his ability to play a much bigger (no pun intended!) part in his sons’ lives. In fact, he coached his son’s Little League team this year. “I always went to the games, but now I can take an active role,” he says.
Overall, John’s experience with bariatric surgery has been extremely positive. “It has exceeded my expectations,” he says. “I would do it again in a heartbeat. The challenges are much smaller than the rewards.”
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