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  Back to previous page ¦ Weight-loss surgery stories ¦ Search stories

Life-changing surgery

Weight-loss surgery helps Powers Lake man
find the fun in his active lifestyle.
Michael Gunderson finally ran away from obesity with the help from weight-loss surgery
Weight-loss surgery helped Michael Gunderson finally run away from the obesity problem that plagued his love for outdoor sports. He is pictured here completing the Minot YMCA Half Marathon last spring.
  Michael Gunderson runs marathons, rides in long-distance bicycle events, lifts weights, hunts and referees football games. In short, he enjoys physical activities. He’s always lived an active lifestyle but since he lost 100 pounds following weight-loss surgery, Gunderson is really having fun.

Running, biking and moving in general have become easier, and therefore, more enjoyable. Gunderson has discovered advantages that he didn’t foresee, among them new professional opportunities in his job with the Field Operations Division at Customs and Border Protection at Portal.

Gunderson is excited about the prospect of helping fight natural disasters during emergency situations. Although he’d applied in the past to be a member of a special response team that assists with emergencies, Gunderson was never selected. Since losing weight, Gunderson was accepted and has completed training for an Intermediate Force Instructor School and is in training to be a member of the emergency response team. He had the opportunity to assist with the Fargo flood efforts last spring and said he looks forward to being able to help with other needs.

Gunderson’s enthusiasm is also motivating his family. Last summer he ran two half marathons. His daughter, Caitlyn, 14, ran a 5K (3.1 miles) race in Bismarck and has announced she is running the Kroll’s Diner Bismarck Half Marathon this September. His wife, Sue, and all four daughters participated with him in the long-distance Bike the Border.
Mike pulled Klaire, 3, in a wagon for 50 miles the first day. Caitlyn, Kylie, 11, and Chloe, 7, rode their bikes a good distance, too.

A man who believes in setting goals and accomplishing them, Gunderson lost significant amounts of weight several times. Unfortunately, he also regained it every time. He battled weight even as a child. As a college football player, he still remembers his dismay when the season was over and he stepped on a scale one day.

“I just about fell over. I’d gained 40 pounds,” he said. “I couldn’t believe I could have gained that much that fast. I’d drop up to 80 to 100 pounds over the years, and then I’d gain it back.”

In 2001, a friend had gastric bypass surgery. Gunderson began doing internet research and talking to people who had undergone surgery. Intensive research led him to the conclusion that he preferred the Fobi Pouch method to the Lap Band procedure and if he had surgery, he wanted to go to Medcenter One because of the doctors' extensive experience and positive patient outcomes.

Still, Gunderson delayed, thinking that he should be able to take off the weight with lifestyle changes. “Even though I stayed physically active, I kept gaining,” he said. “It seemed like no matter what I did, the weight just wouldn’t come off any more.” Tipping the scales at 342 pounds, Gunderson attended a free informational meeting at Medcenter One and followed up with an initial consultation. Although Gunderson had no medical problems related to his weight yet, he knew that it was only a matter of time. Two knee surgeries related to sports injuries were already behind him, and he knew the extra weight was putting a lot of stress on his joints.

On Sept. 24, 2008, Gunderson underwent weight-loss surgery at Medcenter One. Two weeks later, Gunderson refereed a high school football game in Powers Lake, where he and his family live.

“It was mentally important for me to get out there and get back on track,” Gunderson said. “Once I did that, I knew everything was going to be fine.”

More than a year after his surgery, the number on Gunderson’s scale is still dropping. In addition to changing his food consumption to “focus on quality choices,” Gunderson continues his physical regimen. His idea of fun is to drive to the Minot YMCA where he uses the swimming pool and weight room. He’s looking into buying snowshoes or cross-country skis to help him stay active outdoors during the winter.

“I’ve always enjoyed being active but it’s so much more enjoyable now,” Gunderson said. “Everything has gotten better. I’m more flexible and faster.”

Gunderson’s only regret? “Truthfully, I wish I’d done it back in 2001 when my buddy did. My life has improved that much.”

Click here for more information about weight-loss surgery or call 701.323.5300 or 800.932.8758, ext. 5300.


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