Perfect Control



Mark Rector throws his bowling ball with an exacting finesse.

Standing almost to the foul line at the local bowling alley, he drops the ball from his fingers with a motion almost painfully slow, watching it gradually curve its way down the lane until it strikes pins with accuracy and control.

“I can tell when I’ve got it,” says Mark, who has logged three perfect 300 score games in his career. “You can just feel it when the game’s going right.”

Seeking control

For years, the competitive bowler had watched his life and his weight spin gradually out of control. At nearly 400 pounds, the Sheldon, Iowa man was facing a variety of health problems. It took weight loss surgery to give him the tool he needed take charge of his weight and get back his enjoyment of life.

“I was ready to change my life, but I needed something more to help me get that control,” Mark said before carefully rolling the ball down the lane. “My life is totally different today and it’s because I don’t have that weight.”

Mark grew up on a farm, where he was used to working hard and eating big to fuel his body for baling hay, walking beans and milking cows. As an adult he moved into a career with sales, marketing everything from furniture to farm and construction machinery, pork products to fire safety systems. Although his lifestyle had changed, his appetite hadn’t.

Growing in every way

Professionally his career was getting bigger. He reached new heights with a job selling residential fire detection equipment, setting national sales records for his company. At the same time, his steady weight gain was beginning to impact every aspect of his life. Mark developed high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and he was exhausted by mid-morning every day.

“I was unhealthy, short of breath, dizzy, with hypertension, over 100 pounds overweight and divorced,” Mark says. “Oh yes, I had continued to enlarge in every way.”

Soon he was seeking treatment for sleep apnea, also caused by his growing weight. He learned that the hard way. Mark was traveling his sales route late at night in rural Nebraska, when he was pulled over by a state patrolman who informed him that he’d appeared to be asleep at the wheel for the last eight to 10 miles.

A new direction

In 2006, Mark decided it was time for a change. He was ready for a new lifestyle, but knew that he needed some kind of tool to help him get back control.

He consulted with bariatric surgeon Dr. Dennis Glatt and decided that laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery would be his best option. The procedure would place the lap-band, a device that could be tightened or loosened by adjusting the amount of saline inside, around the upper portion of his stomach.

“I liked the idea that this was something that could be adjusted as I needed it,” Mark said.

After the surgery in Sioux Falls, Mark adjusted to a new diet that limited his intake to about 4 ounces of food at a time. His diet changed, focusing on the kind of foods that were healthy fuel for his body and made him feel good.

Over the first two years he lost over 70 pounds. Today he’s well over 100 pounds lighter, carefully maintaining his weight at around 260 pounds. His lap-band has needed few adjustments since he’s been so successful in changing his eating habits, he said.

A visible change

As Mark, now an advertising salesman for a local radio station walks around the community on sales calls, everyone notices his slimmer figure, he says. But more important are the differences that he notices – his cholesterol and blood pressure are back down to healthy levels. He has energy like he’s never had before.

“I’ve gained confidence and better health,” Mark said. “I live my life fuller than I ever could before.”

Mark now bowls once a week with his adult son. He easily plays with his two grandchildren and never has to worry about those limits his weight used to put on his game and his travels, like how to fit into an airplane seat or simply reaching down to tie his bowling shoes.

“My life is amazing,” says Mark, watching his bowling ball knock all ten pins to the ground. “I get to have the privilege to be a part of my family’s lives for a much longer time. And I’ve got plenty more games to bowl.”

Posted Date: December 2011

Perfect Control

Salesman and competitive bowler Mark Rector was on the fast track, as both his career and his body size enlarged beyond his control. What would it take for him to take charge of his weight and health?