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A Better Daddy

After a day of work, all Travis Smith wanted to do was lie on the couch, eat chips and watch TV. But his daughters 7-year-old Kya and 3-year-old Kallie had other ideas.

“Daddy come outside and play,” they’d say, tugging on his arms. Sometimes he’d play a board game with them -- always indoors. More often than not he preferred to be left alone.

“I was constantly tired, my joints ached and I had a short fuse, especially with my daughters,” says Travis. “That's what motivated me the most: I wanted to be a better dad. No more fat and crabby.”

Travis’s wife, Allison, fully supported him. “I knew he wasn't happy the way he was," she says.

A serious commitment

At his all-time high of 348 pounds, Travis was ready for a change. He went on a strict diet, tracking everything he ate for three months -- and only lost three pounds. He knew exercise would help, but even a flight of stairs winded him.

His frustration led him online to explore weight-loss surgery. “My biggest concern was whether I could stick with the nutrition requirements afterward,” says the 33-year-old from Moorhead. “I had to be absolutely certain because I knew if I went back to my old ways, I’d never keep the weight off.”

He took another step and attended a weight-loss surgery informational seminar at Sanford in Fargo. A nationally designated Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence, Sanford offers a highly qualified team, a complete program and proven results.

“Sanford’s program is very involved, and that’s exactly what I needed to help me make the decision,” says Travis. “In my final surgical consultation with Dr. Garcia, he really laid it out for me. He said, ‘You’ve been to the classes, you’ve read the material, you know exactly what’s needed for success. Are you willing to do your part?’ My answer was yes!”

It all came together

On March 3, 2010, Travis underwent laparoscopic (minimally invasive) gastric bypass surgery performed by Dr. Luis Garcia, one of three board-certified weight loss surgeons.

Successful surgery and a rapid recovery set the stage for his new life of healthy nutrition, daily vitamins and regular exercise. His months of preparation taught him exactly what was needed and what to expect.

“My family was so supportive. That helped a lot,” he says. “Plus I’m so stubborn, hardheaded and not willing to fail.”

Other helps included online recipes and continued participation in Sanford’s support group.

After six months Travis reached his goal weight of 200 pounds. Today at 176 he works to keep his weight up -- but refuses to fill up with junk food.


“I have a ton of energy and love being active,” says Travis. “Now there are so many things I find exciting and fun -- so many adventures I never would have considered before.”

He ran his first half-marathon in May and plans to run another this year. In July he’ll go to Wisconsin for a “Tough Mudder” -- an extreme 10-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces.

His old favorites have become new, too. A hunter, he can quietly and quickly move through the deep woods. A fisherman, he can effortlessly climb in and out of the boat. “I used to worry my pants would rip when I lifted my leg,” he laughs.

And when he gets home from a day of work? He’s outdoors playing monsters with Kallie and Kya, going for bike rides or just racing around the yard.

“It’s so much easier to be pleasant when you’re not exhausted and aching all the time,” he says.

Kallie runs up to Travis: “Daddy, can you lift me up?” She giggles as he swoops her up in his arms.

A happy person, a better parent, a life reclaimed…

What difference could weight-loss surgery make for you?

Posted Date: July 2011