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Family Time Now Means Fit Time

Matt Sperry saw his two young sons developing his same sedentary habits, and it helped spur him to action.

“They’d come home from school or day care and immediately go turn the TV on and sit down,” Sperry said. “I realized that’s because that’s what I did.”

Those behaviors started to change in October when Sperry underwent gastric bypass surgery at Sanford Health in Bismarck. Sperry’s wife, Kristen, had her own gastric bypass in December. Combined, the couple have shed 195 pounds in that short time frame, and the healthy choices Matt and Kristen now make post-operation have trickled down to their children.

Matt took up rollerblading, and he started Taekwondo lessons with his 5-year-old son, Jackson. The family, which also includes 3-year-old Jonathan, spends far more time outside being active, including taking family bike rides along the Missouri River.

For Matt, the decision to have weight-loss surgery came after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He tried to lose weight through exercise and improved diet, and he did drop significant weight. He hit a plateau 100 pounds above his goal weight, though, which led to frustration.

With his weight back up to 341 pounds, he asked his doctor about weight-loss surgery.

“The lowest weight I could get to on my own still had me being a candidate for surgery,” Matt said of his earlier weight-loss attempt

Seven months following his procedure, Matt, 32, has lost 120 pounds, with his goal weight being 185 pounds, and his diabetes is now under control.

Kristen’s weight slowly reached a point of concern, and she experienced a spike in her blood pressure—particularly during her pregnancies. She has a family history of high blood pressure, and she didn’t want to rely on pills to keep her blood pressure in check.

When the 34-year-old had her procedure, her weight was up to 266 pounds, and she has lost 75 pounds since. Her blood pressure now is right in the middle of the healthy range, and chronic back pain she had experienced has subsided.

Bree Dewing, MD, the Sanford Health weight-loss surgeon who performed both procedures, knew the Sperrys were good candidates for surgery after meeting with them. Patients must see surgery as a tool—not a magic solution—for weight loss to complement healthy eating and increased exercise. The fact Matt and Kristen went through the process together provided an added bonus.

“It helps a lot with the diet and exercise, and it provides added motivation,” Dr. Dewing said. “It really drives them—particularly with the exercise.”

If they have questions, Matt and Kristen know the weight-loss team at Sanford Health is always available.

“There are things you just don’t think about that come up in your daily life that you don’t think to ask in the doctor’s office,” Matt said. “It’s been really nice to know that I can just call over there when I need to.”

The couple also regularly attend a weight-loss surgery support group at Sanford Health to help stay on track.

Sanford Health holds monthly weight-loss surgery information sessions in Bismarck. To attend one of the free sessions, call (701) 323-5300. For more on weight-loss surgery, including requirements patients must meet to be eligible, visit

Posted Date: November 2013