I have had a lifelong battle with weight control. I remember wearing extra large shirts in 5th grade that still fit too tight. Throughout my childhood and my adulthood I struggled with food and portion control. I used food as a tool to create happiness.

Michael photos

I decided in 2003 that I had to make a change in my life. I went to a seminar for bariatric surgery and the thought of having surgery scared me. I decided that I could lose the weight on my own. I tried several diet plans and fads that worked temporally but when I would fall off the diet, I would even gain more weight. After several diet attempts, I felt like a failure.

In August 2011, at 425 pounds, I had finally reached my top weight. I felt horrible and did not have any energy or self confidence. This is when I decided I needed to rethink my original idea of having weight loss surgery. I scheduled my first seminar with the Surgical Weight Loss Program in August. The seminar was very informative and offered lots of knowledge on the program. After meeting the team at the weight loss seminar, I knew it was my time..

Through several checkups before surgery, my surgeon explained the surgery and was there to answer any questions. He used easy to understand information along with models to show how the surgery worked and to explain that surgery is a tool. He also explained that I had to be in control of what I ate.

At every appointment before the surgery, the staff and surgeons were always ready for any questions I had. Team Vanderbilt has an excellent pre-op program. They are there for you and they have great information on what to expect after surgery.

January 23, 2012 was the first day of the beginning of my new life. Morbid obesity had taken too many years of my life and it was not going to continue. I had laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Surgery went great and recovery was very easy. My only regret is that I did not have the surgery sooner.

I have lost a total of 184 pounds. I have gone from a size 54 pant to a size 36, and a 5x shirt to an XL shirt. I have a new self confidence and feel great. I no longer have fears of chairs breaking or if I will be able to fit into a restaurant booth. It feels so great to have people stop, give me a look, and I know what they are thinking. They always ask, what is the miracle diet you're on? I tell them I had weight loss surgery at Vanderbilt and I have no regrets.

Thanks to my surgeon and all the team at Vanderbilt. I succeeded with your help and I am a new person with a new outlook on life.