Michael's story: “Embrace every possible option” for better health

Michael's Story and Salem Health (YouTube)

Michael I., 36, has worked in the Salem Health solution center for the past two years providing technical support for Salem Hospital employees.

“I worked retail for a long time which was pretty active,” Michael said. “Then I switched to a desk job, and I put on probably about 60 pounds. I was always kind of a heavy guy. But the desk job was definitely a problem.”

At his heaviest, Michael weighed 345 pounds.

“I felt like I just wasn’t as capable as I wanted to be as a person because my weight was a barrier to that,” he said. “I had other health problems. High blood pressure and blood sugar, things of that nature  — all of which were reasons to approach the bariatrics program.”

He decided to have sleeve gastrectomy weight loss surgery at Salem Hospital in January 2018. Nearly two years post-surgery, Michael now weighs around 235 pounds. The Salem Health Bariatric Surgery Center gave Michael guidance on following a healthy diet, plus encouraging him to exercise regularly.

“The accountability that comes with attending the program — going to the seminar, using the support groups, talking to your provider — will help reinforce that mentality of staying on the right track,” he said. “I think about my time working out in the gym as part of my work day. It’s part of my job, and my responsibility to myself and to the other people around me, to stay healthy.”

He’s also the father of three young children. “They probably think I’m a little bit nutty because since I have gone through this program, I’ve become more vocal about ‘What are we eating? What are the calories? What is the composition of the food?’ I bring that up often with them.”

His extra time in the gym the past two years has led him to a new passion and dream. “I really want to be a bodybuilder. I think that’s a really audacious goal to set for myself, and that’s a long road. I’m probably five years out from where I want to be in terms of build for myself,” he said.

He views his success with the bariatrics program in terms of goals other than his weight. “My ability to climb flights of stairs or to hike, ride a bicycle or chase my kids — there are so many other important factors that went into my decision other than what the scale says,” Michael said.

In terms of capability, he says he now feels like a completely different person. “I’m more driven and able to achieve my goals in ways I couldn’t before,” he said.

Michael offers this advice for people who may be considering weight loss surgery: “If you’re at a place in your life where you think it would benefit you, you should embrace every possible option that you have for improving your quality of life.”

Are you a candidate for bariatric surgery? Learn more about the Salem Health Bariatric Surgery Center at