Just three years ago Mike Burgos was 391 pounds and so overcome by depression he considered suicide.
"I tried everything - Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, appetite suppressors prescribed by my doctor, over-the-counter stuff - I would lose it and just gain it right back. It was a vicious cycle."
Burgos was a smoker, pre-diabetic, had hypertension and severe sleep apnea when he attended his first informational seminar regarding Bariatric surgery at Healthy 4 Life Center in Munster.
"Paul Stanish and his staff, I call them Team Stanish, they saved my life. I could not have done this without them. I owe them my life," said Burgos, 35.
In 2010 Burgos underwent laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery through the Healthy 4 Life Center and is now 235 pounds.
Gastric Bypass Surgery is the most common surgical weight loss option. A small stomach is created and surgeons also re-route a portion of the intestines. On average, patients can expect to lose 60-70% of their excess weight.
Burgos is finally living life on his terms. Since his surgery he has gotten engaged, became a father, went rock climbing - all things he only day-dreamed about.
"At first I was embarrassed about having the surgery but this is what I needed so I didn't end up in a pine box. I want to help people and let them know this surgery is a tool. It's not a quick-fix, it's a lifestyle change."
Burgos' candid nature about his procedure has inspired and motivated those around him.
Jake Juarez, of Hammond, never met Burgos. But after hearing about his story from a family member, he contacted Burgos through Facebook to ask him some questions. It was just the push Juarez needed to attend a seminar at the Healthy 4 Life Center. Burgos spoke at that seminar about his weight loss journey and the two were able to meet.
"The staff was there for me but I wanted to talk to someone who actually experienced it," said Juarez. "Mike would never turn anyone with questions away. I would call Mike four or five times a month sometimes. He really helped me."
Burgos would like to pursue a Personal Training Certification in the future.
“Why not help others? I want to people to see that you can do this for yourself – be healthy for you.”
Tim Bugno Sr., owner of Body-Rite Nutrition, has Burgos’ story on their company website.
“We started working with Mike right after he had the surgery, from day one. It just shows you that where ever you are at in life, you can always pull yourself up and be the person you want to be. His life is completely different."
Bargos said he has all kinds of motivation to keep his health on track but his children are the biggest reasons to stay fit.
“I want to see my grandkids and I want to do it in a healthy way. I refuse to go back to the way I was. I buried him. I wouldn't change my life for a second, " said Burgos. "I would like to go skydiving, mountain biking out west - I want to see what else I can do."