For years, Travis Miller dreamed of the day when his mom could hug him and wrap her arms completely around him.
That was impossible when he weighed 600 pounds.
Today, Roberta Miller can’t quite see eye-to-eye with her son without a step stool, but she can hug him.
Travis has lost 345 pounds since 2017 began. He now weighs 255 pounds and doesn’t plan on stopping there.
Last January, Travis was diagnosed with diabetes and said he had “pretty much given up on life.” He had mobility problems and lived in nearly constant pain because of his weight.
“I finally decided I can either do something now or continue the path I am on and die early,” Travis said. “So I decided to change my life.”
The Janesville native’s 600-pound life was a result of food addiction, Travis said. It began in high school and continued until he was 40 years old.
“Food addiction is probably one of the worst addictions because you can get it anywhere,” said Travis, now 41.
Once he was mentally prepared to change his life, Travis decided to have gastric sleeve surgery, a procedure that reduces a patient’s stomach size and suppresses the appetite.
He spent months meeting with doctors and psychiatrists to prepare for surgery. But first, his surgeon told him he needed to lose 50 pounds.
So he lost 50 pounds.
Then 10 more.
And then 10 more.
The pounds dropped off until Travis had lost 100 pounds, completely on his own.
He vowed that nothing would get in his way of a new life.
Ten years before, Travis had wanted to have weight-loss surgery. His hopes were crushed when his insurance provider denied coverage, his mother said.
To lose weight, Travis stuck to a strict 1,000-calorie daily diet with no soda or sugar, he said. For exercise, he hiked in Janesville parks.
“You can find ways to lose weight,” Travis said. “You don’t have to hire people to tell you what your body knows because only you know your body.”
Travis had the gastric sleeve surgery Aug. 25. Since then, his life has completely changed.
After surgery, Travis could eat only tablespoons of food at a time without getting sick. Slowly, he has worked his way up to a couple of cups of food per meal.
He takes daily vitamins to provide the nutrition he needs but no longer gets from food. His body allows him to eat only so much.
“Your whole lifestyle changes,” Travis said. “No more going back to your old ways, or (you) get sick. I don’t want to go back to my old ways, so I stick with the program.”
The biggest changes are in the things Travis is able to do.
Before his weight loss, he could not sit in a bathtub, cut his toenails or ride a bicycle. During work at the Bliss Communications printing facility, where he is a senior lead operator, co-workers made sure he had a chair to sit on because he couldn’t stand long.
Today, he can stand as long as he wants. He can take a bath, trim his nails and ride a bicycle.
“I can do anything I want. Nothing stops me,” Travis said.
The most challenging part of his journey has been the mental part, he said. People have to want change before it can happen.
His mother, Roberta, went with him to every doctor appointment and meeting at University Hospital in Madison over the last year.
While Travis lost weight, Roberta said she was conscious of what kinds of food she made available in her home. She hid her “goodies” so he wouldn’t be tempted to overindulge.
Roberta said support was the most important thing she gave her son—especially a willingness to listen.
“Just be there and listen to them,” Roberta said. “Whether they’re going through a good time or a bad time. There’s ups and downs with it.”
Travis said he wants to help others who are looking to change their lives.
The doctors at University Hospital told Travis he is one of their best success stories. Travis will speak to a group of people who are hoping to lose weight at the hospital in May.
“If this can help anybody, even one person, it’s all worth it,” Travis said. “(I) try to pay it forward to help whoever I can.”