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Continued: Gophers football assistant Limegrover: From 403 pounds to 'a totally different person'

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 12, 2013 - 12:14 AM

“And with [Weis], he decided to do it, and like three weeks later they had him on the table. So even if that part had gone as it’s supposed to, he had really no education to have success down the road.”

At HealthEast, Limegrover put together a thorough diet and health history. Name a diet — Atkins, South Beach, Nutrisystem, Slim Fast, Weight Watchers — and Limegrover had tried it numerous times.

“I was the typical yo-yo dieter,” he said. “I’d get on a roll, start feeling good — and life would creep back in.”

HealthEast also put Limegrover through two psychological evaluations. He met with a nutritionist three times and attended support group meetings. He also had to get the surgery cleared with his health insurance company and prove that he could go through a controlled weight-loss process before the operation.

“You talk to other people going through it, and they feel like it’s a deterrent, like they’re trying to convince you not to do [the surgery],” Limegrover said. “But what I realized was everything they were doing was an education, so you know what you’re getting into.

Limegrover came up with a mantra: “I wanted to be the best patient HealthEast has ever had.”

Fitting his schedule

The college coaching calendar has few breaks, since the offseason is filled with key recruiting windows. Limegrover knew the exact date he needed to have the surgery — May 21, 2012 — to recover in time to be at full strength in early June for head coach Jerry Kill’s football camps, which are showcases for recruits.

Limegrover didn’t just explain it to Kill. He gave the head coach a power-point presentation, explaining how the process should go.

“Matt graduated from the University of Chicago, and then he went and got his master’s degree at Northwestern,” Kill said.

“If you were going to play ‘Jeopardy,’ he’s going to win. I mean, he is a very intelligent young man.

“Anything he does, he’s going to research and make sure it’s perfect. He probably could tell you more about that surgery than the doctors can.”

Limegrover knew he needed to get down to 375 pounds so his doctor could perform the laparoscopic operation and not have to cut him open. He cut caffeine, started eating healthier snacks, began exercising and got his weight down to 351 before surgery.

At first, “I couldn’t go 20 minutes walking on the treadmill, and I couldn’t jog at all,” Limegrover said, but his stamina gradually improved.

He recovered from the surgery in time for the June camps, as he had planned. When the Gophers opened fall practice in August, he was down to 270 pounds.

Reporters noticed, but he chalked it up to diet and exercise. He didn’t want to talk publicly about the surgery. He wasn’t quite ready to claim it a success.

Whole new diet

The surgery permanently divided Limegrover’s stomach into two chambers — one large, one small. The small pouch is connected to the small intestine, bypassing the duodenum, where most calories and nutrients are absorbed.

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