Have you ever tried to come up with a title for an article? I have and it is not an easy task. Even though I was born in the late 60's, I love the Beatles. I would say, who doesn’t, but I know better. As I reflect on my adult life and the struggles and medical complications I have had with obesity, I realized that one of my favorite songs written by Paul McCartney would be the perfect title.
The road to health for many is a long and winding road. There is no silver bullet to fix our health. It is sad that we have become a generation that looks for the simplest and easiest way to fix a problem. Not all problems can be solved with a pill. I know that for sure, because I have tried them over the years and low and behold I am still obese.
Yes, the word that patients don’t want to hear and actually a word that many doctors or nurse practitioners don’t want to come off their lip is, obese. Medical professionals seem like they don’t want to offend us by telling us the truth. The medical world in my opinion is being driven by surveys and your patient experience. I guess that is fine in some ways, but if I am obese and endangering my health, speak up! Instead, you will get a print out and the end of your office visit with subtle reminders of your weight and how to shed that excess weight. If it were only that easy!
I hope to share my thoughts on this subject and in doing so you will help me with my own disease and addiction. Is it possible to be both a disease and an addiction? Sure why not? We need to treat obesity as the disease that it is and for those of us who have been morbidly obese or still are, we need to admit that we have an addiction problem! Take the first step! Now I might be making some of you upset right now. But remember, I am not some skinny Minnie who is standing on a soap box. I am the guy that would crush your average soap box. I have not been a ‘normal’ size for over 40 years. If anyone can talk about obesity and the effects of being overweight, it is me.
There are so many problems that ‘normal’ size people do not deal with. Here are my favorite things that I do not look forward trying to: trying to find clothes that fit at a typical clothing outlet, flying on a commercial plane not in 1st class, going to the doctor and waiting for them to talk about your weight, walking into a room of total strangers and being the biggest person there, and of course my favorite, trying to find athletic clothing that does not make you look like an overstuffed sausage, or as we might say in Louisiana, cooked Boudin that is bursting out of its case! These are just a few of my typical problems.
I do realize that ‘normal’ size people have issues too. I am not so naive to believe differently. Since I am not normal sized and probably will always struggle with weight, I believe I am more than qualified to write on the subject of being large and maybe you will track with me.
For me, the realization came a few years ago that I actually had an addiction issue. I knew that I was morbidly obese and that I needed to work on that, but to admit that I had an addiction issue was new ground for me.
I tipped the scales, or maybe I should say I maxed the scales out, at 440 lbs. I got the error message when I stepped on a scale. I wore a 5XLT or 6XLT depending on the cut of the shirt. That is nothing that I am proud of, just a fact of life. This didn’t happen overnight; it happened over a period of years that I cannot remember. To this day, I look in the mirror and still see the same person. I guess your eyes can play tricks on you.
Everything changed when my granddaughter spent the night at our house. The following morning as I fixed pancakes for her, she asked why I was so fat. Great question! As we know, children are brutally honest. I said I loved pancakes, that seemed like the perfect answer for a 4 year old and she bought it. But her question made me think. Did I want to see her grow up? Did I want to dance with her at her wedding? Did I want to live beyond my forties?
What has followed since that day is my journey; it has been my long and winding road. It has not been easy, and I have had my fair share of setbacks and surprising discoveries along the way. I have forced myself to grow. I have forced myself to dig into the depths of my past to understand who I am today. I have forced myself to make my physical health a priority for the rest of my life. I have also learned that you cannot and will not out-exercise a bad diet. Let me say that one again, YOU CANNOT OUT-EXERCISE A BAD DIET! Actually, I despise the word diet, so I will try in the future to avoid the word and use the word meal plan.
I am an addict and that also means that I lie about things sometimes to cover my failures. I am addicted to food and it is truly killing me. I have realized over the last five years that even though I have made huge gains or losses in terms of the number on the scale, I still have a long way to go. I keep telling myself that I will step out of my comfort zone and talk about this subject when I hit a certain number on the scale or cross a certain finish line. I always thought that was what people would need to take me seriously; then and only then would people believe me and what I might say on the subject of weight loss and becoming more active.
But that is not the case, because I have come to the realization that as an addict the journey never ends and struggle is continual. So why not start now, this moment, today. Why wait any longer? I had no good answer for a rebuttal, so the writing has begun and the goals are being inked on the page as we speak.
I have made a commitment to myself to clean up my eating this year and lose weight. I have to; I might be healthy by blood work standards, resting heart rates, and blood pressure measurements, but I am still obese and that number on the scale needs to drop.
Just a side note for those tracking so far, since I never did step on a freight scale, my only guess is that I weighed between 440 to 500 lbs. I have gone as low as 252 last year and I have hovered around 290 lbs currently. My goal weight is 235 lbs. I am 6’4” and I would guess my perfect weight would be around 185 to 200 lbs or so. Because of my excess skin, that will not happen. So 235 is my magic number for the scale!
To get there I have made a commitment to journal, to be honest and write about my struggles and my successes. I have made a commitment to help others this year who maybe do not know where to turn for help. I have made a commitment and I do not desire to fail, for my own health and for my wife and my family. I want to be there for all my grandchildren and watch them continue to grow. I want to live life to its fullest.
If you want to follow along, you are more than welcome to do so.