I have been overweight most of my life. I remember my dad remarking that I was overweight when I was 8 years old. I weighed eighty pounds. I was a chubby
kid growing up, which meant I was the last one picked in gym to be on any team, which made me feel “less valuable” than everyone else. Most of my friends were either thin or normal weight, but that made me feel even heavier. My grandmother would remark that if I stayed at her house for one month, I’d be thin, and then proceeded to feed me more of what she just made.
I had to endure the humiliation of shopping in the “husky” department when shopping for clothes. I endured the jeers and taunts of classmates who never stopped pointing out that I was a “fat pig.” I really didn’t eat more than other people, I just didn’t burn it off as fast. My weight problem was mostly hereditary; I got it from my dad, his mother, her father, etc.
I never looked good in the clothes I wore, and as a result, I was less active, and less involved with other people around me. I became an introvert.
When I went to college, I put on weight, and later, with the help of the health service, I went on weight loss drugs and lost weight. As long as I was on the drugs, I was thin. When I went off the drugs the weight came back on. I tried every diet that came along and they worked more or less until I went off them. There was no permanent solution to the problem.
What made the situation worse, was not simply the social implications of being an overweight person, but the emotional effect it had on me. When I would look at myself in the mirror, I saw a fat person. A bit less than everyone else.
As I got older, I accepted the fact that I was fat and just decided to live with it. I got used to having to ask for a seat belt extension on a plane, and not being able to put the tray table down because my stomach got in the way. I got used to the fact that sitting in coach class on a plane meant it was going to be a tight squeeze and would pray the middle seat was empty so I wouldn’t be pressed against someone else. If I went to a restaurant with friends or family, I had to insist on a table, because I couldn’t fit in a booth.
I reached the point where it was difficult for me to get health insurance because of my weight, and the high blood pressure and diabetes I was dealing with as a consequence of the extra weight I was carrying. My doctor advised me that if I didn’t do something to lose the weight, I would be dead in five years. After looking over my life of failed diets and diet pills, I realized that weight loss surgery was my only chance. When I applied for weight loss surgery to the insurance company, they turned me down and said even if it was life threatening, they would not cover the surgery. I figured I was going to die.
I shared my situation with my friend Elliot, and he said he would raise the money for my surgery. He contacted my friends and colleagues and they raised all the money for my surgery. I was deeply moved that so many people donated so much money to help me, and save my life. I felt redeemed.I had a Vertical Gastric Sleeve surgery on December 9, 2010. In this surgery, they laproscopically removed 80% of my stomach. It drastically limits the amount of food a person can eat.
The good side of this surgery is that after eating 4-6 ounces of food, I feel completely full and satisfied. I have to eat mainly protein so as not to lose muscle mass. I take vitamin supplements as well. Over the next 14 months, I lost 135 pounds and reached my goal weight.
Little by little, through small things, I felt my sense of dignity as a person return. Being able to sit in a seat on a plane and fit comfortably, not need a seat belt extension, and being able to put the tray table down, almost made me cry. When I could fit in a booth at a restaurant comfortably, made me feel like a regular person.
Three weeks ago, I had abdominal surgery and they removed over ten pounds of extra skin. For the first time in my life, I have a flat abdomen and feel like I’m not fat. Its a wonderful feeling.
I have no tolerance for skinny people trying to give advice to fat people on how they should eat and live. They haven’t lived in our skin. I have even less patience for insensitive morons who think nothing of going up to fat people and saying insensitive, horrible things under the guise of trying to “help.” In our society, you can’t say anything bad about a minority or a gay, but if you’re fat, you are fair game. People say horribly unkind hurtful things that just make overweight people feel worse. Now that I’m not in that position anymore, I won’t tolerate others bad behavior even if its not directed at me. If you want to encourage someone who is overweight, don’t lecture them, don’t tell them they are fat or unhealthy. Just let them know you love them. Its the only thing that will help.