In high school and college (where I reached the magical 300-pound mark), I had a couple of girlfriends, but mostly I had girl friends who wanted advice on, of course, their boyfriends. Like many fat guys, I simply shut down the libidinous part of myself. One pathetic example: In college, I took a trip to Manhattan and had one night solo, the perfect opportunity to indulge in some primal pleasure. A night at Scores just wouldn’t have done it. Instead, I was in my hotel room, alone with . . . a pastrami sandwich from the Carnegie Deli.
To be that fat was to be constantly self-conscious and uncomfortable. Never let ’em see you sweat? My thick casing of insulation meant I always felt trapped in my own personal sauna. At job interviews (wearing my too-tight sport coat and tie), I’d feel sweat dot my forehead and occasionally run down my cheek, and I would instantly recognize the look from across the desk: “You are just not the image we want for our company.” I got the same look when talking to women. Carrying around more than 100 extra pounds was a burden on my heart, physically and emotionally.
Of course, after depressing and humiliating experiences like these, a guy needs some comfort. So on the way home from an interview, or any other fat-related rejection, I would hit the drive-thru and get a Big Mac, a Quarter Pounder, two small orders of fries, and a chocolate shake. (Two small fries? I always hoped this would fool the drive-thru person into thinking the order was for two people.) When I got home I would top off the tank with some ice cream and cookies. Anybody see a cycle here?
The only thing more frustrating than being fat was trying to get thin. I tried eating grapefruit before every meal, all carbs, no carbs, high protein, low protein, liquid diets (twice), and injection with the urine of pregnant women. (In the ’70s, injecting HCG, a hormone extracted from pregnant women’s pee, was the latest groovy diet aid.) I ventured into more legitimate approaches, too—Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, and Overeaters Anonymous, where I tried, but failed, to admit I was Powerless over Pizza.
It was through one of these dieting attempts that I met my wife. We were both at the lower end of our yo-yo weight patterns, and throughout our marriage our weight went up and down, sometimes in sync, sometimes not. As with any relationship in which both people are addicted to something (food, booze, cigarettes), attempts to get unhooked led to either support or sabotage. When we were both determined to succeed, the teamwork was great.
But when one of us was ready to fall off the wagon, we could drag the other off, too.
As the years ticked by, the scale clicked higher. But at least my health, for the most part, was good. A heart palpitation here, some pain in the knees there, but my blood pressure was surprisingly normal, and I wasn’t having much shortness of breath, lower-back pain, or any of the other usual symptoms of being (I still hate this term) “morbidly obese.”
My big wake-up came during a routine visit to my doctor, Ed Miller, in 1998. I stepped on the standard doctor’s scale, ready to watch the numbers climb once again, but this time the numbers couldn’t climb any higher. The scale’s 350-pound max wasn’t enough to weigh me. When the nurse told Dr. Miller, the two of them went to another exam room and wheeled in a second scale (as others watched, of course). I was shocked, scared, and red-faced with complete humiliation. They put the two scales side by side and had me step up, one foot on each. The result wasn’t exact, but it at least gave a rough idea of my weight. One thing, though, was perfectly clear: My run of moderately good health was sure not to last. I was approaching 40, heart disease and diabetes ran in my family, and I couldn’t recall seeing many old men schlepping around 360 pounds.
“You’ve tried everything else, so you might as well go all the way,” Dr. Miller said, and he recommended obesity surgery. He told me about the gastric bypass, a surgery that would forever alter my plumbing so that I absolutely had to lose weight and keep it off.
Article credited: http://www.menshealth.com/health/diet-strategies-gastric-bypass-surgery