“I’ve been morbidly obese most of my life. I was chubby as a child, large as a teen and humongous in my adult years. I’ve always ‘carried my weight well’ Up until my late 20s, I was fat but ok. I could walk just fine, sleep just fine, and didn’t have any serious health issues that I knew of.
I fell in love and got married in my early 20s. I was obese but my overall health was ok. The marriage ended after two years and my heart was shattered. My wife left me for an ex-lover. I took full blame and responsibility for my failed marriage. I thought I was too fat, too ugly, too poor and too much of a failure to deserve to be loved. This caused me to spend lots of time alone and emotionally eat my way up to over 400 lbs.
After dealing with a broken heart, I got closer to my mother. She was there for me through it all and provided so much guidance, comfort and healing. My mother battled breast cancer and after 8 years of fighting, her body just couldn’t take it anymore. She died, and I was devastated. The low self-esteem, eating and bad health went from bad to worse. I was up to 460 pounds at this point and I no longer ‘carried my weight well.’
Soon I noticed I had to stop for a moment when walking. I noticed I was moving slower than everyone else was although I almost felt like I was running a marathon. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night and I could not breathe. I didn’t say it was hard to breathe. No, I couldn’t breathe at all! My lungs were not working. I sat up in bed but that didn’t help. I stumbled my way to the bathroom. I couldn’t call out for help, so I began to pound my chest with my fist. It worked! I started breathing again. I knew then that if I didn’t resolve my health issues, I would die very soon. I didn’t share this with anyone, but I predicted that I would probably live to 30 or 35. I couldn’t see myself living much longer than that, and honestly didn’t really want to.
The doctor’s visits were getting so expensive. It seems I was going to the doctor every month trying to stay alive. My health was getting worse. I remember looking out of my window on a beautiful Saturday morning, but all I could do was lie in my bed and cry. My back was in so much pain – traumatized from trying to support 440 – 460 pounds. My legs and knees were exhausted and I was getting very close to needing a cane (in my 20s). I developed acid reflux which caused stomach acid to make its way up to my air passages and throat. This caused me to choke and feel burning pain. I had sleep apnea and was prescribed a BiPap machine to sleep with at night. The mask was very uncomfortable and I would snatch it off in my sleep. I would stop breathing so much I would wake up feeling as though I had not slept at all. I began to experience shortness of breath and frequent headaches, which prompted me to go to the doctor. My blood pressure was high and my EKG tests returned with abnormal results. I had not succumbed to heart failure yet, but I was experiencing the symptoms of it. I thought to myself, that’s it! At this rate, I won’t live to see 30 years old.
I had to have an honest conversation with God. I came to God as His child who was in trouble. I reminded Him that although I hated life, I never stopped loving Him. I never stopped serving Him even when it was hard. I worshipped while I was weary. I was faithful while I was fat. I was dependable while I was depressed. I was helpful while I was hurting. I understand there are heavenly treasures waiting for us, but I really felt there were some heaven-on-earth treasures that I just hadn’t tapped into yet.
After I prayed, I had to get over myself. I had to forgive myself for failing before and be willing to accept a new day. I had to quit holding myself to unreasonable scrutiny. It’s ok to need help sometimes. It’s ok to admit we don’t have all the answers.
No more pride! I was open and receptive to do whatever it took for me to finally reach this goal of being healthy. I researched and found a surgery called Duodenal Switch that I believed would help me get rid of some weight fast so that I can start exercising. I was tired of feeling like I was four times the age I actually was. My change was past due. I definitely hit some obstacles along the way. If we wait until it’s easy to make a change, we’ll never get it done. I had my surgery on November 1, 2012 and I lost 50 pounds in the first month.
I was already starting to feel better and be healthier. Back pain, knee pain, sleep apnea and high blood pressure all resolved because of weight loss.
Contrary to what some people believe, weight loss surgery is NOT an easy way out. There is still a great deal of effort that must be done by the patient if challenging goals are to be met. Weight loss surgery forced my body to cooperate with my efforts. There are many cases where a person gets surgery and doesn’t lose much weight or regains the weight they lose. It happens, and one of my biggest fears was that I wouldn’t lose much at all or end up regaining as in the past. That’s why each year I celebrate my ‘surgiversary.’ Each year I’m able to keep the weight off is a huge accomplishment for me. By month 6 I was down to 284 pounds. That’s lighter than I had ever been in my adult life. My initial goal was to lose 220 pounds in 1 year. I lost 215 in 10 months.
I was aware of the many horror stories of people losing so much weight only to gain it back. I was determined not to revert to my old ways, habits and sufferings. I was happy that I reached my initial goal quickly, but I was not satisfied. I wanted to see just how far I could go if I kept eating healthy and exercising as a way of life – not just a temporary activity to achieve a goal.
I have a permanent daily diet and exercise routine. I run 4 – 7 miles a day. I stick to a low-carb high-protein diet because that works for me. After three years of successful weight loss, I posted a picture on my Facebook page to share with a few family and friends that I had lost 250 pounds and was doing great!
To my amazement and surprise – the picture spread like a wildfire. I received 40,000 reactions, thousands of comments and shares. I didn’t realize what an inspiration my photo could be. I’ve had great feedback from many people about how my weight loss journey has encouraged them to overcome any obstacle in life. I was getting so many questions, comments and inquiries about my journey that I decided to release a book on Amazon called Like Night and Day. The reviews and feedback have been very positive and uplifting! What a blessed journey this has been. It’s been 5 years since my surgery and I’m currently at 180 pounds. For the first time in my life, I am maintaining good health. It benefits my service in church, career and social interactions with family and friends.
The change is so drastic that I’ve been questioned concerning the authenticity of the photos. I didn’t realize how major my transformation has been until I was questioned. I’m so grateful. It feels as though I have a new life – a 2nd chance. At 34- years-old I honestly feel better and have more energy than I did even as a child.
My plan is to continue doing what works and even taking things up a notch to build some muscle. I’m going to take this same initiative of weight loss and apply it to every aspect of my life. One thing this journey has taught me – if anything bad can happen, anything good can happen too!”
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