Friday, September 11, 2009

Episode 4: A New Hope

Hello my imaginary readers.

In a nutshell:

I am 43 years old and 450 lbs. I have thus far avoided the major complications of obesity. I am not diabetic, my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is under 200. My major health issues aside from the obesity itself are a ventral hernia since being attacked in July 2004 that gives me a lot of problems, but that my doctors feel is too dangerous to repair now, and a large fat deposit on the inside of my left thigh that is a huge impediment in my daily life. I take once daily a baby aspirin, a 75/50mg dose of triamterene/hydrochlorothiazide to combat edema in my legs, and 4000 I.U. of vitamin D to bring my levels to a normal range.

More specifically regarding the obesity, I started gaining weight above the normal range early in my teens, reaching 300lbs by the time I was 21. I did OptiFast at 21, was 200 lbs for about 10 or 15 seconds, then gained to 380lbs by 26 or so. At that point I worked with Dr Wayne Callaway in Washington DC, and with diet, exercise, therapy, and OA got to about 230lbs over 18 months. After that, a long slide up to about 440 by age 35 or so. At that point I went to Lindora in L.A., and over about a year got down to 320 or so, then back up to around 460 by 39. I then went to the R.F.O. program at UCLA for several months and lost down to 360 or so, but by about 6 months ago was at my peak of 525. Since then I went down to about 490 by July. Since July 20 I have lost 40 lbs largely through diet to the 450lbs I find myself at now. I have consulted with UCLA regarding bariatric surgery, and they have recommended a sleeve gastrectomy over the traditional gastric bypass operation because I am so heavy. I am deeply ambivalent about surgery, as I feel that what's broken about me and food has so little to do with my stomach and so much more to do with my mind and brain.

I feel that I am an addict. That food stimulates the addictive pathways of my brain, offering reward, sedation, and solace. I was a heavy (no pun intended) consumer of fast food - sometimes eating drive through twice a day, and usually at least 5-7 times a week. It fit my busy schedule, and also satisfied my penuriousness, being cheap, satisfying, and quick.

Currently, I have taken the following steps. I keep track of all my eating in a computer program, and find that creates a moment of mindfulness that's very helpful. I try to stick to 2000 calories a day, spread over 4-5 meals. I stick with lean meats and protein, fruits and vegetables, and use starches sparingly. I weigh myself once daily on waking up. I have been seeing a therapist for about 3-4 months, and am trying to develop an understanding of what I refer to as my "lizard brain," the part of me that wants the unhealthy foods, that lives only in the present, understanding neither history nor consequences. I am trying to separate its impulses and desires from my actions, accepting that it will always need, but that I do not have to act on that need. I am also trying not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. My compulsive nature punishes me when I am not absolutely perfect, and in this effort, I am trying to "let the arc of history bend towards justice" to borrow a phrase, to accept and continue a trend to the positive and not slam the door shut when I am imperfect or flawed in my execution.

My next step is exercise, and to that end I have committed a great deal of money and a large portion of my living room to a Woodway Path treadmill, delivered yesterday. My intention is to wake up and walk before the pressures of the day begin.

Perhaps more than you asked for, imaginary readers? I am sorry for it's length, I know you're busy imaginary people, but I hope it's helpful. I'm sure my story isn't unique, nor that it's the first time you've heard it, but I'm hopeful that this time, this time the change is settling deeper in me. We'll see how it goes.


  1. keep pressing on, we'll be checking in on you periodically and cheering for this positive change to settle in this time
    -the Woodway team