As a child I was always ‘Big Boned”. I can recall hating school shopping as a child as by the time I hit middle school, clothes at K-Mart no longer fit. At a young age, social acceptance is everything, and though I was well known, I was never the cool kid. I wasn’t in the “In-Crowd” and was often “bullied” by today’s standards. I’m not sure when, but at a young age I quickly learned that food comforted me, and such began the downward spiral into weight gain.
I can recall by the eighth grade I was wearing the same size pants my adult father wore, and I was having to buy shirts at the Big-And-Tall stores. Portion sizes were beyond out of control as I would eat and eat and eat as it gave me pleasure. Some of my fondest memories as a child are of pizza. Yes…. you heard me. Not playing with friends, or graduating high school, or going on dates, but rather Friday night pizza nights were some of my fondest memories. I was so proud of the fact that I could eat an entire large pizza all by myself and boy was it amazing! I now refer to it as the “sexual charge” and “euphoria” I got every time I consumed a meal. When life was good, I celebrated with food. When life was bad, food consoled me. Food was easily my best friend, but it also robbed me of the ability to have normal childhood as well.
Thankfully for me, life has a way of balancing itself. My beautiful wife Jody and I married in 2003 and I also settled into the beginning of a great career. It would seem life was on it’s way. Over the course of the first several years of my marriage I packed on a few more pounds, as most do, and I was easily approaching 400 lbs. Wow…. I look back on it now and I know the conversation went about like this over the years.
– “200 lbs, that’s normal.”
– “250, lbs isn’t so bad…”
– “300 lbs, meh… I could stand to loose some weight but I feel alright.”
– “350 lbs, ok I’m just not going to weigh myself anymore!”
…and from there I gradually ballooned up to my heaviest which was 465 lbs.
At some point you truly stop carrying as it’s embarrassing.
– You no longer fit into booths at restaurants
– Clothes have gotten crazy expensive as your now wearing a 7X shirt and 60+ sized waist
– You can’t do things you enjoyed as a child like roller coaster rides or theme parks as you can no longer fit into the rides safely
– Children stop and stare, they point as they ask “Look mommy… Look at the size of that man!”
– Random strangers stop and tell you to not eat so much food
– Sex is no longer pleasurable as you battle erectile dysfunction because mentally you know for a fact your spouse doesn’t find you sexually attractive anymore
– You are simply tired of being tired all the damn time.
– …and that’s not even the half of it.
Oh, I dieted over the years
– Traditional diet and exercise
– Slim-Fast and lost 50 lbs
– I changed to diet soda and lost 50 lbs
– I even did Atkins in 2010 and lost 100 lbs
– I even began to see a life coach in the attempt to get my life on track, and even that worked…for a while
– I even did medically managed weight loss with the assistance of a physician, and that worked too, but
It always seemed to come back on and then some as soon as life got difficult again. As work got stressful, I ate. As life got stressful, I ate. As I had successes and took a promotion we celebrated in excess with food. … as long as I could stay focused. At the first sign of distraction however it all unraveled and unraveled fast.
So.. in 2016 I had enough. Physicians had been encouraging me for YEARS to look into weight loss surgery but I was head strong. I had no major medical problems at all, so why?
“I put this weight on myself, and by gosh I can take it off myself. I got this!”
Truth is… I didn’t got this. I was horrible at managing my weight. So I attended a weight loss seminar to learn more about what I was so afraid of. I left that seminar saying, NOPE… no way, no how.
– “I can never have soda ever again?”
– “I have to eat off a baby plate for the rest of my life?”
– “Liquids for weeks, then staged back to solid food over the span of 2 months, no thanks.”
– “500 Calories a day for a few months? What?”
– “I can’t eat like this.”
– “They are going to kill me!”
And then it hit me. If I didn’t do this, I was going to kill me. It was get ready to live life as a 500 lbs man, or do this, cause I had tried everything else. So I accepted this was my fate and moved forward with surgery. I was sleeved in February of 2016, and spent the next year dedicated to myself. I did NOTHING if it wasn’t to benefit myself. I logged every ounce of ANYTHING that went in my mouth as I was dedicated to making this work….. AND I DID!
I was told that for a guy of my age, my weight, and my size I could expect to lose 170 lbs in the first year. If I lost less than that, I wasn’t following the program and I was cheating myself. Well, I’m happy to say that not only did I lose that 170 lbs, but I did it in the first 6 months! By month 12 at my one year surgery anniversary I was down to 220 lbs lost, and at 15 months I had lost 250 lbs. to date I’ve officially lost more weight than I currently weigh now. Losing half of ones self is no small task, and I can’t even begin to describe how I feel.
It’s strange… as I lost so much, but gained so much more. Surgery saved my life! But I’m not pro surgery. Surgery Isn’t the magic silver bullet. Just as I know dieting and exercise isn’t for everyone, neither is surgery. I am however pro people. I’m all for you doing whatever you need to to get control of your life to make the changes you want for yourself. As corny and cliche’ as it sounds, it is just as simple as believing you can, and doing it. In fact if you believe you can, your already half way to your goal.
Along my weight loss journey I’ve met so many amazing people just like myself, who’ve inspired me and motivated me to become the best version of me that I possibly can be. Along the way I have had more than a few people tell me that I’m such an inspiration to them, and that my attitude and success inspires them to achieve great things. My response to that has always the same.
I’m no inspiration. I’m simply one simple man, who had a dream that he could change his life, who sought out professional help when he knew he couldn’t achieve it on his own, who had the courage to face his fears and won. I’m no super hero. I’m just Don. A plain old average human being who believes deep down that the brain is by far the most powerful muscle in the human body. Never give up on yourself and you will never fail.
Inspired and motivated by others, and wanting to hold myself accountable for my own weight loss sobriety long term, I started a radio show. I know if my story can inspire others than your story can too, and I wanted to create a vehicle in which that was possible. The power of voice and the ability for others to connect with our stories, to say “Hey… that sounds like me”, and to know that someone else walked your steps and won is an amazing thing. I know for a fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people that are just like you. Who battle the same issues you do, and who HAVE walked a mile in your shoes and who know what it’s like to be you and live your day with all the stress you do.
Let me introduce you to some of them, and hopefully their stories will inspire you to change your own life!
Welcome to Weigh In Radio!
Height: 5 feet 8 inches
Starting Weight: 465 lbs
Weight on Day of Surgery: 425 lbs
Current Weight: 250 lbs
Goal Weight: 230 lbs
Weight Lost: 215 lbs
Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
Surgery Status: Maintaining Weight
First Dr. Visit: 01/05/2016
Surgery Date: 02/05/2017
Hospital Stay: 2 Days
Surgery Funding: Insurance
Insurance Outcome: 1st Letter Approval
WeighInRadio's Bariatric Surgeon
Surgical Associates Of Fox Valley
10350 Haligus Road
Huntley, Illinois 60014