This business of obesity and its strain on the American health picture, including the unfair and disproportionate and attendant drain of medical and extended care funding, is one of the key crises of our time. Having just shed nearly 80 pounds with the supervision of a hospital weight-management program, and with a team of serious clinicians, including a psychologist, dietician, physicians, and group orientation counselors, I view my condition as nothing less than a disease.
I love my life and want to stick around and see what happens.
I bring to my awareness of the problem—and my current success—nothing of the vainglorious. Yes, I feel healthy and vibrant and enjoy the compliments (which are proportionately equal to the unspoken concerns felt for so long by my friends and family members when I was so obviously overweight). But when I became earnest about saving my life, it was and remains simply and purely a matter of health and longevity.
I love my life and want to stick around and see what happens. To my good fortune (and surprise, frankly), I have never had a cardiac event, though heart disease is rampant in my family and killed my father when he was 45. (I am 58). The chronic hypertension that has followed me through decades has been extraordinarily mitigated by this turn of events that I initiated. I have been lucky enough to skip past the certain onslaught of diabetes, the exacerbation of genetic arthritic issues, and the built-in defensive hostility that, whether I realized it or not, came to muddle many of my relationships.
Being fat and in denial to a great degree affected my work experiences, my relationships with loved ones and comrades, and, most significantly, my inner peace. You just can’t be a good guy when you know people are put-off by your physical presence. There is simply no such thing as the jolly fat person. You are uncomfortable; you are prone to self-contempt, hostility, and perspiration. If you can possibly deal with it, then you not only spare your joints, your cardiovascular system, your carnal moments, your generally addictive tendencies, and your maddening need to overcompensate with shtick and gesturing. You save your soul.
While it has become a cliché, there are no solutions in pills, fads, starvation, meditation, or prayer. That is why the diet business is a multi-billion dollar culture, replete with cynicism and marketing hypnosis. I was somewhat lucky because I actually did not eat a lot of “crap,” did work out, and somehow was able never to completely blow up in terms of morbid obesity. But I finally had no illusions that my weight was profoundly dangerous, truly frustrating, and unfairly taxing the lives of my closest dear ones.
I never went on a diet. I have gone off on a journey and nothing will ever turn me around. I appreciate the accolades but I have to keep on moving.