As Sheri said in her last post, we got a chance to see some of my family this weekend. For those who may not know, I do not live very close to any of my direct family. I live in Jacksonville Florida and My parents, Brothers & Sisters-in-law and Nieces & Nephews live in the Washington DC area. The closest relatives I live near would be my Aunt, Cousins and 2nd Cousins who all live 4-5 hours south of me in the Boca Raton area. So any chance to see my family is a good time. To make this weekend better, I had a chance to talk to my nieces and nephews about my upcoming surgery.
When I started this journey, I asked my brothers to feel free to share my blog with their kids because I wanted them to know what was going on with “Uncle Tim”. When I shared with my cousins about my blog and my decision about surgery, I also told them to feel free to share it with their kids so they knew what was going on. Truth be told, having all of the kids know what was going on was only half of my motive. My other reason was (and still is) the hope they all learn from my blog. This secondary motive hit me straight in my face while I was sitting with the kids this weekend. As a result, I have decided to write them all a letter. For the rest of my readers, please share with the young people in your lives as you see fit.
Dear Andrew, Ben J. Ben M, Charlie, Elly, Emilie, Eva, Jacob, Josh, Kelly, & Rachel-
As you know, I am going to be having a surgery sometime in the near future. I am not sure of exactly when the surgery will be but I am guessing it will be during the summer some time. The Surgery is to implant a tool to help me lose weight. It will come as no surprise to any of you that I am overweight. I have been overweight as long as I can remember and as a result, other things in my body are now not working correctly.
I am writing you this letter in hopes you will use me as an example when you are deciding on how to live your lives. Before you think I have lost my mind, let me pass on a life lesson to you I learned a long time ago. EVERYONE you know, meet or hear about provides you with a living example you can apply to the decisions you make. Some of them great examples of the right way to do things and some are great examples of the wrong way to do things. To be very honest with you, I am a great example of what not to do and I want you to learn from my mistakes.
There are a lot of theories of why people become and stay overweight. For example, some will say it is coded in your DNA making you predisposed to being overweight or it is your environment that causes you to be overweight. While I think there may be a little DNA in my system that makes me heavier then either of my brothers, I do not think it is the reason I ballooned up to 400 pounds. In the same way, I am able to identify things in the environment that contributed to me being overweight. However, My brother Steve grew up in the same environment and in his Senior year in High School (my Junior year), he weighed about 140lbs and I weighed almost 200 lbs.
I can only attribute my weight to one thing, personal choice (or lack there of). See, growing up, I did not live in a house where we ate junk food every day, or ate at the Golden Arches for every dinner, My parents cooked fairly “good for me” meals. Now we still went out for Pizza or the golden arches from time to time and had chips, cookies, ice cream, and snacks in the house but that was not the main source of food. At some point in my early childhood, I think my brain decided to put the system controlling my eating on “cruise control” and whenever I felt hungry, I ate. I did not think about if the food was good for me or how much I ate, I simply accepted my body said eat so I am going to eat. So if my body said “hey, lets have some ice cream” the conversation in my head went like this:
I agree, Ice cream sounds good!
What? not enough in the bowl? ok, I will add another scoop.
What? Not a big enough scoop? Ok, one more scoop then.
What? Hey, great idea, I will get the chocolate syrup too!
So that is how my life went, I continued to eat when and what my body told me to eat. It did not matter I had just finished a HoHo, it tasted good and I am going to eat another one. I never made the distinction between my brain thinking I should have food and my body actually needing food. I also drank soda, A LOT of soda. By the time I was 20, I was drinking almost two 12-packs of soda a day. The habit I developed of not questioning or controlling what I was eating continued to take on a mind of its own. It was not uncommon for me to eat a large meat lovers pizza all by myself. It got so out of hand some friends of mine and I use to go to all-you-can buffets and have contests on who could eat the most. In addition to the auto pilot eating, I became less active. I decided I would rather sit and play a video or computer game then get out and do activities that kept me moving and exercising. Ultimately, I accepted I was (and will always be) the fat kid. As I grew up, I accepted and embraced my “fat guy” persona. I would have moments of sanity during this time. I would go on diets and lose some weight and then my “auto pilot” took back over and I would gain all the weight back and then some. As a result I got to 400lbs with several medical conditions, I have been told by at least one doctor, if I do not loose weight soon, I would die. As I explained to Jacob (the youngest of you), I plan on seeing all of you graduate from high school and college and plan on being at every one of your weddings.
So here I am, back on a weight loss journey. This time is much different. I am not just eating what Weight Watches, Nutri systems or a nutritionist tells me to eat. I examining my life and my habits to figure out how to change my behavior and undo what I have done.
Ok, so what is the point of this letter? I would like to encourage all of you to not let yourself go on “auto pilot” about your eating (or anything else for that matter). Engage your mind in everything you do, even something that seems as trivial as eating. Pay attention in your nutrition class (Lord knows I did not) and apply what you learned to your life. Continue to live the active lives you have.
I love all of you and what you to live long healthy happy lives free of preventable medical conditions and avoidable pain.
P.S. - I want everyone of you to feel free to ask me anything about what is in this letter, anything I post in my blog, anything about my surgery or, for that matter, anything else. I promise that I will give you a very honest, truthful answer.
Filed under: Bariatric Surgery, Health, Inspiration, Journey, Lap Band, Losing Weight, Mens Weight Loss, Other, Overweight, Personal, Uncategorized, Weight Loss | Tagged: Bariatric Surgery, diet, Goals, health, inspiration, journal, Journey, Lap Band, Losing Weight, Mens Weight Loss, Obesity, other, Overweight, weight loss | 6 Comments »