Thursday, June 20, 2013
My father was the first person I ever knew who had surgical weight loss. He lost a tremendous amount of weight in a relatively short time, and managed to keep it off for the rest of his life.
But he didn't have weight loss surgery.
He had open heart surgery.
It was the early 1980s. I was only 8 years old and he was only 40 when he had a massive heart attack. I don't know how much he weighed at the time, but he was a large man. I don't remember him being "fat", but I remember him not having much of a neck and having a "Santa" stomach. Open Heart Surgery was a cutting-edge procedure back then, it was still being developed. After the surgery, he was kept in the hospital for a long time -- months -- and he couldn't smoke or eat what he wanted. He had to go to cardiac rehab. He learned to exercise. His lifestyle was forcibly changed, and accompanying weight loss was dramatic. It was a very long and difficult recovery process, but he wound up being healthier after that heart attack than he had ever been before it.
I'm almost 40 now. I'm all of 5'2" or 5'3", but I probably weigh more than my 6'2" father did at his heaviest. And as much as I long to follow in his footsteps in many other ways... I really don't want to follow his lead in weight loss. But the reality is that I'm not very healthy right now. I'm not "sick" per se, but neither was my dad before he had his heart attack.
My dad passed away in 2009. A couple of years before, he challenged me to lose weight. Specifically, 50 pounds. Unfortunately, I was heavier when he died than I was when he gave me the challenge. I'm about 15 pounds lighter now than I was at my very heaviest, but I still have a long way to go. I've had temporary weight loss successes -- dropping ~30 pounds on at least three different occasions, only to gain it all back. I've never made it to 50 pound mark.
But I'm optimistic. I don't think I've ever had the kinds of tools that I now have at my finger tips. And this time, I'm not looking for the miracle product or the quick fix. And with the significant milestone of my 40th birthday looming on the horizon... I'm motivated. I'm determined to lose the weight in a way that would make my dad proud: by NOT following in his footsteps.