TuckedWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been 18 months since the bariatric sleeve surgery that marked the beginning of my new life.
I shed nearly 200 pounds and kept it off through a diligent daily exercise regimen and a disciplined approach to eating. There have been mistakes and backslides, especially during the holiday season, but they were thankfully minor and easily shaken off.
The culture shift for me has migrated from focusing on losing weight to focusing on maintaining the lifestyle required to keep the weight off. It’s no great insight that it’s more fun watching the needle on the scale drop than it is seeing it vacillate within a 5-pound range.
The payoff manifests itself with literally every breath I take. I am too deep into middle age and comfortable in marriage to be overly stressed about aesthetics (as anyone who has been treated to my revolving wardrobe of football team hoodies and comic book T-shirts will attest) but there is an element of ego gratification in the compliments when people notice that my hard work has paid off.
Yet the real treasures are the simple ones. There are new freedoms: not being tired all the time, not being a moth to fast food light boxes on highway exits, not being a liar when it comes to shuffling money to pay for secretive food indulgences.
I love the long outdoor walks, the increased activity with our young sons and the renewed intimacy in my marriage. Add in the health benefits of no longer trying to fill the same amount of space John Candy used to occupy and I do not have an iota of regret about forfeiting 85 percent of my stomach via medical science.
At my one-year checkup in September, my doctor asked if I was considering the follow-up surgery for skin and remaining fat removal.
During my era of changing dietary habits, I was an avid viewer of “Man vs. Food,” the TV show starring Adam Richman in which he travels the country participating in eating challenges, such as chewing through a bucket of what looks like 3,000 chicken wings in 45 minutes or eating a chocolate fudge sundae with enough ice cream to fill Sofia Vergara’s halter top.
It was a vicarious thrill to watch somebody eat their way through eight feet of Philly cheesesteak when the most I could nosh at one sitting was a half of a grilled chicken breast. But as I morphed from losing to maintaining weight, I discovered another gastric freak show to watch: “My 600-lb Life.”
On that program, people undergoing gastric bypass surgery are documented for one year. Each episode starts with a somber black screen that informs viewers that fewer than 5 percent of such patients successfully keep the weight off.
That’s a greater failure rate than for those attempting to quit smoking.
A number of the people on “My 600-lb. Life” start their journeys at 700 pounds or more. More than a few die during their year of documentation. It is stunning to watch the depths of denial and gluttony in which some of these folks are drowning.
It is a somber show, in stark contrast to the goofy hedonism of Richman’s food orgies. For me, it’s not simply a cautionary tale, to keep me from going back to that lifestyle. It’s more of a relief that I was able to stop my catastrophic gain at 400 pounds, a number which haunts me for its irresponsibility and recklessness. I watch “My 600-lb. Life” with a pervasive sense of “There but for the grace of God go Shamu and I.”
My doctor told me that although my body and skin had rebounded remarkably well from the weight loss, I undoubtedly qualified for the skin removal surgery and abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a “tummy tuck.”
As I rapidly learned, referring to the procedure as an abdominoplasty elicited far more gravitas than calling it a tummy tuck.
And I discovered, no matter what I called the surgery, I was tucked either way.
Next week: Compression garments, Davol drains and the 27-inch shark bite.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com.