I have two birth days… The first is the day I was born; the second is the day I chose to resume living. I weighed 7.5 lbs at my first birth and 550 lbs at my second one (talk about labor pains). My second birthday is 9/11/01. The day that changed the rest of the world is also the day that saved my life.
Prior to 9/11, I spent most of my life eating, dieting and hating myself in the process. A lifetime of gaining and losing had resulted in diabetes, high blood pressure and the inability to walk from the bedroom to the kitchen without stopping to catch my breath. My need to block out the emotional and physical pain in my life only increased my need for food.
By the morning of 9/11, my world was rapidly shrinking to the size of my one bedroom apartment, yet I woke up every day thinking it wasn't so bad. Talk about denial. Denial is more addicting than drugs, or in my case food. For me it was denial—not hope—that sprang eternal.
It wasn't so bad… I could still travel outside my apartment— I had a car. Sure, I got parking tickets everywhere I went because I absolutely HAD to park right in front of where I was going in order to make it to the door. I guess I could have gotten a handicap parking sticker, but its not like I was really handicapped.
It wasn't so bad... I could still get around. Sure, my knees were so bad I couldn't walk more than a few hundred feet at a time, but if I took a shopping cart and a chair with me everywhere I went it was ok. The shopping cart supported me while I walked until I needed the chair to sit on when I got tired— but its not like I needed a wheel chair or anything.
On 9/11 my world of denial came crashing down around me. A loud noise woke me early that morning followed moments later by a panicked phone call from a friend telling me to go to the window. You see, I live less than a mile from ground zero and as I later realized the sound that woke me was the sound of the first plane that struck the World Trade Center. I could hear my panicked neighbors running to the roof to watch the tragedy unfold. I struggled to hoist my 550 pound body and drag myself to the window where I watched in horror as the first tower become ensconced in black smoke. I was barely able to spend more than a few minutes at the window without lying down to rest.
The remainder of that day was a blur of activity, noise and outright panic for the world in general, and me in particular. Within hours, the streets surrounding ground zero, including those around my apartment were closed and only emergency vehicles were allowed in and out. The only way for me to get out was on foot, but walking was not an option. My car was my legs and without the ability to use my car I was homebound. I couldn't even walk the half block to the closest store to buy food, let alone leave the area.
It suddenly struck me with the intensity of a meteor falling from the sky that I was immobile and unable to get around without a wheelchair. The sudden awareness of what everyone around me already knew overcame me. In that moment I woke up from years of denial to face the overwhelming truth— I had become a prisoner of my own body.
It's amazing what we can fool ourselves into believing. It's even more amazing just how suddenly we can be forced to face the truth. September 11th was my day of reckoning. As the world struggled to cope with the aftermath of terrorism in the days following 9/11, I began to face my personal terror, and the struggle to change my life. And so it began…
Today I have my life back. I weigh 190 pounds, my apartment is no longer my world, and I experience something new and wonderful every single day. Since 9/11 I have undergone a gastric by-pass, a 318 pound weight loss and 11 additional surgeries to get my body back to a place I can live with myself. Just last month, I had the first of two knee replacement surgeries and no longer need a cane to walk. Plastic surgery is a choice I made to correct some of the damage caused by a lifetime of morbid obesity.
The years following 9/11 are only part of a story that spans a lifetime. I will be sharing my life story on this website, on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and in my upcoming book Winning After Losing. Even though I have lost hundreds of pounds, I can tell you that the hardest part wasn't losing the initial weight. The hardest part (and the part no one talks about) is keeping off the weight I've lost. In my book, I offer a practical program for people who have already lost weight, who want to keep it off and stop yo-yo dieting. Whether you've lost 15 pounds, 25 pounds, or more, these are the secrets you need to know if you want to keep off the weight. Winning after Losing is packed with advice from experts and secrets and tips from other people like me, who have finally been able to keep off the weight they've lost. I hope you will share it with me.
Thank you for visiting my website. Please come back soon to learn more of my story. I would also like to hear from you so that I can share in your lives too.
PS. If you would like to know more about my life prior to my weight loss, I can be seen in the movie "Dresscode" in which I starred with Shirley MacLaine, Kathy Bates and Gary Sinise. Dresscode is available at Blockbuster and Amazon.com.
PPS. I want to hear YOUR story. Click here to email me.