Pizza shop in New York City

“I need to do a six month physician supervised weight loss program before I can get the gastric sleeve covered by my insurance.” She wasn’t even that heavy to start off with, her BMI was 32. She wasn’t diabetic and did not have high blood pressure. 

“You are going to be married to a fistful of vitamin supplements for the rest of your life.”

“I don’t care. I am tired of being fat, of having people judge me.” I understood. People can be so cruel. “My friends have all had it done and they look great,” she said hopefully. “But I can’t loose too much weight right now or I won’t qualify anymore…”

We both knew she had no intention of really trying. 

Sure enough she demonstrated a nice weight gain at each visit and steadfastly refused to count her calories or exercise or do anything except to say, “I’m cutting back, Doc. Really I am. I don’t know why I keep gaining this weight!” 

I don’t know why that sort of thing qualifies someone for surgery. A barbaric surgery with lifelong consequences. Sometimes I wonder about the ethics of the surgeons doing these things and why there isn’t better after care for people undergoing the knife. Cut them up and then cut them off seems to be the plan across the board. 

She had her surgery. 

Three years later her weight was back where it started from and then some and she wanted a referral for a surgery revision. 

I wanted to say, “I told you so.” And then I wanted to call her surgeon up and give him a piece of my mind.

But I didn’t….

A few weeks ago I was at one of those giant outdoor malls. There were easily 20-30 restaurants clustered around. Right there in the midst of it all there was a weight loss clinic. 

Having just eaten at the Melting Pot myself I was so stuffed it was hard to breathe. Way too much food to be healthy but then why didn’t I just stop eating? I was too focused on not wasting anything. Getting my money’s worth. I blame my upbringing. I blame past poverty. I blame portion sizes. 

I blame myself.

Where does that come from, anyway?

At first I was offended that this clinic placed itself where it did. Then I realized it was a brilliant marketing strategy. This is what we have become, isn’t it?

Binge. Purge. Binge. Purge.


“How’s your daughter?”

He smiled and pulled out his smart phone, flipping through pictures of a grinning, curly haired toddler. They’d had so much trouble having a baby. 

“Oh, she’s beautiful!” 

He nodded, beaming.

“How is your wife?”

His face changed in a instant. He looked stricken. “You knew she had the gastric sleeve done?”

“Yes, I had heard.”

“Well, she developed Korsakoff Syndrome.” Oh. Wow. “She got confused, couldn’t remember things. Couldn’t walk straight.”

Thiamine deficiency.

“When she said she wanted to get the surgery, I didn’t say anything. I just wanted her to be happy. She suffered so much emotional turmoil over her weight. We had no idea something like this could happen, though. If I could go back in time I would tell her she didn’t need to do it. That I loved her just the way she was. Now she is not the same person. She has to carry a book with her to write everything down since she has so much trouble remembering things and she uses a cane to get around.” 

“Mommy, I’m thirsty!”

It was swelteringly hot. I stood in line to get our fifth soda refill of the day in the $15 red amusement park drinking bottle I had purchased earlier that morning.

*Free* refills on Coca-Cola products all day!

I don’t need Coke products. My kids don’t need Coke products. Water would do just fine to keep us hydrated. But STILL…. I paid $15 for that stupid cup since I could not bring anything into the amusement park. I want to get my money’s worth, dang it. A small bottle of water costs $4.50 a pop multiplied by at least five times per person per day… but soda pop in the big red drinking bottle? Yeah. What is anyone going to pick?

So here we are.

Making money by making people fat. Making money to make people skinny again. Making money getting them fat again. Making money to get them skinny again.

And so on.

It does not ever stop.

How do we make it stop?


159 thoughts on “Proximity

  1. It’s a viscous cycle. You know that I have struggled with my weight since I quit smoking. Maybe I am delusional when I say I know it will eventually come off? I try really hard to stay away from anything processed but it’s hard. Most of our food is poison to some extent and as long as the masses keep consuming it, nothing will change. My latest dilemma…..pumpkin seeds. Try and find pumpkin seeds that are grown and packaged in the United States, it’s almost impossible. I can’t bring myself to eat pumpkin seeds from China even if the package says USDA certified organic. It’s all a lie. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had gastric bypass and lost 210 lbs, mor than half my body weight. I am still on the high end of overweight, but i am so happy with myself. I think my surgery saved my life. I had much childhood trauma and eating became my coping mechanism, to comfort myself, to protect myself, tp insulate myself. As i approached the ave of 50 with 3 young adopted children, i realized that with all of the weight related health issues i had, i could well be dead before my children were grown. I’d been in therapy for many years working on my childhood and food issues, and working on losing weight, but i realized that i needed a bigger fix than i could do on my own. And i was ready to commit to th e lifetime of changes. So, yes, there are certain things i need to do forever. My weight loss is not magical. It is daily sticking to my new eating style and exercise regime. It is ongoing therapy. But, i feel do much better, physically and emotionally. I would not change anything. Thank goodness, i have had no complications.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am so glad you have had good results! It IS life saving for some people. Please don’t think because I am critical of the procedure that I think it should be outlawed or that people who choose it under the right circumstances are flawed. They are not. The system is flawed for selecting people who will fail and for not adequately informing patients of the risks, setting them up further for failure. Keep up the good work!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I got that. I just wanted people to read a positive story. I really like the program in my area because it does require potential patients to lose a certain amount of weight whole following the forever after surgery diet, while meeting with nutritionists and psychologists and attending classes. It is at leat a 6 month long process. People complain about the process, but this bariatric center has a great success rate. I think the whole procesd is very helpful.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Writing Links 8/14/17 – Where Genres Collide

  4. Sorry I’m getting here so late. Your message is an important one. Getting to a healthy weight takes so much work, affecting us physically, socially, mentally, emotionally and sometimes even spiritually. We need programs that address these issues every day. A doctor cannot do it all. I went to a 12 step program, journaled, prayed, I worked a program that worked and lost 60 pounds. My x husband just lost weight with no program, got depressed, and went and found a new wife.That was many years ago. But the point is that it’s complicated and takes lifestyle changes, deep changes, maybe even therapy, to keep the weight off. But its worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We live in a ‘quick fix’ society. That’s part of the eat-binge-eat-binge syndrome too. We want everything to come easy. It doesn’t. But we also want to look like the beautiful people on TV. Then we see the commercials between watching the beautiful people, and we get up and eat a pint of ice cream. The answer? Turn off the TV. Stop wishing for something else and be the else. Stay busy. Walk. Read. Think of someone other than yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. One of my fears about a visit to the States is the legendary portion sizes and soda etc. As a tourist, every meal would be consumed out of home. And now I am on an insulin-resistant diet, negotiating around the carbohydrates would be a nightmare. Having said that, I have three friends here in Australia who have had the gastric banding, but with each of them the surgery is only one component of a program which includes nutritionists, psychiatrist, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Its sad because American’s are lazy and this surgery is thought of as a quick fix- no one talks about the lifelong vitamins you need to take or other consequences. And yeah I always see a jenny craig or weight watchers next to a pizza shop or dunkin donuts as if to torture them even more….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looking back at after WWII, the stories of my parents, their friends I met who’d been through the war…
    I’m afraid war will come. To undo things. Put some sense and honour back in the survivor’s heads. Until it all goes down the drain again.
    Sorry, but I have recently come to believe that man is only good at one thing. War. Not peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Having been on that up and down most of my life, I understand the need some people have for something extreme, though I can’t imagine having it done myself. I hated my weight when I was a teen and went on a pretty extreme diet twice – getting quite low in weight and nearly anorexic into the bargain, and then a couple of slices of gateau and coffee with sugar put me on the path back to fatness. (It can happen so quickly.) These days, I live with being and feeling pretty shapeless, but I have admitted to myself that I don’t want to diet anymore. I have loads and loads of food intolerances and a couple of very bad food allergies, and my food choices are fairly limited anyway. So I plod along and try to enjoy what I eat and try not to worry about appearance. One thing that made me laugh (later, though not at the time) was when I first arrived in rural Wales after having lived in a city and signed on with a local doctor, I was weighed and told I was underweight. Back in London, that same weight would have been regarded as too heavy! So… my thought is that maybe it’s not so much time for us to all go on a diet, but change our attitude about obesity. In various countries, fatness is regarded as beautiful. Why can’t we all be fat and beautiful? Or just beautiful whatever our appearance and body shape?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Totally agree and identify. Though eventually the responsibility of what happens to us is ours alone, as a society we can take better decisions to make it easy for everyone. Unfortunately, in my view, what gets in the way is simply greed. Or corporate greed. If we are making money, and as long as it not illegal, do we really care?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. After our comment exchange last week, the next thing I saw was an advertisement for a new documentary that will be aired next week, called The Obesity Myth. Here is some information on it. You might like to watch the trailer (remembering any figures on the scales are kilos not pounds).
    You could pick the program up on the internet if it interested you, best, Gwen

    Liked by 1 person

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