Dot and I have watched a number of episodes of “My 600-lb Life”. We’ve found many of the stories incredibly encouraging, and they’ve helped shore-up our own determination to lose weight.
And then we watched “Penny’s Story”.
The Internet can be a nasty place, so I won’t engage in the meanness burning up the message boards and comment sections of articles about this disturbing episode. Suffice to say, unlike every other story on this wonderful show, Penny really knows how to twist the screws.
A year after gastric bypass surgery, a patient weighing 600 pounds can expect to have lost as much as 350 pounds. In Penny’s case, in the year following her surgery, she’d gained weight. Her friends and family had paid for the surgery. It wasn’t stated in the show whether her disability money, her insurance or remaining charity was used to pay for her four months of hospitalization. Regardless of who was paying for it, nothing was working.
With all this opportunity to succeed as a backdrop, it was particularly hard watching her sneak food throughout the entire episode. It was painful to witness the child she loves have to visit her in the same bed she declared is “my bed, my bathroom, and my dinner table.”
Watching the show, it was frustrating that she seemed to have this queen-bee giddiness about the world revolving around her, while caregivers dragged her places in stretchers while she giggled about being “like Cleopatra.” And it made me ashamed when she swore to the doctor she wasn’t sneaking food, that she was doing everything she could, that the scale was off when she was first weighed, that she couldn’t stand up and walk, that she knew she was improving because of all the flabby skin she saw on herself.
Yes, it made me feel ashamed…but not at Penny. The shame I felt was reserved entirely for me.
Because I’ve done all of this, to one degree or another. At one time or another, I’ve told people I was sticking to my diet, when in fact I’d been sneaking food. Years ago, I joined a gym and swore I was doing everything I could to lose weight, while deliberately sabotaging my success by eating more — because of all the exercise I was doing. I even insisted I was getting thinner because my muscles “seemed bulkier” and, therefore, the scale at the gym was wrong.
Last night, I re-watched Penny’s episode with a cooler head and an eye turned back on myself. Penny still twisted the screws, but I had a better handle on my emotions. Was I actually angry at her? Or was I angry at myself for my behavior at the company bowling thing yesterday?
Let He Who Is Without Flabby Skin Pass The First Scone
So yesterday, at 1pm, the company let out for food and fun at a nearby bowling alley. All the various departments were there, and we were all supposed to mingle and have a blast and forge bonds that would help us “be all that we could be,” short of joining the Army. It was a special occasion, right? And I hadn’t gotten fat eating like a pig on special occasions, had I? Special occasions didn’t happen every day, right?
So I showed up at the thing, and there’s this huge table of pizza, fried cheese sticks, hot dogs, meatballs with sauce, and gallons of beer and soda. And so, because it was a special occasion—which doesn’t happen every day—I had beer, pizza, fried cheese sticks, and hotdogs. But hey, it was bowling—ergo, exercise! Right? On a special occasion!
But if it was such a one time thing (with exercise!) and it “didn’t matter,” why did I come home and eat dinner and not tell my wife that I already ate a ton of food like an hour before? Instead, I’d come home and ate what was essentially a second dinner.
Good grief. And Penny’s the screw-up? 🙂 Thank God I don’t have a TV crew following me around. Here’s Dot, 2 pounds shy of losing 100 pounds, and her husband’s making like King Henry VIII over at the bowling alley.
So there you are. “My 600-lb Life” is an amazing show, and one you need to watch for more reasons than morbid voyeurism. The show has some incredibly moving stories, and some bad behavior, sure. But there’s also some looking-in-the-mirror time for everyone before the credits start to roll. So if you’ve heard about the show and thought, “I don’t want to watch that, it’s..(etc. etc.),” maybe give it a try anyway.
And…uh…honey? This is why I didn’t finish all my dinner last night. But hey, I’m doing fine: come check out my new bowling muscles…