Almost two years ago, on the eve of traveling to New York City to be filmed for a then yet-to-be-named major documentary mini-series about the obesity epidemic in the United States, I wrote about some of the emotions I was going through, prior to being filmed.
While I had gone through an extensive series of taped interviews when I was auditioning for The Biggest Loser, those interviews would pale in comparison to the process of being filmed for a major documentary by a huge network.
Now, I can finally tell you that network was HBO and the name of the series is "The Weight of the Nation." It's a 4-part series that will be airing on HBO on the evenings of May 14th and 15th, 2012. That's just a wee bit over three weeks from now!
This groundbreaking documentary takes an in-depth look at not only individuals like me and how we've come to be obese, or as in my case, super-morbidly obese, but how;
"Obesity is commonly thought of as simply a matter of lifestyle and personal choice, but there are many factors that contribute to the problem - and many solutions are needed to fix it..."
The series goes on to explore;
" . . .how food is produced and marketed, which can have severe consequences for the nation's health. For example, national farm policies, including subsidies for corn and soy, have contributed to an abundance of processed foods which are high in calories and low in nutrients. However, fruit and vegetable farmers get little support, and only 3% of American crop land is used for fruits and vegetables."
Even more astounding and shocking, the producers at HBO wanted to highlight how;
"America's children may be the first generation in history to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Approximately 32% of America's young people are overweight or obese."
(Excerpts taken from the HBO press release about "The Weight of the Nation.")
OK so now that I've finally spilled all the details about the mini-series, I can be completely open with you about how I'm feeling about it.
I'm nervous because as real and raw as I get out here, and as honest as I am, what you all are seeing are the words I write about my life, about my struggles with obesity, and about the hell that life can be sometimes. Well, OK, about as much of the hell as I've shared, to this point. But how it comes across out here and your reactions to my words versus your reactions to actually seeing the tearful admissions of how much I hate being obese, and how abused I've been by all the "fattie haters" in our world, are two entirely different things. My written words and then being able to physically see the words as they come out of my mouth might be a bit of a shock.
Not only that, while my weight has been slowly climbing back up lately due to a combination of high doses of Prednisone and my fear taking control of my predisposition to emotionally overeat, at the time of filming I was close to 125lbs heavier than I am now. I have cringed each and every time I've seen myself in snippets of the footage from the series trailer. Oh and we can't forget how disastrously dark brown my hair was. This was back when I was fooling around with various shades of brown, boring brown, and reclusive brown. I think I had settled on something between boring brown and reclusive brown just a mere week before filming began.
What makes all of this even harder is the fact that I'm once again struggling with my eating. I'm not being mindful of whether or not what I'm putting into my body is helping me, or hurting me. Actually, I'm not even thinking about it at all. And I'm not moving. At all.
A while back when I was going to the Y every day and losing at least two pounds a week, several people asked me if I was feeling a difference and did I feel a difference between being 507lbs and 350lbs? Yes, I do feel the difference in my knees and back especially after losing the first 150lbs. I don't see a difference physically. I think some of that might be attributed to the "Prednisone puff" I have going on and the fact that in the past couple of months since being put back on incredibly high doses again in order to control inflammation issues going on in my body, I've packed on another 25lbs. But back in October and November, comparing then to now, I can unequivocally state that I feel a huge difference!
I was starting to really feel the effects of working out and notice that I had more energy, slept better, and wasn't as insanely hungry all the time, like I am now. I might have had some muscle aches and pains as a result of what I was asking my body to do, but now I have incredible muscle aches and pains because I'm not asking it to do anything!
The worst thing about all of this? I'm dying to get out of this body but struggling harder than I ever have before to do that. So much of the struggle is emotional. So much of the emotional issues are based in fear. And so much of that fear is stuff that I either need to let go of, or let it ultimately kill me.
Part of me really feels like people (especially those who are predisposed to hate "fatties.") are going to see this series and them look at me and yell,
"Hey you! Yes YOU! How can you have participated in this series and be aware of what a huge problem your obesity is causing/costing our country and still be so damned fat?"
And ya know what? I don't have an answer.
I'm desperately trying to claw my way out and be who I truly believe I was destined to be. Dealing with the physical fat is one thing, but it's this damned emotional fat that seems nearly impossible to lose!
It's not that I don't want to become healthy. Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing, or how the hell I get there. I thought I had a genuine grip on this thing, but now? Now? Well now I'm not so sure.
I hope that those of you who have HBO via your cable or satellite providers will watch this series in it's entirety (those of you who don't subscribe to HBO can view the series online, once it's aired on HBO! It will be available, free of charge. Forever!) and will watch with an open and un-condemning mind. I hope you'll come to realize that for many people like me, it's not so much that we're addicted to Twinkies and Big Macs, but that we're addicted (most of us don't even realize it. For those of us who do, we're trying desperately to figure out how to deal with the pain and anguish associated with it.) to the emotional fat and breaking that addiction is sometimes ten times as hard as getting rid of the harmful foods we're putting into our bodies that are slowly but surely, killing us.
This documentary is so vital to the health and mindset of our nation. We need to begin to have this discussion on a very broad and serious basis. We can't begin to battle the epidemic of obesity that is not only killing us, but killing our children, unless we drop our preconceived notions and superficial judgements about what it is to be an obese American. I'm hoping this important documentary series can help us begin to open the doors to that discussion, and pave the way to start losing so that we can win this battle!