A Story of Recovery:


Before I go any further, I should tell you, I’ve never been in a real prison; not the kind you are thinking, anyway. I’ve never even had any trouble with the law. No, my prison was of my own making. I had built it up around me, one block and one bar at a time.  By the time I was well into middle age, I was securely “locked up,” with no escape in sight.

When I was young, as far back as I can recall, I was called “fat boy,” “tubby,” and other unkind names, more than I care to mention here. There is an old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Well, truth be known, the names did hurt me; at least they hurt my feelings.  The name calling got me into trouble because I would retaliate.  Despite my size, I could move pretty well as a kid, and when I caught the name callers, I did my best to make them sorry.  Sometimes it worked, but most of the time, it just got worse.

By the time junior high school came around, I grew up, thinned out some, and had a reputation as a bit of a scrapper.  I fought a lot all the way to high school, for many reasons.  By the time I was that age, I wasn’t fat so much as big.  The older kids in my school and others wanted to see if I was as tough as they had heard.  Sometimes I was, other times, not so much. I played baseball all through my youth, and I played football in high school. I was also on the track team. I competed in the shotput and the discus events.  We competitors were endearingly referred to as “fat men” by the rest of the track team.

Mom was always concerned about my weight, I’m sure because she struggled so with hers. She knew I was headed for trouble.  Still, Mom was an amazing cook. She made homemade flour and sugar products that many of us fought over. I never knew how to turn it off. I would eat and eat and eat and never get full, even when I was stuffed.

A few years after college, I got married, and around that time my dad asked me how much I weighed. I told him I didn’t know, and I didn’t.  He guessed 260 pounds and I said, “no way! Maybe 240 pounds.” As has so often been the case, he was right, and I was wrong.  The prison walls around me had closed in just a little bit more. Ironically, four children later, I was the one that gained 20 pounds with each pregnancy.

The career in which I landed was restaurant management. I soon opened my own little café and had free run of the menu.  At over 300 pounds, I often heard folks laugh and tell me, “You can never trust a skinny chef, so you must be a great cook!”  I was not yet 30 years old, and I was locked down tight in my own skin. Still, I was happy.  Fat, dumb, and happy, perhaps, and dealing with food addiction without even realizing it.

When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see a fat guy. I think that’s why addiction is so cunning, baffling and powerful. We tell ourselves what we need to believe despite all evidence to the contrary. I joked, saying “I’m not overweight, I’m just under tall.”

Well, I was overweight, no two ways about it.  At my highest weight of 320 pounds, I had a lap band placed in the hope that it would fix everything. Well, it did get me back under 300 pounds but nowhere near a healthy weight. I was miserable, that’s the long and short of it.

I had been on blood pressure medication since I was 25 years old. The fact that I was never diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes is kind of a miracle in and of itself. I certainly had every chance.  I was obese, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was taking blood pressure pills, and all the while, I was completely unable to control my eating and my weight. I had become resolved that I was just always going to be a fat guy. There was nothing I could do about it. I had accepted it, but I certainly wasn’t happy about it.

Fast forward a few weeks to October 11, 2016. At 275 pounds, I attended an FA meeting, having been invited by a close friend. That meeting changed my life. I met people there who were not only healthy and beautiful, but who were accepting, understanding and supportive.  They had something I wanted. I quickly found a sponsor and went to work.  I cannot even begin to express what a game changer this has been.

Today, I follow a few simple rules and practices. I weigh and measure my meals. I don’t eat anything with flour or sugar in it.  I attend a few meetings and try to listen more than I talk. I do my best to be of service to others, both in and out of FA. I read from recommended literature. I offer gratitude to God for all He has done and continues to do for me. I am far from perfect, but I am moving in the right direction.

What are the results?  Well, for the first time since I was a teenager, I am under 200 pounds. To me, this is like being freed from prison. My waist and neck sizes have shrunk, I no longer have sleep apnea, and I have been off of high blood pressure medication since about three months into my recovery.  I recently had a physical and blood work done. Every single thing that was tested came back within normal recommendations.  All of this is nothing short of miraculous to me.

The biggest benefit that I have received from this program, however, has been spiritual. I feel closer to God, and I feel more confident in knowing His will for me.  I pray to Him with more purpose, more honor, and more gratitude. God continues to do for me what I cannot do for myself. I am free and loving every minute of it. I don’t ever want to go back to prison!


This story was originally published in the Connection Magazine. Subscribe to the Connection Magazine for more stories of recovery. Or submit your own story of recovery.