“How do you feel after losing the weight?” That’s a question I get asked on a daily basis, the truth is I don’t feel very different much of the time or maybe it’s that the change has been gradual enough that I don’t notice any specific changes. Although I do feel like I have more energy I would say the biggest changes are probably a culmination of little things, things average sized people take for granted. This may come off as a “list of things Tony has broken” but without being overly dramatic this is really what I notice on a day to day basis.
I can sit on folding chairs that I wouldn’t dream of trying to sit on before and although breaking a folder chair or two has been the source of comic relief in my family it makes it very hard when going to weddings or other events where they don’t have full sized chairs. I had resorted to bringing my own folding chair to most occasions and as you can imagine that’s both a hassle and embarrassing. There were several weddings and functions where I just stood off to the side instead of risking a chair explosion during an inopportune time.
I no longer need to request a table, or a seat without arms, when dining out at restaurants. Again this may seem like a little thing but not being able to sit in a booth with a fixed table or in a chair with arms can be incredibly limiting for seating. Either you get the embarrassment of not being able to fit in a booth, having to ask your hostess to move you, or you have to watch them hunt frantically for the one or two chairs in the venue without arms. Although we dine out much less often it’s such a relief to not have to worry about special seating arrangements.
That bring’s me to breaking furniture, more specifically toilet seats. The most embarrassing moment of my life was when I visited my in-laws for the first time and I broke their toilet seat. There really isn’t a great way to tell someone you just met that not only are you moving their daughter across the country (this in itself is a whole other story) but you’re such a fat-ass you broke their toilet seat. Couple this with cracking a toilet seat or two at work, a customer’s couch while on an appointment, a few car seats, our own living room couch and chair (twice), and countless desk chairs I knew something had to give. I’m still leary of lighter weight furniture but it hasn’t been a chronic issue since I began this journey. (I probably spent about $3,000 and several weeks of construction on my bathroom over 10 years from damage to the tub and tiles from my weight – Thanks Dad for your help and understanding)
Weight limits, for those of you of slighter build you likely don’t face these problems very often but once you hit the 500+ mark you are basically over the weight limit of everything. I couldn’t even do the stress test at my cardiologists facility because their equipment was only rated to 450lbs. Most “heavy duty” scales don’t clear 500lbs either, so many of the offices I did my pre-op work at couldn’t even accurately weigh me. Furniture is usually only rated to 250lbs per person, beds included, and if you have ever tried to buy “heavy duty” furniture, exercise equipment or even something seemingly as simple as a bicycle you understand its astronomically more expensive. Imagine joining a weight loss program and not being able to use any of the equipment, yeah I’ve been there.
This also reared its ugly head when going to events like football and baseball games, the movie theater or anywhere with stadium seating. I actually had to google seating sizes for different venues to see if they had seats that would fit me and after a while I just gave up going altogether to avoid the embarrassment of not being able to fit in the seats and having to stand the entire time. As much as I hated it I often had to ask for handicap seating or rooms if they were available, I didn’t feel handicapped and I didn’t want to be “that guy”. In college this was an issue during lectures, I had to sit in the end seats (they were handicapped seating) to sit comfortably. When we went on a cruise we had to request a handicap room so I could comfortably shower without having to leave the door to the bathroom open. I couldn’t dream of flying someplace without buying two seats or flying first class so we drove everywhere, 16+ hours each way to Florida for a long weekend, or I skipped the trip and flew my wife and kid down without me. (fyi 99% of all motorcycles, airplanes, canoes and boats are not “Tony Sized”, not even cruise ships)
Cars were another pain point, either the seat belts didn’t, my legs were crammed into the dash, or the steering wheels didn’t adjust enough and they were jammed into my legs, groin, or gut. Climbing in and out of our econo work van was nearly impossible since the seat did not adjust back and the steering wheel was locked in place. I basically had to squash and meld my self around the steering wheel every time I hopped in and out. I would come home with bruises on my stomach from cramming my way into spaces or having objects poke my gut while working. Long trips would generally lead to days of leg and foot pain if I drove or sat in the front and often times it was easier to sit in the back seat so I didn’t run into issues with center consoles or dashboards. I once was actually pulled over for not wearing a seat belt and when I sheepishly demonstrated that I couldn’t buckle the belt I was berated on the side of the road about either losing weight or getting a seat belt extender, yeah that went about as awkwardly as you would expect.
So I guess you could say that’s how I notice or feel a difference since the surgery. Although I still struggle with seeing the weight loss in the mirror, as many of us do and which is a topic for another day, I do notice and appreciate all these small changes which help tremendously with not only my anxiety but my overall quality of life. If you have your own stories or small triumphs please comment and share below, I would love to hear them.
I would also like to thank my incredibly thoughtful friends throughout the years who made sure I had a “Tony Chair”. Whether they bought special heavy duty folding chairs, considered passenger leg room in their new cars a bit more, bought heavier duty furniture, or set aside a special chair for me at their wedding I greatly appreciated it all.