In late March of 2012, our lives seemed to be spiraling downward, we found ourselves beset by challenges and a bleak future as a result of our shared obesity and poor food habits; it was time to make the necessary changes that would result in a dramatic physical, emotional and mental transformation for both husband and wife.
We had always enjoyed a marriage full of love, but it seemed that shortly after our marriage in 2002 we were confronted at every turn with challenges. At the time of our wedding we weighed a combined 540 pounds, furthermore, the challenges of paying for our wedding left us in a financial hole that would take years to dig out of. In May of 2007, after years of paying off debts, we were in a position to buy our first home and with three children it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in our lives. Unfortunately, we had only possessed our piece of the American dream for little more than two years before childcare and work issues forced us into foreclosure. We turned to food, the one comfort that had been reliable throughout our lives through the dizzying highs and soul-crushing lows. As a result, our weight soared to a combined 614 pounds.
We all have reasons why we put into our body the things we do. Some of it can be traced to social forces, culture and tradition. But, a big piece can be traced to internal struggle and mindset. We did not transform ourselves out of a need to secure vanity, the goal at the onset of our journey was to become healthy and fit, not simply to lose weight. We had to deal with our emotional issues and transform our ideals in order to drop a combined 280 lbs. I was the epitome of a barbeque loving, beef eating, no veggie buying, cooking everything with bacon grease chanter of the mantra "Food eats the Salad". I was the person who saw vegan recipes and foods and scoffed at the seemingly foolish reasoning behind such a lifestyle. I wore t-shirts flaunting my morbid obesity, there was one I was particularly fond of (also extremely offensive) that read "I beat Anorexia". I played the part of the fat guy that was quick to cut himself down before others would to get a laugh and soften the shots others would take at my weight. Inside I was bitter and angry that I could not seem to be "normal" like everyone else. On the surface I bought into the whole "Big is Beautiful" campaign to force myself into acceptance of who I was, however I knew that the acceptance I found in such an idea was only skin deep. Jess, felt invisible, or at least that is what she yearned for and attempted to achieve with her clothing choices. She grew up in a family that equated food with love and she had been showered with both as she grew up with close relationships with aunts and uncles, cousins and her grandfather, who could never refuse to indulge her food cravings. As she became a mother, the weight of her choices began to affect her as much as her physical size because she knew she was not setting the right example for our four impressionable young daughters.
As we paused our lives for a brief, yet emotional, conversation in spring of 2012 we came to realize our health had also become a real cause of concern. Jess had just been diagnosed with fatty-liver disease and diverticulitis and her mom had struggled with diabetes for nearly ten years, which included battling a slew of physical and medicinal side-effects as a result of her disease. We were unable to muster enough energy to even walk our kids to the park on the weekends. We set out from that conversation to become the role models that our kids and our family needed; we made changes over two and half years that taught us about good nutrition, organic foods and how to best fuel our bodies to achieve physical feats that we had never dreamed of being capable of. Along the way we had to confront long held values associated with our identities and the psychological reasons we felt compelled to punish ourselves with food. We did this as a team and as of today we have lost a combined 280 lbs. I have completed my first marathon and Jess is training for her first 15k. We keep our goals ahead of us to keep ourselves motivated and have even converted to a whole foods diet.
We were recently provided a ride of a lifetime when our “weight-loss” story broke on CNN on July 14th of this year. This was quickly followed up by an appearance on “Good Morning America” on July 17th, a skype appearance on the Polish morning show Dzien Dobry TVN , an interview and photo shoot for New Idea (an Australian weekly magazine), a feature on the local news station KUSA, and about half a dozen additional interviews with news outlets from Brazil to Croatia. Now, we hope to continue the journey by sharing what we have learned about health and fitness in the hopes of inspiring one more person to take the first of many steps on their own journey to improve their lives.
Rob and Jess