Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Obesity and Weight Management

120 lbs overweight

12/01/2003

Question:

I am 50+ years old and 120 bs overweight. I have been overweight ever since I was born. I have tried every single medically supervised, medically managed, self-help, behavior modification, exercise, plan, program, psychotherapy, diet, medication, comprehensive lifestyle change, and everything else the medical profession has said was "my best hope" for the past 45 years, and all that happened was that I kept getting fatter. I was even a vegetarian for 20 years, but then a registered dietician my dr sent me to insisted that was CAUSING my obesity and I had to give it up if I really wanted to lose weight. Naturally, starting to eat meat again did not help me lose any weight. It mostly just raised my cholesterol, which had been below 150 before that. I even spent 2 months in a highly regarded residential weight loss program. All I`ve ever heard is accusations that _I_ must be failing to do this, that or the other thing, or else I must be lying or deluded. I decided I wasn`t going to try to lose weight ever again, after suffering heart valve damage due to taking Phen-fen (which was very highly recommended by my dr - I would almost say pushed on me). Now I hear that gastric bypass surgery supposedly works for people my size. But thats what they said about all those other things too (VLCDs, liquid protien, protien sparing fasts, various plans, exercise programs, diet programs, lifestyle changes, medications -- I`m even old enough to remember when they used to prescribe amphetamines for weight loss, and yes, I took those for many years too, as prescribed by my dr). And after 50 years of failing at every single thing I tried, I still have a BMI of 44.6.

I am scared of surgery. I`ve never had any kind of surgery before, and I don`t particularly want to start now. But what are my other choices? Am I doomed to an early death unless I agree to go under the knife? And will that really help, or will I fail at that too, just like I`ve failed everything else that was supposed to help, but didn`t?

Everybody says that being my size is bad for me, and I already know that, but what is a person like me, who`s already tried everything at least 2 or 3 times, and already failed at it just as many times, supposed to do?????

I am tired of being a failure.

Answer:

I hear your pain. No one likes to be considered a failure. Your metabolism may be lower than the average person your height. Metabolism refers to how your body uses the calories you eat. If you are an efficient user of calories, you will need fewer calories to maintain your current weight. When you eat more than you need, weight is gained. The technology to measure your resting metabolic rate (RMR) has improved recently so that you can get your RMR by simply breathing for 5 - 10 minutes. I would recommend that you have this done before you decide "how" you will lose your weight. Knowing your RMR will help you and your physician or dietitian set reasonable goals for weight loss and develop a meal plan that meets your individual needs. Check with your health care provider to find a location close to you to have this done. Your insurance may cover the cost.

Surgery for weight loss is a serious step that should not be considered lightly. I would encourage you to get more information on surgical weight loss procedures before you decide that surgery is or is not an option for you. There are several procedures that are currently being performed. The roux-en-Y gastric bypass is considered the primary procedure. It can be performed in the traditional manner with a large midline incision or laproscopically with 5 or 6 very small incisions. There is also a relatively new operation called the Lapband procedure in which a small silicone band is inserted around the top of the stomach creating a funnel effect. You will feel full quickly if you eat rather than drink most of your calories. I would encourage you to get more information on these procedures if you are interested. If you do decide to pursue this route, you will also want to find a surgery program that offers education both before and after surgery to help you make the lifestyle changes that will assure your success. While 120 lbs. is a lot of extra weight, it is not a reason to think that surgery is your only option.

If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

For more information:

Go to the Obesity and Weight Management health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Shirley A Kindrick, PhD Shirley A Kindrick, PhD
Former Team Leader of Comprehensive Weight Management
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University