I Used Food In the Same Ways I Had Used Alcohol and Drugs: Tony W. Reflects on His Recovery

Episode 17: I Used Food In the Same Ways I Had Used Alcohol and Drugs on the Food Addiction: The Problem and The Solution podcast

Host, Susan Branscome:

Tell me about what happened when you started and you were using food, you weighed a lot more than your body was supposed to weigh.

Guest, Tony W.:

Well, I first started putting on weight when I was a teenager. I worked at Baskin-Robbins and they allowed you to eat anything you wanted while you were working there, and I was smoking weed at the time. So, you know, put those together and guess what, just like a balloon, but it really was the whole fast food culture that we live in. That’s the way I ate.

I should mention growing up, my mom was a great cook. I had four brothers and on Sundays, we had a big dinner after church; fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, rolls. My dad’s plate would look like the Devil’s Tower of Wyoming in Close Encounters where they had that big, huge mound! That’s where I learned what you do to just grub out, pig out – it’s not frowned upon. So as a child, I was active and was able to keep my weight down. Once I became late teens, the weight really started to catch up to me. But it really wasn’t until later on when I was an adult that I really started putting on hundreds of pounds of weight.

Host, Susan Branscome:

You’ve talked about the culture in the African American community around food, right?

Guest, Tony W.:

You have so many fried foods and those kinds of things and it’s really horrible when you think about it because this is not only African Americans, since other people have food in their cultures- it’s a part of who you are and you’re expected to partake in it. Yet it’s the thing that was killing me.

Host, Susan Branscome:

What kind of health problems did you have associated with the obesity?

Guest, Tony W.:

Well, for a number of years I was fine, you know, and then I remember I was at a concert and I had to keep going to the bathroom. I was really thirsty and I knew what that meant because my mom had diabetes. That was really the first time I had any kind of health problem and then it kind of spiraled.

At my highest weight around, I was about 464 pounds and I started to have neuropathy in my feet. I started to have the joint pain of high cholesterol, you know, the shot.

It was just everything. It was just a big spiral.

I started to have hernias. I had five hernia surgeries in one year.

I was contemplating the gastric bypass at one point but I opted not to do that, which I’m thankful for now. It really was a thing of me gradually gaining weight and then getting to the point where there were so many things that I saw were going to happen if I didn’t take some action.

When a friend of mine who was younger than me and weighed less than me had a stroke, I had a moment of clarity then that’s going to be me.

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