More Than A Walking Statistic


ch_community_cape-breton_logoTwo years ago, I was a 29 years old who weighed 460 pounds. It had been more than 10 years since I had seen a doctor and five since I had seen my feet.

I spent my mornings hosting The Early Show with Jay Bedford and Nikki Sullivan on 103.5 The Eagle, and I spent my nights on my bed, eating and overeating my way through entire seasons of TV shows on Netflix. I couldn’t walk the green bin to the end of the driveway without sweating buckets. I had run a couple of relationships in to the ground. I had checked out of my life all together. I woke up every day committed to a routine that kept a pay cheque in my hand to fund my miserable life.

My Dad, Jim McNeil, died of a heart attack at 57. My family is filled with tragic stories of heart disease and cancer. Logically, I knew that health was a life-and-death game, and that how you played determined exactly how long you got to stay on the field. Still, I was self-destructive.

Looking back, I see now that I was a walking statistic. At 460 pounds, my likelihood of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes were all increased. Given my health and size I was getting closer every day to a cardiac incident of some kind, and given my family history, my first would likely be my last.

I was lying to myself and everyone around me. I told them I was happy and healthy. I told them not to worry. What I didn’t tell them was that I felt trapped inside this massive body, held hostage by the end result of years of my own bad decisions. I didn’t tell them I had stopped imagining a future for myself. I didn’t tell them I was actively eating my way toward the most socially acceptable form of suicide there is.

Then, my boss, Dave Newbury, took me out to lunch one day and asked me point blank what I was planning to do about my weight. Not wanting my boss to think I saw it as anything other than the problem it was, I surprised myself and actually told him the truth.

I had tried to lose weight. I cut back on pop. I tried to eat less and eat healthy. I made modest attempts to exercise but never stuck with anything long enough to see any results. For the first time I was admitting to that I wasn’t as happy as I seemed — certainly not as happy as I sounded on the radio each morning.

Over the next few weeks, he arranged for me to have lap-band weight loss surgery at a clinic in Ontario on the condition that I document the whole process on a website so listeners could follow along. It was a huge decision and one that changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined.

That was 200 pounds ago and now I couldn’t be happier to share some of those experiences each week in this new column.


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