Recently I read a book about one person’s experiences with the gastric band, and enjoyed it very much. It’s called Fighting Weight by Khaliah Ali, with the help of a writer and two clinicians who performed the surgery in 2005.
She describes vividly her years as an overweight child and young adult, and the book is full of interesting before and after pictures, so important for those seeking inspiration.
As the daughter of boxer Muhammad Ali she knew what fame and being in the spotlight were all about, and while this made her feel more self-conscious than ever it also pushed her further into overeating for comfort. It was thus doubly brave of her to allow the cameras to record before, during and after her weight loss surgery, and to describe so honestly her feelings during this time and then over the next 18 months as she proceeded to halve her body weight.
Her story has a tabloid feel to it, I’m not sure if because it’s the style of the writer who assisted, or because of her familiarity with celebrity. The title of the book, Fighting Weight, seems to have been devised by a committee to ensure that it would be purchased by overweight readers while standing clear of mainline diet literature, and at the same time including all admirers of her father and his profession. Although I don’t identify with its breathless tone of “from failure-to-success” used by motivational public speakers, there’s no doubt that hers is a remarkable personal achievement – no committee or famous father could have done it for her and the glory is hers alone.
I was particularly interested in the comments by one of the clinicians on how gastric band patients can approach successfully the tricky subject of eating in public. What they did was to show their patients by example – they took groups of them on outings to show them how to tackle meals in restaurants. We could all do with being reminded that the most dangerous stage when eating out is the warm, fragrant bread basket on the table even before we’ve glanced at the menu, when we are at our most vulnerable. Within minutes we regret the first wonderful mouthful, and then watch miserably as everybody else tucks into their meal, and we check out anxiously the whereabouts of the rest rooms knowing that one morsel would send us racing for them.
This book has made me appreciate that I have missed out on the face-to-face group therapy sessions where common problems are aired under the chairmanship and guide of an expert. I would have liked someone in authority to tell me unequivocally what works and what doesn’t, and some technical explanations on why the band behaves in strange ways sometimes.
The book is aimed very much at the United States/Canadian market of course, and there are names of celebrities and brands of high calorie foods which shall forever remain a mystery, but that’s just a detail. As far as inspiration goes, I give it 10 out of 10.
Lonicera The Bandit