I was tagged as either “fat Tommy” or “fatty-boy”. I’ve fought the “battle of the bulge” my entire life. As I got older, I realized being morbidly obese was definitely having an adverse effect on my life, and it appeared to be getting worse.

Why I chose to draw the line against living with obesity

I’m a Computer Tech Support and Server Administrator and I was finding it difficult to lift a desktop computer. I couldn’t walk long distances without getting winded. When I worked on the second floor, I had to climb stairs and would need to take breaks halfway up. Climbing down the stairs was also difficult, because I could not see each step – so I had to go down one step at a time.

Over the past few years, I have gone on numerous job interviews, and when I entered the room, I could tell the interviewer had already prejudged my abilities because of my size. I could actually see the nonverbal gasps by the way their eyes opened wide. Since many of the jobs dealt with customer interaction, I could see they were apprehensive about hiring me because they were afraid of how their potential customers would view me.

I cancelled going to parties, weddings and funerals because I was ashamed of my size. I stopped going to my favorite vacationing spot, because two years ago I broke two chairs – and I was embarrassed to return. I also avoided going to movies, concerts, and restaurants, because I had issues sitting in the seats.

Going into the operation, I was at the lowest point of my life. I weighed the most I ever had. My weight made it difficult to do simple tasks both at work and at home. I stopped socializing. I hated not only myself, but the entire world.

How my life has changed

Since the operation, I consider myself an unofficial walking testimonial commercial for the REALIZE® Band. My weight loss has been called remarkable. I started at 435 pounds, with a BMI of 55.8. As of this past week (22 months after the procedure), I have lost about 185 pounds, with a BMI of 32.1.

In the past two years, I have come to realize many things. One thing is life is a rollercoaster ride. There will be highs and lows, but the ride itself will be exhilarating. The other thing I realize is that when it comes to weight loss surgery, no one prepares you for your gains. You gain confidence in yourself; you gain self-worth; you gain relationships again (old and new); you gain a wonderful group of friends from the boards and support groups, and you gain a wonderful outlook on your life and the future