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By Roz Rogoff

Fat is Thin, and other observations on my weight and life

Uploaded: Mar 1, 2010

Yes folks, I am what is medically referred to as "morbidly obese," which means I'm more than 100 lbs over my ideal weight. My ideal weight, as determined by someone else, not me, is supposed to be around 130 lbs, which I have not weighed since I was 12. That was 55 years ago. So I have lived longer being obese than many thin people have lived. I expect to continue to live, despite the "morbidity," of my weight.

I am remarkably healthy for a morbidly obese person of 67 years. I joined a fitness club last year and actually went three times a week for about two months, but I didn't feel any stronger, healthier, or most important thinner. So I quit. But when I went, I was able to "walk" for half-an-hour or more at 2 mph on the treadmill. My trainer said she had another elderly client, who is thin (by my definition skinny), who couldn't walk that long or that fast on the treadmill.

My good health – low blood pressure, normal heart rate, good HDL cholesterol -- has always bothered doctors who would like something to nag me about to improve my fitness. I'm obese, but I've never been morbid about it.

Twenty years ago I lost 150 lbs and dropped from 299 to 148. I was saggy all over, and had a face lift and an arm lift by Dr. Jon Perlman of Extreme Makeover fame. He wasn't famous then, so the cost was very reasonable for the great work he does.

Recently my arms were hurting at the scars under the elbows. These were not stretching to cover the amount of weight I had gained. I did not, as often happens, gain it all back and more, but I was getting too close for comfort, literally. I went to a local plastic surgeon who specializes in bariatric surgery, which tightens saggy skin after losing large amounts of weight. He suggested doing liposuction on my arms to reduce the stress against the scars. This would cost me about $4000.

I decided it was more cost effective and better for me overall to lose 50 lbs. and not spend $4000 on something I could do for free. Progresso Soup has an online contest for a trip to New York City and a makeover. I entered the contest with the plan to eat a can or two of Progresso Soup each day and use that to help me lose weight.

To my immense surprise this is actually working and I've lost 15 lbs in a month. With all this wet weather, my knee went out on me and I was walking around with a cane. I couldn't get out of the bathtub, like the old lady who had fallen and couldn't get up; so I realized I had to take some of this weight off. I'd like to lose about 50-60 lbs, which would make me merely obese. If I lost 100 lbs that would make me merely fat. So for me fat is thin.

I'm planning to attend the 50th reunion of my High School Class in New Rochelle, NY this October. It will be held a week after my 68th birthday. I was hoping I could use the Progresso trip to New York City to cover my airfare and the makeover to look good for the reunion, but even if I win, I'd have to take the trip in May. So I don't want to win anymore. But it has been useful as a motivator to lose weight and it's working for me.

I started eating Progresso Soup about 55 years ago, but I never realized how low in calories it is. The Minestrone is only 100 calories a serving or 200 calories a can. I don't eat servings. I eat whatever is there, so one can is only 200 calories and is very filling, tastes good, and replaces a meal like lunch or breakfast with about half or a third of the calories I would normally eat. I sound like a commercial, but I love this stuff and they make about 50 varieties that are 100 calories a serving or not much more.

I've also been using a website called Calorieking.com. It has the calorie content of a gazillion different kinds of food, which is very helpful. I joined their plan, but I don't plan to stay. They are too constricting, deciding what my target weight should be and what my number of calories a day should be. I teach online for University of Phoenix, and this is almost like taking a class. I'm required to complete assignments every day. That may be a good motivator for other people, but it's a turnoff for me.

When I lost weight 20+ years ago, and dropped from almost 300 lbs to, at first, 190, most of my co-workers at work didn't notice until I had gotten down to 210. When a person is obese it's often difficult to tell morbid obesity from just plain obesity. So we'll see if anyone will notice the difference if I'm able to drop down to 210 again. I know I will fit into clothes I haven't worn for 7 or 8 years. I'll feel better and won't have to buy two airline seats when I go back East this October. I'd like to get down to a size where I don't have to pay the extra $5-10 surcharge added onto plus-size clothing. So if nobody else notices, at least I will.