I am so tired of my family having to deal with this NONSENSE!

Am I the only one who is sick and tired of hearing about “SCANDALS” involving celebrities and weight loss surgery rumors?  It is not only baffling, but offensive to me that so many still believe that using bariatric surgery as a tool is the equivalent of a scarlet letter on our backs.  I went from 326 pounds to running half marathons and I worked my tail off to do it too.  The journey to the top photo from the bottom photo is one that is never-ending.  I will have to work on this new me for the rest of my life in order to keep from becoming the bottom photo once more.  I am proud of what I chose to do for myself and not in the least bit ashamed that I chose this tool over other options that have failed for me so many times before.

A lot of people have been blogging lately about how it upsets them to hear others say that weight loss surgery is the easy way out.  That is a statement that we all know is not true.  If it were the easy way out, there would be no regain, no cross addiction issues etc.  It is definitely not the easy way out.  I refuse to even argue that point because it is beyond insane to me to make that assumption.  Dr Jeffrey Friedman, who is a well-respected bariatric surgeon in Pensacola Florida as well as a close personal friend, knows the stats.  According to Dr. Friedman, “The average person has a five percent chance of losing all of their excess weight and keeping it off for life with diet and exercise alone.  Long-term success for gastric bypass in terms of keeping weight off is 85% or so.  Laparoscopic bypasses are very safe with a fairly low complication rate. It has a similar risk as gallbladder surgery now.”  There, done, facts are facts.  If most people could do it through diet and exercise we would not have the obesity rates we have now in this country.

What is really hacking me off right now is the scandalous label that is still placed on someone who has had weight loss surgery.  It is present both in the celebrity circles as well as in our everyday lives.  The recent spat online between Jennifer Hudson and a fan who questioned her methods of weight loss really bothered me.  Now, in reading the entire text of this Twitter spat, it is clear that she was angered by a lot more than just the accusation of her having wls.

BUT- take a look at this excerpt from a popular entertainment blog

Earlier this week Jennifer Hudson lost her cool when a fan on Twitter became aggressive and disrespectful towards the singer’s weight loss saying, “Did you get surgery to assist in your weight loss? Or is it all weight watchers?”

And here is another one regarding Aretha  Franklin.  Boy was there ever an uproar over her possibly having bypass or Lap-Band.

When asked point-blank whether or not she had undergone a gastric bypass,Franklin responded, “Definitely not, and would not.”

Oh and one more about Candy Crowley, a CNN reporter.

Candy Crowley, senior political correspondent at CNN has been under a new type of pressure recently. Normally she’s butting heads with shifty politicians or blazing the campaign trail with a future president but most recently she’s having to open up about how she has lost so much weight. After rumors of lap-band surgery and gastric bypass she divulged her secret to the LA Times to simply set the record straight. She told the interviewer that since December 2008 she has been dieting, swimming and sometimes working out with a trainer and she’s even doing transcendental meditation a couple of times a day.

Those of you who know me personally know I am a pretty mild-mannered person and one who is pretty level-headed.  However, when you mess with my family or friends, I get a bit outraged and can be a bulldog.  In my mind, i am related to every single person who has suffered from obesity and/or had weight loss surgery.  THe people who listen to my radio show are my extended family.  I feel a string kinship to any person who is or has gone through what I have been through.

I am a food addict and my heart breaks for all others who suffer this same disease.  It makes me so angry to read about celebrities possibly having weight loss surgery in the context of it being a “nasty rumor” or a “scandal” in some way.

Where are the articles praising those who took the step to improve their health and in many cases to save their lives?  Where are the articles speaking of what a courageous thing they have done?

When I made the decision to have gastric bypass a few years back, I was very open.  However, I know many who have had the surgery and do not want others to know.  This is so sad to me.  Would you be ashamed to tell people you had an operation to fix any other illness?  If you had a heart surgery would you keep that a secret?  If there was a disease in your liver would you be ashamed to tell people you underwent surgical intervention to fix that disease and save your life?

Why then are so many so ashamed of their weight loss surgery?  Who does the media MAKE them feel ashamed.  I feel like it is the responsibility of every single member of my weight loss family to help take away this label of SCANDAL that goes along with the various bariatric surgery procedures.

Let’s take a look at this.  There are so many heart-warming stories of celebrities who used either the patch or an electronic cigarette to quit smoking.  No scandal, just lots of praise.

People are often surprised when they first discover electronic cigarettes as an alternative to traditional cigarettes. It’s as if they’ve just discovered a new world right under their noses. So its equally shocking when they realize there are a ton of celebrities who smoke electronic cigarettes too.

And the Katherine Heigl interview on David Letterman was certainly one of the more widely publicized examples of celebrities that smokeelectronic cigarettes. In the clip she not only described how she was able to successfully switch to e-cigs, but even tried it out right in the studio, giving David a puff of his own!

Or how about this?  I adore Liam Neeson and love the fact the he admits to an addiction here.  No scandal for him either.

Liam Neeson wants the stars of The A-Team to wear nicotine patches if there’s a sequel. The film is based on the TV show about a group of US Army Special Forces soldiers convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, who become mercenaries after a jail escape. Liam’s character is famous for his love of cigars, which horrified the actor, who quit smoking in the 1990s. He tried to use rubber cigars at first, but was chain-smoking again by the second day of filming. “I stopped smoking 16 years ago, it was a real issue for me,” Liam told Australia radio program The Kyle and Jackie O Show. “[Director] Joe Carnahan insisted I have cigars and because it was Canada, they don’t have a trade embargo with Cuba and the props guys got me these amazing Cuban cigars. I got them to make rubber ones, because I didn’t want to be puffing on a cigar, but Joe, who is a big cigar smoker, said, ‘No, it looks so false!’ I said, “Joe, I’m an addict! I can’t smoke this stuff!’” Liam has managed to wean himself off tobacco for a second time, and has already decided he will never smoke for a film again. If there is a sequel to The A-Team, he’s planning to suggest his character wears nicotine patches instead of smoking. “If we do a sequel, I think I’ll have to insist on no cigars,” Liam said. “We’ll all have patches on instead.”

Here is another one about hypnosis to kick the smoking addiction.

Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron is known for her hard work and dedication to the characters she portrayed in films like “Monster” and “North Country.” But she couldn’t seem to take on the role of a non-smoker. Theron engaged the help of a hypnotist and became smoke-free for good.

Why is it okay to be addicted to the drug nicotine and not the drug of food?  Actually, come to think of it, almost all drug addictions are accepted by the media and celebs who seek out treatment and help are praised for that bold brave step, and i agree, seeking help for any addiction is a bold move.

The title of the article where I took this excerpt from was “Sober and Sexy!”

Who says sober can’t be sexy? Stars like Cory Monteith and Eva Mendes prove that sober just may be the new definition of sexy!

Being in the spotlight can be tough and the constant pressure for celebrities to be perfect can sometimes be too much to handle. Whatever the reason, it could be growing up as a rebellious teenager or maybe struggling with weight issues, these celebrities checked into rehab and came back glowing from the inside out!

So who makes the list of the successful celebrities to overcome their biggest challenges?

Drew Barrymore found a spot on the list when she entered rehab at the young age of 13 after becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Shockingly enough, Hollwood’s hunk, Ben Affleck also paid his dues in rehab after he realized he was an alcoholic. And you may not believe it but the friend he called for help was Charlie Sheen – talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

Demi Lovato is the most recent success story as the singer left her tour late last year to enter a treatment facility. The 18-year-old singer was released from rehab during the spring of 2011 and appears to be in a much better place in her life.

Lovato recently released her new single, “Skyscraper” that has already climbed to the top of the charts. It has been only a few short months since the pop star left the program, but Demi has kept herself busy popping up all around town looking as happy as ever!

SO to have a drug addiction and go to rehab makes a celebrity sexy but to have a food addiction and use surgery as a tool is a scandal?  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

What about celebrities who have anorexia?  Do we ever see them scandalized for being too thin and then getting to a healthy weight?

Victoria Beckham: The star has admitted to a struggle with anorexia that started when she was a member of the Spice Girls. In 2003 she said: “I was very obsessed. I mean, I could tell you the fat content and the calorie content in absolutely anything.”

Kate Beckinsale: The actress has spoken about her teenage struggle with anorexia. She has said: “People keep asking me about it but I don’t want to be famous for being a former anorexic.”

Franz Kafka: There are some who believe the author, whose work includes “The Hunger Artist,” had a form of anorexia.

Mary-Kate Olsen: The Olsen twin underwent treatment for anorexia after much speculation in the media about her thinness.

Calista Flockhart: The actress has not used the word “anorexia” to describe her extreme thinness during her years on ‘Ally McBeal,’ but she did say this: “I started under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system.”

Portia de Rossi: The actress has admitted to a bout with anorexia that she blames on pressure to be thin on the set of ‘Ally McBeal.’ She said: “‘I’ve often wondered if I wasn’t on that show if [anorexia] may not have happened.”

Courtney Thorne-Smith: The actress became anorexic on the set of ‘Ally McBeal’ and had to quit the show as a result.

Carre Otis: The model and actress suffered from anorexia for almost 17 years. She says: “I had been on this insane diet for almost 17 years to maintain the weight that was demanded of me when I was modeling. My diet was really starvation. I am not naturally that thin.”

Kellie Martin: The actress developed anorexia while starring in the tv show ‘Life Goes On.”

Christy Henrich: After being told that she needed to lose weight in order to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastic team, Christy became anorexic. She died of multiple organ failure at the age of 22.

Anne Sexton: Poet Anne Sexton suffered from anorexia and depression. She committed suicide in 1974 at the age of 46.

What is it about obesity that makes it so hard to accept it as a disease and to accept weight loss surgery as a life-saving treatment?

It baffles me that celebs are praised for using patches and electronic cigarettes and hypnosis to quit smoking and for having the guts to go into a rehab facility, but are shamed when they have weight loss surgery.  This type of ignorance has simply got to stop and it is part of my mission to change this perception.

The first way to start that change is for US AS PATIENTS to be PROUD of what we did and to be willing to tell the world we chose this tool.  We can be the educators and the ones who change the image of wls patients in the mainstream media.  I am so proud of the new me and healthy me and the me who went from being winded by walking up a flight of stairs to crossing the finish line in a half-marathon.

I feel not only proud, but free and empowered to no longer be controlled by food.  That is absolutely due in part to my choice to have gastric bypass, but more by MY CHOICE TO USE THE TOOL IN THE RIGHT WAY!  No one will ever make me feel ashamed of that.

I am only one person and by no means a celebrity, however I do have a voice through my radio show, Fit Living,  and through the Bariatric Breakthrough Challenge conference series.  I will always be open and honest about my choice and I challenge any of you who still feel ashamed or like your weight loss surgery is a big secret of some kind to open up and “come out of the closet” so to speak.  We are all one big family of people recovering from the disease of obesity and we all chose the method that we deemed best to treat our illness and to treat our addiction, for those who have a food addiction.

I am so proud to be a part of this family and will never ever give in to the “scandal” stereotype!  I can only hope those int he mainstream media and those celebrities who have had the surgery and are secretive about it will follow in the footsteps of those like Al Roker and others who are open and bold about their choices.

As patients, WE are the ones who can change the stereotype and WE have to be the voice for those who are still fighting the disease. WE can show others that hope is out there and solutions apart from unhealthy fad diets and starvation are out there.  WE CAN DO THIS!  I am pledging to forever be open and honest about my choice and to say proudly I HAD WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY to the whole world.

Who is with me?  I want to see how many in my family will take the pledge with me!


About Erin Akey

I am a formerly morbidly obese wife, mother, Christian, author, speaker, water fitness instructor, nutritionist, anti-obesity advocate, and Emerald Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. I am passionate about helping people fight the disease of obesity and also preventing and addressing obesity in children. I believe we have so many amazing tools available to treat this disease and we all need to take advantage of the ones we feel are right for us. I am also passionate about women taking the time to care for their needs. We live in a world where so many of us spend all of our time taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. I am all about making God the center of everything and letting His will take control of our lives and watching the beautiful blessings come from that release of power! Live, Laugh, and LOVE every day! Be grateful and be humble and watch the world around you change!
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3 Responses to I am so tired of my family having to deal with this NONSENSE!

  1. I lump this “deniability” in with plastic surgery. How many celebs vehemently deny having plastic surgery to fix what nature broke? I’m loud and proud about what I’ve done — pictures, videos, you name it. I want people to understand that it’s okay to do whatever it takes to be healthy and feel good about yourself.

    The media is cruel and is never satisfied. One day, they post a picture of an obviously anorexic celebrity (read: Leann Rimes) and the next week, they post the SAME PICTURE and rave about how svelte, fit and “bikini-rrific” they are. Give me a break. The bottom line? I don’t really care if celebrities have weight loss surgery, and I don’t really care if they DENY they have it. Anymore than I care if they deny having a boob job or a nose job! LOL.

    Eventually, like any “scandal,” it can come back to bite them in their “Brazilian-Lifted” BUTT 😉

    I’m proud that I lasered my wrinkles and I’ll probably do other stuff, too. 😉 Why not? If it makes me happy, I don’t care who else is UNHAPPY (uh, except for hubby! His vote ALWAYS COUNTS.)

    I’m glad you’re fighting the battle out there, but I’ve learned that it’s Sysiphus-ian…(endlessly pushing that rock up a hill, but always having it roll back down to the bottom.)

    Thanks for the great post — From one addict to another, we can beat this thing — especially since we aren’t afraid to hide it!!!

  2. Thanks for posting this! I, too, am angry that having weight loss surgery is so scandalous in the media and in Hollywood. How dare they?

    I understand Star Jones refuses to discuss her surgery any more. At least she admitted to it for a while. It appears being “outed” from the closet is safer in Hollywood than being “outed” for weight loss surgery.

    I guess, in some ways, it’s the same mentality as what sells magazines that post big cellulitic butts on the front of magazines with the headlines “Guess Who???” The meanness behind it is so much uglier than the cellulitic butts they display. I hope that someone in the media will be strong enough to stand up to the adult bullies and educate them on the realities of WLS.

  3. therlo says:

    I don’t care if celebrities had weight loss surgery, or post-weight loss surgery to tighten up. When it becomes a problem is when they endorse products as the reason. Marie Osmond endorses NutriSystem when it was well-known she lost weight on dancing with the stars. Perhaps NutriSystem helped keep it off, but the public isn’t stupid. Kirstie Ally lost it the same way recently, now she is hawking her organic diet that has been around for years and did not cause her to lose the weight; perhaps she ate it while on DWTS, but the regime of the show largely facilitated the weight. Which brings us to J. Hudson – she is endorsing WW and WWPP as how she lost the weight. If it isn’t true, then the WW clientele/customers are buying a lie. That’s is where the trouble is. I don’t care how she lost it, unless she is selling me the same product. If she lost it with bariatric surgery, then she should give me the name of her surgeon, not say WW’s diet is responsible. That is all.

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