Weight Doesn’t Disappear When It’s Gone

In October 2007, I had the good fortune to meet a very sweet and inspirational man: David Elmore Smith.

David is in the white sweatshirt.

David was sexually molested as a child and lost his mother when he was 17. Yet, at 650 pounds, he found the courage to lose 400 pounds and he told his story to the world. David and I met when we were on Oprah, and he went on to do many other TV appearances, including the TLC documentary, “650-Pound Virgin.”

David has been out of the spotlight for a few years, but he resurfaced on the Today show Wednesday, having gained 300 pounds. In this Huffington Post article, there is a link to the Today video, and below is an excerpt of his sad, yet very honest, truth.

“All my life I was this monster in my head and all of a sudden to be this good looking guy, it blew my mind away, I didn’t know how to deal with it,” he said. Smith also felt like “a terrible mess” on the inside, and eventually turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, “Today” reports.

When those outlets didn’t help, he turned once again to food. “A lot of people were counting on me to be inspiring, and I didn’t want to let anybody down. But I just felt so bad, I didn’t know how to cope,” he says.

Weight doesn’t disappear. It hides, waiting for you to feed it your fear. David’s gain put me face-to-face with my own 20-pound gain and the 150 other pounds lurking in the dark recesses of my mind.

I’ve searched (not as desperately as I think I have) for a reason for my gain. Something outside me I can blame. But the truth lies not in what I eat or my reluctance to move or the pain of arthritis or perimenopause. The truth is deep inside me and buried in mistrust, and David’s truth has nudged me to at least admit that (lately) I’ve been walking – zombie-like – down the path I swerved to avoid seven years ago. When school/family/friends/love and all its ensuing conflict/euphoria/worry/obligation piled up and I couldn’t sort through it all like laundry, I looked longingly back, like Lot’s wife, at the path of “How I Used To Live” and turned into a 20-pound pillar of salt, with the very real potential of adding 150 more.

Losing weight and, more importantly, keeping it off, takes a lot of concentration. Yeah, yeah…it takes determination and motivation and inspiration and all the other “tions” you can name, but first and foremost it takes concentration.

Distractions, however, deactivate concentration, and when it comes to weight loss and maintenance, the distractions that deactivate concentration aren’t simple things like the lure of an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. They are deep-seated emotional issues or family issues or work issues that not only distract, but cause a reaction that is counter to what our concentrated self would “approve” of.

David didn’t consciously gain 300 pounds back. Nothing in him said, “I want to be morbidly obese again.” I didn’t consciously gain 20 pounds. And nothing in my mind is saying, “I want to be 300 pounds again.”

A lot of people were counting on me to be inspiring… 

I want to inspire, but I’m as vulnerable and flawed as anyone on this path, including David. And that truth in and of itself is inspiring. I wish David all the love and self-care he can find as he works through his “terrible mess,” and I hope he finds the truth that lies beneath, the one I could see in his smile and in his eyes when I met him: kindness, sincerity, and a strong desire to live.

10 thoughts on “Weight Doesn’t Disappear When It’s Gone

  1. Hey Lynn, as always well written. I sometimes wonder if there is a monster hiding in the dark, or if this is the natural progression of life. I am content with having to concentrate on keeping the weight off. But I am not willing to denigrate myself for what seems to be inevitable in this life. Just like I'm not willing to denigrate myself for how I am aging (which, honestly, bothers me more than my weight!)

    Thanks for the reminder that its a good thing to concentrate on living healthy!

  2. Lynn, I had very mixed feelings in reading this post. On one hand, I completely get what you're saying. On the other hand, I wonder why we have to beat ourselves up so much about weight. I keep reminding myself that there are physical factors and societal factors that stack the deck against us as we try to do the really hard task of maintaining a large weight loss. That's not blaming something outside, it's just true. You have done something amazing in keeping so much weight off for so long. It may just be time to retool and refocus.

  3. I read about him regaining so much weight and saw a short video which made me very sad. It is just too easy to get back into old habits and regain.

    I had a two year period where I stayed five to ten pounds over goal. Although I was not happy about it, I seemed unable to change it. Yes, we all know the basics of eat less and move more but sometimes our minds just aren't in it and we fail to make our goals. Yep, it definitely does take concentration. 🙂

  4. Thanks for posting this Lynn. I dint have as much of a weight loss (65 or so lbs) but I have gained back 40 and it's so very hard to forgive myself. I'm trying.

  5. Hi Lynn. Speaking of inspiring peoople, I found your story to be very helpful to me personally. In January I vowed to get my final 20 pounds off and have read your blog regularly. I have been much heavier, hovering in the mid 180's during my 40's and the upper 170's in my 50's. Now I'm finally getting very close to 150 and feeling so good at 58. I posted photos on my own blog http://www.chefjulia.blogspot.com
    I found your tips on eating big salads very helpful and even wrote about you and your salad on February 17, 2012.
    I want to thank you for inspiring me!
    You are so right about the need to concentrate on eating healthy. I work full time and have a part time chef business. This past week I was preparing food for 25 for a baby shower, prepping for a sushi class for 20, and found myself, in the midst of food I don't eat anymore such as chicken salad, eating a Clif bar! How ironic, I'm cooking for everyone else and eating nothing good.
    So no more catering events for me (well, maybe family, but that's it!)

  6. Oh gosh Lynn, this is so true. Look at me. Up 40 pounds. It really is a concentration issue too. I keep losing my focus because of other things in life that demand my attention. I am sure you get that. And it is so, SO frighteningly easy to just sort of sliiide back into that 270+ pound body again…

  7. Hi Lynne I have been struggeling again I went to the Doctor yesterday and boy was so very upset I am heavier now then when I lost the 60 pounds a couple of years ago and I am having a lot of problem due to weight. I cannot seem to get back to my motivation I had a couple years back but reading your blog does help. Thanks for telling David's story I can relate to it all.

    Best wishes,Mara

  8. I totally understand! I lost over 130 pounds several years ago. The 100 is gone, but I keep playing with the 30. I want to know why! I know how I gained, but why? Why does it keep rearing it's ugly head? What lesson am I still trying to learn?

  9. I saw this when you originally posted it. Thank for writing about this tough topic. I am sure it was hard. The whole story is just heartbreakingly sad on so many levels. I remember seeing him on Oprah, and his documentary show and also a morning news show and being very concerned he wasn't working with a therapist and it was a bit circus like and really fast. Hopefully he is getting help this time. The inner work is tough alone.

    How is your summer going? I can't remember if you were taking classes or working or off – ?

    Broke my foot a few weeks ago, so no cardio and no pool. But can do weights and Pilates and some yoga.

    I cleaned up my side bar last week. I had a good time re-reading several old posts (of yours) that I keep there. I had the one about your dad that I linked on fathers day too. Loved them.

  10. Sorry I've been so out of touch here lately. Vickie, thank you for reading my old stuff! I've actually been doing that lately as a way to find my way back to what worked for me in the past. My summer is going well, no classes, just working at the soup kitchen and helping my daughter plan her wedding. I will have a new blog up soon. Hope all is well with you!

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