Fat Boy, Thin Man tells the story of Michael Prager, a journalist whose fat childhood became an obese adolescence that lasted into his 30s. He was a champion dieter, losing more than 130 pounds three times but always finding it again, and more. As a child, he stole food, stole money for food, hid food, lied and schemed for food, and continued as an adult, if with a slightly more refined technique:
A 365-pound guy walks into a sub shop, with or without mustard stains on his sweater, and orders a couple of foot-longs. Anyone in the place is going to think they’re all for him, no matter what he does.
That’s why, sometimes, I’d just go in and order, and let them think what they wanted. But sometimes I’d go with the list.
I’d grab a scrap of paper off the floor of my car and scribble on it, or write it out as if it were real, in case the clerk grabbed it to check for grammar or something. Then I’d roll out the driver’s side door and roll on inside.
In the mid-‘80s, friends and colleagues at work suggested he wasn’t very happy and urged him to seek counseling, a path that led to suggestions that he might be a food addict, rather than just a weak, lazy slob. It wasn’t welcome news by far, but it eventually opened a range of changes in attitude, practices, and treatments that are sustaining a 155-pound weight loss for two decades.
Over the next several years, my life would head in beneficial directions I had neither expected nor even contemplated: Relationships, work performance, and personal productivity all began to improve; I was able to take on challenges and expand creatively; I grew willing to see the world in new ways and to take responsibility for my actions. I started dating successfully.
And that doesn’t even broach what most people would consider topic No. 1: I lost weight in a balanced, sane, and healthy manner and kept it off.
Recovery didn’t arrive on a straight path, but it did arrive, and continues to.