An Invitation to Share Your Stories of Living Large

"Living Large - A Big Man's ideas on Weight, Success, and Acceptance," is the name of the book that tells the story of how my fatness affected and affects my life.

I learned a number of lessons as I worked on "Living Large." The most important to me being that while fatness can be a real burden and despite the sadness and pain that often comes with being fat, it is possible for a fat person to have a good life. But it only happens if we take responsibility for ourselves. It is up to each of us to do what we can to structure our lives in ways that make them more liveable.

It took me a long time to realize that once people got to know me, my fatness no longer defined me, even if my size infected their first impression.

In response to many emails and calls into radio programs, received from people wanting to share their stories of the ways in which fatness has impacted their lives or the lives of loved ones, I am providing this space. It is intended for them and for you to share stories and experiences and to ask questions to which others may have suggested answers.

Along the way I will share some of the questions I received and my answers as well other things that come to mind. Your responses to the questions and my answers and other comments as well as questions, answers and comments posted by others, are invited.

What is your story?

Posted by Mike on July 5, 2006 02:59 PM
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Kudos on a wonderful book. I just finished it minutes ago. While I, too, am a fat man, I recently was given a new incentive to lose weight. I was diagosed in March of 2006 with Type II Diabetes. I have lost weight at the rate of 1 pound per week since then. With diet and exercise, the weight is coming off painfully slowly. The last chapter of your book resonated deeply in me. The diet that I follow is merely avoidance of foods that common sense dicates that one avoids. Add some education about limiting my carbohydate intake and voila..I eat just about everything moderation.

The one question I have though, is whether being fat is genuinely a disease or a choice. I can honestly say that without having Diabetes holding a gun to my head, I doubt that I would be working to take off the pounds. Mike, you make a compelling argument that perhaps, being fat is an uncontrollable disease, but it is not irrefutable. On one hand, I get cravings for something sweet and like an itch, it must be satiated. On the other, its my choice to satiate that desire. Now, I just learn to live with the itch and after a while, it goes away all on its own. I just don't know the answer to the disease/choice conundrum.

Nevertheless, I think your book is the ony treatise that poignantly and accurately deals with the issues that a fat person deals with daily.

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I am at once moved and motivated with your words.

-- Posted by: Gary Nitzkin at August 8, 2006 09:49 PM

I just finished chap.14 of your book. I really like it. I have struggled with my weight since childhood, about 30 years, and I am convinced that 80 to 90 percent of all fatness is a compulsive eating problem. I mean who chooses to be this way? At the very least, I believe the subconsious mind is in control. Moderate eating, exercise seem to be our best hope. Thanks for writing this book.

-- Posted by: joe kirby at August 19, 2006 06:34 AM

Hi, I listened to the radio show, "New Dimensions" where Mike was a guest speaker. I related to a lot of what you said. I am a recovering food addict, and I have been dealing with food addiction for over 30 years. It is just like being a hard-core alcoholic, except my drug of choice is food.
I have been in and out of relapse more times than I can count. After bottoming out more severely than I ever have, I committed myself into recovery tonight.
I have set up a recovery program for myself with a structured food plan, exercise, and I stay completely away from sugar, grease, and refined flour. These foods in particular, I cannot stop eating once I start, so I avoid them, altogether. I also go to Overeaters Anonymous meetings, both "in person" meetings and on-line; I am also part of a wonderful forum for people with all types of overeating problems, I am going regularly to counseling, and have a wonderful support team.
Recovery from food addiction is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I have overcome many obstacles, and traumas, just to get to where I am today. I have 170 pounds to lose, and it is no fun trying to walk around carrying all this extra weight; everywhere I go, I bring my weight with me. Have a seat belt extender for my truck as seat belt not made large enough, there are certain pieces of furniture I can't fit in, and I have many times encountered perfect strangers looks of disgust, and disaproval re. my weight. However, I am ready to change now, and take my life back. The living hell of relapse is no way to live. Relapse and food addiction have kept me in poverty and interfered with every part of my life.
I am finally willing to go to any lengths to keep my recovery; without my recovery, I will not be alive.
I appreciate being able to post on your website, Mike.
Thank you. Ann.

-- Posted by: Ann at September 9, 2006 12:17 AM

Ann....thank you for sharing with us. It sounds like you are doing all the right things...if it helps...let us know how you are doing. It sounds to me like you have the pieces in place. Good luck...and day at a time....Mike

-- Posted by: Mike Berman at September 9, 2006 04:25 PM

I just heard your interview on New Dimensions on my local radio.
I wanted to react because what you were saying triggered 2 contradicting feelings in me: 1) gratefulness at your basic message, that is not only valid for fat people but any kind of person -- that to accept oneself is the best thing one can do to go forward, advance one's life and one's community; 2) horror at one of the ways you described on how you manage to control, fight or deal with giving in to your "sweet tooth" -- how you will buy a cake only to eat a bite of it and then THROW it AWAY. What a waste of resources on the long run! (the willpower of I can't remember which celebrity that the interviewer quoted seemed to me just as sad -- what's the use of ordering something if it's to not make use of it?) From what I understood this is a regular way for you to deal with temptation -- well, living in a big city, I'm sure you have plenty of opportunities to give away the rest of the food you're buying to control your weight to people who actually need it for survival? Cutting the cake into several pieces and making it a habit to give the ones you don't eat to somebody whose sugar level is too low for lack of regular intake of it?

You seem to have the kind of philosophy about life that will make our world evolve into something better, because I'm sure a lot of issues that exist today in the US are due to lack of self-esteem. But let's not forget the bigger picture, and try to transcend our personal goals into a greater good for everybody else (whenever possible). I'm not trying to diminish somebody's fight with an addiction, but I'm trying to say that we have to be careful not to give the wrong message and increase even more senseless consumerism.

It was great to hear you say that vegetables actually have taste!! Steamed and seasoned with olive oil and sea salt, they can be a meal in themselves.

I am not fat but I went through a period where I gained much weight because I felt a vacuum inside (at a period of transition) so I understand (to a certain extent) how one can struggle with food addictions and binges.
I want to add that I have met a year ago only the first "fat" person in my life (I lived in another country before where chubby is the fatest you could get) with whom I made friends pretty quickly, and I realized she was overweight and struggling with her weight only months after I first met her. Her personality is so strong, she seems to be so comfortable in any situation that her weight would be the last thing that would come to mind to describe her. But her stamina (she's overweight but very active) and charisma are so compelling that I wish I was that big to have such wits and be so entertaining.

-- Posted by: Julie at September 11, 2006 03:01 AM

Mike - I too have been overweight my entire life (from birth to present) and I have been much heavier than you for many of those years. I'm on page 50 of your book and I laugh and I cry and I laugh again . . . it could be my life you are writing about. THANK YOU for your bravery and your intellegence on this issue. It makes me feel more at peace with myself and is helping me in my latest struggle to lose the weight. Best of luck to you in your ongoing pursuit!

-- Posted by: Sean at February 23, 2007 04:46 PM

Sean..nice to hear from you...I appreciate your comments...the struggle goes on I write this I am struggling not to cross the 250 mark...
I will do it...but it is no fun..but it is worth the fight....that much I know for sure....Good luck

-- Posted by: Mike Berman at February 25, 2007 04:02 PM

Thanks so much for your book. I have struggled ever since I can remember with weight and weight issues. Although I am not obese now, as a child I struggled with being overweight. Every day is a challenge; but, like you said, every one has to struggle with something, our struggle happens to be weight. Thanks so much for your complete honesty in writing the book. It took lots of courage to admit to some of the behaviors us "food addicts" resort to, and the shame that results from those behaviors. Again, thanks much for sharing!

-- Posted by: tdm at March 18, 2007 04:57 PM

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An Invitation to Share Your Stories of Living Large