Matt Cianciullo, 18, StudentHealthline: Mike, can
you give us a little background about your experience with obesity?
Mike: I always remember being “pleasantly plump” (as I said to people in my childhood). As I got older, when people commented about my being overweight, I would tell them that I was big boned like my grandparents and that I wasn’t really fat—period.
During my teenage years, I do remember constantly being on different types of diets trying to reduce my weight. It seemed that I tried everything on the market: doctor’s diets, Weight Watchers, Herbalife—I was even on Fen-Phen at one time. I never really succeeded with any of them. I would lose the weight but then gain back even more.
After getting married, and now being in my fifties, the problems
really started with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, serious acid reflux,
and problems breathing at night (apnea). My son, Matt, and I both decided to have
lap band surgery, and since then I have lost more than 100 lbs. There have been
great improvements in my health. I have stopped taking all medications except the
drugs for my cholesterol. I also feel so much more full of energy, and am more
focused on health and adding more years to my life, if possible.
Healthline: Do weight problems run in your family?
Mike: There are other family members that are heavy. I did have grandparents that had cancer and heart problems.
Healthline: Matt, when did you start to realize that your weight was a serious health concern?
Matt: When I was in middle school and realized I couldn’t do as much physically as everyone else.
Healthline: Did seeing your dad suffer from health issues related to his weight have any effect on you?
Matt: Yes, it did have some effect on me. Knowing that I was going down the same path as my father made me realize I could have the same health issues and concerns, or worse.
Healthline: Did the condition affect your relationships with your family and friends?
Mike: This condition had a great effect on my relationship with my friends and family. I didn’t want to be social because I was embarrassed about how I looked. I was also always tired and never felt like doing anything.
Matt: Not so much with my friends; mainly with my brothers. My brothers always teased me about my weight growing up.
Healthline: Did your weight problems
have any effect on your career and school success?
Mike: Being overweight did affect me and my job tremendously. I was always tired throughout the day, which caused me to have a lack of concentration with my job functions. I was also out of breath and sweating a lot, as my jobs consist of being on my feet and walking a lot.
Matt: I didn’t let it come between me and my school success,
and I was made the only valedictorian of my graduating class.
Healthline: Has your experience changed your overall outlook on your health and/or on taking care of your body?
Mike: The lap band surgery I had [performed by Dr. Carson Liu in Los Anegeles] has been the most positive experience of my life. By losing the weight I have had nothing but positive results. My blood pressure has lowered, I'm no longer on medication, and my breathing is no longer an issue while sleeping.
Matt: Yes, it has, now that I look back on it. I can’t believe
I was that big and that I let myself get that big. Now that I am slimmer I am
going to stay like this. Exercise and eating healthy are the way to go.
Healthline: Knowing what you know now, what kind of preventative measures (if any) do you wish you would have taken earlier in your life?
Mike: Basically, my eating habits—the types of food I ate. I should have consumed less sugar and high-fat foods. Exercise is also an important preventive measure.
Healthline: Matt, are
there any things you would tell your own kids about weight-related health
issues that you wish you had known?
Matt: Being overweight causes all kinds of health issues beyond the way you look. It is a very unhealthy way to live.