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A Painful End of Life From Living In Denial vs. A Thriving Lifestyle From Breaking Bad Habits


A Painful End of Life From Living In Denial vs. A Thriving Lifestyle From Breaking Bad Habits

Felicity Cohen: Hello. My name is Felicity and the CEO of WeightLoss Solutions Australia. Welcome to my Wellness Warriors podcast. Over the course of this podcast, my goal is to interview many of the patients who’ve touched my life over the last 20 years. Some of them have had surgery many, many years ago and have impacted many generations already.

So multi-generational impact on their families. Others who’ve had surgery more recently. I’m also interviewing doctors, health professionals, and all sorts of other people who have had some kind of connection or impact on a wellness story or journey. Today, I would love to introduce you to Richard Smedley.

Richard, his story is so powerful and has really meant so much to me. When I first met Richard, it was as a computer technician working in the area of managing and looking after people’s computers in their homes and all over the place. And I was really struck by his size and his 13 year old boy at the time.

This is actually long before he even engaged to have weight loss surgery. And he just did not look like a happy person. He was referred to WeightLoss  Solutions Australia by a colleague and a friend who is also a plastic surgeon. And he really was also aware of Richard’s struggle, a single dad with two children.

He lost his wife at a young age and honestly just the most beautiful, genuine character you could ever meet, but struggled so much with his excess weight. During the course of getting to know Richard, I learned about his family history, his family story, what he’d been through with his beautiful wife and mother of his children, his sisters and their struggles as well, and how that had impacted his life.

So I’m so, so incredibly proud of Richard’s achievements. Not only did he lose an incredible amount of weight and we’re talking around a hundred kilos of excess weight that Richard lost throughout his weight loss journey. But he also then went on to have body contour surgery and complete the entire cycle of that weight loss story and seeing what he’s achieved now, honestly melts my heart.

He’s in his early sixties and couldn’t be fitter healthier or a better person than you can possibly imagine. He is leading the active, healthy lifestyle that we would all dream of. He’s going to salsa classes. I actually love this. I think it’s just so beautiful to see people take on new hobbies and pastimes in their later years because they can so being so fit, healthy, taking part in the gold coast marathon, alongside our weight loss warriors over the last few years and being such an integrated part of our weight loss community has just meant so much to me.

Richard has never missed an event at WeightLoss Solutions Australia since day one. So he’s engagement and commitment to himself, his family, his results, and the entire community are really exceptional. I think you’re going to find his story just so, so powerful. And I’m really, really excited to introduce you to Richard Smedley today.


Richard Smedley: My name is Richard. I’m 61. I’m the owner and now partner with my son of Viritek Computer Services, which is a small computer service business. We’re located at Parkwood on the Gold Coast. Been in business for roughly 21 years now. When I was a kid, I was diagnosed as having coeliac disease. Which meant that I was supposed to be skinny and things like that.

But just as a natural thing, when I hit my teens, I just started to gain weight. Not totally through bad food choices, but  because at home, under the control of the parents and food, not too bad but I just started to gain weight. As I got older, when I first started work, I had my own car, my own money.

So then I was able to buy as much food as I wanted. So the weight then started to get out of control exponentially as a young teenager. Speaking in stone size, I think at about 18 or 19, I was in the “old fashion speak”, 20 stone, which was quite a lot. I used to work at a place and we had dust coats, I think I was a size nine and a quarter dust coat. So that’s rather large.

And tried many things over the time with gyms and losing weight and did it quite successfully, but then something happens and you get back on the sliding scale again, of usually an injury or something happens that puts you out of whack for a while, and you get back into the wrong food choices again.

And not exercising and the weight stuff to get on again, and again. It just gets out of control again, until you decide a few years later to then go back into doing something about it. And you gain you, I turned into the typical gym, junkie, you know. One point there, I was going to the gym six o’clock in the morning and I was gone at five o’clock in the night and yeah, your endorphins are going and you’re seeing the weight loss come off again, off again, and off again.

And then something else changes, and you might be thinking that stays and that’s changed was a bad car accident with a neck and back injuries. So you can’t do too much exercise for a couple of years. So again, emotion, comfort comes in and again you start eating the wrong foods. And the weight gets out of control again. And then again it goes on.

When I moved from New South Wales to Queensland, I was quite healthy, quite fit.  And you get the old relationship thing and the comfort of a relationship and the weight starts to get out of control and family issues, unwell wife, stresses all those sorts of things in the weight, starts to get out of control again, and again, and again. And again it just grew exponentially and you’re in denial, your mind is in denial that you’ve gained so much weight.

And people say to you, “you need to do something about your weight” or “you’re fat”, and you go, “that’s none of your business.” You know, “don’t call me fat. You don’t know what’s going on in my life.” You don’t realize, those crutches you draw on from the food, what the emotions and the stress is doing to you, Why you’re eating so bad?

I believe it’s internal voice that’s in your mind, that’s telling you it’s okay to keep eating the wrong foods. You need those foods. It’s easy to buy those foods. You just keep buying them and keep eating them without realizing in your mind you’re, getting so out of control with your weight.

I was in denial about the weight gain, because when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see that I was so large.

I didn’t believe I was so large. Yes. I had to go to the clothing shops that specialize in, extra, extra, extra, extra, large size clothing, or buy them on the internet of specialist companies that specialize in supplying clothing for large people. It’s that denial thing of not realising that you are that big, because I didn’t think I was that big, even though I knew what size clothing I was buying and the amount of food I was eating. It was a denial thing.

When people would mention to me about the weight gain, it was mostly, slightly outside, it’s not immediate family , because immediate family doesn’t want to hurt your feelings and they’d say something.

It was more other people that would see you and say, “You’ve gained weight, you look fatter”, “Why aren’t you doing something about your diet?”, “What are you eating?”.

They would criticize you for gaining weight without truly understanding what was going on in your mind.

My daughter was the only one that really said anything about weight gain and weight being out of control. And because, because you’re in that denial about you’re that big or you’re that fat, you actually get angry at that person. You get aggressive of that person and you tell them to back off and mind their business. It’s not that bad. When I want to do something about it, I will do something about it.

With family life, it was hard to see where the problems were because when you’re getting into that relationship and the comfort, my wife was also gaining weight through poor food choices and we both gained significant weight.

My kids did because we were all into that unhealthy lifestyle and could quite easily fall into, well, yes, “we’ll cook junk food”, “we’ll buy junk food”. It was convenient to just go and grab, take away and, you would always order more than what you truly needed.

But you would consume it because your mind said, “you could eat it.” So we did.

And we all gained weight and got out of control, and I was probably worse than everyone else in the family because the emotional things that happen later on in the family, with the wife becoming ill, and I had a mobility problem, because I had a severe leg injury.

And then my wife became ill, and the emotional side of it just gets out of control that again, the easiest thing is just to eat the wrong foods and to keep eating them because of that comfort and that psychological effects with eating that way.

My sister, who’s really unwell at the moment, she was larger as an ordinary child.

So her weight probably grew worse when she got into a stable relationship as well, the comfort side of things. With her weight issues and weight problems as it’s gone on, because it was unchecked and she did nothing about it, the first thing that came on to her was diabetes.

Now she wasn’t managing that very well, so she had a gastric band and because of psychological issues, as far as understanding and the mind, controlling it, she didn’t, she still ate as much as before even with the gastric band. Now as that progressed worse with her life, she had, obviously mobility problems, joint problems from being severely obese.

She then led on to having heart complications from it. And unfortunately in recent times, which has now led to these final things, the medical professional has said that she’s beyond help because as her body, she has the diabetes, she has the heart problem, she’s got circulation problems, joint problems, back problems, the kidneys are failing very badly.

And due to the heart problems and the kidney problems, she’s not suitable for surgery because they have said that she will not survive the surgery. She would pass away during surgery, due to the severity of the heart problems. And she’s also not a suitable candidate for dialysis for, to try and resolve the kidney problems due to the heart problems.

Cause they’re saying even under dialysis, her heart wouldn’t cope with the stresses of dialysis. It’s unfortunately down to going back home now to palliative care with given only, you know, a couple of weeks to live because the failure of the kidneys will unfortunately be the final drawer where toxic levels in her system fluid build-up will cause her heart to fail.

As she said to me on Friday, when I visited her, the doctors have told her she’ll go to sleep one day, her heart will stop, and she just won’t wake up.

Unfortunately with her denial over the years and having been what I’ve been through, I’ve offered her all the help and support, trying to, even to the point of knowing the bit that I, I’m not a dietary professional, but she wouldn’t seek the help from dietitians.

She wouldn’t listen to dietitians. I offered to say to her, “Hey, look, you send me a list of the foods you’d like to eat, that’s as far as a healthy combination for you. Knowing what I know, knowing now what I need to know”. I said, “I’ll work you out a diet plan where you can eat six or seven times a day. You will lose weight because it’ll be good, healthy food in small doses, six or seven times a day”.

My other, the elder sister, unfortunately, she does have the weight issue as well, but not as bad as the middle sister.

She is into natural therapies, natural therapists, Bowen Therapy and all those sorts of things. And she actually had one of her good friends who lived near my sister, offered to help her, from the natural therapy side of things, to try and assist with that, to help get back into the weight control things, provided her with the phone number. All she had to do was make that phone call. That didn’t happen as well.

Now, all these things happened a couple of years ago when there was the possibility of reversing, some of the effects before they got too bad, but that denial factor of her, she didn’t do it, and hence why it has led to now, this final outcome.

She didn’t understand when she said, doesn’t understand from the medical perspective why they can’t do something for them, you know, why won’t the doctors take that chance of doing surgery? Because they know she won’t survive the surgery. They know she, her heart will fail during surgery, they know that. For a and so that denial was still there that she could survive this and turn around. She’s coming, finding extremely hard to come to grips with her, with this final thing because she was transferred from her local hospital down to Brisbane and because being on the Gold Coast and close to Brisbane, I’ve been up there several times already to visit her in hospital and things like that.

The last time was on Friday. I was there for about four or five hours on Friday, and she’s now been, just now been transferred back to Harvey Bay, where she’ll go into palliative care, she’ll be at the hospital for a few days while they assess her home for suitability, get nursing procedures in place, get a special bed in place before, get all those things in place and she’ll go home for palliative care until unfortunately final thing happens.

Her husband, unfortunately, is in more denial than my sister, he’s even coping worse than she is, with accepting of the final outcome of what she’s been given. It was only later when she’s seen the success that I had, that she realized that then that was potentially an option. But it was too late by then.

I mean, she had the diabetes way back then, she had the mobility issues way back then, and then obviously, then linking the complication with the heart issues. So unfortunately, her mind wasn’t there in the early days of being accepting that, that was the way to go. And by the time she did unfortunately, it was too late.

These problems have been 100%  caused by obesity. We know that now when you look at the science, and I know that when I’ve looked into what my own journey has been through, my weight gain and weight loss, that, you know, I would be in a similar boat now, given the fact that I’m only a year and a half younger than her, if I didn’t do something about it, when I did, it’s totally changed my life around mobility, health.

One or two minor tweaks with health issues, but it’s nothing that’s not treatable and fully a hundred percent under control because I now know what I have to do to sustain the life that I do. And I’m extremely active, now, because I’ve lost that weight. And if I didn’t do something about it, cause again, I was, I think they classify it as Obesity Level Three, because just over three years ago, I was 200 kilos.

I’m now sitting at roughly just under 95, quite happy about it. But I’m extremely active. And when I go to doctors and they go, you can’t be 95 kilos. You don’t look like you’re 95 kilos. And I go, “Well, I am, put me on the scales. I’m 95 kilos.”

With smoking and weight, they are, they are a similar thing because smoking is addictive. It becomes a mental thing as well. That’s why people can’t give up because, the nicotine and the other drugs in control their brain. And that’s the same thing with food, you have that addiction to food due to comfort eating, stress, eating, emotional, whatever crutch you need to keep eating.

And they both need addressing the same way by the medical profession, the way they’re dealing with smoking as part of an addictive disease, they’re not dealing the same thing with, with weight and food, the people that are suffering from  being obese or weight gain. And not dealing with it the same way.

I remember seeing not that long ago, a lot of, press and Facebook things is going when the issue was raised, over government support being provided to assist in weight loss solutions.

A hell of a lot of people posted, “these people are fat”, “these people are overweight”, “why should we extend our taxpayer’s money on another issue?” And yes, they’re quite happy to, if someone’s cancer is, may not be related to smoking, they’re quite happy to want funds to go to that. They’re quite happy to fund for funds to go to heart disease problems. If it wasn’t caused by something else, if it was caused by obesity or smoking, they don’t want that money to go to that yet. Whereas you and I know, smoking leads to cancers, obesity leads to so many other medical issues, but the government is not putting the funding towards it.

The government’s solution with smoking is, let’s raise taxes, we make cigarettes so expensive we might freeze people out. That’s not working. They’re still buying their smokes. They’re still getting their diseases, whether it’s heart disease, lung disease, cancer, all from smoking. They haven’t solved the problem, they’re trying to regulate.

And people then see it as Big Brother. Why should the government tell me what I can do or how I can eat, but that’s not providing the solution of how to deal with it. Unfortunately, politicians, they’re being led by budgets, not being led by , let’s look at the public. Let’s reeducate the public to understand that obesity is not just from overeating.

There is an underlying genetics, emotional, mental things behind it, that can lead to, that obesity problem that needs that solution.

We need to re-educate everyone, not just the governments, but the general public on how to understand and deal with weight loss problems. Sorry, weight problems, not  weight loss problems.

Bariatric surgeries has changed a lot over the years. When my sister, she had the lap band surgery, and unfortunately, because it was just, you know, “Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am” and in a public hospital system, “We’ll take your money. We’ll put the band on, pat you on the bum, and send home”, there’s no backup, no support.

And if you’re not in that right mindset, you don’t go chasing it. And then over the years, and I was the same thing, I only thought it was the lap band that was available. And then I actually had a computer customer who was a surgeon in the bariatric industry. And he described to me about the sleeving.

And even back then, they’ve even modified that since then, because back then the very first sleeves they were doing, they were only removing 75% of your original stomach, because that was all they thought they needed to do. And again, the technology available for them to trim the stomach, staple the stomach, glue it all up with great success has grown from leaps and bounds.

And even to point, and that was back about 11 years ago when I was involved with this customer who approached me about getting it done. So I’d been to that point where I was there, but I wasn’t in a situation with the business to take that option up at the time to get that weight loss surgery done with the gastric sleeve.

And then when I finally did it a few years later, again I found that there’s so many options and how so much has changed and the support mechanisms that are in place these days, for, as you, as you’re getting older and you realise that it’s gone beyond the simple lap band with no surgery, no support to all the options now with full support from the surgeons, the dietitians, the nurses, the psychologists.

It’s all there, out there for helping us, that have got that mind problem of denial. Emotional eating, comfort eating, stress eating, when you understand that, that’s the reasons that cause it, whatever it is, the support is now out there for you, to help and assist you with the options of weight loss surgery, I think there is about four different types now.

Well, I know  the gastric sleeve, there is bypass, balloon, there is the whole lot of other options that are out there that nowadays, it’s gone leaps and bounds, since I first became aware of it. Even when I had my surgery three and a quarter years ago, I think it there’s about another, four options of available since I had my sleeve done.

So they’re going from leaps and bounds with it, to provide, depending on what your weight loss needs are, whether it’s heavily like me at level three, to simple ones that only want to lose 20 odd kilos, they have a temporary solution. All those options are now available to people that weren’t there. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a 20 year old or a 60 year old, they can cater for your needs and a whole support mechanism in place to continue on and join this journey that some of us are in now and living a total different life.

It’s you’ve got to, it’s not just a simple thing of having a procedure done. And you think it’s all over, you need the support mechanism in place to assist you.

Mainly because as I say, a lot of people in denial, also a lot of people also see that as they’re losing weight, they’re not actually losing weight. They think they’re still fat and obese, and they haven’t seen those changes. So, you need, that solution. So the weight loss procedure is a tool to assist you in getting down that track because you then have to do the things that once you start to lose that weight, you start feeling better.

You realize that you can, you have better mobility, you can exercise more, you talk to the dietitians to find out what your individual dietary needs are. You can talk to someone about how to change your shopping habits, how to change your eating habits, because it’s a total modification.

You start out being on just fluids for a couple of weeks. And depending on what procedure you had, then you go onto, as I described it almost, baby food. Then you go on to, not quite solids, but pulped up food before you go into the solid phase because whatever procedure has, your stomach has to be retrained. And your mind has to be retrained just to what you can do, because you can only eat such small amounts and your protein levels are different, your fluid levels are different.

You’ve got that mindset to get around that, you need the support of psychologists, the dietitians. If you have any issues, as far as with the procedures, you talk to the nurses, all these support mechanisms, you need to help you deal with that new tool, you’ve got to change your life, your lifestyle modifications.

But as you lose that weight and you then start adjusting and knowing what your, again your body’s an individual body. What you do is not necessarily what I’m going to do with it, we’re all out there to help. So you then have to adjust it for what you need. Now, as you start to lose that weight, the mobility becomes better, you can exercise more.

And the weight loss just, just happens. It’s part of that procedure, but you need those things where you also, it’s also critical to talk to the nursing staff, the medical staff, to get your blood levels checked every, in the first stage in the first stage of three months. Because, because your intake is so different, your absorption through your body’s different.

So you need to know whether you need it, what multivitamin supplements you need. Do you need other things. So that’s all that approach of the medical things that weren’t there all those years ago. That are now in place. You get the bloods, I think at three months, then after that every six months, so they can keep an eye on your levels and your iron levels drop because your intake is so much different.

Your absorption is different. So you need all these supports procedures in place to know where you’re at, what your body’s doing. So it’s not just a case, “Oh, I’ve had that procedure done. I’m fine now I’ll be right for the rest of my life. I’m just going to lose weight.”. No, it’s an assistive tool and you need those support mechanisms in place.

With my approach and the weight loss surgery, when I finally needed something to do about it. I was told about WeightLoss Solutions Australia, which I made that approach to them, to the manager at the time, because a personal friend of mine said, contact this person, so I got feedback. Appointments were made, and I found there is a solution there.

And after that first initial approach, I also found that they hold seminars every couple of months, that anyone that has a weight loss issue, doesn’t matter if it’s little bit overweight or morbidly obese, but you can go there and listen to these seminars. You’ll hear from people like myself and other people that have been through the weight loss journey, that they have those things and you can go there and hear that information, get that feedback, get that information.

And then, if you want go on from there to make that appointment. On your first appointment, there, you talk to the nursing staff, the psychologist, the dietitian, the surgeon. You need all these people in the beginning who can work out what customized type procedure or solution you need for your individual circumstances.

And then they explain everything to you. It’s not just the walking in, walking out. Everything that goes on from there and how the procedures stay in place, for life. They don’t just drop you and say, “you’ve been here.” If you have problems down the track, a phone call, they’ve got the nurse in place they’ve got there, they may not be able to return your call straight away.

But you will hear back from the nurse. You will hear back from the psychologist. You will hear back from the dietitian and even if things are that urgent that you need done, you hear back from, from Felicity, the director and CEO of WeightLoss Solutions Australia. I’ve had those phone calls. I’ve had those communications, so I’ve got nothing but praise.

If you want that solution to your weight loss journey, please approach WeightLoss Solution Australia or WLSA, and go to their website, click in, look at the stories of, of us that are on this journey now, we’re going to be on this journey for as long as my life goes and WeightLoss Solutions, they provide activity days for us.

They provide cooking days for us. The biggest ones are around about Christmas time where, they put on, a function where they have, high level chefs there, providing meal solutions of how the families can deal with meals for you as to prepare or another partner prepare for people that have had weight loss surgery that can’t cope with the good old traditional big Aussie bang up Christmas dinner of volumes of food that you can’t eat, you can’t solve, you can’t deal with it.

And it’s fantastic. They hold these every year. Last February was a stand up paddle boarding and, you know, people were just weeks into their journey as to some, to me that’s been three years into the journey.

The first time I tried up stand up, paddle boarding. Up for five minutes into the water for five minutes, up for five minutes in the water. Last time I was up for 30 minutes and didn’t fall in once. So as that journey’s going on, things are better in life. So it’s important to approach them and make that call.

Go to one of their seminars, click on their website link and follow up with them and, and please, they are there to help and support you through your entire weight loss journey.

We have a Facebook website in place for all of us that are through WeightLoss Solutions. We post questions to, to the group, we even share sometimes nitty gritty photos of our procedures in place. Once there was people doing this “Face Off Fridays”, where you’d put a photo of your worst and where you are now. I was never going to post a full body image because it’s too scary. I’ve posted some of my post-surgery photos of skin reduction surgery, like so people understand what’s out there.

So that website is fantastic because, we bounce information with each other, people put food, food things up there, and great ideas come from it, even to the point of, protein balls and stuff like that. Everyone has things and I’ve made different things from people’s recipes on the website and things like that. So it’s all there.

And the best thing is if, if us, as individuals can’t help with answers or we think it needs further, we say, “Hey, don’t just post here, send that email, make that phone call to the office because you know, we don’t want to offer you advice on where we think it needs to be professional medical advice, seek them.”.

But usually the administrators through WeightLoss Solution, Felicity will jump in and make a comment saying, “Hey, you know, can the nursing staff please respond to this call? Can the dietitians please respond to this and make an appointment?”

When I was first there, after my first six weeks, it was an in house meeting with the dietitian to understand, re-educate your mind, your food choices and where you need to go. Nowadays, it’s that big that they even have a full on workshop where they even take the people at that stage out to the local shopping center to help assist with understand the food, the new food choices and what they need to do with thier eating needs and things like that. So that’s grown in that support group.

And I think it’s fantastic. In the last three years it started, WeightLoss Solutions Australia got involved with the Gold Coast Airport Marathon. It’s one of the biggest events in Australia, as far as that goes. So they put together a team, put us, put it out there to us that wanted to go into it.

And I think the very first year it was, might’ve been roughly about 45 between staff and us patients that have been through that journey that participated in it. And again, they were brilliant with that because for 12 weeks prior to the event, they organized professional physiotherapists, and professional runners and trainers to come in.

And helped and assisted, didn’t matter whether you were going to be a runner for that, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon or half marathon, 10K or the 5K fun run slash walk. They provided solutions by these trainers to assist with walking techniques, things of, I still put in place today. So I’ve been doing it for as part of, since it was there.

The last year, I think they had 65, as their numbers in it. So it’s grown there. So there’s support mechanisms in place.  They organize our registrations,  they organize a T-shirt for us. We organize a meeting place on the day and it’s become a really good social function as well as a goal to work towards, to proceed and do it each year.

We just did it yesterday. Again, it started a again at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, again on the weekend. I believe the team was up around a hundred this time between the various events. It’s great and fantastic. And the same thing each year, they’ve had professional physiotherapists and trainers and assist this year.

We had gym workouts as well, where they try to torture us with a bootcamp type events and things like that. And yeah, again, pushing things for strength building as well as running techniques to assist on the day. So again, it was fantastic to be involved with those and the event yesterday was really great.

Unfortunately, I didn’t better my time again, due to injuries, but I finished the event, not even puffing and things like that. Just grabbed a few orange things to get the energy levels back up again. So with this and with WeightLoss Solutions Australia, the why they help with us again, I’d say next year, it’s going to be even bigger.

And so much so that a few of us organised a social event, where we went out last night and it ended up being 20 of us from that group from Saturday that went out and had a small meal because we only eat small meals. And because we can’t drink that much anymore, only had a couple of drinks, but it was a really great social evening for us all to get together because I met people last night that I hadn’t met before.

That I just say a curteous “G’Day”, to them on the day while they were doing different events to me, that we met and able to chat and get along with, because we all had the same journey and we’d all throw things around at the table as to where we’re at and things like that. And there were even a couple of people there who were friends of people that we’ve been down the weight loss journey and had no idea what we went through.

And there was even one lady who works for a superannuation fund, that deals with people’s applications, for the weight loss surgery to have those funds released and had no idea, of what the journey was like for these people and what was involved with it. She’d learned so much from chatting with us last night as to what goes on.

So now in her job and her role, she now has a better understanding of it’s not just the people of, “Oh yeah, they just want money released to have a surgical solution”, it’s “Wow! This is what they are actually going to be going through. And this is what’s going to be helping them, to maintain a life.” and, and I did share some pictures last night of me at my worst.

And it was the same old thing of “that can’t be the same person,” I go, “yeah, it’s me.”. That was me three and a half years ago. And you’ve seen what I am today.

My life now is so totally different having lost the weight. The biggest thing, it’s far easier to travel. You keep hearing these things. And if, if you’re overweight and keep hearing these things of, “Oh, I feel embarrassed, I’ve got to ask for a seatbelt extender.”.

The worst thing is, how easy is it going to be to get in and out of those airplane toilets. That’s a very big factor. You have to think of, when you are so obese. “Will I get into that toilet?”, “Will I be able to just do those things in there?”. If necessary, you know, especially on a longhaul flight, you’ve got to think of those things when you’re so overweight.

And  when you’re so overweight, you overflow that seat, you, that arm rest is not available to anyone because you take over the armrest as well. So that poor person, in the seat beside you, unless it’s a family member. They say “Hey, I’ve paid for a seat here, mate. I want my seat. I want my arm rest, not have you overhanging to my seat as well.”.

So when you lose that weight and you first, that thing is, I don’t need a seatbelt extender anymore. I can travel. One of the things I did on a trip was have a helicopter flight. I would never consider that when you are so obese, because again, they won’t take you in a helicopter. They don’t have seatbelt extenders in helicopters. It’s a safety thing. If you can’t fit their normal harness seatbelts on a helicopter, you can’t go on one.

So again, that was a major thing, but since then I’ve been on helicopters. I’ve traveled to several places. I’ve been to Fiji this year, I’ve traveled to, I did a cruise from Sydney to Singapore, and then spent several nights at Singapore, before flying back home.

And it’s been so much more things. I go to the gym several times a week. I now do yoga a couple of times a week and having done the cruise, something I was always interested in was Latin dancing and days at sea on the cruise ship they did, ballroom dancing and several classes, it was Latin dancing.

And I enjoyed it. So when I got back off the cruise, I looked up and found a local salsa dancing group, that is only a 10 minute drive away. So I’ve since joined them. So now I’m on salsa level one, I’m probably only a week away now from progressing to what they call salsa improver, salsa level two.

It’s a lot of fun because again, one of the things with that is, it’s called muscle training. So muscle training, muscle memory. So it becomes an automatic thing in the movement. So you don’t look at your feet anymore. You’re not always counting steps out loud. It’s been done in your mind because you know what you’re going to do.

The hardest things for us guys to learn to do is, leading a girl with how, we’ve got to with hand movements, tell the girl what to do when you’re dancing. So with the people who have been in it in the salsa level two and three, you can’t just dance with them. And because when you’re at the beginner stage, the girls have been taught, they know that they have to do this and they have to do that. But as guys, we’ve got to learn to use hand, subtle hand movements. It’s not feet gestures. It’s hand movements of then guiding them through what the next step through of salsa dancing. So I’m loving that I do that. I’m trying to do that at least three nights a week.

And there’s another one that’s called bachata. It’s a Cuban based one. It’s different to salsa again. So just to complicate the factor a bit more, I’m also doing a bachata as well as salsa. Not trying to push bachata as much as more, but it’s, I really want to proceed and learn with the salsa so that I can get out there and go to the social dance nights, which are held at a few places on the coast here.

And I wouldn’t have believed salsa was as big as it is because my first class that was open was on, on an ANZAC day, Monday night, public holiday. And I’m thinking, Oh, maybe 10, maybe 20 people might turn up for a public holiday, salsa dancing, various classes. They have at least 60 people there. And I was blown away as to how big it really is and how big that community is, on the Gold Coast.

I’m also active in, target pistol shooting as well. So getting my skill levels up there is something that again would never thought doing whilst I was overweight, but it’s one of those things because it’s a lot of fun and it can, it can be very active.

You’re not just standing blank on a thing and pulling a trigger, you know? There is an activity side, which as well, you do have to be physically active to do it. Some things are limited to due to injuries. I can’t do them. I’m now also planning my next cruise for later on next year. So those plans are starting in place where a few of us, and again, it’s people that met on the last cruise and some of the people I’ve been working with were talking about doing the cruise from Hawaii back to Sydney.

So that that’ll be a big deal, later on next year. So we’re planning that. Again, jet skiing as well, after having experienced jet skiing and, and having an older jet ski upgraded to a new model. So even in winter time, I’m getting out on the water and enjoying jet skiing. And I had to miss that last weekend because of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.

But yeah, if it’s a good sunny Sunday, weather’s good. It’s sunny. I get out there early and go jet skiing. On the water and have a lot of fun doing that as well.

If you’re having any issues with weight and have that, considering doing it or not considering doing, you’re undecisive in there, or that mind is thinking, “it will be alright”

No, please go and seek solutions, search it on the web, because there’s a lot of solutions out there. Look at the solutions, talk to the professionals. Do something about it as soon as you can, because you need to take control of your life back, you need to get that weight under control.  There are weight loss solutions out there that will help you. Please seek that help as soon as you can.

Yes you can now fit into a toilet on an airplane without much worries. Yes you can sit on an airline seat without having to overcrowd the person beside you. Yes you can sit in that same seat without having to ask for a seatbelt extender. Yes, you can now get into a helicopter flight. Yes you can go on amusement park rides and know that they can sit the bar on you without having to say, “Sorry, sir.  You can’t go on this ride.”.

Yes, you can jet ski without worrying about will the jet ski sink because “I’m too heavy for that jet ski.” Yes you can now get into your car seat without having to adjust the steering wheel or needing a seat belt extender on your car seat. Yes you can fit into a cinema seat more comfortably without having to go to gold class because the seats are too narrow and they’re too tight for you to fit into.

Yes you can use the stairs and go up and down on the cruise ship without having to worry about stopping every few steps and taking a breath. Yes you can go to the restaurant and not look silly or like a pig grabbing so much food. Yes you can hop into the pool and the boat without worrying about emptying half the pool out in the ocean.

Felicity Cohen: Richard, thank you so much for joining me on my podcast and sharing your incredible story, which I know so many people are going to be incredibly empowered by listening to you and hearing your journey. It’s definitely a story that has touched my heart and I hope it has touched many, many other people listening to your story today.

Nutritionist & Dietitian

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