The “Chunk Filter” (Van Hise, 2016)

Welp…it’s been almost three weeks since surgery. To be honest, there are days when I’m a little run down, harder to get myself going. Other days, energy is there. I do have to remember that I was suffering from some post-operative anemia, so giving my body the time to rest and replenish is important (not that I needed an excuse to nap anyway…).

In terms of my diet, I’m in what my program calls Stage 2-B. Essentially, I’m still on a full liquid diet: 2-3 protein shakes, non-sugar drinks like Powerade and Propel Fitness water and broth. BUT…JOY UPON JOY…last week I was able to add in egg and ricotta cheese (as well as cottage cheese, but I don’t like it). Let me just tell you about that first bit of ricotta. If I believed in angels, it would have been a full trumpeting chorus with light and everything. I do have to remember to practice chewing my food because after this stage I get to move on to some moist proteins which I will have to chew A LOT.

I returned to work this week which was a little bit of a challenge, mainly because I recognized how much ENERGY it takes to keep a lecture hall of 100+ students engaged, especially when most of them would rather be anywhere but there at that very moment studying operant conditioning and the three-stage model of memory. I found that I had to sit a little and lost my breath a bit, but I made it through and found that I was proud of myself for being able to do it. I’ve been able to drive back and forth to my other teaching position and if I start getting tired I make a phone call to keep my going.

In terms of good news, here’s where I’m at:

  • Highest Weight: 408
  • Surgery Weight: 358
  • Current Weight: 340 (Down 18 pounds in 18 days post-surgery).
  • Total Loss: 68 pounds (almost 17% of my total original weight)
  • Clothing: 54 waist pants are FALLING OFF; 4XL shirts are gigantic; 4XL sweats and shorts are barely hanging on

Many people have asked me if I have a goal weight, and to be honest, I really don’t. I mean, the variability in loss over time depending on nutrition and exercise is significant. Based upon my surgery weight, 18 months out, research shows that 80% of patients will hit 250 pounds; 50% will hit 227, and 20% will hit 204. TWO HUNDRED AND FOUR FUCKING POUNDS?????? I won’t even know what that would be like. Even 250!

Instead of a number, I’m trying to focus more on what the great and incomparable Vicki Van Hise (one of my besties and hugely successful WLS participant) says: examine your life through the “chunk filter.” In essence, what are the EXPERIENCES that I wouldn’t even attempt for fear of the humiliation that comes with being fat. Now I mean, I totally understand that the entire world was not going to cater to super chunks like me, but I never really thought about all of the anxiety and issues I was holding on to. Here’s some examples:

  • Flying: DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED. I need a seat belt extender. Will they tell me I’m too fat for the emergency exit row? How do I handle the fact that my chunky self is going to go over the line into the next seat? What if the seat doesn’t allow for the arm rests to move? What if the person WANTS the armrest down? Whatever you do, don’t eat anything for fear the others on the plane will see your gluttonous self eating a yogurt and think you’re still fat.
  • Dining Out: NO BOOTHS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Can’t fit in them. And no, wonderful wait staff person, I do NOT want to sit on the end of the table with a chair while my family sits inside like some fat ass on display in a fucking zoo. Throw me a full rack of ribs and a brownie sundae at least while you’re staring, Martha.
  • Desks in Classrooms: Those sons of bitches that have the attached arm. Bane of my existence.
  • Seats in a Theater: SURRRRRRRE I can fit in the seat built in the 1920s. I’ll just distract myself by singing along with the performers. “We’re your Dreamgirls, boys…can make you happy…” “Oops, sorry sir that my fat is spreading over to your seat…

I have tons of these experiences, so this is what I’m trying to focus on. How might I get to live a more fulfilled life as a result of the size difference that I’ll experience. Quickly though, I did experience my first this week. I finally defeated one classroom desk. I was able to slide into the seat and pull down the hinged top and IT DIDN’T GET STUCK ON MY STOMACH. I had this look of pure shock on my face so broad that the student group that I was observing stopped and asked me if I was okay. I almost cried.

Next time I’m going to be writing a bit about life as a fat gay man specifically. I read this fantastic ethnographic study last week and will be listening to the author speak this week, so be ready for some reflection there. Get ready for some deeeeeeeep shit. Thanks for following along and sending your support! It really does mean a lot.

One thought on “The “Chunk Filter” (Van Hise, 2016)

  1. Eugene, I know you since you were born and babysat you since!! I’m so proud of you and look forward to reading more of your post and your success!! I wish nothing but the best for you but I just see you as a kid finding your way no matter what your always in my heart and always a sweetheart no matter what size!!!


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