Under The Knife

I remember the day I quit exercising.

I was thirty years old, in really good shape, and while visiting my mother I went for my regular morning jog.  At the time, she lived in Umhlanga Rocks, a little seaside resort town just north of Durban, and to say that the Indian Ocean coast has a tropical climate is to understate the thing.  It’s not only hot, it’s humid — so humid that I, a Joburg boy, actually had trouble breathing the thick, moist air (Johannesburg is 6,000ft above sea level).

But I had to stay in shape, and I liked the way I looked, so off I went.  I kept the jog short, maybe two or three miles up the coast road, and then I turned around and went back, taking a little detour along the concrete boardwalk that runs past the luxury hotels and separates them from the beach.

By now, I was deeply uncomfortable and miserable:  the sweat was pouring off me, I was tired and more than a little sunburned because while I usually jogged without a shirt up in Johannesburg, it was not an issue there — but down here, in the blazing tropical sun, my fair skin was going extra-crispy, and fast.

I was coming up to the last leg of the trip, where I could make the turn and head back to my mother’s house.  At that point, one of the hotels had a patio cafe right on the boardwalk, and sitting at a table under a large Cinzano umbrella were two rather pretty younger women.  As I ran past, one whistled and called out in Afrikaans, “Nice bod!”

I waved over my back at her, ran about a dozen more yards, and stopped dead in my tracks, chest heaving and my breath wheezing like a beached whale as the epiphany struck me.  I was doing all this — the tiredness, the sweatiness, the sunburn, the aching muscles — just so a stranger could compliment me on my “mooi lyfie” ?

I walked back to my Mom’s house, and never jogged again.

All this came back to me when I read the story of how Ozzy Osbourne’s daughter Kelly has had gastric sleeve surgery and thus lost over 80lbs.

Now I’m not going to go into some stupid amateur psycho-analysis as to why she would want to do this.  She was always a plump little thing, and clearly she didn’t like the way she looked (hence all the tattoos she had inflicted on herself, tattoos which she is now having removed — draw your own conclusions).  And she looks quite fetching now (see the link above)… but that just leads me to my earlier conclusion:  why would she undergo so radical a surgery, just so a stranger like me could think she was “quite fetching”?

I know several women who have had gastric sleeve surgery, and every single one has told me that had they known what the consequences were going to be (other than the massive weight loss), they would never have done it.  You see, the weight loss may be all very well, but what the gastric sleeve does is make eating food a profoundly uncomfortable experience:  nausea, pain, discomfort and a general malaise all follow if you eat so much as a single forkful of food too many, and after a while you begin to hate the sight of food.  Any food.

And what happens next is that some of the joy goes out of your life.  Eating is such a wonderful and enjoyable experience, really:  nothing quite compares to the feeling of satisfaction, of well-being and happiness that a good meal gives you.  It’s one of life’s simple, and paradoxically one of life’s greatest pleasures.  And with gastric sleeve surgery (which is irreversible), it’s gone forever.

So while everyone — and every one a stranger — is complimenting Kelly Osbourne on how great she looks, know too that her previous unhappiness at being overweight has been replaced with a much greater one.

And frankly, I never thought she was that fat to begin with.


  1. Still has a fat face. Surgery replaces will power. The problem was indeed internal, but a little higher up. Once again, money trumps logic.

  2. I had a gastric sleeve 6-7 years ago and while what you say about gastric operations is generally true, I was persistent and kept on eating (which I love) and after the 1st few episodes was careful. What DID bother me was that I couldn’t foods that I once loved eg I can no longer eat an egg in any way shape or form! Or I can’t eat chicken, sometimes, (It varies). By the after surgery I lost just under 2 stone (which they couldn’t quite understand) BUT when I stopped taking a Blood Pressure drug called here “Amlodipine” I lost 5 stone in 6 weeks, apparently it causes internal water/fluid retention! Don’t take it, take something else for high BP!

    1. For my high blood pressure, I take a drug called Diovan HCL, which contains a diuretic.

      And stop using that “stone” nonsense (a general statement to all Brits). it’s insane to have a measure that is used exclusively for body weight and anyway, my poor math skills and deteriorating senescent brain can’t handle the 14x multiplication.

  3. It’s pretty easy to lose when you’re young. I lost that much back in my twenties by cutting out alcohol, any sweets, and junk food. In a month or two I lost enough to start running.

    The celebrity weight loss that cracks my up the most is Oprah. Last time she lost a few ton, she had her chef/personal trainer on her show to tell people how easy it is. Of course it’s easy if someone else (who you pay a salary) does the shopping and cooking, then has you work out.

    I remember when I stopped as well. I was heading home after a six mile run, about when my third was due to be born. It was cold as hell, and I was heading to the doctor that week to have my nuts snipped and figured I’d pick running back up in the spring. Never happened. I gained 40 lbs, that hasn’t gone away. Closest I came to losing it and keeping it gone was after cancer therapy, but that didn’t last.

  4. Am I wrong to recall (from your old blog perhaps?) that you had undergone a similar procedure?

    1. I had a lap band operation — wherein a “sphincter” is placed about a third of the way down from the top of the stomach.
      Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have had it done either.

      1. I have an ex girlfriend whom (I think) did the same thing, and has numerous very small meals during the course of the day. Is that akin to your regimen?

  5. I do not have an opinion on the surgery, but it was a mistake to stop exercising. Not to say that you should do something you hate, you should just find a set or work outs that you like. When it is not a chore to do, it is relatively easy to motivate oneself to exercise.

    As for why, because when done right you just feel better. Also, as a man, whose purpose involves supporting one’s family and if necessary defending it, being capable of strenuous work is part of that (yes, firearms are part of the equation but they are not a panacea).

    Also, at least for myself, much of what I enjoy requires physical exertion. From working outside, playing basketball or hunting all day, I am in my mid 50s but can do the things I like because I have kept the instrument of these activities (my body) in a position to do them.

    1. I’m not sure Kim said he stopped exercising (i.e. doing physical activity that he enjoyed), just that he stopped jogging – a profoundly unenjoyable activity for most normal humans. That being said, too late in life I started changing my body so that I could continue to enjoy doing physically enjoyable things. Those are profoundly important to me now and baring some catastrophic injury I hope to die at a ripe old age (I’m in my late 50s) of a heart attack on some remote mountain bike trail and get eaten by passing bears.

      Admittedly my chances of the opposite fate – dying in bed being eaten by some cougar – are rapidly diminishing, but you take what you can get and make the best of it. That brings me to my second point. Kim’s indication that preparation of your body for the fairer sex is a stupid reason to exercise. IMHO the shape of a man’s body not real high on most women’s list. They are not wired that way as far as I can tell.

      As for both fates – going from being in bed being eaten by a cougar, then having a proper English breakfast, followed by dying of a heart attack on a mountain bike trail in my 80s? That crap only happens in the movies. Ask me how I know..

      1. In my opinion, when it comes to women’s idea of attraction, a fat belly is completely mitigated by a fat wallet.

    1. Amen, brother! Why would anyone be so arrogant as to think they could improve on the Good Lord’s greatest work of art, the female form?

    2. There’s precisely ONE case where I don’t raise an eyebrow on tattooing, and it’s a doozy.

      There are tattoo artists who specialize in tattoo work that breaks up or hides scarring of various kinds. That sort of thing I can sympathize with and support.

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