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.