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No One Thought I Would Make It

I came to be known to as “The Comeback Kid” for having nine lives.
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No One Thought I Would Make It

Most people don’t know that I was a “Biggest Loser” in August of 1957.

My first official weigh in was 8lbs 9ozs, and within two weeks I had lost over 50% of my body weight, with no end in sight.

Part of a birth certificate - No One Thought I Would Make It

If you ever watched NBC’S Biggest Loser Season 11 you may have noticed that I had a very large scar on my stomach. Lots of people assume I had gastric bypass surgery by the looks of the scar, or another weight related major surgery

Jay Jacobs and his daughter on 'Biggest Loser' - No One Thought I Would Make It

And while they’re not wrong that I did have major surgery, it was waaaaaay back in 1957. The doctors, shocked that in two short weeks I went from 8 pounds 9 ounces to less than 4 pounds, decided to go for the Hail Mary. They opened me up to see what might be causing my rapid weight loss.

What they found was that I had a very bad case of Volvulus.

Layman’s term: all of my intestines where so twisted up that I couldn’t keep anything down. I was starving myself to death.

The good news: they found the cause and they untwisted my intestines.

The bad news: this was 1957, and because of such invasive surgery and my severe weight loss in such a short amount of time, chances were I wasn’t going to survive the operation.

Now you can see why my scar was less than cosmetic: no one thought I would make it.

But survive I did, all the way up to 435 + pounds. I came to be known to Alison Sweeny on The Biggest Loser as “The Comeback Kid” for having nine lives: I got sent home but came back to stay on campus, making it to the final four and losing 181 pounds.

So why am I’m sharing this story?

Well, my buddy Craig Oborn, creator of Connect52, challenged me to get more “connected” and transparent with my personal story. This was because he believed that what I would share could help others uncover the things holding them back from sharing their personal stories. We all have our own experiences with size, self image and our own potential, and through really digging deep and laying bare my own story, I wanted to inspire others to do the same.

This is the first time I’ve ever shared the story of my scar in print, and the process of writing it out has become very therapeutic. I have a feeling that this is because somewhere in the recesses of my mind, this was a story that I was still hanging onto, and that I needed to get out, to share, observe, and declare that it’s time, finally, to let go of it.

But it also tuned me in to something else. My current mindset says that it’s OK that I’m still considered obese by BMI standards, because I am sooooo much smaller and healthier than I was when I weighed 435lbs. I’m healthier than I’ve been in years.

I eat so much better, and I have tons of energy. I’ve run the NYC Marathon and I’ve done a Tough Mudder. And today was my 63rd straight day of running at least one mile, something I decided I was going to do for 365 days straight. In fact, today I ran a 5K.

So I’m OK! Right? RIGHT!

If I’m being honest, while I am much healthier, I know I still have much more weight to lose. I know I can do it, and I know I need to, but lately I’ve been in a self imposed holding pattern, something that’s known as an OK Plateau.

“The so-called “OK Plateau” — is the point at which our autopilot of expertise confines us to a sort of comfort zone, where we perform the task in question in efficient enough a way that we cease caring for improvement. We reach this OK Plateau in pursuing just about every goal, from learning to drive to mastering a foreign language to dieting, where after an initial stage of rapid improvement, we find ourselves in that place at once comforting in its good-enoughness and demotivating in its sudden dip in positive reinforcement via palpable betterment.”

– Maria Popova

And recently that holding pattern, that “OK Plateau” has started to slip upwards.

By BMI standards for my 5’10” frame, I should weigh 170 pounds. And though I am running everyday, I’ve used my “OK-ness” to justify, little by little, letting the scale slowly slip back up from 220 pounds in August to 270 pounds this morning.

I call it my “winter weight”, and each day I keep telling myself I’ll get my head in the game again tomorrow, but the “OK Plateau” mindset has really has a hold on me.

So I’ve decided to mark this day, March 4th 2015, as what I call a “Weigh In Wednesday”. And I’m declaring once and for all (well aware of how many times I’ve declared something similar in the past) that I’m truly ready to move off of the mindset that it’s “OK” to be less than I can be.

With this post, I am finally ready to let go of the “weight of my past…”

So begins the first musings of “my story”, the WHOLE story I’m going to share in my next book, with the working title My Last 100 lbs.

My story will be in My Last 100 lbs, but what I’m more excited about is that the book is going to be a collection of stories from a wide variety of people. People who are willing to go back to their earliest memories and do a kind of therapeutic archaeology, digging into the various physical and emotional milestones that reveal the incidents, declarations, and beliefs they have collected along the way that weight them down and put them on a path to living a life less than their best.

Things that they have blocked, things that have them stuck, things they’ve argued for and against, things that have caused them to start, stop, feel shamed and once again repeat the madness.

For some people it will be a story of massive weight loss, while for others it will be a story of physical triumph like overcoming debilitating eating issues.

Be it 500 pound or 5 pounds stories, My Last 100 lbs will be a collection of inspiring, motivating, empowering and life affirming stories of how people of all ages, from all walks of life, dug down deep to awaken within themselves whatever was necessary to leave their past behind and start living the “life they were missing.”

I hope what I’ve shared will also give you the courage to out your reality, share your truth and discover and discard the “weight of your past.”

I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’re interested in sharing your story as part of My Last 100 lbs.

If you’re ready to share, please email me at jay@couchkills.com

And please stay tuned…

For all of you who wanted me to bring back “Weigh In Wednesday”, it’s back. Every Wednesday on CouchKills, I’ll be sharing the “tale of my scale.”

2 Comments

  • RGH says:

    Jay! I love this story… i completely relate to the “Ok Plateau”! I recently lost 10 pounds (want to lose 30 in total). And, after a couple of very social weekends, my relaxed approach over the weekends fed into the weekdays and before I knew it… I gained 5 pounds… Come on! In just 2 weeks! Crazy… But during that timeframe, i was in the OK Plateau. Then, this week, someone sat me down and made me think about what I was doing and what I wasn’t doing. And, I realized that I wasn’t “planning” – wow, when I started to plan… I found success immediately. I am no longer OK with my plateau and trying to break past it. Now, if I can dig into the “why” I am constantly yo-yoing up and down 20-30 pounds…

  • Jay, thanks for sharing your story. I’m grateful not to have weight issues (on the contrary in fact), and so “the OK Plateau” is not a place I visit in relation to weight- or self-issues. But like you, I was on the OR table at a very tender age, also because of a bowel blockage (pyloric stenosis). This was 12 years before your story, back in 1945, and although my surgery was considerably less drastic, cosmetics were just as little a consideration. We were told to feel grateful for the gift of life – and I certainly am. But like you I have found that “coming out” and writing about my story and struggles has been healing. Of course these are just two of the ways of objectifying personal pain, and there are more ways of dealing with trauma and self-image obsessions. Thanks for the encouragement to share!

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