Two years ago today: a weight loss update

Two years ago this morning, my friend Jim drove me into Boston to the Brigham and Women's Hospital where I was to have a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.  I remember walking into the hospital and wondering what the rest of my life would be like after having this done.  On the second anniversary of my surgery I want to share again the good news of what all this has meant for me.

First the physical - because that's the easiest part to share with you. Having lost 202 pounds of my original 384, my weight has plateaued at 182 pounds. My collar size has gone from from 22 to 15.5 inches.  My waist has gone from 62 to 34 inches.  My nearly chronic back pain has virtually disappeared and I can once again distribute Communion to long lines of people on Sunday morning with no difficulty. Many people tell me they think I've grown taller - but that's partly an optical illusion generated by a thinner vertical version of my body - and the capacity to stand and walk "taller" than when I was carrying so much excess baggage with me everywhere I went.  I spend 45-60 minutes on my treadmill at least 5 days a week and often more - and I enjoy it!  I even miss it if I skip a day!  In two weeks I'll be flying to Rome with a group from my parish.  I'll only need to book one seat on the plane (I've booked two seats for years!) and I won't need to ask for a seat-belt extender.  Most significant, however, is that two years ago I would never have considered such a trip because of all the walking it will entail.

Well, that last paragraph was the part that's easy to share with you.  More difficult to put into words is the emotional, psychological, spiritual transformation I've experienced.  As I've said before, my weight loss has had a positive effect on every aspect of my existence and the interior change is even more telling than the observable physical change.  I never doubted that carrying an extra 200 pounds on my frame was problematic in many ways but it's only the shedding of those pounds that has allowed me to understand how negatively I saw myself and how much that self-image affected my psychological well-being, my ministerial life, my spiritual life and my social life.  I find myself relating to God, to prayer, to my work, to you and to myself in ways too many and too deeply personal and spiritual to put into words. 

Has this all been difficult?  I can honestly say it has not been difficult.  The procedure initiated such an immediate and significant weight loss that I knew from the beginning that this was something I would never reverse and that I would do everything possible to maintain it.  In the process my relationship to food and to eating has undergone a radical transformation.  My eating habits are very different than they were two years ago (!) but I now have new habits that are very satisfying and I don't go through life "missing" the junk I used to consume or the bad eating habits that used to define my diet.  As I've told many of you, "Nothing on the menu or on your plate is tastier or sweeter than the sweet taste of life that's now mine." 

I'm especially happy to have helped some others make the decision to have bariatric surgery.  Sharing my story with others is just one more aspect of the joy in my life. (And please know that if I can help you in any way with this decision, I'd be very pleased to do so.)

Do I wish I had done this years ago?  Indeed, I do!  Still, I'm just grateful that I've done it at all and that with God's help and the support of so many like you, I have a new lease on life, a life I hope and pray will be longer and healthier because of what I did two years ago this morning.


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  1. On 1/20, you quoted this Bible verse
    With you I can break through any barrier,
       with you, my God, I can scale any wall.    
    Psalm 18:29-30 

    Which Bible version is this from? I’ve searched and searched. Most versions say “troops”. I prefer “barrier”
    Please and thank you

    1. It's the Grail translation of the psalms which is the version used in the Liturgy of the Hours: https://www.giamusic.com/sacred_music/RGP/psalmDisplay.cfm?psalm_id=230

  2. I keep my cell phone on the floor at night. It reminds me when I retreave it, to get on my knees to pray in the morning! Part of my prayer this morning was to reach out friends , old and new. Father Austin, we became friends at Boy Scout Troop 58 at St Mary’s hall in Danvers. That
    was 59 years ago. Although our lives went on different paths, we both can agree that it was “just right”. You with this wonderful ministry, and me with dedicating my life to helping others. That is part of the Boy Scout oath. “To help other people” and led to a long career with the BSA, and other non profit groups. I venture to say that you also still follow that part of the Scout oath. As I type this, I am reminded me of our home room teacher in junior high school. A kind and dedicated woman, she invited you and me to accompany her on a trip to meet her brother, a priest, to chat about religious life. A very nice gesture and visit. I have no idea how this relates to your story above, but it may come to me in my meditation later today or as I type this. I just had to comment on your life changing two years past. I have switched gears a bit and assist Wild Care Hospital on Cape Cod. I changed species from humans to wild animals! We rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. So, we are both engaged in the “helping others at all times”. There is no telling how your surgery will will expand your horizon. Maybe it will be revealed in your trip across the pond.
    Hugs and love, Allen Gallant , At the tip of Cape Cod

  3. What an awesome comment, Allen - thank you so much! And thanks for the update on where you are and what you're doing. I certainly remember Miss Hayes and her kindness towards us - that priest was Fr. Joe LaPorte - I don't know if she was related to him or not but I know they were close. Your Scout references were so timely I couldn't believe it! Just yesterday I did the opening prayer at an Eagle Scout Court of Honor - one of my altar servers who's active in our youth group advanced to the rank of Eagle. I prefaced my prayer with commenting about my own history in scouting and spoke about the Scout Law - which I'm still able to rattle off from memory: A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent! I spoke about how that law was embedded in me many decades ago and has never left me. And within 24 hours your message comes reminding me of our time together in Troop 58. I remember wanting to take Marshall for my confirmation name (our Scout Master was Marshall Gronberg) but my mother said it wasn't a saint's name and I couldn't take it. Ended up with Michael instead. So, thanks for the trip down memory lane, Allen - hope to see you soon - will let you know the next time I'm on the Cape - which is never soon enough!

    1. I was so happy to send that message. Please know that my home,”Safe Harbor House” always is open to you as my guest...and perhaps a travelling companion too. What a coincidence that you were at the Eagle Court of Honor. I firmly believe that “coincidence is Gods way of remaining anonymous”.

  4. I love this, Allen:
    "I firmly believe that 'coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous.'" I'm not sure when I'll cross the Sagamore next but I'll be in touch before I do.


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