At her heaviest, Khaliah Ali, who is 5 feet, 8 inches, weighed 325 pounds and said she'd spent most of her life yo-yo dieting in an attempt to lose the weight.
Even worse than being an obese American, said the daughter of boxer Muhammad Ali, was being an obese American whose father is a national hero in large part due to his physical prowess.
Finally, three years ago, Khaliah Ali underwent gastric band surgery in which a band is put around the stomach to shrink it. Different from gastric bypass (in which doctors bypass your intestines and staple your stomach), this procedure is less invasive and can be adjusted periodically (the band can be loosened and tightened) depending on one's changing lifestyle.
Khaliah, who is down to 158 pounds, has written a book, called "Fighting Weight," about her surgical success, which she hopes serves as a message to other obese Americans.
You can read a chapter from the book below.
Introduction: Claiming Your Life
Twenty million Americans can't pull an airplane seat belt across their laps. They can't run for a train, can't step into the bathtub without great deliberation, and can't push a child on a swing. Nor can they sit on a bistro chair or other fragile furniture because, quite simply, they'd break it. Most don't dare go to the beach, wear sleeveless shirts, hold out hope for true romance, or enjoy being in public.
All are candidates for weight-loss surgery. Beside the everyday morti?cation of literally not being able to ?t into life, they're susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, interruptions in breathing during sleep, and a host of other debilitating, if not life-threatening, conditions.
Still, less than 1 percent of those eligible for obesity surgery come forward, largely because they fear the risks of the operation. I was one of them.
I know ?rsthand the shame of becoming morbidly obese; the lifetime of dieting off pounds, but never enough, and then gaining them all back and more; the aching joints, the inability to walk up a single ?ight of stairs without losing my breath -- all made worse by the fact that I was the daughter of a man who is very famous, in large part, precisely because of his ?tness and physical abilities. I remember well, too, the experience of ?nally coming around to the idea of weight-loss surgery but rejecting it because of the very real possibility that I would die on the table.
Frightened and miserable, I went five years losing and gaining the same ?fty pounds and didn't know which way to turn -- until a wonderful friend steered me toward Drs. George Fielding and Christine Ren, professors at the New York University School of Medicine. My friend told me they performed a type of weight-loss surgery that has been used in Europe for more than a decade but is only now starting to take off in the United States. The results of the surgery are just as spectacular as those of gastric bypass, she said, yet with only one-tenth the rate of life-threatening complications.
Soon, with their record of success and also their hand-holding through my own hand-wringing, they convinced me of the procedure's safety, and I was on the road to slimming down to a goal weight of 150 pounds -- not bad for a woman who's ?ve feet nine inches.