Internet Saves a Life

Surfing the Web saved Nancy Makin's life.

ByABC News via logo
February 18, 2009, 11:59 AM

Dec. 3, 2007 — -- Weighing 700 pounds, Nancy Makin had lost hope.

After 12 years of weight gain, Makin had spiraled into despair. The more food she ate, the more shame she felt, and nothing could stop the cycle.

Then one day her sister gave her a computer. Inspired by the friends she'd made online and no longer judged by how she looked, Makin finally took control of the situation.

"The anonymity of the computer gave me access to a world that would have just as well have left me alone, alone to die but I did not," Makin wrote in a letter describing her saga.

Today Makin weighs a healthy 170 pounds and hopes others will be inspired by her story to take back their own lives.

The weight gain started after a divorce and fear at her job. Makin began overeating to avoid her feelings and soon she just couldn't stop.

"My son would bring me 10 double cheeseburgers. So I'd eat four, put the rest in the fridge. And then they'd call to me during the night or whatever and you'd eat 'em cold. I could go in and overeat cold squash out of the fridge. It doesn't matter."

"You're stuffing your feelings. That's what people need to know. It's not just being a glutton."

Too humiliated to go out in public, Makin only allowed her family to see her, often sending her son to get her groceries. "I only regret that my son — that I hurt him, that I marred his childhood somehow, that it could have been more full."

It was the gift of getting online that ultimately let Makin escape her misery.

"Internet provided anonymity. And people who would have rejected me out of hand, based on appearance, got to see my insides."

Before she knew it, the political junkie was surfing through chat rooms and making friends, beginning to find value in herself again. "I was being loved and nurtured by faceless strangers. … Friends accepted who I was based on my mind and soul."

"I was so busy and happy to get up every morning that I like to say I lost weight in my fingers first."

Makin said the psychological transformation was so complete that she lost all that weight without diet pills, exercise or even a diet. She just stopped gorging.

"I achieved this on my own, in a natural way, with no surgical procedures having been performed. No particular 'diet' plan was followed; no pills, potions or ab-crunching exercises played a part in my recovery," she wrote in a congratulatory letter to herself.

Three years and 530 pounds later Makin is keeping the weight off. She wants people to know that crucial first step is realizing the weight is not the problem.

"I've heard so many times, I said it myself, if I could only lose 40 or 50 pounds, I'd be so much happier. I've found on this journey that the opposite is true."

Unless you focus on what's going on inside and start to feel better about yourself you won't be able to stop the cycle. "The key is to find contentment and value in yourself by reaching out and doing something not for you, and the weight will come off as a side effect."