[screen shot from iReport video]

Two years ago I was siting on a beach at my heaviest weight of more than 400lbs asking myself, how did I get to be this big? More than that, I asked myself another question, if I were to die that day, would there be a coffin large enough to hold my body?

I knew the answer to the first question. I knew it all so well, yet never really wanted to face the fact that I was addicted to food but was too proud to admit it.

It was the answer to the second question that terrified me. Not only because I was a single parent to two sons, but because I'm a diabetic whose numbers had become so uncontrollable that the possibility of a sudden death from a heart attack or from a stroke or any of the other causes of uncontrolled diabetes was surely in the cards for me that day.

At 6'1", I have always been big but I never really felt uncomfortable in a social setting, as big is beautiful in our Samoan culture. The language of food is centered around generosity and respect which encouraged a big healthy body. However, the past several years of journeying towards a healthier and lighter body have taught me that our cultural aesthetics of beauty and respect are at a cross roads and need to be redefined if we are to live long,strong and healthy lives, particularly in light of the fact that Samoans and Pacific Islanders lead the world with the highest statistics of those suffering from obesity and diabetes.

Exactly 16 months ago, I decided to put an end to my suffering and to redefine myself and my cultural concepts of strength and beauty. I had always started things out strong but a week or two later and I would be back to my old ways. This time, I told myself, it would be different. And stuck to it.

Our family of nine had just then moved from American Samoa to West Valley, UT and our first act was to be enrolled at the local rec center as a family. Fitness became fun and something we did together as a family and not something I did in isolation.

After swimming and walking for 6 months, I was down 80lbs. Changing our diet to include more vegetables with lean meats also contributed to the weightloss and more stable blood glucose readings.


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