by William Crowe
My journey has been lifelong—to reach a “normal” level of body weight and maintain that weight and so good health.
I can recall the whispers and snickering. There was the fourth grade physical examination (to be allowed to participate in sports) when I was found to weigh 100 lbs., and my summary dismissal from the pre-induction military draft physical screening, at age 21, when I came in at 314 lbs.
There have been ups and downs in my weight over the years, but mostly I trended up. When I reached 300 lbs. the last time, in mid- 2000, and began to see the effects on my and my family’s life, I knew that I had to take some decisive action.
To my good fortune, that year that the University of Kansas, where I have been a librarian since 1990, began a team-based research project on weight management.
I was accepted as a subject, signed the protocols (promising to follow the rules and submit all kinds of information about my behavior), and set off on the journey. I was supported by my wife and daughter (both librarians!), friends across campus and around the country, colleagues at the KU Libraries, and by the other “morbidly obese” folks who were in the study cohort to which I had been assigned.
Losing weight was the easier (not easy) part—we simply had to follow the prescribed diet. Within 18 months, I was at “target,” coming in at 180 lbs. The hard part, as always, is staying on that path—without remaining in the protective enclosure of the research group.
This quest has not been easy, and I have lost my way from time to time over the years. But I have learned—finally!—that none of the journeys we take in life is without some stumble or setback. Today, I weigh 179 lbs., and know that within a month I could add ten lbs. . . . and what I need to do to stave off that weight gain: stay on the path.
The encouragement of the people around me, not least from other library people, has been vitally important. Library people’s shared interest in helping others has never been so clear to me. We do value connecting people with information—from traditional sources (See this link for a running account of what scientists are working to achieve) to the everyday quiet interactions we have with others—all to encourage the seeker after knowledge to persist in the journey.
That journey, I joke (a sense of humor is essential), will end for me only when I expire, but I am told that my “due date” has been extended by at least 10 years.