Morbid Obesity

The following column appeared on

I am honored to be contributing to Since many of you may not know me, I would like to share with you how and why I came to write and speak motivationally about weight loss and fitness.

To paraphrase a very famous author; August of 2005 was the best of times. My wife and I were overcoming what had been a rocky start to our marriage, my practice was doing quite well and I recently announced my candidacy for congress.

During dinner, at a quaint Italian restaurant, a piece of food stuck in my throat. I panicked, ran out to the parking lot and after what seemed an eternity of forceful coughing; the chunk finally dislodged and so began an ordeal that forever changed my life, ushering in the worst of times.

I continued to have difficulty swallowing. I went to doctor after doctor who gave one misdiagnosis after another.  It was frustrating and frightening. Because any other food type simply would not go down my throat, I was subsisting solely on ice cream.  Exasperated, I took control of my situation and ordered an MRI that revealed a case of unilateral tonsillitis, which had progressed to the point that the opening in my throat was a mere seven millimeters. A tonsillectomy was soon scheduled and I was hoping that my medical nightmare was over.

After the surgery, I was still unable to eat. I continued to lose weight and my health rapidly declined. What was supposed to be a few days out of my office soon became a few weeks.  After two months I was diagnosed by a good friend with septicemia. He got me on the right medication and within a week I was finally, for the first time in seven months, eating solid food.

To say my practice suffered would be an understatement, being in and out of my office for such a period of time left my business life in shambles. Trying to split my time between my office and the campaign trail left little time for exercise. That lack of exercise, combined with garbage eating habits, packed on gobs of unhealthy fat pounds.

I lost the election, my business continued to decline, both my parents passed away and my marriage faltered and failed.

I turned to the comforts of the demonic duo — food and alcohol.

I followed a diet of carbohydrate crammed, over-processed, and highly refined junk food.  To get through my days I relied on the high that sugar induced and to sleep through the nights, I depended on on the numbing effect of alcohol. Like most substances that artificially influence the mind, increasing amounts were required to continue attaining the desire effects.

I was subsisting on some form of sugar at every meal or snack, additionally I was downing a fifth of the hard stuff each night.

On Friday, October 19th 2007, to get me through the weekend I purchased three bottles of Tennessee whiskey.  The following Saturday is one I will never forget.  I woke up some time around noon, went into the living room and saw two bottles completely empty. I fell heavy into a chair unable to believe I was still alive. I took the remaining bottle, poured it down the sink and set it atop my refrigerator — where it still sits today.  I can count on two hands the number of drinks I have had since that day.

Unfortunately, I did not have the same revelation about my weight — yet. That day came four months later.

In March of 2008, after years of avoiding it, I hopped upon my dust covered scale.  I sucked in my gut just to see the dial.  I couldn’t believe the number the pointer stopped on.  Those numbers were 3 4 0.  I weighed a ponderous, pachydermian three hundred and forty pounds.  I was not simply overweight. I was morbidly obese.

It is funny how the human mind can choose to not accept reality.  Even with those numbers starring me in the face, I did not admit that I was that far out of shape.  I went to my office and had my office manager snap two pictures, one from the front and one from the side.  I downloaded them to my computer and that is when reality set in.  I expected to see a large, powerlifting type physique in those photos — what I saw was a pin sized head atop a soft, rotund, pear shaped body. For that moment — it was too much.  Filled with self-pity, I locked my door and sobbed.

After about an hour, I pulled myself together and decided enough was enough.  It was my poor choices that led to this state,it was my reaction to adversity that put me here, so it was going to be up to me to change.

Utilizing my education and experience:

I took out a sheet of paper and outlined a low carbohydrate eating plan.

I took out another sheet of paper and designed an exercise program.

Finally, on another sheet of paper, I jotted down eight strategies to stay focused.

I had recently had a complete workup including a stress test, so even though I wasn’t in shape, I was healthy enough to get in shape.  That day I reactivated my long dormant gym membership and the next day I went to work on recapturing my fitness, health and wellness.


ImagePhysical Culturist and Chiropractor, Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the life changing book,A Life Beyond Weight Loss and a contributor to He is available to appear on any talk radio, internet podcast or television outlet.

He has appeared on 94.3FM’s The David Maderia Show, What’s Weighing You Down, w/Dr. Marilyn Gansel on FTNS radio, Nurture and Nutrition on Blog Talk Radio, Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends, BlogTalk Radio’s Toni Harris Speaks, Internet Radio: Cathie’s Talking, TV -35′s Storm Politics with Tiffany Cloud, WILK’s The Sue Henry Show, Magic 93′s Frankie In The Morning, WBRE’s PA Live, SSPTV’s News 13, Public Television WVIA’s State of Pennsylvania and Call the Doctor; Entercom’s Outlook on Northeast PA with Shadoe Steele, Citadel Broadcasting’s Sunday Magazine with Brian Hughes, Lisa Davis’ Your Health Radio; Hank Garner’s Podcast, Dr. Robert Su’s Carbohydrates Can Kill Podcast; and the one and only Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast.
Dr. Joe Leonardi also will come and speak to your group; to learn more about his motivational speaking fees and availability contact him at and check out his website
************The information in the videos is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or disorder. The posting that I write do not apply to those with an underlying medical or hormonal condition. I advise anyone embarking on a weight loss and fitness plan to have a thorough medical evaluation. You want to be sure that you are physically able to exercise and you don’t have any underlying medical conditions.************

2 thoughts on “Morbid Obesity

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