October 19th, 2010 15:49 EST
US Threatened by WMCs: Weapons of Mass Consumption
As America enters into the dawn of the 21st century, there are wars raging all across the globe.
Now more than ever, this country is in danger of being attacked by a faceless enemy using WMCs - or weapons of mass consumption. The foe being fought here is morbid obesity.
And leading the fight is James Kepler, 51 of Winter Beach, Florida. He is the pastor at First Baptist Church of Winter Beach as well as a hairstylist at The Hair Headquarters in Sebastian.
"I have been large all my life. I`ve never been small or even a normal size. I knew if I did not do something soon I would die at an early age," said Kepler.
He was starting to feel fatigued and depressed on a regular basis because his weight had reached 439 pounds. He said just getting out of bed everyday was becoming a big ordeal. As a result, he started experiencing high blood pressure, heart conditions and shortness of breath, as well as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep and is common in the majority of people who suffer from morbid obesity.
Kepler said he realized it was time for him to take drastic measures to gain control of his weight when he overheard a visitor at his church say, "I can`t come to a church where the pastor looks so out of control with his eating".
Every year, more and more Americans are waging a battle against obesity. According to obesityhelp.com, the total number of overweight adults is approximately 58 million Americans, or about one-third of the United States population and rising.
There is a variety of options available to help try to control this disease, such as fad diets, weight loss clinics and numerous surgical procedures, one of which is gastric bypass surgery. This procedure is the process of surgically removing a large portion of the stomach thus reducing it to the size of an egg. It promotes weight loss by restricting food intake and, in some operations, interrupting the digestive process enabling a person to consume less food.
Dr. .Michael Butler of Tampa, Florida says Gastric bypass surgery is the only option for people who have morbid obesity and cannot lose weight by traditional means or who suffer from serious obesity-related health problems.
A member of Kepler`s church had undergone the procedure in August 2001. He said he was inspired by the results and how it changed her life. After doing extensive research online at Obesityhelp.com, he began reading success stories and viewing before and after pictures. Kepler and his wife, Debbie, decided that he should consider the surgery. He said he could remember tears streaming down his face at the thought of the surgery working as well for him too.
Kepler was able to have the surgery thanks to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of Indian River County, Florida. This program is designed to help people to return to the workforce by giving them financial assistance and counseling. After receiving counseling, he met with Dr. Michael Butler in Altamonte Springs in October 2001. Once approved for the surgery he then began working with a team of doctors who performed a series of required pre-operative tests. Kepler eventually had the surgery on Feb. 13, 2002.
The procedure lasted about three hours and following the surgery Kepler was back to work in three weeks.
"The actual weight loss, however, has been a gradual process, and now after losing 235 pounds I feel better than I did when I was 30. Now I can bowl, fish, and take long walks with my wife. I am going to start bike riding soon, and that is something I could never do before. Patients have to maintain a diet of high protein and low carbs," said Kepler.
"I was fortunate that my wife was able to alter my clothes in stages. Although I kept one pair of pants and one shirt, when I look at them now I cannot believe how humongous they are," said Kepler.
Debbie laughed, saying, "He is only half the man I married."
"As a pastor, I am very familiar with the sin of gluttony so when people are big, others automatically assume that you eat like a horse, but that is not always the case. I felt as if someone was always looking at me, it got to the point where I could not go to dinner and sit down without others gawking at me in my size 68 pants", said Kepler.
Now that Kepler has lost the weight it has became a new world for him and his family.
"The things that I like most is visiting with other people and ministering to them. Even though I was treated cruelly sometimes, I knew all along that God had a plan for me," said Kepler.
Kepler regularly contributes his time at a weight-loss support group counseling other gastric bypass surgery patients, as well as other people fighting the battle of obesity.
"It has been very helpful to me and my family, he said. It`s nice getting together with a group of people supporting each other for the same reason."
The support group meets at 7 p.m. the first Monday of every month at First Baptist Church of Winter Beach, Florida 6605 N. U.S. 1.
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