Famous and Formerly Fat – Matt Mira

Matt MiraWriter and producer Matt Mira is renowned for his work on Attack of the Show, The Nerdist, @midnight, Tosh.0, Math Bites, and numerous other projects. He was also a fat kid who only survived high school because, he says, “I was funny and I played football.” He also suffered from sleep apnea.

Childhood Obesity News has explored many of the problems in the lives of obese children and teenagers, including sleep apnea. The relationship between obesity and sleep apnea is another vicious circle.

In sleep apnea, breathing is obstructed because of enlarged tongue and tonsils and fat in the neck, so the person’s sleep is uneasy and often interrupted. The broken and non-restorative sleep leads to more overeating. Something about sleep deprivation messes with the satiety hormones in the system, and the whole situation goes from bad to worse. Distressing as this is already, worse is yet to come. Mira’s story illuminated a detail that we had not mentioned. He says:

I was so heavy and my sleep apnea was so bad that I slept every single night on my knees, kneeling at my bed, because that was the only way to keep my airway clear. I’d put two couch cushions on my knees and just kneel like I was sleeping on a table. That’s how I slept for, like, a year. It was crazy, insane.”

At 460 pounds, he decided it was time for a gastric bypass. He describes having his stomach stapled to the size of an egg. There were a couple of good years, and by the age of 20 he got down to 330 pounds, but the efficacy of the surgical intervention only lasted for a couple of years. He describes how with such a small stomach, a person gets full amazingly fast.

But for Mira, that sensation of fullness did not act as a signal to stop eating. Many other forces also operate to make a person want to eat. Interviewer Alison Rosen said that, according to her understanding, “if you eat too much after the surgery you get sick,” and Mira replied:

You would, yeah. And you power through that and keep eating. Just power through. You put your head down and go.

That may be a good recipe for scoring a touchdown, but as a post-bariatric surgery regimen, there is absolutely nothing to recommend it. Next, Mira says he was inspired by Tim Ferris’s book The 4-Hour Body, and struggled on his own for a while, making some useful changes but no real progress. Then he hired a personal trainer who, as of last month, has been working with him for two years.

He learned to become “very conscious of everything I put in my body,” and compulsively keeps track of his caloric intake. Every day includes vigorous activity that varies between running, biking, and gym workouts. Presently he is at 230 pounds and says:

A lot of it’s muscle. The rest of it’s skin that I’ve got to get cut off at some point.

Motivation is a much discussed topic in these posts. Could young people be motivated by worst case scenario videos showing obese adults sleeping on their knees or having excess flaps of skin removed with a scalpel?

Mira offers enthusiastic words of optimism and encouragement:

My trainer always talks about retraining your brain and learning the new habits and stuff like that…There’s going to be a point in your life where you’re not doing what you used to be doing and this is the new normal for you…It turns into a thing where you find the healthy lifestyle and you start to love it.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “ARIYNBF 379 with Matt Mira,” alisonrosen.com, 04/05/15
Image by Gage Skidmore

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