07/31/2014 06:42 pm ET Updated Sep 30, 2014

What It's Like When You Weigh 380 Pounds and Order a Salad


"Really? Is that all you want to eat?"

That is what the cashier at Panera Bread asked me a few years ago. I was in line, ordering lunch. I was around 380 pounds at the time. I made a promise to myself to lose weight. I'd already lost 40 pounds at the time. Although I was no longer 400 pounds, I still was huge.

I ordered a salad. It was only 410 calories. The people behind me giggled when I placed my order. Maybe they were laughing about something else. I always heard laughter when I went places. I believe a lot of it was because of me.

When I ordered the salad the cashier questioned me. She was not rude or sassy. She was not being sarcastic. She was a teenage girl who really wanted to know if that is all I wanted.

Truth is, I wanted to eat more. I always wanted to eat more. People laugh at me when I tell them that I am a food addict. They tell me that is not a real addiction. Heroin, now that is a real addiction. Alcohol, now that is a real addiction. Food? Come on. I was just lazy. I just put forth no effort into getting healthy.

When I started to eat, I could not stop. There were days when I would eat over 20,000 calories. I never got sick. I never was full. I ate to a point where I was numb. I could not move. I would eat anything. I have dug in the trash to get food. I have eaten food that was not fully cooked. I have eaten So. Much. Food.

There were so many nights at 2 a.m. that I would sit in my car and eat. I would go from fast food restaurant to fast food restaurant and order food. Then I would sit in a dark parking lot and eat. I would get sad when the food was almost gone.

There was never enough food for me.

All I cared about is food. I never saw how much my weight and eating habits hurt my wife. She would never call me fat or tell me I needed to lose weight or she would leave. She would just try to encourage me. She would offer to walk with me or cook for me. She wanted to help her husband. Yet I did not want help.

At 420 pounds I could barely walk. I could not have sex. I could not wipe my ass in the bathroom. Everything in life was taken away from me. I would still eat.

I ate until I finally opened my eyes.

I saw how much it hurt my wife. I saw how much it hurt myself. I did not have many options. I had to lose weight.

Losing weight is not easy but neither was being 420 pounds. Counting calories is not easy but neither is hurting the people I love. Taking brisk walks is not easy but neither is wanting to die every day because you feel worthless.

So when the cashier asked me if I wanted more to eat, I knew what was in my heart...

"No, a salad is fine, thank you."

I lost over 200 pounds and I have kept most off for over six years. I still struggle every single day. Every day I would rather have more than just a salad.

I also do not want to be over 400 pounds ever again.

I refuse to let my addiction ruin my life.

Originally appeared on The Good Men Project.