Daniel Finney is honest.
"I'm fat. Scratch that. I'm morbidly obese," the columnist for the Des Moines Register wrote in a post Sunday, shifting from his usual thoughts on the metro area to those of himself.
For years, Finney admitted, he ignored the problem of his weight:
I ignored it when the scales at the doctor's office could no longer measure my weight because my girth exceeded 500 pounds.
I joke about being fat. We're supposed to be jolly, right?
But I cringe when David Letterman, a comedic hero of mine, pokes fun at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie because of his weight.
But ignoring all changed earlier this year when a back problem that started from carrying too many groceries at one time had him going to the doctor a few weeks later where he learned the grocery load wasn't the issue.
"The cause? Well, it would be the hundreds of pounds of extra flesh I carry around every day. The nurse didn't say it like that. But that's how it felt," Finney wrote.
Finney knew he had to change and his doctor gave him the resources he needed to start that journey. But the man who will turn 40 later this year paints an honest picture of not only his fears for the future if he didn't change his lifestyle, but his fear of what he'll be missing out on when he does change:
I like food. I don't know if I want to go through the rest of my life eating a leaf of kale and two scoops of vitamin supplements and sipping a thimble of water.
I am exaggerating. But that's how it feels in my head.
The thought terrifies me of no more pizza, nachos, chicken wings, Mountain Dew or fries.
And even scarier: When I type that sentence, it frightens me how much I sound like an addict.
Watch Finney talk about his journey:
Though many people who are morbidly obese would opt to have surgery to shrink their stomachs and speed weight loss. Finney, who says he's afraid of surgery because he's never had any, is going at it the old-fashioned way.
"This is a long road and the hardest," he wrote.
It involves so much more than just eating less and exercising more. There are underlying issues that need to be addressed:
Cravings have never been my problem. Depression and anxiety are my problems.
I eat when I'm sad. I eat when I'm anxious or manic.
I eat to socialize. I eat to feel. I eat to suppress feelings.
There's a wound inside me that just won't heal. I try to salve it by stuffing my face.
I work with a terrific therapist on these issues. Some of them are so deeply personal I won't get into them here. But therapy, my nutritionist notes, is an important part of weight loss.
By the way, I'm not writing off my obesity to mental illness. There's a difference between a reason and an excuse.
I know I'm responsible for my actions. And I'm the only person who can really fix the problem.
So why is Finney writing so openly, putting his fears and struggles out there in full view of the "savage" commenters who have attacked him and his weight in the past?
"I write about my weight struggles not as a plea for sympathy, but to offer a voice in the cacophony of mean 'fatty' comments and scolding moralists," Finney wrote. "The message is this: After nearly three weeks and a string of doctor appointments, this was the first time in years I've felt better about my health."
The day after his first post, Finney wrote a follow-up where he said no other column or story he had ever written "generated the kind of reader response I received for my column Sunday about my own struggles with morbid obesity."
"The final tally is still being counted, but I received more than 50 voice mails and spoke to at least a two dozen people by phone on Sunday and Monday," he wrote. "More than 200 people followed my Twitter account @newsmanone and I lost track of the number of Facebook friends I added. In all, I spent more than 12 hours Sunday replying to messages and just reading the sheer volume of it all."
Finney told TheBlaze in a phone interview Wednesday that the response that he's received in emails, phone calls and comments has been "overwhelmingly positive," which he added makes him feel "humbled beyond description."
He never expected this post to resonate with so many people or to be seen as brave.
"I didn’t do it as an act of courage. I just thought it would make an interesting column. I wasn’t trying to start a movement," he said.
"I’m just one guy and lots of people struggling with this and don’t have the advantage of being a writer for a newspaper," he said. "If there are people who see what I’m talking about ... and see my path or journey as a way to help them keep moving forward, then I’m honored by that."
This post has been updated to include more information.