And now, the rest of the story

FOLLOW THE PROGRESS: Weighing In, John C. Cotey's column about his effort to lose weight, appears Tuesdays in Floridian. His starting weight on July 1 was 250 pounds. To read previous columns and his Web log, The Skinny, please go to www.sptimes.com/skinny

By DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN, wife of John C. Cotey
Published November 8, 2005


Everyone loves before and after pictures, the transformation from fat to not, from old to young.

John is no different.

Last week, he told about how he feels inside.

That's just half the story.

The other half tells you about the changes it has made in our daily lives, like how I am now allowed to toss his XL cotton T-shirts in the dryer without fear of them shrinking, or how John no longer walks hunched over so that his shirt hangs just right over his stomach, making it appear just a little bit smaller. He can wrap a towel around his waist after a shower now and it actually overlaps. He's wearing clothes I doubted he ever would.

Let me tell you the before-and-after story behind the before-and-after photos:

THEN: Whenever we pose for photographs, many of us make sure our hair is in place, all our buttons are clasped and we're standing straight. John? His first concern was always the height of the camera. If the photographer was shorter, that meant it would be a "looking-up-at-you" angle - the worst. Double chins look tripled. Girths look wider. Stand on a stool and shoot down, John would say.

NOW: Say cheese!

THEN: If we were taking John's car for a family trip, John would have to clean it out first. Every time. That meant throwing out Taco Bell bags he had hidden under the seat, Swiss cake roll boxes, and various wrappers from candy bars and bakery items.

NOW: What's a little gum wrapper or an apple core?

THEN: John would throw on a shirt to walk 15 paces to the edge of our driveway for the morning paper.

NOW: A shirtless John saunters 15 paces to the edge of our driveway, twirls, hand on hip.

THEN: After 15 minutes of playing with Jonathon, John, breathing hard, throws himself onto the bed and takes a break.

NOW: After an hour, John throws himself onto the bed, but this time, he and Jonathon are playing triple-flip-salchow.

THEN: Jonathon wakes up and nudges John. "I'm hungry. I want breakfast."

John: Mmgrrhmm.

Jonathon: "Daddy, get up, Daddy!"

John: Zzzzzzzzzzz.

NOW: John is already up when Jonathon wakes up, bagel or waffle in hand and ready to whip up his boy's favorite morning treat.

THEN: John comes home with two bags of Doritos, two packages of Oreo cookies, two packages of Pecan Sandies, two boxes of graham crackers.

"Buy one, get one free at Publix!" he exclaims.

NOW: It's oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal.

THEN: John made every effort to watch his favorite television shows: King of Queens, The Office, Hell's Kitchen, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development.

NOW: The entire season is TiVoed. One day he may get around to catching up.

THEN: "Honey, I'm taking the kids over to my parents' house for dinner. Can you please water the Bird of Paradise out front and let the dog out?"

John: Suuure (as his PlayStation 2 hums in the background).

(Two hours later.)

Me: Honey, did you water the plant?

John: What plant?

Me: Did you let the dog out?

John: We have a dog?

NOW: "Honey, I'm going over to my parents'. Can you please put the clothes in the dryer and empty the trash?"

John: Suuure (as his PlayStation 2 hums in the background).

(Two hours later.)

The clothes are still in the wash, the garbage is now smelling up the house.

Oh well. I guess some things never change.