Thea Vidale, the famous stand-up comedian and star of the short-lived sitcom Thea, says she will have gastric bypass surgery to combat complications of diabetes.
Vidale, born November 20, 1965, shares the same birthday as Vice President Joe Biden, Mike D. of the Beastie Boys, Joe Walsh, Duane Allman, and Dick Smothers. The actress became famous for her frequent appearances at World Wrestling Entertainment matches as “Momma Benjamin” and will soon share much in common with the 140,000 people who undergo gastric bypass surgery annually in the U.S.
TV personality Star Jones lost 160 pounds in three years after gastric bypass surgery in 2003, a secret she kept from her fans for nearly four years.
“I didn’t know if the surgery would work,” Jones later wrote. “I had spent my entire adult life telling everyone that I was fine with the way I looked. I never thought I’d have to explain it. But the complete truth is, I was scared of what people might think of me.”
Jones recalled the anger she felt at the time of her surgery, “I was so angry: How had I allowed myself to get to 307 pounds?” Jones said the surgery became necessary to recover from the impact of turning to food to overcome loneliness. “Whenever I felt lonely, a Double Whopper with cheese became my friend. If I felt sad, six strips of bacon made me feel better.”
“Even though I claimed to be just fine with my weight, I saw how other women were treated like the girlfriend, while I was treated like the good friend,” she wrote. “To compensate for my insecurities, I spoke louder and ate more.”
People are especially vulnerable to addictions, such as food, alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, the Internet, or even work when their needs for emotional and physical connection are unmet. Bonding, the combination of emotional openness and physical closeness with another person is a human need from the earliest moments of life until the last.
One of the first lessons of relationship and marriage education classes is that since bonding is the only biologically-based need people cannot meet for themselves, it becomes central to the work of relationships. Studies have shown a strong correlation between healthy relationships and mental and physical well-being. Relationships in which couples are regularly able to meet each others needs for emotional openness, such as confiding, and physical closeness, beginning with affection, are much more likely to sustain intimacy.
While gastric bypass surgery may be an increasingly popular choice for people struggling with obesity, lasting success requires lifestyle changes that begin with a focus on healthy relationships. Relationship and marriage education classes that deliver research-validated skills for improving communication, deepening empathy, understanding emotions, and constructive problem solving may be as valuable as anything the doctor orders.