Friday, December 19, 2008

The Perfect Gift

I truly appreciate the reason for this season and it never leaves my heart or mind.

Yet to so many of us “gift giving and receiving” has become such a big part of these holidays. What is the perfect gift? Think about it!

Well if I ask my three-year-old, grandson it could be anything from “Transformers”, to Batman, Pirates or the last thing he has seen on Television or in the aisles of the toy stores. Why not, he is three and if Christmas is not about children and babies and new and young lives, then what is it about? As a grandpa there is no immediate better gift I can receive than seeing your grandchild or child happy. So for kids, give them things and they are thrilled.

Then if you ask almost any person who has battled with and who has suffered from obesity they will tell you that, “The perfect gift would be to be thin and look like (this movie star or personality). I want to have a beautiful body forever and not have to worry about gaining weight”. Now now you know that this is a true wish’s of so many. We look for that perfect image rather than a lifestyle. This is often why many of us fall short of our dreams.

Some of us want things! Real material like things. As we get older, the list of the kind of things we want may change. For example; First it is toys, such as dolls, G.I. Joe’s, Tinker Toys, Slinky. Then we get a little older and we want games. Games such as, “Mystery Date”, “Monopoly”, “Stratego”, Chess and the list goes on. We become teenagers and maybe we might add to our list of the “Perfect Gifts”; the “Girl on the next block”; or the “Boy next door”. When we get older the list gets more serious. We want Cars, houses, diamonds, trips all kinds of Things, Things Things!!

One of the “things” on my Christmas list is this “Teeth Whitening” system. My wife wraps it up for me and on Christmas, I open it in front of my family and I make a big fuss over it. I then realize everyone around me is laughing, why you may ask? The reason is that this is the same exact gift she gave me last year, and the year before that, and the year before that and so on, for the past ten years. I keep asking for this same gift, I get it, never use it, she puts it aside until next year and I forget about it and she “re-gifts” it to me over and over again.

Things! You want them, sometimes you get them, you might even use them, sometimes you do not use them. They may wear down, you may get bored with it, it might break or become out dated. They are just things. The point is, as we get older, how many “things” do we need?

Rarely by Christmas, do I really need anything, that I have not gotten by then. Now, do not get me wrong. I love to give gifts! I love to give gifts, to people I love. To my grandchild, oh to see his face, to see his joy and hear his excitement is priceless.
I love to give to those who may be in need this year (to charities). I enjoy giving to my family, my son and daughter in law, my wife, my friends.

This is how I get my gifts, by bringing a smile to someone’s face...but I do have a “Perfect Gift” list.

The perfect gift(s) for me this year? I will tell you.

First (I know it sounds corny) is ‘World Peace’. Call me selfish but I want to see the people of the world to be able to live together and in harmony. I want people to be able to travel and to be able to go shopping, without worrying, about being blown up. I want to see countries live as neighbors, as they should.

Then my next perfect gift would be health! The gift of health to my wife, to my daughter in law, my son, my grandson and whoever ever may come into my immediate family in the near future.
I want good health for my mother in law, and the rest of my family and friends. Right now, I want a little extra special gift of health to a very dear special friend of ours, who needs it and I believe will get it.

Another perfect gift for me of course would be for me this year to be able to continue in personal growth and once again newfound freedom. My ability to go out in public. To be able to accompany my wife occasionally and to participate in life and basically be a player once again rather than a spectator. I want to be able to continue to face my demons head on (food and other demons) and often, very often come out victorious.

My last gift on my “Perfect Gift List” this year would be serenity! A continued growth of serenity in my overall being. Serenity around me and in the lives of people that matter so much to me. Serenity in the Universe, in my Universe. Serenity is followed by a certain special happiness and happiness is very nice. .

So there it is! That is my personal, “Gift List” my so called, “Wish List”. So if you see these gifts “on line” or on special at Wal-Mart or Target, just drop me a note.

Gifts are nice to give and receive and it is fun to share in the joy of giving and receiving. Yet in my opinion, the best gifts are not physical things you can buy in a store.

The best gifts …you get from special places.

You now know what my four perfect gifts are. What about you?

What are your perfect gifts? Share your thoughts with us …

To all my dear special friends who visit this blog page

Please have a joyful, peaceful, fun filled, happy and healthy holiday and New Year

Love to you and your loved ones


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I received an email the other day from a wonderful woman who has recently lost well over 100 pounds. She had written to me that she has been having a little problem lately (as many of us could certainly relate too). I wrote back to her and tried to encourage her to keep going, what was happening to her was a normal thing and this is the time not to fall deeper into negative state of mind. My friend then in return, wrote back to me, she said that she was “under a lot of stress in her life right now and that she would start after the holidays and begin with a “New”, New Years Resolution”! Oh! I felt an arrow go right through my heart as I read those words!

It sounded so familiar, I have heard that from so many people over the years and even worse, I have told myself that exact thing several years over my life.

Do you know how much damage I can do to myself from now until January 1st? Do you know how many pounds and inches I could add to my body, how much pressure to my heart, legs, and organs, I could place on myself? How much overall damage I can do to my health in general? Do we have any idea any much weight is gained over this period of time with that kind of thinking?

That kind of thinking, in my opinion, is the “Disease Talking”. That is the sick part of our brain, giving us permission, rationalizing with us to wait. Sure, my dear friend (who emailed me) has stress in her life and I certainly know when there is stress the last thing you feel like doing is eating healthy. Yet when we start rationalizing and giving ourselves permission to not pay attention to what we eat and just eat without boundaries, well then we are in trouble! It is going to take a lot of energy and maybe a tragedy to get back on track. Besides if, we wait for a stress free life….. Well when will that be?

My friends the Holidays are great times and they should be but they are actually only three or 4 days and maybe a party thrown in here or there. Six days is not 40 days or 25 days of uncontrolled eating. Part of your celebration, of your holidays may be with some traditional (fattening) dishes. Okay, eat some, have a taste, a normal portion. The trick is just for that day!

Do not celebrate the holidays with the leftovers for the next 6 weeks and then suffer for the rest of the year trying to undo the damage.

Besides, if you plan you actual days meals (with the extras) and you stick to it pretty much (and if need be include your sweets) then two things will happen.

First of all, you are almost taking out insurance that you will have a good chance of being around next year to enjoy it all over again.

The second thing is an immediate HIGH! You will feel so much better with yourself the next day when you have stuck to your plan.
Then come January 2nd when the whole world gains 20 to 100 pounds you may actually gain less or maybe even nothing! WOW, can you imagine that!

What better gift can you give yourself than that! Do you not deserve it? I think so!

Therefore, make this Holiday a real special one for you.

I wish you and all your loved ones all the best, I will have you in my prayers and please keep me in yours.


If for some reasons one of your plans do not work out one day (one meal), do not give up! Do not wait another month another day! Make a new plan and stick to it! You can do it!
You are a winner!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Happiest Moment In My Life …

Over the past few days (since Election Day), I have heard this expression all over the News and from many of my friends. “It was the happiest moment in my life”! I too have to admit that no matter what my political belief might be, no matter whether I am a Democrat, Republican, Independent, etc. That at 11pm eastern standard time on election night, when Barack Obama, was declared the winner and the 44th President elect of the United States of America a “certain feeling” came over me. I was proud to see that America was able to look beyond and be able to judge “by the content of ones character …”, for me it was an emotional moment. I could understand the feeling of so many Americans who were filled with such pride and a feeling of accomplishment and a kind of completion of centuries of hardships and battles. So many of them, saying that this is, “The Happiest Moment of Their Lives”.

I began to think about that, what was the happiest moment in my life? The truth, is there is something wrong with me but I cannot pick just one. It changes, some even overlap others …for example.

I would say the first happiest moment in my life is probably one I do not remember. That would be the day I was born and the moment the doctor smacked my “Butt” and I began to cry. I took my first breath and wow even though I was crying I was thrilled to be alive. This was a happy moment!

The next happiest moment of my life came when I was 16 years old (just before my 17th birthday), I came home from school and my Mom was holding the mail in her hand (of course it was opened, there was no privacy under her roof), there it was, I passed my road test and I got my drivers license. I was so excited that I yelled out something like, “Oh sh_t”! The one and only time my Mom ever heard me say any off words! She was sure to remark about it later that day!

Okay going on through my life I would have to say the next happiest moment in my life was the moment that my Madelaine said, “yes, we should get married”! I was driving my car at the time and I had to stop it. I got out and I literally danced around outside in joy! This is one of those moments that have not stopped giving. One happiness has led to another!

For example, the next happiest moment in my life is when my wife broke the news to me that I was going to be a “Daddy”. Me, a father, could you imagine that. Then ….

My next happiest moment is …you guessed it, the moment my son was born. I held this little life in my arms, part of me, I was responsible for him and it was all my pleasure. The joy was overwhelming, my emotions, were uncontrollable. This was the beginning of a lifelong love festival that to this day (31 years later) has not stopped. I am sure at times if my son had his way he would say “Da, back off a bit”! I am so bad, I smother him sometimes, I know. His whole life brought me so many happy days and then approximately 27 years after his birth …

BOOM! Another happy moment for me!

The birth of my Lil Ga Ga (my grandson). I do not know if it is that I am older and I appreciate things more but the day he was born was thrilling. Then the first day I saw him and now every single time I see him is my happiest moment. I just saw him dressed in a pair of “little devil” pajamas and Oh my goodness. All I could say is, if the “Devil” were so cute, the world would be a much better place.

My grandson brings me such joy and I am so happy that I have had this opportunity to be in the world this very moment.

So, I wish the current President Elect all the best of luck and I hope he has all of our best wishes and prayers. Whoever would have won would have had a tough job ahead of them. There are rough days ahead and President Barack will need all our support right now.

As for me, I am grateful for the elections, it has given me an opportunity to take a look at my “happiest moments in my life” and how lucky I really am.

I look at my luckiest moments from a personal perspective and

Although I do not consider Tuesday as my luckiest moment of my life, it certainly has made me feel lucky to be an American.

By the way, when were your happiest moments?

Share some with us

Have a great day

Have a happy moment



Thursday, October 30, 2008


There is no better time than NOW! Does that sound cliché’, it might but sometimes the simplest. the obvious… is the best!

People have emailed me and often have asked, “Mike, how did you know, when the time was right”? “When do you start? I think I will start tomorrow”? They will say.

Well in my experience, those tomorrows rarely start 24 hours from then. Usually they start a week later, a month later, several months later and often 20, 50 or 100 pounds later. Therefore, the battle is that much more difficult, the guilt is that much deeper and our health is that much more at risk.

When is the time for change? Well when the change that one is thinking about is taking care of themselves, eating healthier, doing more physical activity for the betterment of their lives, then what better time is there than NOW!

What is the delay? Oh, I have said it all and rationalized it all to myself, and others. Things such as, “I have been eating terrible all day, so I will start tomorrow. Before I begin I have to first eat some of my favorite cake, or pizza etc”. What about this one, “oh the holidays are coming (next month), I will start after them”.

Do I have to tell anyone how much damage I can do to myself from now until the holidays, do not even ask! These are just excuses that I have used. What I should have said in the past was, “I am not ready yet. I am scared! I do not have the faith in myself. I do not have the strength right now to try again”! At least these would have been more honest. At least with those answers there would be a little less guilt attached.

When is the right time for the battle of your lifetime? Well, if we wait, for every “duck” to be in line, and for “the moon to be in the seventh house”, then for Jupiter to align with Mars. If we wait, for the sun to be shinning, and for everything to be just “perfect”, before we begin dieting, well, and then guess what? We might as well take those first three letters in the word “Diet” …because that is what is going to happen a lot sooner. We cannot wait no longer! NOW is the time!

The truth is we can take this philosophy of “NOW” and apply to many things in our lives and not just eating healthier. Sometimes as human beings, we think things out tooooo long!

Do not get me wrong, the thought process is a good one, it is healthy and necessary but we have to know when we have to stop thinking and begin doing!

When, it comes to our health and making changes in our life, our lifestyle, and our eating habits, etc: The time when we are thinking about the question, “When is it a good time? Then the answer is ….NOW is a great time!!
I have become a NOW person over the past few years, when it comes to me. I remember back about three years ago, I had already been out of rehab, for a few months and having problems (with food). I said to me, “self, you are in trouble”.
I thought for a second, “I should be back in rehab.”, and with the support of my wife and family, I went back.

I believe that decision then, is responsible for my current quality of life, which I have Now. Even though, overall my life, is a conglomerate of positive attitudes, decisions, luck, support and blessings, that particular decision then, has been a key one for me Now!

I know if I would have procrastinated and thought about going back into rehab over a period of time. I would have had many more months pass under my belt along with many more pounds, added on my waist and who knows if I would have even lived throughout that “thought process”.

The things I would have missed. This renewed time with my wife (who is my best life-long friend and soul mate) has been enchanting. I wait each day for her to come home from work, even if it is to just to look in her eyes for a few moments, share some words of each of our day’s events and then watch a little television together. The things we are able to do together once again. If I did react to my thoughts then at the moment, I may not have gotten to enjoy my grandson as “Captain Hook”, “Dracula”, “Woody” or “Peter Pan” whom ever he may finally decide to be for this Halloween. My daughter in law is so good with him, she is so clever, and when it comes to these costumes, she puts her personal touch, he looks so authentic, and needless to say, so adorable, I could just “eat him up”!

I laugh, when I was a kid, if I was lucky enough to have an official costume, it was one of those “Ben Cooper” brand skeleton, devil, super hero costumes and we only had one. I hated them, oh, man! I was too big and the seams would rip usually as soon as I put them on. Then the elastic band around the mask would always snap because my head was too big. Yet I loved trick or treating ….free candy. In the fifties and sixties our parents did not have to screen our candy, we were allowed it all, and the pennies went to UNICEF!

If I procrastinated my decision to return to rehabilitation, I would have missed so much life, so much love, and so much fun. There would have been no Disney, this past month. No holidays, I would have missed my grandson’s birthday or my son reaching his 30th birthday and then some.

No, I spent many hours, many days, many months and years, thinking about it!

The thing that changed my life was my thought process and that was …

When the thought came to me, it was the time to react!

So when is the time for change in your life?… HOW ABOUT NOW!?
Change is good ….for the most part.

Good luck and have a great day and never stay in one place….


Share some of your thoughts and experiences on change with us; we would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Whole New World

There is that beautiful Disney song from Aladdin that goes “I can open your eyes, take you wonder by wonder, over, sideways and under, on a Magic Carpet Ride …..”

Well over the last eight days’ I was taken on a “Magic Carpet” ride! I experienced a phenomenal, magical, miraculous event. Let me put it this way in one word ….”Disney”! Me, Mike Hebranko, talk about dreams, all things possible. I went onto a jet plane and flew two and a half hours to the “Disney World”.

Imagine, just a little over 12 years ago I was being lifted (by forklift) out of the “cut out front” of my home in Brooklyn, being rushed to a hospital to save my life. At over 900 pounds then was there even a thought of a future vacation in my mind…….I am not sure of vacation was on my mind but a future was definitely in my heart. No matter what 12 years later I was now, being lifted once again (only this time with 150 other people) on a jet and heading to Florida.

It was so special and delightful. My emotions were on overtime from the get go! I was experiencing joy, happiness, pleasure, love, fun, some fear, anxiety and much thankfulness! My wife and I were blessed enough to accompany my son, his dear wife, some other family and friends and “My Grandson”!!! Oh even in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined (12 years ago or 12 months ago) that I would be at “Disney” with my grandson!

What better pleasure could there be than to see the “love of your life’s” face, light up with every new turn, with every attraction, or every character they came across. To go to “Disney” at 55 years old is a youthful, invigorating time but then to go with your grandchild is heavenly. To see his eyes, his face, to know his heart is filled with just joy is very soothing and euphoric.

If I would have given up in 1996, or not re-entered rehab in 2006 or not picked myself up each time I have fallen. If I would have gotten so fed up with myself to say “the heck” with it all and just “throw in the towel” and had given up…well just look at what I would have missed.

It was not easy for me to have this vacation happen. I am still over 350 pounds and limited in my physical movement. As many of you know, I am a very lucky and a very blessed man! I have a great support team around me.
There was a group of us on this vacation ranging in age from three to 83 years old.

The logistics of planning and arranging for everything and in particular for my special needs was gigantic and an almost an impossible task. That is why I want to publicly (I have privately already) thank my wife, and family, for all their help and assistance. A special mention, to my son, for all of his attention and help that he gave to me. Then to my sister-in-law, who was key in making this trip happen and for all her kindness and a very warm heart. Then to a very special friend who has gone beyond for all of us and especially for me. Susan along with Andrea, spent months planning, making calls, reservations, arranging for my special scooter, handicap room, plane accommodations and so many other details, I personally will always and forever be thankful for them being such an intricate part of my “dream come true”. Neither of these two young people are my blood relatives but they did so much for me and put up with so much from me. They give so much and get so little in return ….Andrea thanks ……Susan, what can I say but that I am grateful and if I at anytime might have seemed unappreciative please forgive me!

The world has changed and it has been a long time since I was out there and part of this “Whole New World”. It is different. I am not use to all of it. Sometimes I literally feel as if I came from a different planet. Sometimes it is a little overwhelming. Sometimes it can be a little scary. Things are done differently, faster. There are times as if I felt I was “Rip Van Winkle” ….well all I can do, all I will do is rub my eyes, stretch my arms, wake up and be thankful that I am getting the opportunity to be part of this world!

I played with my grandson, I went on rides, and I saw Mickey, kissed Minnie, hugged Pluto and took a million pictures. We ate at different restaurants and I ate normally. I did not binge, I did not stuff, I made many healthy choices for example 99% of my dessert choices were fresh fruit, I ate a lot of turkey and chicken but I was relaxed. I was not crazy about what I was gong to eat or not gong to eat. “Where would I cheat”, how would I do it, etc? In the past while I was away this would always a big part of my time. This time I went with the crowd.

Oh, I will not be true to you or myself, if I do not tell you that I fought many internal battles while away and yes, I noticed every food stand along the way… but it was okay. I allowed my feelings to surface, the battles I took on and I was victorious. At times, there might have been a few casualties along the way (for example: my friends and family). I realize when I am fighting one of these internal battles, if sometimes a poor, innocent person crosses my path, they can unknowingly fall victim to my internal rage. I know this is wrong behavior and I am working at changing it. I am getting better at it; in the meantime, all I can do is be very sorry for it!

Recovery involves all kinds of experiences both external and internal. Some may be a little ugly but most are glorious and beautiful.

My Disney Magical Experience was full of pleasure. To be with great people and people that I love, to be able to get this chance once again to live again! To see inside the eyes of my grandbaby, while he was hypnotized with fantasy … well I am limited in words to describe how I felt. All I can do is to quote the song from a Disney movie song that says it best …

“Unbelievable sights, indescribable feeling, soaring, tumbling, freewheelingthrough an endless diamond sky. A whole new world. Don't I dare close my eyes. A hundred thousand things to see…

Hold your breath - it gets better.

I'm like a shooting star. I've come so far. I can't go back to where I used to be.

A Whole New World”
My friends join me on my magic carpet ride …

Have a great day!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

“…pick yourself up and get back in the race…”

That’s life! Am I dating myself with that Frank Sinatra song? Well I enjoy some of the words, for example. “…each time I find myself laying flat on my face, I just pick myself up and get back in the race”! For years now that has been how I exist. I have been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king, I’ve been up and down and over and out as I am sure many of us have been. The thing I know and I just always had a gut instinct was that I had to Never Give Up!

In my past my biggest downfall was not that “one binge” that I would have, no, never did any one meal put 100 pounds or 600 pounds on me. It was the behavior that followed that binge that became my problem. Initially it is just the taste of the food itself. Oh the experts may say it is the “salty taste, or the sweet taste”, all I know is that it is the “Good Taste” that sets me off. Let me not lie, pizza taste good and never did one slice of pizza ever satisfy me.

Anyway, there I would be struggling along “dieting” following one program or another, one gimmick or some new idea! Doing well for a while, numbers dropping, clothes drooping, and compliments coming and then one day (with or without a reason) I just was not going to have one more balanced “healthy” choice. I would give into the voice, I would weaken to the struggle, I would fall prisoner to the drive, and I became a slave to the compulsion of the self –gluttonous, self–destructive, yet un-controllable behavior. I would eat until there was just no more left; I would eat as if it was the last hour in earth’s being. At that moment nothing else counted, just consume as much food, as fast as I could. I was in a trance. Then often (not by my own power) but for some reason those many moments would be over. Then I had to deal with the after.

What did the after consist of? Guilt! The whys? “Why did I do that? Why did I blow the diet! All my hard work I wasted! It is just not going to work, I can not do it”! Then the next thoughts…. “Oh, I should have had bacon and eggs too or maybe crumb cake”. “Well I can not start the diet again without having a pound of bologna, I will have to have that tomorrow and then I will restart the diet the next day”!

The problem is the next day rarely comes and if it does it usually is a year (and 75 pounds) later.

That is the difference now!

I know that if there is a choice that I make now, that may not be the best one for me. A choice that in the past would have lead to an endless battle of guilt and self-destruction, just does not have to be that way anymore.

If I find myself lying flat on my face, I just have to pick myself up and get back in the race!!! I am an okay person! I am a human being, who at times, I may need to make adjustments in my life, and that is fine! Life is not a mathematical equation and sometimes 2+2 is not always going to easily add up to 4. Sometimes you have to help it along a bit. So why not, I am worth the effort, you are worth the effort!

I am thrilled to have a second (and third and fourth) chance if necessary. I am here today, I am alive today, and I am enjoying my life today because of second chances and my ability to, “not give up”.

My wife reminded me of something today. She had asked me what I was doing today and I told her I was blogging. She asked me about what and I told her. She reminded me that my “picking myself up” has given me an opportunity. An opportunity that I would like to share with you.

Twenty years ago, this past January I was at my lowest, and the year “2008” was not even a thought in my head. Then there was May of 1996, when they were taking me out my window with a forklift, in front of the whole world to see, “2008” was not even a dream of mine. Yet resilience, perseverance and just good old “attitude” of not giving up, has allowed me to be where I am today.

I am enjoying my life as if I was 25 years old once again; everyday is a new experience or just and old one that I may have forgotten. The point is that all us need to realize that our recovery, our quest to get well will not go without a bump here or there. Anything any of us strives for, go for, set out to do, will at times come up against a glitch or two. It is up to us to push forward, get through the storm and the bright days are in the future.

I have struggled for a long time, some times too long to think about but every battle every win, every backslide is worth the chance to be here today! Right where I am! Who I am!

Picking ourselves up, allows us to live ….not only live but also to be alive!

I say, I am going to be a player. It is a lot more fun to be a player than to be an observer and ultimately a victim. A player can play at any level, no matter what our physical limitations we may have.

So if you find yourself lying flat on your face, just pick yourself up and get back in the race …as long as you are in the race, YOU ARE A WINNER!

Good Luck my dear friends



Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today is Just Another Day

Just another day. You know those days where there is no “Pomp and Circumstance”, no parties going on, no company coming over, no events, no plans ….just another day. These for many of us are the majority of days and very often the days that for me in the past were the hardest to deal with (especially when it came to my eating problems). Today is just another day, how easy that can be stated and how untrue it really is.

Just another day, who am I kidding, it is “just another day”, a day that I have awoke, that I get a chance to enjoy a sunrise. A bird sings in my yard and I hear it. I open the door and fresh air blows gently over my face. Just another day to watch a TV show, or to smile, or get to enjoy my grandson. Another day to be able to love and be loved by my wife, son, family and friends. Another day to be a player in this game we call life! How thankful I am to be this player!

Let us not forget what this day really is (the day I am writing this blog). This is a day no American, no world citizen will ever forget, today is September 11th 2008 “911”. Is it “just another day”, to over 3,000 families and loved ones, of those poor innocent people who perished so needlessly, so innocently, so tragically. I spent part of my day watching the reading of those poor victims’ names and as they read, those names I could not help notice how many were in there twenties and thirties. Having a thirty-year-old son, I could not imagine the pain, the horror of it all. All I can say is God bless theses special souls and their loved ones left behind.

If I think about it and maybe not on such a large scale (as 911) but what might be “just another day” for me and you, in someone else’s life it is a very important date. There are no days that are, “just another day”.

I know I needed to look at every day as an important day for me in order to make important changes in my life. To make healthy changes. If it were “just another day” then I would eat whatever I wanted today and then tomorrow on an “important day” I would do the right thing. Wrong! I am just as important today as I am on Christmas Day, Fourth of July, tomorrow or the next day! I am important and so is every day that I am alive.

We need to appreciate this day and everyday and make every day count …for us! We have to do the right things for ourselves just as much today as we should have done yesterday and certainly will do tomorrow.

Not everyday will there be an obvious “parade” but if you look very hard and listen real well you will hear the drums, you will see the floats and enjoy the clowns. You make those days special, even if it is just by doing something nice for someone ….even like yourself.

You wake up; you are ahead of the game and what a game it will be. Let us face it, you can look at a day and deal with a day in a two ways.
One outlook --- “oh man, another day, I don’t feel well, I am alone, I am overweight, I have no money, I can’t eat right, da da da da da”. Another outlook could be “wow, what a great day (even a cloudy, rainy day has beauty), I am alive, I get a chance to make healthy choices, I am going to make myself happy in some way today, I am a lucky person”!

Therefore my friends I know what is working for me and having a positive outlook about my life (even at the low moments), looking for that silver lining, appreciating the journey, taking one step at a time, looking at that glass as so “half full” has helped me lose over 300 pounds in three years. What is even more important than the numbers is the inner feeling of peace. I do not want you or myself to think that I am totally relaxed, I know that I am an addict (food) and I will always be an addict. Yet my positive outlook and attitude, my dealing with each battle as it arises, has helped me now, in the moment and making my life work. So far for three years, thank God!

So if you are one of those who have a little difficulty looking on the bright side, give yourself a chance, begin to love yourself, see that glass as half full. You will begin to realize that there is reason for joy in almost all times of living itself.

Those of my friends that see that silver lining, well that is great! A little suggestion (if you do not already do so) share a smile with someone (especially one who may find it difficult to see that glass as half full) I promise the rewards will be great.

Bless you all; bless all the families and victims of 911

To all my friends have a great rest of this wonderful day and a special tomorrow …



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just Twelve Pounds

Just twelve pounds, in the past that would be an immediate excuse for me to go on a binge. Let me explain. In the past when I was “dieting” and trying to lose weight, I was a slave to the scale. I would weigh myself in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I would weigh myself before a shower and then of course after a shower (hey dirt has weight too). I would take a drink of water, weigh the glass of water, weigh myself before drinking it and then after I drank it, just to see how much weight I gained. Yes, I was compulsive and obsessed with that scale.

Then numbers were a big part of this “weigh” of life. I wanted to see how much weight I lost in a day, a week, a month. Not only was I interested in these numbers but it seemed like many of my family, friends were too. As a matter of fact the whole world seemed interested. A common greeting to me, would be “Hi Mike, how much weight did you lose this week”? Believe me if that number was not high (in the double digits) many of them did not hesitate to say, “Oh, you had a bad week”? Some people might think nine pounds in a week was not bad but for Mike Hebranko it was not good enough. Not even for my own standards.

This is a “heavy” burden to put on oneself, a lot of pressure to be under. This way of life I truly believe was part of (not totally) but part of my overall unhealthy way of losing my weight in the past. Probably contributed to me gaining so many times, my weight back.

Part of my “new outlook”, my new “weigh” of life, what I like to call, my "journey down the road of recovery” is …
I do not have a scale in my home!!! I now weigh myself once every three months and that is at my doctor’s office, only because she requires it.

I do not care what I weigh. What I do care about is how I feel. Am I feeling well, am I able to do more things each day. Am I making progress and yes am I eating within my plan? If I can answer yes to these questions then I know I am getting better and better with each day.

To many times in the past, have I played the “number” games only to lose at the end, and I am not talking about losing weight. Yes, I would lose weight, only to gain it back and then some.

I knew that changes had to be made. I knew that with each experience, I had to learn something and I did. It may have taken a long time, it may have even almost cost me my life at times. I know that some people around me today may not exactly understand or even agree with me and my methods, attitudes or the way I do things. Yet I know, what is working for me. I know how I feel in my head. I have come to a point in my life (over the last few years) where I am achieving an inner peace and a certain co-existence with my own disease (my eating addiction). No longer am I in a race, no longer am I looking for the magic answers, no longer am I trying every new diet, gadget, and procedure out there to lose weight.

I have realized that food is here to stay, I will have to eat at least three meals a day for the rest of my life and if I want to have any length or quality to that life, I better find some way of life, that is going to work for me and hopefully forever.

My twenty years of serious searching and trying to win this battle, plus being in the rehabilitation center for the 36 months I have had a realization. What works for me, is not starvation, not depravation, not elimination, what works for me is simple. Exactly …simple. K.I..S.T. Keeping It Simple for Today! I will basically eat about 1200 to 1400 calories a day and simple ones. Tuna for lunch, Chicken for dinner, simply prepared, sometimes a mushroom omelet made with eggbeaters. There may be occasions where I may go to 1600 calories or a little more (a wedding, party, etc); otherwise, I try not to stimulate the taste buds to much. I am not talking about the taste buds on my tongue but the taste buds in my mind! The better it looks, the better it taste, then the more I want and boy, if I want more and if I cannot control that urge, I can eat a tremendous amount food. I know this because I have done so in the past, (remember 1,000 pounds).

Now in the old days if I was on 1200 calories, the weight would melt off and the numbers would drop on that scale like a “hot potato”. A fact, now due to all the years of yo-yo dieting, losing weight (body muscle) and then gaining it back (more body fat), and along with getting older has effected my metabolism greatly and the weight just does not come off like it use too.
That is okay, it is what it is. I am thankful that it is coming off at all.

Back to “Just Twelve Pounds”. Therefore, I am at the doctor’s office, I get on the scale with no anticipation in my body, the digital number begins to appear. I had lost another 12 pounds. That is 12 pounds in three months, a pound a week! Some may say “just a pound a week”, I say “are you kidding”? The thing is I am not gaining.

My body is slowly losing the weight and this is a good thing for me. I say, I have no goals (as far as weight numbers) this time. If I never reach that number goal then I do not have to worry about “then what”! I know I cannot lose forever and eventually I will have to deal with some kind of maintenance and I have an Idea of how to do that when the time comes. It will be a while.

Twelve pounds, when those people say, “That is not so good”; I think to myself “you are entitled to your opinion”. Some even come to the brilliant conclusion, “you must be eating”. “Guess what? I am eating. Three times a day, everyday”.

If I need to boost my ego, I could tell people or just remind myself that in the past three years I have lost over 320 pounds or that I have lost over 100 pounds since I am home from rehab. (14 months). The one I love the best for some reason is when I got on the doctors scale this week I was 380 pounds.

I love that because that means getting around better. It means having one of the best summers I had in many many years. It meant attending family weddings, christenings, going to Atlantic City for the day and even for the first time in over 15 years I was able to stand by my wife’s side when we recently had to say goodbye to her (our) dear Aunt Ruthie a lovely lady who past away. She will be missed dearly. I was able to be like any other husband and be with my wife and her family through this terribly sad time. Let me mention we traveled over 100 miles to get there and did it two days in a row. To put things in perspective, my dad past away in 1996 and the funeral was a ½ a block from my home and I could not attend.

Three hundred and eighty pounds means a little more freedom than 400 pounds and a lot more freedom than 700 pounds.
As long as I stay focused, stay positive; continue to love life, my family, friends and the good Lord himself things will be okay. I know I have to Keep It Simple, and as long as I can stay “light” in my head, smile as often as possible, my goals will be reached. None of those goals involve numbers (scale numbers).

I will share with you one new goal that has been popping up in my heart lately. When I was a teenager one of the happiest days of my life was the day I opened up the mail and there it was, my “drivers license”, wow what a feeling of joy. Well I had to give up my license and I have not driven now it has to be since about 1993. I am going to drive again, not sure when but I am going to do it! I feel it in my bones, I just have to get my legs to work a little better and be sure to be able to fit behind the wheel, and then…..I am off!

Who knows, maybe I be driving through your town one day and we can say hi!

My friends take it from me, do not play the number games, do not get crazy on what that scale says today, and do not let it rule your life. Better still, concentrate on “change” (do I sound like a politician)? The kind of change that will better the quality of your life.

Let me share something with all of you, even my friends that do not suffer from the “weight” struggles. Change is good (for the most part) especially if it will better your life. If you could smile a little more, feel better about yourself, be more comfortable within your surroundings and with the people around you then begin to make the changes necessary.

Twelve pounds does not drive me crazy, it makes me happy! I lost twelve pounds, I have had a steady loss for three years, and it is a trend and new life for me. More important I have not “binged” for three years. Now that is something I cannot believe I can say. So that twelve pounds represents a new life for me and at 55, a new life is pretty cool! I am a lucky guy!

Lucky to have the people around me that I have, lucky to be able to share my blog with you, lucky to be alive and living better each day!

Have a wonderful day, and appreciate what you have for there is someone out there who has a lot less.


Friday, August 15, 2008

“Man Plans and God Laughs ….”

I am writing this on August 16, 2008 and just three years ago on this date, I experienced one of the most joyous events in my life (right up there with the birth of my son and my wedding day), it was the birth of my grandson. I speak from two points of views, the first is like any proud grandparent. A grandchild is such a gift, such a pleasure, they usually come in the “autumn of our lives” and if I may say so my self, the timing is just perfect. When my grandson is near me, or he calls me “GaGa” or I am holding him, every single ache and pain is gone. I can think of nothing else but being at his beckon call for every moment, he needs me. Nothing but pleasure and the most joyous thoughts are in my mind. To, even just look at him brings a feeling of euphoria all throughout my being. Let me share a story with you with this game between him and I that just melts me. My wife (and son) has taught my grandson to enjoy teasing me and he loves to and gets the biggest kick out of it. For example; I will ask him “how much you love everybody in the whole world”, he will proceed to stretch out his little arms as far as can be and say “this much Ga Ga”. Then I will say and much do you love me and he takes his cute little thumb and pointer finger and squeezes it close together and say “only this much Ga Ga” then he will get hysterical laughing. I just melt and eat it up (and at the same time could eat him up too.).

Being a grandpa is a feeling that I just cannot explain. I am sure all my grandparent friends out there can understand, exactly what I am talking about.

Today is special for me for another reason. Now do not get me wrong, I have the greatest amount of respect for the medical professionals (especially my current doctor and the medical team that helps keeps me going) but until I found this current team did I go for an emotional ride! ….

Since I was “eighteen” years of age, all that doctors and many lay people would tell me was “Michael you are not going to live to twenty-one years old, especially if you do not lose weight”.
Then at “twenty-one” the doctors said “for sure you will never see ‘twenty-five’ years of age”. At “twenty-five”, I was told “at over 500 pounds, forget seeing “thirty” years old.

In addition to all that good medical advise, from the time I was ten years old I remember my grandmother saying if I, didn’t “lose weight I would never find a girl to love me and marry me”. Over the years, other family members felt it was there obligation to tell me the exact same thing.

The best was when I did get married I had doctors tell me “at 450-500 pounds you will never become a father you definitely have to lose weight”.

Well, “Man Plans and God Laughs”.
I found a girl to love and marry me and it just happen to be the girl of my dreams. She is not only my best friend, she is my soul mate, my life long lover and she comes with a great family. I am proud to say we will be married “thirty-three” years this coming June. I also became a daddy at twenty-four years old and yes, I was over 450 pounds
(I am not bragging, just saying what is so). By the way, I will be fifty-six on my next birthday.

Besides who ever thought, I certainly did not in my wildest dream ever think, that someday I would be celebrating the third birthday of my grandson. I love humankind and for the most part human beings are great but God is better.

Hey, I am not saying that those doctors were all together wrong, they were basing their opinions on scientific facts and statistics and common sense. Unfortunately, 400, 500-pound people do not live long lives. The quality of life at 800 pounds is compromised. My grandmother and family meant well in their own way, I know that.

Yet you cannot live your life in fear! You have to do the best you can, make the best out of the situation and have faith. All things are possible if you believe. First, you believe, next, you hang on and then you finally do something to make changes.

Change is such a funny thing. You know basically I have either been home bound, hospitalized or in a rehabilitation centers over the last 15 to 18 years, so therefore I have not been out in the world a lot.
Over the last year, I am out at least two to four days a week.

One of the changes I have experienced is, that here in New York (and maybe over the rest of the country)when you go into some of these family type (chain owned)restaurants, they now (on the menus) list the calories counts for the items.

This is a great idea and I believe it is going to revolutionize the way people eat out in the future. It will help change the way people eat. It helps you to do a reality check. An example is that “grilled chicken fajita” that you thought was healthy and a good choice, you are now find out has over 900 calories not to mention the baked potato, sour cream etc.

I now go into these restaurants and just tell the waiter or waitress, “ah, just bring me 165 calorie appetizer and a 400 calorie entrée, It doesn’t matter to me what it is, it could be paper, all I know is I want about 600calories”. They look at me as if I am crazy!

Things have changed out there and it takes time for me (any of us) to adjust but I love every moment of it and I love the opportunity to be able to be a participator rather than a spectator.

Change is good, especially when it is going to improve our life in general.

Yes, I love and appreciate all that my doctors have done for me but I know in my heart that there is a greater force that works through them. That beautiful force I call God.
In spite of what man has said over the years, I get to do something that at age 18, I never thought would happen. I never thought I would even be alive, and yet I did get married have a child and imagine I get to see my grand child celebrate his third birthday!

Thank you Lord, thank you for being in my corner, giving me the strength, sending me the right doctors, the right people in my life, my wife, my son, his beautiful wife and my grand baby….

In addition, I want to wish my “little Ga Ga” a very Happy Birthday to you …even though you only love me a little bit!!!!

To all my friends …… don’t ever lose hope, as long as there is life there is hope, there is a chance. The spark of life burns inside of all of us!

I hope and pray you have a great day and that you do something special for you!



I am thinking of starting a Newsletter, please read the details on the right side of the blog page thanks!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What is Important …

As a little child what was important to me as I can remember was … not getting a beating, my daddy not coming home drunk and my mother and father not fighting. This was an important thing for me. As I got a little older (11-13 years old) the things that were important to me were the same things as a little kid but now there were even more things to add to the list. It was important to bring home good marks from school and for my teachers and neighbors to tell my mother what a “nice kid”, “a good boy” I was. It was also important to me if my few friends I had were, going to play with me without making fun of me (because of my weight). Then there was puberty, the teen years, and a completely new group of things that were important to me. Still holding on to all the things that were important to me in the earlier years (although in all due respect my dad had stop drinking, by now, only with an “occasional backslide”) there were additional important things. Girls, my future, career, car payments, a job and college.

Many things happened to me in my twenties and the things that were important to me were interesting. Oh some great things happened to me in my twenties (some of which how great they were I really did not get at that moment). I got married, I became a daddy, I was successful in business, and I bought a house, cars, and things.

Things! I think that is what was becoming more important to me … things. I was the first in the neighborhood to have a “radar oven” a VCR (as big as a TV almost) Sound 8mm movie cameras and projectors and screen, phone in the car, taking vacations. These were important things to me. Working long ours, making money and not being poor were important to me. I was poor as a child and I did not want to be poor as an adult or for my child to want for anything. I remember as a child if I wanted something (and I was an only child), we would have to save forever before I would get it. I did not want this for my son or for my family. It was important to me that if the three of us wanted it we got it before the end of the sentence came out of our mouth.

All these things, that were important to me, came with a price! First, it was an opportunity for me to feed my disease (literally feed it). I had unlimited money and resources. Working so hard and such long hours allowed me not to take the time to take care of myself. The other big price I paid was that, trying to take care of my family so hard, I lost out, on my family so much!

Working so much took time away from them but even more not taking care of myself took its toll on my body and health and in the end robbed my family of me. Slowly I could not or would not be part of their lives on many levels. I tried in many ways to be there but it was not the same.

It amazes me even now as I write about the “then me” how I have changed. I do not know the day or time it happened but I do know now that now in my fifties “things” are so not important to me anymore.

What is important to me, now? People are important! My wife, my son, his family, oh yes my grandson, oh how I adore that little guy! He brings me such joy, and he loves to tease me and I love every minute of it.

The truth is I never got the joy from my “Radar Oven” or VCR that I got from being in a swimming pool this weekend with my grandson. Experiences are important to me.

I find now that the things that are more important to me now are less the things that I can buy but rather the gifts of life itself.
My family and friends are important to me. They are gifts of life. The opportunity to take care of myself is important to me, this is a gift of life (my chance again).

If along my way in my journey I can touch someone else, help someone else, educate someone else about my struggle (our struggle) then this is a gift of life and important to me too.

Yet if it is meant to be for me to spend the next 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years, or 25 years being a good husband, father, father-in-law, GRANDPA, brother-in-law, nephew, cousin, uncle, friend then that is great for me!

It is more important to be a good person, to be a loving person, to be a happy person
rather than to have a billion things!

Hey, my friends have a great day, think of what is important to you …


Monday, July 28, 2008

For The Want of a Hot Dog …

For the want of a hot dog, I have given up so much and to be honest I totally do not understand it! I know that by my overeating it has caused loss of quality of my life; it has caused pain in the life of my loved ones, yet in the past I tried but had many backslides. Do I know entirely why this happens, absolutely not! I do not believe anyone on this earth entirely understands why ….yet! It is not a fun thing to live with! Yet…

I openly admit that I was am and always will be addicted to food and I have had major problems controlling the amount of food that I can consume. An example of that would be “Hot Dogs”. In the past, I have been known to eat a great number of hot dogs (frankfurters). You may ask (out of curiosity) how many would that be, well the number is not important but 20 to 30 at a sitting would not be unheard of. Surprised? Well do not be. I was a man who could be over 1,000 pounds at times and I am not one of those overweight people who you hear say, “I don’t know how I got to this weight because I do not really eat”! No that is not I. “I admit, I can eat, and eat a lot”! I am not proud of this fact; it just is what it is. When I am not doing well, I eat tremendous amounts of foods and it is for this reason, I have paid an expensive price. You know what it has cost me? Well, let me tell you by telling you where my life is now, compared to where it was five summers ago, or even two summers ago.

Five summers ago I was literally stuck in bed, well over 800 pounds and not being out of the house in years (other than to be removed to be taken to hospitals). Two summers ago, I was spending each day in a Rehabilitation Center in Queens New York, working on getting physically better. I came home last June 30th and let me tell you where my life is physically right now (minus a short intermission, due to my little heart problem, which is doing much better now).

First as many of you know (I posted about it) in the beginning of June I attended a Christening of a beautiful little girl, who I had the privilege of being her Godfather. I was able to attend the church and participate in the ceremony including climbing the alter steps (that had no railings) with a little help of my son. Afterwards, I attended the party, which was miles from my home, and if I may say so, I had a great time. In contrast, my baby (my grandson) who was Christened a little less than three years ago, was done so without his grandpa, (me) being there … physically at least.

Since June, I have traveled to Downingtown, Pa. to the 60th wedding anniversary of my Aunt and Uncle, what a beautiful couple they are. Aunt Eva and Uncle Steve are the kindest, warmest, most generous people you would ever want to know. At my sickest moments throughout the years, it did not matter how they were feeling or how far they were from me. They would get in their car, (most of the time alone, some times with my cousins) and come all the way to New York to see me. I missed their 50th anniversary (my family attended); I also missed my aunts 80th birthday (my family attended). Therefore, when I received the invitation for this party a couple of months ago I said if I had to go on a stretcher, I was going. Well no stretcher was needed, I was able to get into an auto (a minivan, I sat upfront, with a seatbelt, no extension belt!) and my wife drove for 2 ½ hours down to Pennsylvania and I was able to visit them for a change. I also got to see my cousins and their families and I got to see cousins whom I haven’t seen for a while and their children who I never had the pleasure of meeting (boy am I getting old but thank God for that). It was a great experience.

We drove back that night and were able to attend Mass and just be thankful for a great day. The next day was another memorable day. Once again, we got into the car and we drove over an hour and half into Long Island (Suffolk County) where I was able to go visit the gravesites of my mom and dad. Now I have not been there in over 20 years, my mom has been there first (she passed away over 30 years ago and my dad joined her 12 years ago). I have never been to the cemetery since my dad died. As a matter, of fact when my dad past away and the funeral home was a half a bloc k from my home and I could not attend his funeral, I could not leave the house. Unfortunately, there were many events that I could not attend, both sad and joyous ones.

I think some of the hardest ones I missed were the ones that involved my son’s life. Is school plays, is little league baseball games, parent teachers conference and his High School Graduation was a rough one. Not to mention I could not be there when my son went through open-heart surgery! When he became a daddy! Why?

All because of my relationship with food. Yet it seems to be changing at this moment. All of a sudden, there are these events and I do not have to wait home anymore and ask everyone “how was it”? Who was there, what were they wearing and did anyone ask about me”? These kinds of questions are not asked anymore. All of a sudden, I look around and I am part of it. I am a player, instead of a spectator. Wow, how much fun is that? Who would have ever thought it could happen again …another chance

My life is so different now. Instead of watching Mass every Sunday morning on the television, I am now in Church every Sunday morning or Saturday evening. I go out with my wife to a restaurant now sometimes. We go shopping; we go for drives and just look at the world around us. We get to visit her mom, family, and friends. Yesterday once again I was able to be a guest again at a beautiful Christening of the grand-daughter of my very close and dear cousin. It was a lovely day with lovely people. I was not able to be at the Christening of her first grand-daughter but I am thankful and grateful for being part of this one.

While I was out to Long Island last week, my wife and I got to spend some time with friends who we knew from the rehabilitation center. We had a beautiful day by his pool with his family and some mutual friends. It was great to just sit out there and socialize instead of wondering (as I would have in the past) what was everyone was doing while I was at home …probably eating in darkness.

This next weekend I am going on a short vacation for a couple of days.
I have plans for every weekend for the month of August (look at me Mr. Social Butterfly). Then if God willing we are planning a fall vacation to Disney World with my grandson (who has been there twice already, bless him). I get to watch his face light up while he sees his hero’s like Mickey and Captain Hook. A dream of mine, which will come true.

Can I still eat 20 hot dogs? In a heartbeat! I am very well aware of that and must never forget it or let my guard down. Are there some days I go a little overboard? In all honesty not “days” at least not in a long while. There may be moments, a meal, and a situation where I may over indulge and that is when I am reminded that I am still an addict. I know I cannot let that moment or meal turn into a day anymore. Not anymore!

Not for the “want of a hot dog” am I willing to give it al up! I love my renewed life. It is so much better than the bed. The bed is good for 6 to 8 hours a day (for sleep and rest) but that is it (unless for some unfortunate reason you find yourself having to be there).
If you do not have to be in bed then get up! The world, the wonderful world is passing us buy. It may have its bumps, but it is still a beautiful world, bumps and all.

Do not let the want of a hot dog or extra piece of cake or cookies, (or anything like that) ever hold you back again! Now is the time to make the right choice!

I personally enjoy being included and part of life. Next year I want to be even more involved with maybe a little less effort on the part of my family (to help me). I know if little by little I keep trying, working at it, doing my best and willing to be patient with myself and if necessary pick myself up and keep on going forward…then I know I will make it!

What a gift we all have today, and that gift is, today itself! Make the rest of today a great one. Give someone a call, tell someone you love them, smile, and laugh a little and most of all ….

Do something good for you.



Friday, July 18, 2008

Not such good choices …

Often people ask me (or write me) “Mike I had a bad day, what do I do”, “Mike, I have been cheating, and I can not stop”, or “Mike, I “screwed” up and I can not believe it, how do I get back on track’?

What can I say? In life, in general there will be choices that we make sometimes that will not always turn out to be the smartest choices, especially when we get the chance to look back at them. So, what do we do?

We are not going to shoot ourselves, jump out windows, life is too precious, too beautiful, too valuable to do harm to ourselves. Whether it be something as drastic as physical harm or as painful as emotional harm, we cannot look back at our mistakes with the purpose to punish ourselves in anyway.

Mistakes will happen, and then these become opportunities to learn… healthy lessons and then … go on from there. I think the sooner most of us realize that we are human (and being human we will make mistakes) the sooner we will all be better off. Some of us are too hard on ourselves and we raise the bar to levels that at times are unreachable.

It is nice to set goals but along that journey, we need to plan for the bumps in the road!

In my life, I am an addict when it comes to food. I have been an addicted to food for more years than I am even conscious of. I do not have to tell anyone that I have made many “not so good choices”. Ones that have almost cost me my life both literally and certainly lifestyle wise. I have “dieted” off more pounds probably than any living human being on this planet has. I have also made some of the worse choices than many poor souls, choices that have cost me and set me back thousands of steps.

Yet I stand (sit) here today and tell you that I am a happy, grateful man. A man, who loves life, loves his family and friends and even more so, loves himself. I cannot (I will not) allow myself to “punish” me, beat myself up for all the times that I attempted (successfully at times) to do the correct thing.

No, I have to deal with today. Today I have to do it for me. I have K.I.S.T. (Keep It Simple Today)! I am enjoying this day, loving my experience, dealing with the moment.

I had a friend recently get in touch with me in despair. They had been taking care of themselves with some good results (those stupid numbers on the scale were falling). Suddenly they had a “Bad Day” and were eating all day. They told me nothing was going on in their life (negatively) at the time, actually, they were happy. Yet they were surprised (or annoyed) that they still had the “disease”, even after all their success.

The fact is our disease (of addiction) is not going anywhere. It is here to stay and the best we can hope for is to have it under control some times (most times hopefully). Okay, that is it. It took me a long time to realize this, that "I will never be cured"!
I am not going to go around feeling sorry for myself because the fact is out of all the diseases in the world, I (we) could have worse!

My main concern with my friend was that the one day was not going to be permission to beat themselves up and have another bad day and another and another etc! That is often what we do! Remember, no one meal, no one day puts on thirty pounds, or a hundred pounds, or three hundred pounds. That takes time and choice after choice!

Stop! Catch yourself! Brush yourself off! Most importantly is “Forgive” yourself! Go on to the next healthy choice!

I was in sales for many years and they use to say, “You were as only good as your last sale”. Well your last choice you made in life, whether it was a good one or a “not so good” one was in the past.
The choice that counts now, is the one you make right now!

Let us make the rest of this day count and mark it off in our books as a great finish to a wonderful day!

You my friends have a special day, may it be filled with the joy of nature and the well-being of you working on you!

Remember you are perfect and sometimes you might make a mistake …so what …. Go on!

Take care, smile and be well ….


Thursday, July 3, 2008


I write this on the third day of July and in our country, that is the day before “Independence Day”! Independence, a very interesting word and an even stronger concept. I do not want to talk (although appropriate) about political Independence. What I do want to talk about is “Personal Independence”.

Personal independence is so powerful! It comes to all of us on so many different levels. Two levels that I will mention right now is “Physical and Emotional”

Physical Independence can be obvious sometimes. You might be able to run a full marathon, go earn a living, and build a house. Your physical independence may be a limited on different levels. This can be rough, trust me I know. Although I never ways at the marathon level (I almost was) but I have been at the level of total dependence on others for everything. Even today, I am far from totally “Physically” Independent but I stride each day in every way to get better and better and better! For me I am lucky, my physical world can get better. 100% better? Not sure! Yet better than today is certainly better than it was yesterday! For some of us the Physical Situation might not get better due to some serious illness. Those ones have to fight hard to hold on to whatever physical independence is theirs.

What we all have and all have complete control of is our “Emotional Independence”. Now that is some powerful stuff! No one can give it to you and no one can take it away from you. It can be developed, improved, and made stronger. It takes working at it!
You and I are in charge of our emotions and the sooner we get it the sooner life works a little better.

Emotional independence means freedom from all things! Yes things, we all become part of our worldly things. What we have, what we do not have! “He has a car, they have a flat screen TV”, and “I have two Computers”, things, things, things, things. We become all about our things! Well I have had so many things and I was all about things. Guess what? I lost them all at one time or another. What is important to me is Health, Family and relationships.

My emotional independence helps me to be a stronger person and compensates for any physical limitations I do have. My emotional independence allows me to put things into perspective. A great example is I have been very sick over the last four months. There were days that I could not find the strength to get a glass of water. When you are sick, your spirit is one of the things that get attack quickly. You better make sure you are prepared for it (like a storm). Lucky I am positive enough that I was able to hang on and get through this crisis. If I was not emotionally independent, it might not have happened.

Hey, there were moments I was down in spirit, frightened, outright scared but always deep down in side of me there was a light that burned bright. One that I knew was my hope, my emotional independence. You have to work on it, it has to be fed both emotionally and spiritually all the time, it just does not burn on its own forever.

I have now passed this crisis for the time being (hopefully forever on this one) and it has helped make me even a stronger person, as should every experience do. Yet you have to allow yourself to get the “positive” out of each and every experience...

My friends, life is great!

Even at sometimes the darkest moments, it is still a great thing.

Life is a wonderful gift given to all of us!

If we allow ourselves to be burdened with everything that is wrong with life and all the things, you do not have or lost ….well then fiddle faddle, blah, blah! NO! It is not going to work or be any fun!

Celebrate Independence! Enjoy the little things. Feed into the positive. Hang with Joy!

Fill your heart with love!

It will help when the rough times come and you need that light burning … it will be there for you too!

Happy Independence!

Love to all



Thanks for all of you who sent along your kind wishes, thoughts, and prayers …it helped!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Go With The Flow ..

I have been having trouble with my heart for years but it has really peaked in the past three months. I could be sitting doing absolutely nothing and all of a sudden I am out of breathe and/or weak as can be. When I found myself not able to walk to the kitchen sink without being short of breathe and/or dizzy and fatigue, well the first thing that came to my mind was I must be gaining weigh, Yet I knew if I was gaining it had to be fluid because it wasn’t food!

When I wet to the doctor and discovered I had lost over 23 pounds since the last visit, I knew something was wrong and I told her (the doctor). She immediately took a cardiogram EKG and after four of them, my every fear came through. She told me I had a serious problem with my heart.

Let me share something with you. All my life doctors have told me that because of my tremendous weight and fluxuation that I should be dead and the only thing keeping me alive is my heart! Now I know that my heart is not too good.

Bottom line is in the first week of July I am scheduled to go through a procedure that they will STOP my heart and then restart it. Now they tell me it will only be stopped for less than a minute. Personally, I do not like the idea of stopping my heart for even a millisecond! They also tell me it is routine, except there are some issues with me. I am 390 pounds and have severe apnea.

The truth is am I nervous …..Yes of course! Do I really think they are not going to be able to restart my heart, of course they are. When my heart is stopped and I see my mom, dad, and nana in the light calling me. I am going to wave to them and say, “Not now I’ll see some other time”!

Yet if by some slim chance that July date is the date that is written in the big book in the sky and it is my last day, how do I look at my life!

I look at my life as a very luck and blessed man. I have been blessed to love and be loved by my family. I am such a lucky man. Yet I would be lying if I did not say I have regrets that I could not be there as I should have been. I was there in many other ways.

I have been so lucky to have met, and communicated with so many thousands and thousands of people.
I have been, touched by some very dear friends, some very close friends.

I have been able to speak out about obesity and have been able to touch some lives and give hope. Do I have more work to do? You bet your bippy I do and I will be doing it.

My dear wife will be with me that day, and I know she will be nervous but wouldn’t dare show me any sign of her nerves (anyone who knows My Matty understands this statement).

I will go through this procedure with flying colors! I do not believe my maker has choosen this way for me to depart.

Therefore, the day will be here very soon, I have to be there very early, go through all kinds of test, and sign all kinds of papers etc, as for me I will take my nervousness and just “Go With The Flow”

Sometimes that is what we have to do, just “go with the flow” and let be what is going to be. Kind of leave it in someone else hands ………Like God!

Love you all now and forever

Friday, June 13, 2008


I’ve lived a full life and I am only 55 years old. It has been packed; I have had a difficult abusive childhood, yet two parents who were only guilty of loving me very much. Their problem was, that they did not know they had “issues” therefore there was no such thing in the fifties or sixties as going to therapy and airing out your dirty laundry. Therefore, you took it out on your 4-year-old son or each other and went on living “happily ever after”.

The rest of my life “in a nutshell” was packed with intrigue business situations, the ups and downs of weight losses. I have seen my body go through several metamorphoses, spent endless days, weeks and months in hospitals and rehabs. “Mr. Death” and I have had many close conversations. Fifteen minutes of fame, well I have had several! The jewels in my crown are the people and friends that I have met and made along this journey. The foundation of my life is my great extended family who I love dearly.

Then needless to say the diamond in my life is my “love of my life” my soul mate, my “Boot” my sweet dear wife Madelaine. Then with Madelaine comes the cherry and sprinkles on the sundae, my son Mikey. The blessing he was in my life. Two things I never thought I would have, the love of my life, and she accepted me at 450 pounds and then a child at almost 500 pounds. They told me do not expect it. Well I say “man plans and God laughs”, I was blessed with both. Then twenty some odd years later my wonderful daughter in law and now God bless him my little grandson, oh man do I love that little boy.

The point I am making is that life is an interesting ride and sometimes the ride is smooth, sometimes fun, sometimes rewarding. Yes, sometimes the ride is rough, very rough. Sometimes you cannot seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel (it is there, you just have to keep pushing ahead, you will see the light). It can get rough, I know! Right now, I am going through some personal rough times but I have my eye on the light.

We do not have to go through the rough times 24 hours 7 days a week! We do not have to re-live our past over and over constantly (no matter difficult). The question you need to ask is right this second, NOW, right now how are things. If the answer is okay or even if it is, just “well nothing” then why not smile!

When in neutral …! I love to observe people and now that I get out more often than I have in the past twenty years. I love to look at people’s expressions on their faces. WOW! How can so many people be so angry, all the time? One of these days, I am going to get hit! You cannot believe how often I will say to a cashier, “smile”. When my wife will pull up next to a bus driver and I look at them I will ask them “are you okay”? They say yes. Then I say “well smile”!

I do not recommend that you do any of those things. What I do recommend, is for you. When you find yourself in neutral, smile! Oh chemically then say it releases endorphins and this and that. The point is it makes you feel good!

A smile is a nice thing! It is a nice thing to hold personally and even a nicer thing to share.

A smile is a simple gift from God given to us to use at will. You know what they say, “if you don’t use it, you, might lose it!

You do not lose your smile. Now if you have not done it for a while or if you are in neutral well lets go ….

Take the sides of your lips and with the muscles of your cheeks (in your face) start pulling up! Come on, you can do it. Pull back a little more. Now do not be carried away, I wouldn’t want you to actually laugh. Someone might hear you (only kidding).

You are a good person and deserve to smile often as possible. When you are in neutral whether driving, sitting outside, watching TV, reading a book, listening, just smile.

I love to smile; it gets me through some rough times! It helps me get to that light at the end of the tunnel.

Have a great day!
You wonderful you!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Pacino, Brando, Hebranko ….

Speak Softly Love ….. da, da, la, la la. Now what can Brando, Pacino and I all have in common? Let’s see, did we all win the Academy Award? I do not think so, besides if I had won I would accept it. Actually I think Brando did accept it but not himself he sent the Native American Woman to accept it, I don’t remember the details. Anyway, back to my point. What do the three of us have in common? (Final Jepordy theme playing in the background), okay, the answer is “What is we are all Godfather’s”.

Yes, yesterday I was honored (after 26 years) of being asked to be the Godfather of a beautiful little baby girl. This is actually my third time I was honored with such a blessing. My first time was when I was 16 years old to a precious little girl, Cathy P, and then 13 years after that to a handsome baby boy, Joseph B, and now 26 years later at the age of 55 years old to this adorable Melanie H.

It is amazing how as we get older the difference in the meaning in general of being a Godfather. Unfortunately, at 16 years old I did not realize what a great honor it was. Although legally a Godparent today has no kind of responsibility, it is really more a spiritual relationship. I believe the first experience a child has with God and everything else comes from their parents. Yet as a Godparent, we should go that little extra step in helping the parent along in molding a child’s relationship and introduction to God. Yet I also feel as a Godparent and as an adult in any child’s life setting a good example is so very important. An example of loving thyself and each other, living ones life to it’s fullest and not being a quitter, and that all of God’s creatures are beautiful and to look for the good in life. These are not such bad things to try to pass on to a Godchild or any child.

I only wish I understood this with my first Godchild, I have not seen her for many years and was not a good Godfather. I did better with my second, I see him often, and just had the pleasure of having dinner with him and his finance this past week. Now my new little Godchild, well lets be real, I pray I am around long enough to be an influence in her little sweet life. Yet in case I am not and I am lucky enough to have a ticket to get into heaven, she will have one special guardian angel watching over her.

Let us talk about yesterday. It might be normal for people to be a little nervous about being in situation like being a Godfather. People who know me being in front of people, maybe talking, etc does not make me nervous. It just does not. What give me the butterflies, the anxiety and I think may of people who share my history is the logistics.

Is there a lot of walking, standing, steps, and chairs with arms and are they strong enough. Will the seats be so low we will not be able to get up easily or at all? Then in my case, I travel with a wheel chair that is wider than the average chair (because my butt is wider than the average butt is). Therefore, the wheelchair does not fit on most of the handicap ramp; it is too wide, does not fit through most doors. Then I was worried about once at the church would it get down the aisles, will I have to go on the alter, if so how? Well almost every concern I had, came through.

The ramp was to narrow, so my poor wife had to fold the chair and I had to get my cane and bent over walk up the ramp and through the narrow doors. We set the chair up and of course, it was in the wrong place. Not to mention I needed to use the men’s room which might have been handicap accessible except the hallway we had to go down was so narrow … way, not for my chair so I had to walk it and go into the bathroom stand long enough to handle what need to be done. As the ceremony went on I had to climb up the stairs of the alter and stand there while we christened that bundle of joy. It was only through the power of prayer and the help of my son and wife that I made it through the physicalness. Yes, I have to give myself credit too.

It is just ashamed that in the twenty first century that a person of size has to worry about going out in public. It is hard enough to be starred at, laughed at, and made fun at but if we are strong enough to get passed all that, we have to be concerned about the door, chair etc. \

Just a little more effort on part of businesses and public places to make it more accessible for us as, well it might help us with our self esteem when we want to be players if we can get out there and play.

Things like this can be done; we need help to get it done. We need to help ourselves, we too might like to go to a movie, school, work but we need not to cry and complain. We need to be proactive. Get our friends and families involved, talk to local business people to put a strong chair in their movie house, library, restaurant. Organize write in programs to politicians. Let us pass laws for the obese. We are people too! We count! We want to live! We want to play!

As one of the Godfather’s said “let’s make them an offer they can’t refuse” yes the offer is ...

We want to be!!!!

After all was said and done, I made it through yesterday, I had a great time, did all that was needed of me, and was proud as a peacock.

Sometimes you have to take your fears, anxieties put them in a bag take them with you and do what you have to do anyway. At the end, you look back and see you made it and had a good time at the same time.

Have a great day!!




Afterwards there was a great house party, with wonderful friends and beautiful family. It is such a blessing to be part of and included. I missed so many things and now I do not want to miss anything. Unfortunately, there was one thing that ripped my heart out. My little grandson got hurt (oh he is such a boy) his mom was standing right next to him, just a second, and it happened. A chunk of my heart went out for my baby but then I felt so badly for my sweet daughter in law. She was so upset because she tried to stop it but just couldn’t. He is doing okay today, Alleluia!

Monday, May 19, 2008

In The Moment ….

“Now is the time ….” “One day at a time…” “Be here now…” these are all statements that most of us have heard at one time or another. Often they have had a profound meaning on our lives. At the same time if we were not doing well, it was those kinds of statements that were the last thing we wanted to hear. They are simple little words, not complex meanings and yet they can make a big difference in our lives.

Let me share an example with you. Recently (May 14, 2008) I was blessed enough to celebrate my 55th birthday. That in itself, I look at as a miracle. Considering where I have been and what I have put my poor body through and the amount of times that my family or I was told that my time was limited, well miracle is the only word that comes to my mind. Along with grateful, grateful to God and to the people God has sent me in my life.

Back to my birthday and being here “Now” etc. I have had some unforgettable birthdays. I have had some great parties, loads of family and friends to celebrate with. Surprise parties, small family get togethers and yes, I have even spent a few birthdays in the hospital fairly ill. I have some very good memories and some not so good ones on the birthdays but the point is if I dwell on all them and live in the past then I would not have been able to enjoy not only one of my best birthday’s in my life but just a great day in general.

To “be here now” would be an understatement. My son arranged for himself to have the day off and with him, my dear daughter in law and my special little grandson they took me to the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn. First, I have not been there, I think since I was 11 years old and that was with my dad. To be able to go there with my grandson and see the joy on his face that I was with him was the best present I could have received. He was as excited but not as much as I was. His mom packed a healthy picnic lunch, we got to eat outdoors. We also were able to watch the walrus get fed. My sweet wife had a business meeting, in the morning but met us at the aquarium later on; it was such a perfect day. I even got to go to a stadium show and watched a sea lion show. One of the joys was to watch the expression on my baby’s face when the sea lion came up to him and planted a smooch (kiss) right on his apple cheek.

It was a special day, and that was because I was there with my very close loved ones. I was able to be part of an event rather than be at home in bed waiting for everyone to arrive home and tell me all about it. I was a participant! I was a player. I was part of life and “living the moment”.

It is days like that, those special days, those days where you can be part of rather than part from. It is those days, which make the daily battle, the daily struggle, all worthwhile.

The pay off sometimes is those big days like I spent on my birthday but if you really look hard the payoff is each day that we wake up and get to play!

Now is the time, being here now, taking one day at a time pays off with many rewards. The reward of satisfaction! Satisfaction of taking care of you and making it happen! The reward of getting another day to play and then there are those extra special days.

The aquarium days …… in my case I am not sure if it was the actual aquarium itself (although I enjoyed the experience immensely) but rather the company I was with and having my little grandson calling me “Ga Ga look at the sea horse, or Ga Ga don’t be afraid of the shark I’ll hold your hand”. That is worth more than the “lottery”, the “triple crown”.

Enjoying the moment, being here right now, and taking one day at a time, may sound corny at times but believe you me, for simple words, they are so powerful.

Therefore, I hope to continue my quest, my journey to make my life as healthy as I can so that I can have more days that are special, just more every day's. I look forward to the tomorrows but in the meantime …… there is the today ……

The Now!

Good luck my friends

May we all journey together



Wednesday, May 7, 2008

You’ve Got to Believe …!

There have been times in my life when I thought of quitting baby, but my “heart” just won’t buy it! Then I find some reason to hang on. Throughout my adult married life, it has been my family. My love for my wife. The thought of missing her forever was just not an option. Then I was blessed with a son. He has been a source of great strength and pleasure for me over these past thirty years, and now my life seems to have received “the cherry” on the sundae and that is my little grandson. What a pleasure and joy this little baby gives me. I have a great daughter-in-law, such a wonderful human being and becoming quite a great friend of mine. I have been blessed with a good extended family also and have had some very dear close friends throughout my life that I have drawn strength from at times.

Much of my survival I owe to my God and my spiritual relationship we have with each other. We have this thing where we lean on each other if we need each other (yeah sure! My relationship is really one-way God’s support for me and my love for God.

Yet you have to believe ….believe in something if you are going to survive. This is what I believe. One has to have a reason to hang on, to go on. I do not care what it is you believe in. It could be and should be a combination of things. It should be you, some spiritual belief in a higher power (being), another human being, a puppy dog, a soft cat, or pet pig, whatever it is. You have to believe.

What is the payoff? I will share with you one of the payoffs! Most of you know my struggle with my weight and how it has been my whole life. Many of you know of my story because of the notary I achieved in the 90’s when I lost over 700 pounds in 19 months and made the Guinness Book of records. I had received a lot of support from Richard Simmons at that time (and through out the years a continued friendship).

Many more of you have gotten to know me, when in May 1996, I gained back much of that weight and was removed from my home (due to a medical emergency) by a “fork lift”. It became a “media event” a “circus act”, as if I were some freak, rather than some poor human being, fighting to save my life, a human being who was “Hungry for Life”!

Now since May of 1996 my scale has seen many numbers. Numbers ranging, from 450 pounds up to 800 pounds and all kinds of numbers, back and fourth since then. Over the past 5 years, I have been in a Rehabilitation Center not once but twice all in the effort to fight the “battle of the bulge”. I respect everyone’s efforts but I have to say, I try just as hard as many of you. I have fought both privately and publicly very hard to be a “success”. Every pound that I have gained privately has been worn in the public. I could not help feeling that I have not only did I let myself down and my dear family and friends but many people out there who were following my story and rooting for me. This way if I could do it then maybe then, they too could have something work out in their life.

I refuse to give up! I will not quit. I get down sometimes but I am not staying there. You’ve got to believe in “HOPE”!

Now I have been home from Rehab for about 10 months and the time before this when I came home I almost started to gain weight immediately. Well I am home now and I can say for the first time probably 15 or 16 years I am out of the 400's! I am now in the upper 300s, me, Mike Hebranko. I am cautiously excited. This is a gift that I know if I do not continue to work at and take care of myself, I will lose it, by gaining it! I have not broken any weight loss records since I have been home (I have been there and done that). It has been a slow steady process, but that is good for me. I use my K.I.S.T. method and it is working for me. Some one asked me at the doctor’s office “what is your goal”? I promptly responded, “To never get to it”. I have reached goals before and never maintained them for long. I gain lose weight and boy can I gain it! Therefore, for now, I am taking it easy and slowly but surely, it is coming off.

I do have to share something with all of you. It feels good. I try not to make that scale my police officer, my Academy Award etc but when I stepped upon it, the other day, at the doctors’ office. I see a 22+-pound weight loss since the last visit, well I was ready to do a tap dance and jump up and click my heels (now that would have been a sight in itself, not to mention a miracle). I was full of joy and thankfulness.

My dear friends all things are possible …..You’ve got to believe!

Love to you all


Saturday, April 26, 2008

FEELINGS ….”To Err is Human to Forgive is Divine”

Forgive or forgiveness, emm, I am not sure that forgiveness is a feeling or not but I think it is important to talk about at this time.

Forgiveness is a big word and (pardon the pun) a “heavy’ concept. Let me start with this analogy. A day is a day, and each day is a beautiful thing and we are blessed to experience any day. Yet lets be honest with ourselves, some days are a little nicer than others. I am not talking about anything that may be going on in your personal lives but just the day in itself.

Take a day when the sun is shinning, there is a nice warm breeze (not to hot), the air smells clean, you can hear the birds in the trees and mother nature is at her best. Tell me, that is not nicer than a day where there is overcast? A day when you know the sun is out but where it is out, who knows. The temperature is chilly; there is not a bird insight (except maybe a gull if you live by water). It is dreary, damp, and you just push yourself to do anything. Think about it for a second …… okay time is up!

When you are angry, bitter, or full of hate it is like those damp dreary days. Your life is like there is a cloud overhead. You don not want (consciously or subconsciously) to function, at your fullest. There is always this something there. Yet if you can forgive, truly forgive, then the “sun shines”!

Your life is now free, clean, fresh, bright, and yes chippy!

Easier said than done! Yes, of course it is. Does it take work? Definitely! Is it worth it? Well you tell me, would someone want a life clouded and gloomy (holding on to bad feelings of anger, hate, despair) or would someone want a life open, fresh, clean, bright, filled with hope and joy? A life that is more suitable to taking care of things, especially ones on person!

Believe me I know that some people (and situations) are easier to forgive than others are. Sometimes the hurts are tiny, not meaningful, without too much damage. Then other times they scream out with all reasons not to forgive. Yet we need to forgive, so we can go on!

Forgiving is a process and one that takes practice sometimes. I have learned to try to put things into perspective. Often I find forgiving easy. The little things are easier to forgive, especially if it is our loved ones, we are forgiving, (although they can often hurt the most).

Then there are the deep rooted, angers and hurts. Sometimes from as long ago as our childhood, where there might have been physical, sexually, mentally, and/or emotional abuse. Often the problems may be relationships gone badly, where there where all kinds of hurts and horrible things done to you. People often hurt people, and forgiving these people, is not easy to do and often not the thing you sometimes want to do.

Yet keep in mind that forgiving, sometimes can be sort of a selfish act. In, the fact, that it is for your own benefit, that you do forgive. This way, you can go on with your life. That your life can be free of this so call, “cloud” this “darkness”.

Forgiving does not mean forgetting or necessarily even renewing that particular relationship. If the person who hurt you is still around and you never speak to them again, so be it (if that is what you want and works for you). Just do not let hatred, anger, and the bad times of the past, rob you now of the present and of the future.

You need to feel the best you can, if you want to do the best you can.

Therefore work on the forgiveness thing (you may even need the help of a friend, professional, and/or religious advisor), just do whatever it takes to help you get past it and past it in a healthy way.

Get rid of the dirty laundry, and you will feel the freshness of springtime, within yourself.

Forgiveness gives me power. A power I love to feel and experience. I like to be able to forgive and I hope that I too can be forgiven when the time (s) come.

Have a great smiling and inner healthy day