By Warren Dews Jr.
Capital Region Independent Media
Editor’s Note: We are pleased to bring our readers a series about the weight loss journey of Warren Dews Jr. He is writing this series, presented in several installments, with the hope that it may help others who are also facing challenges. Here is the first installment in the ongoing series.
As I mentioned in my op-ed a few months ago, I’ve been in the media game for three decades. I’ve worked in New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Vermont, to name a few. During my time in each place, I had to move with the company to grow.
I’m a person who gets deeply involved in the communities that I work in. One of the individuals who has had a true effect on making my moves comfortable was Al Roker from the Today show.
I don’t know how to explain it, but no matter where I lived, my house became a home because of turning on my TV. I had a front-row seat to people who I enjoyed and trusted. Mr. Roker and the rest of the team were my constant. I was home in my new living room with my Today show family. I thought it was cool when I heard Carson Daly call Mr. Roker, Uncle Al. Because in my mind he is my TV uncle. Well, in 2002, Mr. Roker had gastric bypass surgery and as per my research, this changed his life drastically.
I’ve been a big guy all my life and it never really bothered me because I have confidence that no matter my size, I was still the man! I’m not self-centered, but I’m extremely confident in who I am.
In 1988, during my freshman year in college, I weighed about 185 to 190 pounds. In 2003, I got married to my amazing wife, Roberta, and I weighed about 230 pounds. At 5’8 and 230 pounds, I was classified as obese.
In my mind, my weight still wasn’t a factor because I could still do many things. I’ve always been very quick and agile for my size. As I mentioned, in 2002, Al Roker had gastric bypass surgery and I was able to see how this weight loss seemed to change his life. I could see his transition when they showed old videos of him before his weight loss. He looked older in earlier footage versus his current look.
My family moved to the Berkshires in 2010 and at this time I believe I weighed about 245 pounds. My wife was pregnant with our third child and still looked amazing before and after her pregnancy. I, on the other hand, just kept going the wrong way. The weight just kept moving up about five to seven pounds per year. I would have these stints of losing some weight and then gaining it back.
In 2015, Uncle Al was doing his “Rokerthon 2,” where he crisscrossed the country to broadcast from every state. His last location before he went back to New York was Brattleboro, Vermont, where I was the vice president of New England Newspapers’ Circulation Department. That day we had a full-page wrap announcing Mr. Roker’s visit to Brattleboro. The cool thing was that my full-page wrap made it on the Today show the next day.
But here is what blew my mind — I saw Uncle Al and he saw me and gave me the nod. If you don’t know what the nod is, please go watch the show “Blackish.” In any event, I was so happy that Al saw me. It was a great feeling.
It goes without saying that this confirmed my thoughts on Al and why he’s amazing. This led me to finally look at trying something different in my life.
I began to investigate getting a gastric bypass. I began my journey in 2015, but right when I started my insurance changed and this delayed my progress. In 2016 I started to revisit this again, but once again my insurance changed because it was cheaper for me to move to my wife’s insurance at the time. Now, in 2023, I got to my highest weight at 307 pounds. I realized what I was doing was going to end very badly, so I had to do something different. I wanted to change my life and the lives around me.
You might ask the question, why am I doing this now in 2023? Well, you will find out as you follow me over the next year. I will share with you my life before and after surgery. I’m in my six months of the process before surgery and have come up against some obstacles and slowdowns. But I will not stop moving forward with this life-changing event.
It is my goal that someone reading this will decide to change their life in some way. It might be weight loss, overcoming drug addiction, or helping others become their best. To be clear, this decision that I’m making for this surgery might not be the right direction for you, but what I want you to do is something to change your life and the people around you.
Make the dash (-) between the day you were born and the day you leave this earth mean something. What are you going to do this year and beyond to be a better you and how will this change the people around you? This is what I needed to move down this road, I needed to do something for me that was going to change others that might not even know me. I wanted to be the Al Roker in someone else’s life.
So, I am on my grind and focused on finishing this process to change my life.
If you need to speak with me or have any questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com or call at 413-212-0130. I’m here to help in the best way I can.
Warren Dews Jr. is publisher and vice president of Capital Region Independent Media, which publishes the Ravena News-Herald, Greenville Pioneer and The Columbia Paper.