Man's journey to face his past in order to lose weight

February 14, 2013 6:52:09 AM PST
Losing weight may not be just about eating less and exercising more. For some people, there may be another obstacle.

It turns out what happened in your past can greatly affect your future when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.

45-year-old Dino Bove is a doting father to four boys and a loving husband.

He is also on a journey to lose weight.

At his heaviest in July of last year he weighed 508 pounds.

His problems started when he was young.

"Pretty much it was just snacking all the time. It felt good, I'd watch TV and I didn't really have to think about anything," Bove said.

The truth is Dino didn't want to think or talk about what had happened to him.

He tells Action News he was sexually abused when he was 9.

"I never wanted to be considered a victim of anything and just the embarrassment of it," Bove said.

He pushed the trauma far back into his subconscious. But this led to years of feeling depressed and ignoring his health.

"It gets to the point where you don't care, I really didn't care," Bove said.

Dr. David Sarwer at Penn Medicine is a psychologist who specializes in weight management. He says there is a link between obesity and abuse. It's not just sexual abuse, he says, but physical, emotional and neglect, as well.

"All of those situational factors from our childhood and adolescence are related to adult obesity, but the nature of the relationship is somewhat hard to determine," Sarwer said.

He says just because someone was abused doesn't mean they will become overweight, but the risk is greater.

And even if they lose weight, the odds of keeping it off are against them.

One theory is because some victims, typically women, may overeat to gain weight to deflect attention or compliments about their appearance.

"So to be heavier and therefore have a little bit of a shield from those comments can actually feel protective to some individuals," Sarwer said.

In Dino's case, he overate for comfort. Once he started talking with a therapist, his past came up, and as he dealt with the abuse, his depression lifted. He started playing music again and feeling better than he had in years.

"I just felt peaceful and unconditionally happy," Bove said.

Dr. Sarwer says once someone starts feeling less like a victim and more like a survivor their chances of staying on a weight loss program go up.

Dino has now lost 115 pounds. His goal is to get down to 250.

"I'm not done. I don't want to get complacent," Bove said.

Dino says he has tried to lose weight before but this time, it feels different. So we are going to follow his progress and let you know how he does.

As stated above, it doesn't have to be physical abuse - even something like coming from a broken home can affect your success for weight loss. But getting help can make a big difference.