HIS STORY

Eddie Cooper traces his slide into obesity to when both his parents died within a 2-year period. He ate for comfort and paid the price on the scale. He says he tried several ways to lose weight including Atkins, Weight Watchers and protein shakes. “For me, once I reached a certain weight, it became almost impossible to lose it. . . . At 400 pounds, it starts running your life. . . . You don’t accept invitations. You get invited to a summer BBQ? There’s no outdoor furniture that can support 400 pounds. So you don’t go. And you’re constantly thinking about what others are thinking about you,” Cooper said.

He eventually met a friend who lost a significant amount of weight and got the name of the weight-loss surgeon she used. He saw the doctor and then went through a round of appointments with his primary care provider, a cardiologist, pulmonologist and psychologist to get clearance for gastric bypass surgery.

Cooper acknowledges procedures have changed since his surgery 13 years ago, from which he had a difficult time recuperating. Through the support of a close friend, things eventually got better. It took him about 3 1⁄2 years to get to his current weight, where he has remained since. “I remember the moment I realized that I had just gotten out of my car and it wasn’t a struggle,” Cooper said. “It’s really a wonderful time in your life, people telling you how great you look. I got back into enjoying things like going to the beach. My self-esteem improved, and I started to enjoy life again.”

HIS DIET

Cooper has a yogurt for breakfast and sometimes a half bagel. Lunch is usually a half sandwich of shrimp salad or chicken cutlets and some fruit or soup and a buttered roll. Dinner can be broiled chicken or fish and some rice. He takes a daily multivitamin and gets B12 shots once a month.

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HIS EXERCISE

Cooper does a light 25-minute workout doing pushups, situps and free weight exercises every other day and walks on a golf course, beach or in his neighborhood as much as he can.

HIS ADVICE

“If you can lose it on your own, do it. If you can’t, consider the surgery. Do a lot of research on your doctor. Get referrals. I am 100 percent satisfied with my decision to get it done.”