A Losing Bet

This is the interview that is cited in my essay

Paul Woo is my father and he has always had a very confident attitude and outlook on life. Though he has always been like this, a moment in his life secured this feeling, a moment that was shocking to me based on the way he looks now.

My father was heavy during all of his youth. He says he was “fat since day one,” maxing out at 350 plus pounds at age 19 and at a 52 inch waist. He always knew being heavy was unhealthy but there was not much he could do about it. He had a busy schedule with Chinese school in addition to regular school and he ended up eating 5 meals a day around his schedule: breakfast, a 12 o’clock lunch, 3 o’clock meal before Chinese school, 7:30 dinner and an 11 o’clock meal while doing homework for both schools. During grade school, he was picked for a childhood game only because of his weight, a sad story if you think about it. But I chose to ask him about it during the interview because his first-hand details could not be replicated in my words.

He was picked on at Xavier High School for being fat. Xavier was an all boys Catholic school that was predominantly Caucasian. Being Asian and fat did not help his cause. Other students felt that Asians weren’t supposed to be fat, and he was an outcast because of his weight. He was introverted and held back from the social scene. But to his parents who recently immigrated to the U.S. from poor China, fat was accepted because it showed you had the money to eat well. It was a striking cultural difference.

In his teenage years, he tried to lose some weight, but diets didn’t work for him. He ate less and exercised more but nothing seemed to work. Even the diets that seemed to be successful were only short lived. Eventually he would put back the weight and more. But in his junior year of college, he made a bet with a coworker who he had met the previous year. The bet was that he could lose weight on her recommended Scarsdale diet. My dad felt he would not lose weight and it was an easy bet to win. I chose to get these details from him during the interview because it was very personal and it would ring better if he told the story. But the bottom line is that he lost the bet and weight and this got him believing that he could lose weight. He started going to discotheques since they were in fashion in his time, and danced for a few hours for aerobic exercise. He gives more details in the audio clip because I think it makes for a more amusing story.

Soon he dropped 160 plus pounds and was 190 pounds at age 23. Losing the bet gave him the confidence he needed to start losing weight. Although he always liked himself, he liked himself even more when he was thinner. He was more confident after the weight loss and he knew he could handle anything. He says, “I know what I can do for you, what can you do for me?” That attitude has stuck with him until now, even at age 52. He is still confident in himself and feels that it is someone else’s loss if they don’t get to fully meet and understand him. While he was fat, no one bothered to get to know him and he knows they missed out. Now at 52, he is happy and still 190 pounds, working out 5 days a week to stay healthy. But he would not have the same mindset, or figure, if it weren’t for that losing bet.

From this…

…to this, in four years


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2 Responses to A Losing Bet

  1. tejjybear says:

    The way you’re able to talk about things and joke about things with your father is pretty cool, and I like the way he described everything in great detail for you. His story is truly inspiring for those who want to lose weight, and proof that it is possible.

  2. John Scanlon says:

    It’s pretty crazy how a bet with a friend could change the ultimate course of your father’s life. I like this story because it shows that anything is possible with just a little bit of hard work. Your dad is one of those crazy success stories that you see advertised on television ads. Most importantly, I think your dad’s personality, particularly his sense of humor, is what gives his story its “touch.”

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