"Together Forever, Through Thick & Thin: Our Story"
by Terry & Clyde Coles
It was twelve years ago that Clyde and Terry Coles decided to get married in Corpus Christi, Texas. “Clyde was madly in love with me, so happy to introduce me to his friends and family as the wonderful, new woman in his life.” Despite being happily in love I couldn’t help but wonder what people were saying behind our backs. “Why would Clyde want to marry that fat woman, surely he can do better than that.” I had struggled with weight all of my life having lost and regained 100 pounds more than once. And while I had thought of weight loss surgery on occasion I thought that surely it wouldn’t work for me, since after all, nothing else ever had.
Clyde likes to tell people that I married him for his health insurance. As a firefighter and paramedic in Corpus Christi he did have great health insurance that would cover weight loss surgery.
After years of losing and regaining the same weight and being unhappy with my body I decided to try surgery. Four months after getting married I was in the hospital having gastric bypass surgery. It was June 14th of 2004 that I took the plunge and life has never been the same since. I originally lost 150 pounds and later had plastic surgery to remove excess skin. Nearly 12 years has gone by and for the most part I have managed to keep most of the weight off. It’s still not easy and I continually fight with 15-25 pounds which comes and goes.
My saving grace has always been that I enjoy weight lifting and even when my weight is up, I still exercise. Body building has helped me to build and maintain muscle which is more efficient on the body and helps me to burn more fat, even at rest.
A few years after I’d lost the weight Clyde started on his own weight loss journey. With about 80 pounds to lose he was the perfect candidate for lap band surgery. After getting banded he lost about 100 pounds and has kept it off ever since.
Clyde stays fit doing yard work and maintaining a large garden. I still pump iron on a regular basis along with regular cardio workouts too. We both enjoy taking long walks, dancing and travel.
In 2011 Clyde retired at age 57 from the fire department when I was just 51. With the high cost of healthcare in the US we decided to retire abroad where we could enjoy a more affordable retirement. We moved our lives to the country of Panama where we made new friends, learned to speak Spanish, and stay active in a hot, tropical climate.
Clyde stays busy doing handyman work for extra money or playing his guitar and singing in local restaurants. I reconnected with my love of writing and have become published as a freelance travel writer. The main publication that I write for is called, “International Living,” an organization that sells the dream of living or retiring abroad. Having gained so much self-confidence after losing the weight I have been a featured speaker for IL’s Panama conference where I’ve spoken in front of 450 people.
Currently we are trying to sell our home in Panama to free us up for more worldwide travel. With more time than money we found a way to travel on limited funds. By doing house and pet sitting we’re offered free accommodations in exchange for taking care of a beloved pet. We look forward to exploring the world one house sit at a time.
Being thin and fit has allowed us to travel with ease, for less money by using public transport or walking. We’ve trekked to the summit of Mount Vesuvius in Italy; climbed 740 stairs to the top of a massive rock in Colombia; and nearly touched the clouds in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador.
Life after weight loss surgery for Clyde and I has allowed us to live healthier, more active lives. Surely it has been a decision that we’re thankful for with each passing day."