October 28, 2001 -- USA Today


150-pound Loss is Carnie Wilson's Gain

DETROIT - Stories of losing 100 pounds or more these days are more likely to be about surgery than about Weight Watchers or SlimFast. And some of that has to do with the August 1999 Webcast surgery performed on pop singer and former talk-show host Carnie Wilson.

Wilson, one-third of the late '80s-early '90s pop group Wilson Phillips and daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, had climbed the charts to fame - and to just a slice of pizza shy of 300 pounds - two years ago. Then her group disbanded and her talk show was canceled. Overweight and at a loss for a solution to life's problems, she opted for surgery.
Today, a little more than two years after the surgery, she weighs just under 150 and is back in the recording studio with her former partners, sister Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips.

Wilson's story of growing up overweight, her decision to have weight-loss surgery and her road to thinness is chronicled in her new book, Gut Feelings: From Fear and Despair to Health and Hope.

The appeal of Wilson's book probably will be greatest among those who have battled serious weight problems and are curious about her widely publicized experience.
She describes the enormous pressure she felt touring with Wilson Phillips and standing beside her slinky and attractive co-stars, and she details her first consideration of surgery and the weeks before and after the procedure.

Experts predict there will be about 50,000 weight-loss surgeries performed in the USA this year, up 75% from 1999.

Wilson's surgery, the Roux-en-Y, or "gastric bypass," involves creating a golf-ball-size pouch in the stomach to receive food. The pouch fills up quickly and stretches over time to about the size of a baseball. Intestines are rerouted so that most of the intestinal tract is no longer part of the digestive process.

"It's not a cure," Wilson says. "It's a tool, and you have to be ready for it and prepared to work with it."

After surgery, Wilson had to get used to eating much smaller portions of sensible and healthy food, and she pushes vitamins. She has had a few health complications, such as temporary hair loss from not eating enough protein.

She talks about her reluctant and uneasy status as icon and role model for the "fat acceptance" movement, which is a growing lobby fighting discrimination against fat people. When Wilson spoke at a Million Pound March rally of fat-acceptance advocates and followers before her surgery, she told the throngs, to the organizers' chagrin, that they owed it to themselves not to give up on losing excess weight to be healthier.

"I took a lot of heat for that, but I don't care. ... Health has to come first, and no one weighing twice what they should can be healthy," she says.

She is adamant, though, about keeping her experience in perspective.

"This is not about Carnie being a size 6. ... This is a disease, and my surgery was a treatment for that disease."

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