MARQUETTE HEIGHTS - A local man is embarking on a mission to save his life, before it’s too late.
He’s been battling weight for years, but this time, he’s seeking professional help to reverse the problem.
Twenty-seven year old Jeffrey Inman knows he’s a big guy.
The single father has struggled with weight management for years.
But it wasn’t always that way.
"When I was a little kid I got made fun of for being too skinny. People called me beanie because I was like a bean pole,” said Inman.
When puberty came along, Inman’s looks began to change.
"Ended up going from this end of the spectrum to this end of the spectrum,” Inman explained. “It was kind of like, I'm going to show them, type eating at first. Then when I'd get made fun of I'd be like, 'Oh, this ice cream looks good, nom, nom, nom.”
Now at more than six feet tall and nearly 500 pounds his weight is taking a physical toll on his body.
"Pain every day, knees hurt, back hurts…it makes me feel absolutely hopeless.”
This year Inman graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in human resources management and organizational leadership.
But so far, the path to employment hasn’t panned out.
"One employer actually had said, 'With being how big you are, how are you going to get respect from people around here? I think people see fat people like me and just assume, 'Oh they're not worth it they're lazy, they don't care about themselves."’
Unemployed, Inman has more time to share with his five year old son Gavin.
"The first couple of years he was a baby he didn't move around too much. When he started to be able to walk and run and play soccer out in the yard or play catch, I just stopped being able to keep up with him."
To top it all off, a bigger body makes finding clothes a daunting task.
“6X…this is my selection in the whole store versus everything else,” stated Inman. "I feel like if I let it out…it's going to pop this button open."
So, he’s taking matters into his own hands, by working to reverse a problem that’s been plaguing him for years.
"I want to be in control of my health. For a decade now my health has been in control of me."
Jeffrey’s starting his own journey to lose weight.
Next week he’s having bariatric surgery to shrink his stomach.
To lose 250 pounds in one year.
"You don't feel hungry as often, and then when you do eat you feel full really fast,” Inman explained.
His mother Debbi had the surgery four years ago.
“I've lost 122 pounds and I feel awesome. “For me it was the absolute best thing I could have done for myself,” she said.
The surgery is not an instant ticket to weight loss.
It requires discipline like dieting and daily exercise.
As Inman begins his mission to shed pounds, he hopes the loss will add more years to his life.
“It's going to take all these risks I have for heart attack, for diabetes, for all this bad stuff away and that I'm going to be able to keep up with my son and be there for him when he's 30, 40 when he's 50. “Hopefully that just makes it worth it."
And, if he can change public perception in the process, well, that too is a victory in itself.”
"I'm not just that fat stomach and legs. I'm actually a person too,” said Inman.
Inman’s surgery is set for Monday November fourth.
He’s getting the duodenal switch which will remove more than 80 percent of his stomach.
Doctor Thomas Rossi of the Peoria Surgical Group says often times overweight patients can’t shed weight through diet and exercise alone.
Bariatric surgery gives them the tools to succeed.
“In almost all the studies over the last 30 years have proven it only works in only two percent or three percent of people to be able to lose 100 pounds and sustain it,” Dr. Rossi explained. “So, there has to be another option because 98% of people are failing.”
Patients spend nearly half a year preparing for the life change.
That includes meetings with support groups, behavioral counseling and dieting.