The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Addiction and Weight Loss

Yesterday I read this article written about Deborah Voigt, world renowned dramatic soprano recently featured as Brünnhilde in the Met's ring cycle.



Some years ago she underwent gastric bypass surgery to help her lose a significant amount of weight. It was the talk of the industry for some time. It sparked issues of weight loss and maintaining the integrity of the voice. There were colors of sexism, fat shaming, body acceptance, painted all across the web with her picture. I myself had several extensive conversations in regards to this topic and even sited her particular case as a reason (among many others) why you should only get gastric bypass if it's a life or death scenario, and that the risk to reward ratio is by no means worth it. 

However, I didn't even think to question what may have helped her kick her addiction. It turns out that was other addictions.

Anyone who has been significantly overweight understands that the majority of the reasons we are/were fat is because of our lifestyle addictions. Addicted to junk food, late night partying, extravagant meals, seconds of everything, the whole damn box of Oreos, etc.

A big part of my book covers addiction and how I've managed it, so I don't want to exhaust the topic too much before its all on paper, but I consider myself a lifetime addict. I have an immensely addictive personality. Whether it's people, passions, books, food, whatever, if I enjoy something, I want it and I want it all the time. When I played in orchestra, it was the Viola, when I began singing, it was opera, When I was fat, it was chocolate chip cookies and cheeseburgers, when I decided to lose weight, I became addicted to going to the gym. 




I'm fortunate enough to have only a few addictions of mine be of some concern. However, I have family members that have struggled and continue to struggle with much more serious addictions. So, I'm all too familiar with that reality.

There is no "cure" to addiction, only a means to control or navigate your life around it. Smokers who have been smoke free for years still say they feel the itch here and there. I've spent the better part of a year learning how to not compulsively snack on everything in sight, regardless if I was hungry or not, and tiny snickers candy bars don't even contain opiates. I can't sympathize with more life altering addictions, but I can empathize.

The picture I'm describing may be bleak, but I truly think the only way to "control" your addiction is to point it to a direction that can somehow become beneficial. Training, programming, singing, (I recently become a workaholic) worked for me. Even this blog was an addiction starting out nearly a year ago. Delving the energy I would spend thinking about the mcdoubles cooking up down the street turned into lots of different creative outlets. 

There are lots of ways to go about weight loss, unfortunately Ms. Voigt chose two paths that I disagree with. Rather than face the issues that caused the weight gain to begin with, she chose the band-aid and Neosporin. But I have to say that I'm immensely proud of her bravery for being that person that raised the weight loss question in the opera community, took the negativity with the positivity and continues to be honest and transparent. I can only hope the absolute best for her and her career. I know she still has many things to say with her art, and I for one look forward to hearing them.




If you struggle with an addiction, regardless of how serious you think it may be, let someone know. And, if you have a friend or family member who is suffering, reach out to them.

And if you don't feel like you have anyone you can talk to, you can find resources on the web to talk to professionals. I found this site that has a 24 hour hotline: 1-800-821-HELP (4357).

Until next time,

Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It.

The Opera Bro

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