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    By Christina Gonzalez
    Redbook Magazine Logo
    When Cassie Pisano couldn't get her eating (or her weight) under control, she turned to surgery as a last resort. Here, she explains why it wasn't the "easy way out" — and how it's given her the happy, normal life she always wanted.

    "I had more fun as the school mascot than as a cheerleader."

    I used to love being a cheerleader in high school — until my senior year, when I quit the team. I was tired of kids yelling nasty comments at me during cheer routines because of my weight, which fluctuated between 170 and 200 pounds, and it was embarrassing to have to special-order a size 18 uniform. I became the school mascot instead, and hiding in the lion costume was such a relief after all the public ridicule. I constantly measured myself against other people, and though I don't remember asking them to, my friends did the same: They would tell me who I was fatter than and who I wasn't as big as. They made me feel so self-conscious; even when I was just hanging out with them, I felt anxious and isolated. I had never been an overeater as a child, but now food was my only comfort. It totally owned me: I'd eat freely, then feel guilty after, and gain more weight. Every once in a while, I'd try to diet, but the scale never moved.

    "I failed a class because I was too self-conscious to go."

    When I got to college, I felt like every girl there was a size 2. Just being in school while obese was hard: I failed a class because I was too self-conscious even to go. I played trumpet in the school band, and when we flew to away games, I was mortified to see my hips oozing over onto the seat next to me. I tried Weight Watchers, the South Beach Diet, the cabbage soup diet, diet pills, everything. I'd lose maybe 5 pounds — a drop in the bucket.

    By the time I was 20, I had developed an eating disorder. For two years, I ate only half of a bagel or a PowerBar a day and made it down to a size 14. I stopped after a guy I was dating sat me down and convinced me I was being dumb. Then he slept with my roommate. Again, I turned to food for comfort. By senior year, I was 250 pounds — the biggest I had ever been.

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