Who is TUNA BREATH’s audience?

Greetings friends!

I’ve always believed that Tuna Breath has a wide appeal and therefore a wide audience base.  However, everything that I’ve learned about publishing a book suggests that writers start with the reader in mind … so, writing with a narrow focus to a specific audience is recommended.

This has been tougher for me as a beginning writer (especially with the BIG vision I have for Tuna Breath and the next stage of where and how I want to take my message to help people). But I’m prepared to start somewhere so I re-wrote the Introduction to the memoir today while keeping “an audience” in mind. The first audience I imagine will be mom’s who currently have children like I was: with serious weight problems. This is the group I will “talk to” first … and then let Tuna Breath find its place from there. So, this is the Introduction that will go to print. I hope you enjoy it!

Many thanks,

Doug P.
Tuna Breath
A 275-Pound Teenager’s Coming of Age Story

Being fat is an individual emotional problem. Being a fat teenager is a shared emotional problem that includes the parents—especially Mom. That’s why I wrote this book.

From my perspective, the emotional aspects of being a fat teenager (of being obese) are hardly emphasized at all. Turn on the TV, read websites, or check out the latest books and you’ll see trainers, teachers, counselors, doctors, and weight loss success stories all talking about calories, food choices, and exercise. Don’t get me wrong; those things are vitally important. However, I know firsthand that the key, the real success to helping a teenager (a child) with a serious weight problem, requires much more than just a food and exercise plan.

My experience as a super-fat kid started way before “obesity” was a common description for seriously overweight people. I was seven years old. It was the 1980s and before grunge music, the Internet, or renewable anything. Gastric bypasses weren’t performed and drug makers weren’t advertising on TV. The Real World was the only reality TV show, and we didn’t yet know about The Biggest Loser. There weren’t any obese kids either. There were only small handfuls of super fat kids like me at each school.

I consistently gained massive amounts of weight for about ten years. Topping out at 275 pounds in high school was the largest accomplishment I thought I’d ever have. All my dreams were dead. I seriously thought that I would be 500 pounds someday. I didn’t know that my obesity was meeting my own human needs for certainty and significance in life. I didn’t know that inadequacy, self-pity, and self-loathing were forms of significance that allowed me to connect to myself—albeit in the most negative ways. I didn’t know that my keys to freedom rested in meeting my human needs for love, growth, and contribution. As a result, I was deeply insecure throughout those super fat years, which led me to feel alone and privately unhappy most of the time.

Fortunately, my environment changed when I was eighteen years old. This was the first of three major turning points I describe in the book. I didn’t have a coach or doctors to help, so I starved myself and lost 125 in eight months. Along the way, I learned about my own body, desire, sacrifice, and self-discipline. Turning Point #1 was all about seeking physical balance.

You can imagine how happy I must have been. Ironically, from that point forward, I acted very confident (even arrogant) and pursued my life’s ambitions. I joined the US Marine Corps and became a hard-charging war machine. I binged on this lifestyle. Deep on the inside, however, I was still running from my past. I hid things about myself, I was rigid with people, and I was still that sensitive, sometimes insecure, and privately unhappy soul most of the time. By the time I left the Marines, my emotions were still way out of whack. I was aggressive, quick to show anger, and hated certain people for little or no good reason.

Turning Point #2 occurred when I finally acknowledged that my unhappiness (my hate) was my fault and when I decided to try to find a way to change my reactions/attitudes towards people. TP #2 was all about seeking emotional balance. Seeking emotional balance isn’t an easy task; at least not for me at the ripe old age of twenty-four.

After the Marines, I graduated college and pursued Wall Street and investment banking before eventually finding some success as a corporate salesperson. Since being super fat, I had achieved everything I had ever set my mind to, yet I was still lonely, empty, and deeply unhappy. I didn’t know at first that the same emotional drivers that had contributed to my obesity had followed me into my young adult and adult life. There’s no doubt they were fully present and powerful. However, instead of using food to binge and meet my needs, over time I substituted aggression, alcohol, relationships with random girls, and the pursuit of money, bingeing on those things instead.

Turning Point #3 occurred when I acknowledged this reality. My veil of blindness finally started to lift when I saw my life (my struggle) as it really was: my creation. TP #3 was all about healing the past … about seeking wholeness.

Since then, I’ve learned that my well-developed binge-eating habits and personality were a low-road way for me to meet my own human needs; it was how I negatively connected to myself for a long time. This is a key reason for deciding to tell my story, for I believe this is the risk for seriously overweight teens (and their parents) if they don’t get their emotional houses in order. Specifically, several things are likely to occur if mothers don’t help their teens or if the children can’t tackle their emotional drivers on their own:

1. They never improve their health and actually get worse (physically and emotionally).
2. They lose weight but regress (yoyo dieting).
3. They lose weight permanently but continue to project other binge-eating types of behaviors as they mature (as I did).

Please keep in mind that Tuna Breath is not a “how-to” book. Someday soon, I will write a specific how-to book that details the four phases/actions in my coaching program. But for now, Mom should expect to go deep if she wants to successfully help her teenager with his weight problem—with his life. Because success really lies with loosening the death grip that inadequacy and self-pity has on her child. Simply put, Mom must prepare to help the child do the following:

1. Understand their basic human needs structure
2. Identify their specific triggers and patterns
3. Analyze and rewrite their rules
Neutralize their destructive vice(s)

Tuna Breath is a “how I” story. It’s my starting point and a “can do!” message for you, my reader. It shines a light on the bigger, deeper issue of weight loss and exposes the long-term emotional risks that overweight children face. My specific story should be a metaphor for some to learn from. You can always count on my sincere honesty and my all-access approach to telling the real story. My writing is sometimes funny, sarcastic, ironic, heated, or repetitive. I do this for a purpose. I want it to strike an emotional chord, so I also use language and word choices that are slang or that may seem aggressive at times.

My true intention is to inspire moms and their seriously overweight children to improve their personal foundations. Hopefully, my readers are moved to self-analyze in a new way—in a new light. And ultimately, I want moms to understand and fully connect to their children, to communicate differently, to learn from my mistakes, and to help their children save the time that I wasted.

Thank you for reading my story!

Doug Pedersen

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