Elvis Duran lost 110 pounds since his bariatric surgery in December. (Photo: Getty Images)
Radio host Elvis Duran has hosted his number one morning show on Z100 since 1996, becoming a personality beloved by millions of listeners and celebrity guests alike. Battling with his weight and his confidence since his teen years, his world was turned upside down one day when Dr. Oz took his blood pressure on air and told him he had to act immediately. Here, 51-year-old Duran shares his personal story on gaining and losing weight, his newfound energy, and how others can break the cycle and change their lives.
When I was growing up, I was sort of a loner. I didn’t have a lot of friends because I didn’t think anyone really liked me. I wasn’t a very popular guy, and I think it’s because I didn’t have confidence. Today, there is this acceptance of me, and my opinions, on my radio show, which has helped my confidence a little bit. But at the same time I still have a problem with confidence — especially when I was overweight. That changed over the past year.
There is a visual aspect to radio that you don’t expect, and when I did appearances or TV I could never find clothes that would fit properly. I would get frustrated trying to get my shirt to button, and I’d be very uncomfortable in my clothes. When I was feeling tense, I would find myself at the refrigerator. I’ve been battling with my weight issues since I was a teenager. I’d be skinny one year and chubby the next. As I got older and my metabolism disappeared, it became harder and more difficult to lose weight. I had a little bit of success with Weight Watchers — it worked a little bit and then I would fall off the wagon and screw it up.
Then, one morning last year, Dr. Oz was up here and he was checking our blood pressure. He took mine and he said, “Oh, OK, you’re alright.” Then we went to a commercial break and he said, “Look, I didn’t want to say anything on the air, but your blood pressure is so high, you probably should go to the hospital now.” And I’m thinking “Really?” And he said, “You’re not good.” He got my attention quickly. I started getting more physicals and seeing all of these specialists. They all said the same thing: “You’ve got to lose weight.”
Dr. Oz told Elvis Duran that his health was in danger if he didn’t lose weight. (Photo: Getty Images)
I felt sick, I felt worn down, I didn’t like the way I looked, and I needed to make a drastic change. I woke up to the realization that I’m not getting any younger. My parents both passed away several years ago, and I watched their health decline in their later years because of decisions they made earlier in their lives. So, I thought well, if I want to live longer and I want a happy, healthy older life, I need to start making these decisions now to take care of myself.
I knew I couldn’t lose the weight on my own, so that’s when I decided to consult with a specialist on bariatric surgery and the sleeve, thank God. I thought Dr. Oz would say, “No, don’t have the surgery, just get off your ass and exercise and stop eating chicken parm” – which I love. But his advice to me was, “Look, if you have cancer, you go get it treated. You are morbidly obese. Your health is awful. You need to have this taken care of, so go consult with a specialist and get it done.” He turned me on to to Dr. Bessler at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan and we did it.
Bariatric sleeve surgery is a major thing. It’s lots of needles, lots of doctors, lots of blood. It’s definitely not the easy way out, and the procedure is not a cure all for everyone — we all have different bodies and some people can’t keep the weight off. But I’m down between 110 to 112 pounds since I had my operation on December 22. It was a fast decline, but when you get near the end of that weight loss it drops slower. Now I’m maintaining. I’ll gain a few pounds here and there, but I think I’ve bottomed out and this is where I’m going to be, hopefully.
When you have the sleeve, your stomach is decreased in size dramatically. It’s really about keeping your stomach from expanding, because it’s easy to overeat and slowly open it up. If there was a platter of chicken parm right now in front of me I would do my best to start eating it — and then I’d get a little upset that I can’t finish it, because I love to eat. But my stomach tells me to stop. Even when I was overweight, I ate healthy foods. I never got into fast foods or really crazy fatty foods, I just ate a big volume of foods. I haven’t started eating that much healthier except that I am eating less.
I’m not a gym rat. I don’t really go to the gym, but with the energy I have now, it makes it easier to get off my butt and do something. I love to walk and treadmill. I like being outside and swimming. But I need to get into weightlifting. I need a trainer, that’s my next step.
There are so many other benefits I never anticipated. I am sleeping better — I’m not snoring anymore. I had sleep apnea, which has disappeared. I have a ton of energy. Having energy changes your entire life: It’s like looking through a whole new set of eyes. My energy level, strangely enough, is directly related to my confidence levels. I don’t know why, but it is. I have this energy and I have this new zest for life — this need to go out and explore new things and meet new people.
Weight loss is a slow process, but if you start exercising and changing your eating patterns, you’re going to see some sort of results within a week or two — you will! You have to make a decision of, “How do I want to live the rest of my life?” “Where do I see me fitting into this planet and this world in five or ten years?” And, “Do I want to make a change that could dramatically affect me and the people I’m best friends with?” Then you’ve gotta get off your butt and do it. I was way overweight and I had to make a drastic decision because I felt like I was dying. I had to change my life.
I’ve had nothing but support from family, friends, and our listeners, too. That’s such an important thing for everyone. If you’re going through a transformation in life, having that support is so vital. Even guests on the show will look at me, and double take and go, “My God!” It’s great to get that vote of confidence from the compliments. Every single time I see a friend continue to say, “Oh my god, you look like you’re feeling good.” It’s not just a weight loss thing — people say they see happiness and joy on my face, and that I have this energy I never had before. This time next year, I could be having a problem. I hope not, but the incentive comes from the friends and the support. It makes me want to do the right thing.
I’ve also had to change my wardrobe several times. When I lost my first 40 pounds I had to buy new suits, and then my suits were too big several weeks later and I had to buy more suits. I’m now on my third round of new clothes. But I love shopping for clothes now! It’s a lot of fun, it’s actually a problem.
When I go back and look at pictures of me a year ago and I was over 100 pounds heavier than I am now, I think, “You know what, you actually didn’t look all that awful that day — you looked OK.” In hindsight, I beat myself up more then than I should have. Now, when I look in the mirror, I still see me. I don’t find myself a supermodel, but I think that people are more into me because of my attitude — more than the way I look — because I just have this extra energy.
I always wanted to lose weight. I always wanted to feel better physically. Weight loss through hard work and exercise or through surgery — it all comes from making that decision. If you know someone who is struggling with their weight and want to help, it’s about asking the right questions. “How do you feel?” or “Do you think you would feel better if you lost a little weight or if you exercised some?” And then you have to back it up with, “Let me be a part of it with you. I’ll go on a diet or exercise with you — let’s do it together.” I think that’s the way to do it without being insulting. When you’re overweight or you have any issue with your life that you need to tackle, it’s hard for your friends to approach it because you may be a bit sensitive about it. I know I was. But thank God I went on this journey. What a great journey — and it still is today.