The year was 1998. I weighed 396 pounds. My waist measurement was within an inch of my height measurement. I bought shoes with Velcro fasteners because I couldn’t manage to bend over long enough to tie my shoes without cutting off my air supply and becoming lightheaded with the effort.

I bought my clothes exclusively through catalogs, as I couldn’t find any stores that carried size 6X. When I found something that looked like it would cover the multitude of flab rolls on my belly, I bought one in every color they had. Including orange, which was not, and is not, my favorite color.

I don’t blame the kid in the grocery store who laughed and pointed at me, waddling behind my overflowing grocery cart down the aisle in my orange tent that doubled as a blouse. I don’t blame him at all for shouting, “Look, Mommy! It’s the Great Pumpkin!”

In fact, in hindsight, I’m rather glad he did. It was one more nudge in the right direction, albeit with my face flaming from embarrassment.

Today, I am grateful I lived long enough to tell the story of how I came “Back from Obesity.” I am grateful for every single nudge, even those that were mean-spirited and cruel. And believe me, living for a decade above 375 pounds, there were a lot of those rude and hurtful comments.

“Back from Obesity: My 252-pound Weight-loss Journey” was written to inspire, encourage, and motivate those “ordinary people,” like me, who thought they were too fat to ever fit into normal sized clothing again. I returned to a “buy-it-off-the-rack size without gastric bypass, lap band, liquid fasts, extreme exercise, or diet pills.

And today… today… if I should ever want to… I will wear orange without fear.