LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) — Sal Paradiso says he was always “larger,” but in his twenties and early thirties his weight problem spiraled out of control until he topped the scale at more than 700 pounds.
He’s not sure of the actual number, because there was no scale large enough to accommodate him, although he knows his highest recorded weight was 688. Confined to his home, he spent a lot of time looking at photos of his father, who passed away when Sal was a teenager. It’s those pictures that finally drove Sal to make a change.
“My father had a heart attack and died when he was 42,” says Paradiso. “I realized if I continued down that road I was going I wasn’t going down, I wouldn’t make it to 40.”
On January 1, 2014, Sal committed to losing weight. He cut out junk food, opting for a low-carb, high-protein diet, and began walking in his pool for exercise. He also began sharing his journey on a Facebook page, Sal Odyssey, and in online support groups. By July of 2016, Sal had lost more than 250 pounds naturally, and at 433 pounds he underwent weight-loss surgery.
Today, his weight loss is more than 370 pounds. But the bigger problem he’s facing is the estimated 80 pounds of excess skin he now has.
“No matter how much exercise, running, walking, or weight training, that I do, those pounds of skin will never go away,” Paradiso says.
In a video he posted to YouTube, Paradiso shows his excess skin, and explains how it results in irritation, pain, and sometimes infections, with regular movement. He also says that because of his shape, compression garments don’t hold him in.
“In a sense, I’ve traded in the pain of obesity for skin pain all over my body,” he says.
Doctors have told Paradiso that he needs three to six skin-removal surgeries, which generally aren’t covered by health insurance because they are considered cosmetic procedures.
He’s again turned to the internet, setting up a Go Fund Me page to help raise the $100,000 he needs for the surgeries. The money is trickling in, but Paradiso has a long way to go before the surgeries are a possibility. Still, he says he’ll continue to share his story, and support others like him, through his online profiles.
Says Paradiso, “I want others to understand that whether you lose the weight naturally, or through surgery – and I’ve done both – you have to earn every pound. They’re not free.”