“Baby, come to me, let me put my arms around you…” Hailing coming from Harlem, New york, famous jazz performer Patti Austin started her career at the Apollo Theater when she was only four years old baby and signed a deal with RCA Records with the following year. She made a name for herself as a jingle singer for tv and radio advertisements like Burger King and Meow Mix just before she recorded “Our Day Will Come” with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Months later she launched her solo album and jumped to the top of the Jazz and R&B billboards with songs like “Baby, Come to Me” and “Do You love Me? ”
Definitely struggling with her pounds over the years, Austin’s waist size continuing to grow although she confessed herself that she was “in denial” about her reality of weight. It wasn’t until 2005 when she weighed in at over 300 pounds when she realized her health and of course career were drastically declining. Making what she looks at as “one of the smartest decisions of her life, ” Austin experienced gastric bypass surgery to drop the excess weight and has was able to keep it off ever since. In fact, the 66-year-old jazz singer and songwriter weighs around 140 pounds, which is a far cry from only 10 years ago.
“Being an overweighted person in US is not a fun thing, ” Austin was stressed. “The bottom line is if you are walking around with a hundred extra pounds on you, you are eventually going to succumb to some kind of obesity-driven disease. It’s going to happen. ”
Austin claimed that she tried many different weight loss plans with little or no success through the years and, just when she was about to give up completely, both her dearest friend Luther Vandross and her mother suffered strokes and died. To top it off, Austin was in a serious bicycle accident that caused severe damage to her knees, which doctors said could have been avoided if she hadn’t been so weighty. Overcome with grief and literally broken, the Queen of Jingles was given the final push she needed to do something about her weight once and for all.
“The doctor said I was a candidate for having a stroke or going blind or having an amputation, ” Austin recalled. So, with her doctor’s encouragement, she had both the gastric bypass procedure and knee surgery to launch her on the road to better health. But, for Austin, surgery wasn’t what she calls “the easy way out” like most people believe. Instead, she spent months learning how to eat healthier and worked to overcome the emotional and physical stress of being overweight her entire life. In the end, she says it’s been worth every step.
“The results are incredible. I don’t have any regrets, not one, ” Austin said. In fact, the surgery was such a success that she no longer takes medication for her asthma or her diabetes thanks to her commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Now walking two miles around her neighborhood each day, she says she fills her stomach with light and natural foods such as dried fruits, nuts, fish, chicken, vegetables and duck. But, her favorite perk of the weight loss certainly isn’t what you might expect. “I am having so much fun having people not recognize me, ” Austin admitted to Jet Magazine. “My favorite new thing is to shock an old friend. ”
Now over 120 pounds lighter and committed to staying in the 140-pound range for as long as possible, the 66-year-old is outspoken about her journey and how she mistook being overweight in her earlier years for giving her a more powerful voice. “I realize that the weight represented more than the weight on my back, ” Austin says. “I realize that in my case, subconsciously the weight gave my words great worth. ” And, while she continues to move and inspire her fans through her music, she does the same through her story. “In my case, I needed to turn up the volume on the treadmill instead of the scale. I needed to realize that I have the inner power to speak up and be heard even though I’m ‘a tiny little thing’ again. But I needed to express that voice first. We all do. The rest follows! ”.