+
upworthy
Health

It's the side of extreme weight loss rarely seen, but that's why it's needed

Courage and body positivity. This is me.

lap-band surgery, emotional share, body positivity
Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.


Matt had lap-band surgery in 2009 at age 16.

Through the course of his weight-loss journey, Matt became passionate about promoting body positivity for people of all shapes and sizes.
weight-loss journey, obesity, social media

Here's Matt at 16 years old and 497 pounds versus recently after his surgery — at 22 years old and 220 pounds.

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

To stay motivated, he started sharing his journey on social media, posting before-and-after photos, answering questions and giving support to followers, and even sharing his meals and favorite workouts. Six years later, Matt is down over 270 pounds and is a very active voice in the online body-positivity movement.

But in all his years of sharing his story, the one thing he's never done is showed what his body looks like after 200+ pounds of weight loss. So he uploaded the video above to show his followers his true self.

body image, viral videos, photos

Sharing what happens with extreme weight loss.

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

selfies, shame, extra skin

Working through fear...

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

self love, self care, self esteem

Loving myself.

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

fear, public shaming, insecurity

Scary and important.

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

Shortly after he posted the video online, originally to Tumblr, it quickly went viral and garnered thousands of shares and comments from people around the web. I was one of the thousands touched by the video, so I reached out to Matt to find out more about what motivated him and what he hopes others can take away from his story. Here's what he had to say:

Why was it so important for you to post this video?

"I'm a really big advocate for self-love and body positivity. I think it's important that we learn to love the bodies we're in, even if we don't necessarily like every little thing about them. However, in the time I'd been writing and talking about it, I'd never actually shown my excess skin to anyone. It felt dishonest somehow, to others and to myself. I couldn't tell others that I wanted them to love themselves and keep myself hidden away and ashamed of my skin."

"I know what it feels like to hate your body, and to be depressed about it, and I never want anyone to feel that way again. So, if making myself vulnerable can help one person, why not?"
— Matt Diaz

What's the response been like? Anything particularly unexpected?

"I think that putting any opinion on the Internet will garner a certain amount of negativity and cynicism, but I haven't seen anything like that at all. I've read every comment and message since the video has gone up, literally thousands, and they're all so thoughtful.

A really surprising side-effect were the number of transgender people who've thanked me saying that they understood my struggle, even though their body-related insecurity grew from different roots. I'd never even begun to [think] of what that must be like, and the fact that my message could help even though my problems began somewhere else is really incredible.”

What advice or words of encouragement do you have for someone who's struggling to love their body?

"I know it's difficult, especially when you're starting out. I want you to remember that you are not the problem, certain aspects of society are the problem. You'll constantly be told that you're too heavy or too tall to be attractive, or you're not masculine or feminine enough, or that your skin isn't the right tone or your hair isn't the right color, and these people are always always always wrong.

Luckily, we're slowly starting to see these ideas get phased out by modernity. Plus-sized, un-retouched models are getting more attention in major brands, more attention is being put on the alternative scene for high fashion, it's becoming clear that these negative ideas are not going to last, though it's going to take a while."

"Understand that to love yourself is to contest the negative things that were put into your head. Every smile, tattoo, bathing suit, and crop top is a small revolution. Tell yourself you're beautiful every day, and I promise you will be."
— Matt Diaz

Watch video below:

Matt's story is a personal one, but it's one we can all learn from.

I think the most important thing to take away here is that self-love takes time and is different for everyone no matter what they look like. It's also worth noting that for Matt, losing weight was an important part of his journey, but that might not be the case for everyone. Even so, our society has such incredibly high and unrealistic body standards that even many of those who do work to lose weight end up feeling uncomfortable or being shamed for not having "perfect bodies" once they've lost weight.

There's no such thing as a "perfect body" because everyone is different, which is what makes us beautiful and great! I'm glad there are people like Matt in the world who are not only willing to share their stories but also to inspire others by showing that body confidence comes in all shapes and sizes, and that everyone deserves to feel good about who they are. Here's hoping Matt's inspiring words can help others begin to love and accept themselves, no matter where they're at in their journey.


This story originally appeared on 03.18.15.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

A group of students staring at their phones.

The Norwegian government is spearheading a significant initiative to prohibit students from having smartphones in schools. This move comes in the wake of compelling studies demonstrating the positive impact of removing these devices from students’ hands and allowing them to focus more on their learning.

The effects have been particularly beneficial for girls.

Over the past few years, smartphone bans have cropped up in several school districts throughout Norway, allowing researchers to study how the bans affected students. Sara Abrahamsson, a postdoctoral fellow at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, analyzed students at 400 middle schools and found that the bans had psychological and academic benefits.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health published the results.

1 Girls made fewer appointments for psychological help

The study found that there was a significant decrease in the number of visits that girls made to see a psychological specialist for mental health issues. “Relative to pretreatment this is a significant decline by almost 60% in the number of visits,” Abrahamsson wrote in the study.

2. Steep drop in bullying

The study shows that girls experienced a 46% reduction in bullying after smartphone bans were enacted and boys had a 43% reduction.

smartphone, smartphone ban, norway

Boys looking at memes on a smartphone.

via Max Fischer/Pexels

3. Improved grades for girls

The study revealed that introducing a smartphone ban at the beginning of middle school improved girls' GPAs and increased their chances of enrolling in an academic-oriented high school track versus a vocational study. On the other hand, the ban appeared to have no notable effect on boys’ GPA, teacher-assigned grades, or likelihood of pursuing an academic high school track.

4. The ban had a more significant effect on economically disadvantaged girls

The study found that the ban resulted in greater benefits for economically disadvantaged girls regarding academic performance, appointments for psychological symptoms and the probability of attending an academically focused high school.

The positive impact that the bans have on girls is significant, given the fact that studies show they’ve been the most deeply affected by the rise in mental health issues amongst young people that have coincided with smartphone adaptation.

One of the most disturbing trends is the dramatic rise in suicide rates among girls in developed nations.

smartphones in schools, norway, smartphone ban

Students taking a selfie in school.

via RDNE Stock Project

Jonathan Haidt, author of “The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness” and advocate for banning smartphones in schools, explained why smartphone use is more damaging for girls than boys.

“There is a special relationship between social media and girls,” Haidt told “The Reason Interview with Nick Gillespie” podcast. “When boys get together … they're likely to organize themselves into groups to compete [on multiplayer video games].”

“Girls are much more interested in talking about relationships. Who is on the outs with whom? Who's dating who? They have a more developmental map of the social space,” Haidt continued.

When there is conflict within peer groups, social media poses a much greater threat to girls.

“Boys' aggression is ultimately backed up by the threat of physical domination and punching or pain, " Haidt continued. “Girls' aggression is equal in magnitude, but it's aimed at relationships and reputation. It's called relational aggression. Video games, if anything, prevent boys from getting in fights. … The platform settles everything. But girls' relational aggression is amplified. The worst year of bullying is seventh grade. I'm really focused on middle school.”


Family

Mom claims the biggest 'parenting flex' is having grandparents who are 'voluntarily involved'

Grandparents that are eager to help raise their grandkids are a game-changer.

via Kelsey_p90/TikTok (used with permission) and Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Kelsey shares why it's great to have involved grandparents.

Grandparents are often stereotyped as doting and eager to be a big part of their grandchildren's lives. In movies and TV, we often see parents of child-free women begging them to have kids so they can be grandparents.

However, that’s not always the case. Many grandparents are unable to help raise their grandkids because of their location or health. There are also far too many who aren’t that eager to do the work.

For many parents, the presence of grandparents who actively participate in raising their kids can be a game-changer. The support they provide, whether it’s watching the kids on a Friday night or picking them up from school, can significantly ease the juggling act of modern parenting.


Kelsey, a popular TikTok and Instagram mother of two, recently celebrated the joy of having “voluntarily involved” grandparents, calling them the biggest “parenting flex.” Of course, the subtext of the post is that, unfortunately, many grandparents are uninvolved with their grandchildren’s lives and their families could use their help.

Warning: Strong language.

@kelsey_p90

Top tier 🙌🏻🙌🏻 #fyp #foryourpage #foryou #momtok #mom #moms #momlife #momsbelike #momsoftiktok #sahm #grandparents #grandparentsoftiktok #grandma #grandpa #parenting #parentsoftiktok

“Without question, the biggest parenting flex isn’t the mom car, not how much you make a year. It’s not how well-behaved your kids are,” Kelsey starts her video. “Biggest flex is having involved grandparents. Voluntarily involved. Holy f***, having that midday struggle with my children and then getting that text from grandma: ‘Hey, can I pick so and so up for a sleepover tonight?’ Ha ha ha, funny, you should say that! Her bag has been packed. Never unpacked it. She’s ready.”

She noted that “voluntarily involved” grandparents aren’t just doing the bare minimum. They’re stepping up and taking charge of their role in the family.

“Ones that you can text like, ‘Hey, can you fly up this weekend? We need your help.’ ‘Sure, no problem!’ I don’t know what kind of reaction that was. But it came within the depths. Nothing beats it. Nothing beats a grandparent that wants to do more than required to get that yearly Facebook Happy Birthday Grandma post,” Kelsey continued.

Unfortunately, many moms and dads don’t have parents they can rely on to help them raise their kids and it’s a big loss. “A lot of the times, people don’t have help, and I am sorry,” Kelsey said. That f****** blows. We know it’s their loss. We know. Who doesn’t want to be involved with their grandchildren?”

grandparents, grandkids, tiktok

A grandmother looks out the window with her granddaughter.

via Juan Pablo Serrano/Pexels

Many commenters shared why raising kids without grandparents is so hard.

"I recently read a quote that said 'uninvolved grandparents never intended to be parents themselves' everything made sense," Isabel Cardenas wrote. "You definitely got that right. That is the biggest flex of all time. There’s not enough money in the world that would take the jealousy I have for people who receive that type of love freely," Katy Alltop added.

Kelsey shared her thoughts on why some grandparents aren’t voluntarily involved with their grandkids.

“I think a lot of times grandparents have the point of view like ‘I did my time, I raised my children, now it’s my time to do whatever I want.’ They don’t want to be tied down with babysitting and other commitments,” she told Upworthy. “Which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing! They deserve a fun retirement. I would never want to force a grandparent (or anyone really) to be a part of my children’s lives. But it is so nice to see so many grandparents who go out of their way to foster relationships with their grandkids and who want to spend quality time with them (not just to give mom and dad a break).”

Tony Trapani discovers a letter his wife hid from him since 1959.

Tony Trapani and his wife were married for 50 years despite the heartache of being unable to have children. "She wanted children,” Trapani told Fox 17. "She couldn't have any. She tried and tried." Even though they endured the pain of infertility, Tony's love for his wife never wavered and he cherished every moment they spent together.

After his wife passed away when Tony was 81 years old, he undertook the heartbreaking task of sorting out all of her belongings. That’s when he stumbled upon a carefully concealed letter in a filing cabinet hidden for over half a century.

The letter was addressed to Tony and dated March 1959, but this was the first time he had seen it. His wife must have opened it, read it and hid it from him. The letter came from Shirley Childress, a woman Tony had once been close with before his marriage. She reached out, reminiscing about their past and revealing a secret that would change Tony's world forever.


"Dear Tony, I bet you are surprised to hear from me after so many years. I was just thinking about you tonight like so many other nights. But I thought I would write you and find out how you are," the letter reads. "Tony, please don't be angry or surprised to hear this. I have a little boy. He is five-years- old now - grey eyes and beautiful black hair. What I am trying to say Tony is he is your son."

"Please, Tony if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, please come and see him," Shirley wrote in the letter. "Every day he asks me where is his daddy and believe me Tony I can't even answer him anymore. If would be forever grateful to you if you would just see him. ... I'll close now hoping and praying you will answer. P.S. His name is Samuel Duane."

Now, Tony faced the fact that he had a son that would be around 60 years old and he set out to find him. For over a year, Trapani’s sister tried to track down the mysterious Samuel Duane Childress, until she finally contacted his wife, Donna.

Tony and Samuel met in January 2015 and he felt like a new dad. After meeting his father, Samuel said his mother told him she sent the letter, but Tony never responded. "Why my wife didn't tell me," said Trapani. "I don't know. She wanted children. She couldn't have any. She tried and tried."

"I always asked my mom, I said, 'Well what does he look like?'' Samuel said. "She said, 'Well, go look in the mirror."

The two met and caught up on a lifetime of memories with the understanding that they could never change the past. "Just to know him now is so important to me. It's going to fill that void," Samuel said. But just to be sure, Tony took a paternity test to ensure they were father and son.

The test came back negative, revealing that Tony was not the father. The news upset Tony and Samuel, but they still had a unique bond. They shared a relationship with Samuel’s mother and both have been on an incredibly wild ride after Tony found the mysterious letter.

“They're keeping that bond,” Donna said. “That paper doesn't mean anything to him. That bond has been made—and we're going to move on from here.”


This article originally appeared on 2.23.24

Joy

Tense video shows two barbers rushing to save little girl from running into traffic

The heroes say they went into "dad mode" and immediately acted.

@obthebarber/Instagram

Some people step into action without a second thought.

When two barbers noticed a young girl racing by their window and into oncoming traffic, they only had seconds to act. And thankfully, they did without hesitation.

Osvaldo Lugo recently posted a harrowing surveillance video to the Instagram account of his Connecticut-based business, the Look Sharp Barbershop, which shows himself and an employee, Rafael Santana, racing out to scoop up a young girl mere seconds away from bolting into oncoming traffic.

Lugo tells ABC7 that he simply went into “dad mode” the minute he spotted the girl in the shop window, who had escaped her mother at a nearby bus stop. Thank goodness he did, and that he and Santana were able to help the girl reunite with her mom, who seemed “confused and shocked but grateful,” per Today.com.

Even knowing this story has a happy ending, viewers found the footage terrifying, and commended the barbers on their bravery and fast action.

“I can’t believe how long I was holding my breath while watching, even knowing that you both were to save her before she ran into the traffic,” one person wrote.

Another added, “Omg this gave me chills! Thank God you guys saw her & most importantly went into action.”

The East Hartford Police Department also praised Santana and Lugo in a Facebook post, which read:

“Heroic Barbers to the Rescue! Today, we want to give a massive shoutout to the quick-thinking and brave duo, Osvaldo Lugo and Rafael Santana of LookSharp Barbershop.Their swift action saved a little toddler who had escaped from his mother and started moving towards traffic on Main Street. Thanks to them, a potential tragedy was averted, and a family remains whole. We’re incredibly grateful for these everyday heroes among us!”

As for Luca and Santana, their actions aren’t considered anything out of the ordinary. As Santana shared with TODAY.com, “We did this out of love and we’d do it a million times again. We protect and serve our community at all costs.”

It’s never a bad time to share stories like these. But right now, they seem more important than ever.

Representative photos by Viktoria Slowikowska and Karolina Grabowska|Canva

Woman talks to herself like she talks to her dog and gets results.

By now many people heard of positive affirmations and how well they can work for building self-esteem or confidence. They're generally short, positive phrases that relate to whatever the person my be struggling with. People say positive affirmations in the bathroom mirror, on their commute to work or while waiting to pick kids up from school.

The phrases vary from person to person, but the sentiment is always the same, building the person up. Jen Butler, the woman behind the Instagram page, jenbutlersays, put a new spin on positive affirmations that others may want to try. Butler explains in her video that she decided to do an experiment by speaking to herself in the mirror like she speaks to her dog.


The results were surprising to the comedian. Of course there were feelings of ridiculousness, but Butler noticed she actually started to feel better. Initially the experiment was supposed to last 30 days, but with the results being so positive, she says she may keep it up.

"I did not do anything or talk to anyone between when I opened my eyeballs and shimmied my little tush on into the bathroom and stared in the mirror. And then was like, 'You're a little baby angel. It's the babiest little angel,' and something about having that aggressive, intense, ridiculous love first thing in the morning just absolutely terrified any sort of insecurities into fight, flight or freeze, and then they just shut down," Butler explains.

Watch:

People often talk to their pets in an especially happy, over-the-top tone, giving them praise for simply existing, but humans aren't usually that kind to themselves. Based on the comments, the comedian may have just unlocked a new way to do positive self-talk.

"Absolutely LOVE this! On my very first day, using the very words I use on my furry baby, I said 'I love you so much, you bring joy to the world by simply existing and you teach us so much on a daily basis. Thank-you for being part of our family and loving us so much,' I had no idea how much I needed to hear that," one person writes.

"This is so good because I realized that I say to my dog every day 'you are handsome, and smart, and successful, and I am so proud of you' but I don’t even say that to myself," someone says.

"I’m starting tomorrow talking to myself like I talk to my cat. So tomorrow I full expect to have an incredible day like the squishiest mamasita Bonita conchita burrito Dorito should," another shares.

"Why does the thought of doing this for myself absolutely terrify me and bring me to tears," a commenter asks.

So, if you've ever needed motivation to start doing your daily affirmations, just go ahead, stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself what a good human you are. You have the fluffiest best tush there ever was.