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Big is Gorgeous founder Sharmilah Begum was offended. She had come to meet Xndo founder Lars Brittsjo to talk about how the Singaporean weight and health management company could collaborate with BIG. At the end of the discussion he had challenged her about the health implications of her own weight.
“When he said that I was a bit upset with him, because I felt that he judged me like everyone else,” Sharmilah said.
“Just because you’re overweight you would always be unhealthy, right? I didn’t tell him I was upset with him, but I felt why is he telling me I’m a ticking bomb, you know? I don’t think I’ll be a ticking bomb, because I’m so active right? I love to eat, but I do exercise.”
Sharmilah dismissed the challenge. Eight years later, the ticking stopped and the explosions began.
A diagnosed diabetic, Sharmilah became sick; very sick. Small infirmities compounded and grew to become major problems. She was hospitalized several times and fought a constant battle with fatigue. The young, happy life she was living gradually disappeared beneath a cloud of pain and infirmity.
“I was going from bad to worse. I was coming out with a lot of things, and all of it was diabetes related,” she said.
“I had a carbuncle on my head that gave me a face stroke. I put a headband on and I wore big glasses. Everyone thought I was looking so diva, but actually I was going through head surgery. Underneath that headband was a bandage and behind those big glasses was a face that had melted down.”
Against doctor’s predictions Sharmilah’s face recovered and movement returned. She remained positive and upbeat, but the sickness continued. She had a second operation on her head, then one on her toe, then her hand. All the while her energy level was diminishing. A sugar and carbohydrate lover, her blood sugar level was three times the healthy range, and her blood pressure was up to a dangerous 200.
She pushed on but the normal demands of life and business often became too much and she’d fall sick again. Friends became worried, and business opportunities were lost. A seemingly continual stream of health conditions embattled her.
Eventually, with diabetes threatening her eyesight and doctors telling her she would go blind, Sharmilah saw Lars on Facebook and contacted him again. When they met, she reminded him of his words.