Goodbye to the Band
But wait—there's more.
With Extreme having sold 1.8 million copies in England (where it debuted in October '05) and just published in the U.S., Sharon, 54, is still talking. This time she's opening up about the painful weight struggle that in '99 drove her to a surgeon for a gastric band that helped her lose 125 lbs. and that she has now decided to have removed. "I keep trying to eat more and more ... I'm a pig," she says flatly. Though the band limits what she can digest and makes it painful to overindulge, the 5'2" Osbourne confesses that she has put on 15 lbs. this year just "from overeating."
And so instead of the silicone band, which she'll shed when she returns to the U.S. in December, Osbourne plans to rely on psychotherapy. Lots of it. "I have to figure out why I do what I do to myself," says Osbourne. Her theory? "I think I have some sort of self-destruction button." In her lavishly chandeliered Victorian mansion near London, with a fleet of dogs including her Pomeranian Minnie for steady company, Osbourne has been working on two British television shows (a talent show, The X-Factor, and a daily talk fest, The Sharon Osbourne Show) and, she says, seeing too little of her family this year. (Post-rehab, Kelly, 21, is working in Japan; Jack, 20 and 50 lbs. lighter now, is heading for Namibia to make a documentary. Both have flown the nest, as has Aimee, 23.) "I've gotten to the stage of 'What is the point of all of this?'" says rock's toughest-talking matriarch (the CEO of the Osbournes' music empire). "I'm lonely. Ozzy is really missing me and wants me to come back to L.A. Some days I work 16 hours a day and it is just hell."
A hell that, perhaps, has helped fuel the backsliding with "chocolate, French fries and junk food" instead of sticking to the minimeals with which gastric-band patients are instructed to ply their downsized digestive systems. And when she overloads? Osbourne is blunt, perhaps alarmingly so: "You throw up ... then you eat more."
Now the entire clan is pulling for Sharon—who, after all, seemed unstoppable as she plowed through cancer treatment with MTV on board—as she confronts the eating disorder that's dogged her since she was 14. Even if she hangs on to some of her lesser compulsions: In Extreme she admits that snapping up bling like the 54-carat sapphire stolen in '04 from their Buckinghamshire manse has always been a crutch. ("When I was fat, my jewelry was a distraction from my arse," she writes.)
Though she admits that she ignored her children's pleas for her to get rid of the band—and face her disorder—for too long, Osbourne now says that time and the quiet of the empty nest have helped her absorb the message: "My kids, their whole life, have seen me struggle with weight. They say, 'Now you need to spend time on your head.'"
Toward that end Sharon's new goal is to drop out of work for a year and hang at her revamped home in L.A. The family's crepuscular digs on Doheny are being brightened up; floral designs are replacing the Gothic look. "It would be so lovely to spend time with Ozzy," Sharon says, "and not have to be at the studio at 9 a.m."
A scenario too serene for lovebirds who've been known to duke it out when the going gets tough? Whatever comes to pass, Sharon Osbourne's sure to share.
Patients who have gastric-band surgery—a laparoscopic procedure that reduces stomach capacity—are given a "wholesome, low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein" diet, with three to five small meals daily, says Scott Shikora, M.D., chief of bariatric surgery at Tufts-New England Medical Center. Though most do well, those who overeat risk damage as serious as tearing in the esophagus. How many cheat? "I can't tell you, but noncompliance is a problem," says Shikora. "In America we're surrounded by images of food."
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