Skip to main content

What we can learn from My 600 lb Life.


For a lot of people, their fitness goals revolve around improving body composition.  I've been thinking about this a lot as I've been sitting on my couch overeating and watching bad television.  However, its not all bad. 

After binging on a few episodes of "Hoarders", I was inspired by my next TV binge of  "My 600 lb Life".  The struggles to commit to life-changing, and often life-saving behavior serves as a good metaphor for the rest of us who are trying to make drastic changes whether its diet, physical ability, or getting over an addiction.

This show reminds me of a “chose your own adventure” book.  There are a few different outcomes that are relatively predictable based on what happens at different points during the show.  And its an incredibly clear illustration of what is possible when people follow directions and stop making excuses.
 
It always starts the same way.   You meet a person who desperately needs help losing an excessive amount of weight.  They talk about all the reasons they need to do this and it seems to be a life and death matter.  They drive to Houston to meet the good doctor and he gives them a very strict diet to follow for 3 months and instructs them that they can only be approved for surgery if they lose the amount of weight he prescribes.

Now, a lot of the patients are shocked when he tells them how much weight he wants them to lose, usually 50 pounds or more.  However, this is very smart on the doctor’s part as this serves two purposes: 
  1. It gets them to a healthier weight for surgery. 
  2. It serves as a test as to whether or not they are actually committed to the lifestyle changes they need to make. 

That second part is very important.   Those of us who act as facilitators for people wanting to make lifestyle changes can only do so much.  We can show them how, but if the individual cannot take the responsibility to follow directions and accept the burden of the hard work they need to do, they will ultimately fail no matter how much we try and intervene.
 
So, after the visit to the good doctor, we see these patients back home.  A couple of different scenarios can happen here:
  1. The patient starts following the diet with the support of their family and manages to stick it out.
  2. The patient talks about how they are kind of following the diet, but aren’t really paying attention to portion sizes and may still be drinking soda and eating junk.
  3. The patient justifies not following the diet because of stress and an inability to cope.
  4. The patient’s enablers continue to offer and feed them junk because it makes the enabler feel better. 

Obviously, the first scenario is the best and usually results in the patient being approved for surgery.  A lot of these patients continue to be successful and lose hundreds of pounds of weight while continuing to try and be more active.

Success!

The other three scenarios obviously do not result in success.  A lot of them are brought into the hospital to control their access to food whether its themselves and/or their enablers who are to blame.  In the hospital, they lose the weight (which clearly demonstrates it can be done) and are then sent home to continue to try and lose weight on their own.  A good number of these people accept the wake-up call and are eventually approved for surgery and are successful.  A good number of these people go home and go back to their old ways, their old justifications, and ultimately fail. 

For the ones who fail, the pattern is pretty consistent.  We watch them lie about how much they eat.  We watch them get angry when the doctor or their family members call them out.  We watch them come up with all kinds of excuses.  And then they get angry and frustrated again.  And then we begin to see the manipulative behaviors of both the patient and the caregivers.  There is a whole lot of bullshit that goes on at this point of the show.  Most of the patients are literally enabled by their husbands/wives/children/parents to continue their incredibly unhealthy lifestyles either due to some need in the caretaker to continue to overfeed them and/or the manipulation tactics of the patient.  Ultimately, no one gets to live a life that doesn’t revolve around feeding the monster.
 
And there are always a ton of excuses that always start the same way.

“I can’t.”
“I need.”
“I have to have.”
“I just don’t think that’s true for me.”

Its not that any of these excuses are true.  Its just a perception problem.  If change is to happen, it has to come from the individual actually wanting the change.  Its not necessarily that they don’t believe they can change, it is often that they simply don’t want to.  Partly because as hard as their lifestyle is, its comfortable, they are used to it, and change is hard.
    
I have nothing inspirational to share here other than this:  If you have already decided you can’t do something, success will continue to elude you.  Change your mindset and change your path.  There are people out there who can provide you with the guidance you need to change, but ultimately, you have to be the one to drive that train.  Decide to be successful and figure out what you need to change about yourself to get there.
 
We are all capable of change, but ability without desire robs you of your potential.  We all have ability.  Make the desire happen and you can achieve what you may have perceived to be impossible.


“Why it's simply impassible!
Alice: Why, don't you mean impossible?
Door: No, I do mean impassible. (chuckles) Nothing's impossible!” 

Popular posts from this blog

Next Level

So, there are those of us who work out regularly to look and feel better and improve our general health.  There are those of us who just like to lead active lives and enjoy nature and the occasional physical activity.  And then there are those of us who like to challenge themselves to push past our perceived physical limitations and see how far down the rabbit hole we can go.  While this last one is certainly an admirable pursuit, as are the other two, I must say it is the one I most commonly see go sideways.

If you are contemplating taking things to the next level with your training, you must first sit down and realistically assess what you are about to take on.  Next level training is not just about pushing yourself in the gym, but also managing your personal life, your recovery, and your expectations.  It also means knowing when to go low and slow and when to go hard.  The most common mistake a lot of people make is that they think next level means going harder all the time.  But,…

The Highland Games

Last summer, I became intrigued by the idea of learning how to throw heavy things.  As a weightlifting coach with unfortunate limb ratios for competitive weightlifting and a few friends who compete in Highland Games (and blather on incessantly about how awesome it is), I was excited to see if throwing might be a good outlet for my training.  I'm relatively strong, can produce a good amount of power, and have long limbs.  However, I am also relatively small compared to most throwers and therefore do not have a mass advantage.  That leaves me with mostly strength and technique as my assets.  Not yet knowing how to throw and not having a coach other than you-tube was going to make the technique part a bit of a challenge.

I didn't really intend to compete in the Highland Games, just use the throws to keep my training fun and set some backyard PRs, but then a friend of mine in Texas decided to host a Highlander.  A Highlander is a hybrid Highland Games and Strongman competition a…

Training for the Warrior Dash

Over the past couple of years, obstacle course races such as the Warrior Dash have become insanely popular.  Since I first posted about training for the Warrior Dash, I've gotten a lot of inquiries from clients and other trainers about how exactly one should train for the Warrior Dash or similar short distance obstacle course races.  I've heard people tout everything from Crossfit to P90X to not training at all as being the best way to train for one of these races, but I believe there is a middle ground that can serve far more people, especially beginners, without getting too extreme or requiring a lot of equipment.  Obviously, the best training protocol is tailored for the individual, but with a little information, its relatively easy to tweak a program for your own needs and fitness level.

The first time I saw a video of the Warrior Dash on Youtube, I thought to myself, "Those people are crazy."

I also thought, "I want to do that".  
I watched a few mo…