Get outta the Gym and into the Kitchen

August 1, 2014

Summer time TV – it’s bleak.  Believe me, I’d much rather be out enjoying life than sitting home in front of the TV, but I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy and I have a 3 year old, so let’s face it, the TV is on more than I would like because I can’t get off the couch at the end of the day!

Earlier this week after we stumbled upon a show called, “Extreme Weight Loss”, which until that day I had never seen or heard of.  I knew of the show “The Biggest Loser” but wasn’t sure how this was different.  They told the story of a 39 year old woman named Cassie who was currently 347lbs.  She worked from home in Milwaukee and told the camera she barely left the house anymore since she was so unhappy with her weight.  She did go through fast food drive-thru’s daily and one would assume this is what helped her reach 347lbs.  She also had NINE television’s in her house! This started to make me squirm – because I totally get it, sitting in front of the TV isn’t great for you, and yet I was doing exactly that!  Part of her journey included an accidental pregnancy at age 20 and the subsequent giving up her baby for adoption.  It had haunted her for 19 years.  She ate to stuff down her feelings of guilt and shame about giving up her child.

Over the course of 2 hours (!) she spends a year working with Chris & Heidi Powell (who I had also never heard of) to get her life back.  She goes to boot camp, she works out, she runs on a treadmill, lifts a kettleball, runs outside, and does basically every single exercise you can think of (except yoga).  There are lots of shots of her struggling to do this because of her size, and then eventually mastering it and enjoying it.  There’s a brief mention of her “not having the food she can eat in the house” when she arrives home to Milwaukee – but not any follow up.  I saw in one of the promos that Rocco DiSpirito shows up to teach her how to cook, but I must have gone to the bathroom for 2 minutes and missed that part entirely.  There was almost no mention of food, except that she used to eat fast food and drink alcohol and now she doesn’t.  Her husband still has Pabst Blue Ribbon in the house and she is furious only going so far as to say “alcohol was a big part of how I got here.”

This woman Cassie ends up achieving her overall goal to get back to the weight she was when she gave her baby up for adoption and I commend her for that.  Over the course of the year she changes her entire lifestyle and also her husbands.  At her grand finale she looks amazing, younger, happier and more in love with her husband than ever.  She even reunites with her 19 year old son!  It was very inspiring and I could see how editing can easily manipulate you into caring about someone that you’ve never met.  I admit it, I even cried a few tears.

But once the tears dried, I got to thinking – is this the whole story?

Back in 2009, when I started writing this blog I wanted to contribute to the conversation about weight from the average American woman’s perspective.  I was not 347lbs and and I was not 105lbs, I was your average size 12 American woman who wanted to get healthy.  I had recently gotten married and was not in the health and wellness field at all.  I just realized one day that when I watched tv or looked in magazines there was NO ONE I could relate to.

As of 2010, the CDC reports the average American woman weighs 166.2 – not even close to the 347lbs that Cassie had to struggle with.  For many of my clients 166.2 is a goal weight at this point!  Myself included! These woman that weigh 166.2 probably work out, and definitely watch what they eat.  They indulge occasionally and should cook more, but they are not getting the results that they want fast enough, so they get discouraged and order a pizza. 

I’ve been there – believe me!

I will go as far to say that it’s even harder for us size 12s to lose weight and improve our lifestyle than anybody else.  Case in point, last year when I had finally tried EVERYTHING to lose weight and was getting ZERO results I was at yoga minimum 2x per week, also swimming 2x per week and eating the best diet I ever had.  I was a health coach for pete’s sake!  I was not driving through McDonald’s twice a day, I can assure you!

Here’s the truth that Extreme Weight Loss and the rest of media don’t really tell you, losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  I probably had the equation more at 50-50 than 80-20.  But watching people eat grilled chicken with brown rice on tv isn’t very exciting is it?  And by the way, we don’t want to scare away any of those food companies advertising dollars, do we?  I mean, the broccoli council doesn’t have the money to pay for commercials like Beef, Dairy or Pork, right? But if we just promote exercise we don’t really offend anyone from Tyson or Smithfield, so let’s run with that!  LOL – run!  

Listen, I’m all for exercise as a means of stress release and conditioning.  When I lose 15lbs last year I completely changed my diet and I barely exercised because I couldn’t do it all at the same time.  My yoga practice faltered, but I still lost weight.  I was totally working the 80/20 groove.  Now that I’m pregnant, I still try and swim 2x a week because I enjoy it and the pool is one of the few places I feel light, but it’s not for weight loss.  I also still enjoy my whey protein shake every morning because it boosts my metabolism and I like it, not for weight loss.  

Once I deliver this beautiful baby, I will require to lose weight.  I will not have a ton of time to be in the gym, but I will still need to eat everyday.  I will go full force into 80/20 and resume eating the way I know I should for weight loss.  I think the best exercise is the kind you love and can do consistently.  If you love taking walks then do that!  If you love swimming as I do, do that for 25 minutes and it’s better than nothing at all.  This is not about being in the gym for hours a day, this is about consistency and maintenance.  I loved Bikram yoga, but when a class is 90 minutes it’s really hard to fit into a schedule sometimes.  You have to find what works for you.  

If you’re planning to get your weight down, focus on the diet first and foremost.  Don’t worry about the fact that your gym membership is basically a “charitable donation” at this point.  Just get your diet to a place where you’re eating right for your body type.  Eventually the exercise will start to happen, but it’s not required to lose weight, especially at the beginning.

Here’s the crazy thing, a quick Google search led me to this recording of Cassie from Milwaukee talking about her transformation on local radio.  She says the show portrays her journey as all about exercise, but it isn’t.  I wonder if the execs over at ABC know this?  She’s still a very inspiring woman, and I liked her message in this interview especially.  Losing weight is so much more than calories in/calories out, but about filling a void inside of you with love and not excess of food and drink.

I doubt I’ll be watching Extreme Weight Loss in the future, but I was glad to see Cassie’s story and to be able to reflect on the 5th anniversary of this blog on why I started it in the first place. Thanks for reading for the last 5 years!

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