Friday, October 2, 2009

Massive Weight Loss

I am a huge champion of people getting healthier. I love hearing stories about how people have taken to better eating habits, adding more exercise to their life, and have realized the value that they have added to their own lives, and those around them by doing so. In fact, I have posted previously about my cousin Jenn who had lost 80 lbs back in March. Most recently she let me know she had pushed past the 110 lb barrier and keeps up the battle every day. I am extremely proud of her! This took a great deal of willpower and fortitude. I also, at the same time, wished she had never gotten herself into that position in the first place.

The reason I say this is a recent story about a man named Bob Bedord who lost 257 pounds in 30 months without surgery. Leaving the easy" Well, he IS from Wisconsin" jokes aside, something about the article struck me. Let me start off by saying that when I read the article I was impressed and also very happy for him. He did not take the easy way out. He worked hard. He lost the weight and will inevitably have a higher quality of life because of it.

I thought it was great that he has "lost more weight than anyone ever has on 'The Biggest Loser,' even the marathon cheat whom I share a first name with. But when I got to one particular phrase it sort of stuck in my craw. The article mentioned he had "become a role model for staff and patients." I thought about this or a while and I guess that is a good thing. It is wonderful that he can inspire people. However, I recently had a lengthy discussion with someone about role models and those who inspire us. The crux of the conversation is that inspiration does come in many forms and it SHOULD come from those who do the right thing day in and day out, and do not need to make drastic changes in their lifestyle because they have always been doing what is good for them.

In more simple terms, Bob would not have gotten to 512 lbs and then had to lose half of his body weight if he had just eaten right and exercised in the first place!

To me, the unsung hero, the person who has not necessarily overcome huge adversity to stay fit, deserves as much kudos as the person who has fallen and had to crawl and scratch their way to the top. But we rarely award those people with a simple nod of praise or words of encouragement. We rightfully praise those who have lost their way and fought hard to get back in but forget to heap the same amounts of good words on those who may have been just as tempted to stray and eat the horrible foods and forget about exercising but still woke up at 5 AM to go for a run and refused to have that Entemann's Swiss Chocolate Chip Cake (where 1/9th of a cake contains 25% of your daily fat for the day!)

America likes the underdog. We are big fans of the comeback story. Hollywood has essentially been made upon the shoulders of the untalented person with the never-say-die attitude that wins the big game and gets the mate of their dreams. The person who has the looks or the car or the money is always painted as a major ass. I think the only exception in modern times would be Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles.

(Women, ages 30-40 just swooned. I guarantee. FYI, Michael Schoeffling, the actor who played Jake, is alive and well in NE Pennsylvania.)

However, Jake Ryan aside, the theory really holds true. Even in Sixteen Candles, to some extent we wanted Anthony Michael Hall's character to end up with Molly Ringwald. But when Molly ends up with Jake Ryan, she satisfies the seldom played out female-underdog. America loves it.

Huge digression aside, I think there is plenty of room in the world for inspiration to come from all corners. And sometimes, the ones for whom it seems life comes the easiest, are the ones who have worked the hardest to make it look that way.


Monica said...

Great article Dane! Yes, anyone can be an inspiration! People who don't seem to struggle outwardly are often looked upon as "it comes easy for them". We're all human! I praise anyone who tries to better themselves in any way, shape, or form. Self-improvementis often not only a physical challenge but more so a mental challenge. Get the mind and the heart right and the rest flows!

Khem Suthiwan said...

Thanks for the article and I completely agree! I don't want to discount the achievements of Biggest Loser contestants, but as an average athlete (and I'm sure there are many like me out there), I constantly struggle with 10-15 pounds of weight gain/loss and trying to push myself physically with endurance events. One day, I hope reality TV producers come up with a show where they turn an average Jane into the pseudo-elite athlete. I'll be the first to sign up!

Erskien Lenier said...

I used to think the same way you do about these perspectives until I read a book by John Eldredge called "Wild at Heart" and my wife read his wife Stacy Eldredges book: "Captivating"

There is a much deeper reason the masses love a heroic comeback, challenging, save the day kind of story.

Read these and see it all with a different set of eyes...

See you out there somewhere.

Barefoot Erskien Lenier

Tri Buddha said...

Obviously you have to be inspired by I person who does pull his life back together and make positive changes. I do however totally agree with you that it is far more impressive when a person makes the right choices, doesn't take the easy way out, does with out some of the not healthy fun stuff in life, to live a good healthy life. I will tell you one person who does inspire me who is an underdog story. Matt Lieto he went from the mid 200+'s, dopped 75lbs and became a professional triathlete and ironman.

PP said...

Good points Dane. As you do so often you take a new viewpoint. I read once that we must walk/run/stroll 14 miles to lose a pound of weight. To many this sounds discouraging, but we need not do it all at once. The movement adds up. I estimate that I would weigh over 500 pounds if I had not walked to church most Sundays for the past 60 years. Not very good reasoning, but there is a grain of truth there.
Weight is a slippery slope. Case in point. A friend got heavy enough that pushing his lawn mower was too much. He purchased a riding mower. Unless he changes his eating habits he just started to slip a notch.

Steve said...

Since being in a motorcycle accident back in 1999, I was unable to be very active in any way. I used food as a crutch and it became easier to eat a couple, three double double's (In and Out burgers) rather than doing something for me. After a very long recovery period, I decided to try and get back into shape. I decided to start running again, well at this point it was more of a fast walk. I set a goal of just completing a mile regardless of time, the mission was just to complete it. At the time of my "reversal" I weighed in at a hefty 330+ LBS. I would, on my days off, take a 6 mile walk. As Monica stated, Not only did I transform myself physically, but mentally as well. I started to gain speed, used a treadmill to gauge and would increaase the speed by .2-.3 tenths of a mile every couple weeks to a month. Back then it was usually around a 14-15:00/min pace, today's run of 5.65 miles the avg pace was 8:30. I continually strive for a faster pace, not to BQ just to better myself. Today I weighed in at 203, still trying to take of the last few pounds from a cruise VC and a subsequent injury. Running has comletely changed my life, my families life and have inspired quite a few people to "lace them up." I was humbled beyond words when a co-worker came to me and said she has started to run because of me along with my Brother-in-Law. So it is contagious and when I can not get out on my run, I see and feel like the day has not been complete or I left something out.

I would have added before and after pics, but they are on a different computer.

Victoria said...

Generally I agree with you, but I do think that some people ARE more prone to be active than others. I have a very hard time sitting still, and I crave my daily runs, and when I get a chance to workout 2 times in a day, I'm even happier. This is not everyone's story. I DO think that Americans as a whole should be exercising MUCH more, but I also know that a) coming from a family where exercise was taken for granted as something that you worked into your day, and b) being a person who has a tremendous amount of extra energy both conspired to make me a person who plans my daily exercise without thinking. This is not the story for a lot of people I know, and quite honestly, at this point, it IS easier for me than it is for them.

Dan said...

That's a great point bro! I am a guy who has lost 200 pounds in 18 months, have completed 3 Ironman 70.3s a FULL Ironman last month, 2 marathons and a host of other races in the past year, and I can tell you that most of my inspiration comes from the guys who have been athletes all their lives, and have committed to their fitness day in and day out. When I first got into endurance sports after having Gastric Bypass Surgery (Not an easy way out by any means), I used to be motivated by the "Underdog" folks, mainly because just finishing a race was my primary goal. Now, my goal is to become competitive and raise the bar for myself, and by far now, my inspiration comes mainly from those who have been walking the walk for mot of their lives who set the example for me. Anyways, great perspective and great insight...


Ruth said...

To have a dream and to have a passion is what adds the color and dimension to an otherwise gray two-dimensional life.

But it is perseverance and patience, determination and discipline that breathes life into the dream, into the passion, and change a person from the inside out.

We applaud visible results, and rightfully so! Yay! But it is the hidden character of that person which truly inspires.

jpnairn said...

I've been told, "You just don't understand what it's like to have a weight problem." and "You've never had to fight with these issues."
It's just not true. I just chose to take control when I was 30 pounds overweight instead of ignoring it.
I could have waited until I was 100 pounds overweight to do something about it, but I didn't. It's not always easy to stay in shape.
It's funny how so many obese people will only take advice on weight management from other people who are overweight. They will listen to people who are in the thin phase of a constant cycle from fat to thin, but they won't listen to people who manage to stay healthy.
It's also kind of amusing how everyone who has commented so far has avoided the word "fat."

Kent said...

As a guy who has lost 211 pounds and has kept it off for 5 years, I can relate to both sides of the issues. Certainly a guy who has pulled his life back from the brink has right to be proud of himself and his achievement, but he or she has to own he put himself there to begin with. Relating it to drugs is the recovering addict better off or more virtuous than the teetotalers.

I would say both have the same virtue or admirability to coin a new term. I always say to those who watch my YouTube videos. Don't let the weight define yourself. It is simply the place you started from just like a trip to DisneyWorld is not about where you started but where you ended.

The second you let something other than your internal drive or being define you; suddenly you have new borders to what can be accomplished. I am less and less the guy that lost 211 pounds, and more and more a guy pushing his body to achieve faster marathons or better fitness.