Fit2Fat2Fit Sounds Like A Good Idea
Drew Manning’s attempt to resonate with his client’s by deliberately gaining 70 pounds seems like a good idea. But, did he really accomplish what he set out to do?
Drew is the healthy, fit personal trainer that gained 70 pounds so that he would be better able to understand the struggles that his overweight clients were experiencing. Drew recognized that he wasn’t as effective as he could be because he wasn’t able to relate to them. He decided an overweight, out of shape Drew would be able to feel their pain.
During the weight gain phase of his program he ate fast food and junk and didn’t work out. He found that his energy lagged, he felt self-conscious about his appearance and experienced cravings for sodas and fast food.
Just this week he made an appearance on Good Morning America and looked just like he did a year ago before he gained the weight – muscular, healthy and tan.
The public’s reaction to this is all over the board. Some think it’s great that he put himself through a dramatic weight gain – risking his own health – so that he could feel what it’s like to be overweight. Other people say he couldn’t possibly know how they feel because he knew all along that he would be able to lose the weight and get back to his training routine. And of course there are those that think that it was a money making stunt and the end result is that he is now rich, famous and has a book deal .
It’s The Ole’ Walk A Mile In My Shoes Approach
Drew isn’t the first person to decide to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. There are tons of stories about people that have lived the life of a homeless person for a period of time to have a better understanding of what that is really like. Men have become women, white people have painted themselves black, brunettes have died their hair blond, and thin people have stuffed their clothes to appear to be overweight.
All of these people are trying to find out what it feels like to be a person who’s living a life more difficult than their own because of appearance, size, or ethnic background. Taking on the guise of another person is probably as close as we can become to knowing what it’s like to be someone else. Let’s not kid ourselves. We may be a tad closer, but still too far away to matter.
Drew’s experiment enlightened him somewhat but the things that he was not able to experience may be more important than what he did. There are five essentials that were not captured during the course of his Fit2Fat2Fit project which make it impossible for him to really know what it feels like to be in his client’ s skin.
1. Overwhelming frustration. Once Drew gained the 70 pounds it was not long before he began sizing back down to where he was before which spared him the frustration that comes from knowing that the ultimate challenge is to keep the weight off. Losing weight and keeping it off is not typical for most dieters. It’s estimated that 95% of people that lose weight gain it back and are faced with figuring out how to get rid of it – again! The easy way is to reach for a quick trick like the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge or Total Body Makeover program and the gain, lose, gain, lose cycle begins.
2. Limited knowledge about diet and nutrition. People that are in the health and fitness industry don’t realize that people that aren’t don’t know what or how much they need to eat. If everyone had solid nutritional information and knew what worked there would be no such thing as the grapefruit, cabbage soup, Caveman, Belly Fat Cure or Park Avenue diets.
For the average person that wants to lose 70 pounds without going about it in a way that will hurt them down the road, there is a lot of trial and error unless they hire a nutritionist or wellness coach. Not everyone is able to do that. A general lack of knowledge about nutrition can sabotage the best efforts. Personal trainers, on the other hand, are very knowledgeable about diet and nutrition and have learned how to prepare kale and Brussels sprouts so they are palatable.
3. Lack of motivation – and time – to exercise. This is a close cousin to #2. Workout junkies (like me and Drew) don’t completely understand why it’s so hard for people to get up and go to the gym before work, or go afterwards and postpone evening plans until we’re done. What if you love to read, paint, scrapbook, write, play the piano or watch movies? Going to the gym or taking a walk after work takes time away from you being able to do the things that you love.
For those of us that enjoy taking fitness classes, running or bicycling, we’re spending our free time doing what we love. If someone told me I had to sit and read a book for an hour and a half every morning before work – during the time that I’m usually working out – I wouldn’t be able to do it for very long either.
4. Temptation to fall back into old (bad) habits. – Drew’s natural inclination is to go back to doing the things he did before he gained the weight. That’s good news for Drew. When he slips back into his old habits he’ll lose weight and body fat, and gain muscle mass. He’ll eat nutritious meals and get plenty of exercise daily. The behaviors he’s established over the years will get him back to where he was before he gained the weight. What if the old habits are a soda, bag of chips and remote control? Going back to the old behaviors is going to be a problem.
5. Fear that the weight will return. People that successfully lose weight live in fear of gaining it back. Checking the scale, counting calories, logging foods in the phone app becomes an obsession. A missed workout or a cookie binge can lead to guilt, depression and self-loathing. Getting a handle on living life in a new and different way after losing weight is an enormous challenge for people. For someone that has gained the weight back and is starting over – remember that’s about 95% – their life revolves around the next slip up.
Am I Being Too Hard On Drew?
I think Drew’s heart is in the right place but at the same time I think that the Fit2Fat2Fit ‘I want to feel what you feel’ project over simplifies broader issues and doesn’t do justice to the challenge of the life long behavior change that’s required for weight loss and management.
Drew’s back to being who he is and doing what he does best. His client’s haven’t changed either. They will continue to struggle daily with their decision to go to the gym instead of spending that time doing what they love.
What do you think? Does Drew Manning get it now or did he attempt to do the impossible?