Purposely Fat – In Order To Re-Get Fit

A personal trainer is spending six months gaining weight through an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. I think it’s a good journey for someone to take who’s never been overweight and can’t understand what it’s like to go down the path many of us have, without meaning to, traveled down. And I think he will have a better appreciation for how much harder things are with extra weight. For example, he’s mentioned clipping his toenails is a struggle. He’s also said that he now sees how eating unhealthy is a spiral of eating bad to crave more bad, and ultimately he feels like it is addictive. From that perspective, I like the idea.

From the perspective of putting your body in an unhealthy position, I’m neutral. He’s right, many people are this way for a much longer period in their lives than six months. So I doubt he’s doing irreparable damage, especially since studies show most negative impacts, even those resulting from years and years of an unhealthy lifestyle, can be reversed by eating healthy and becoming more active.

The thing that I’m wavering on is whether his journey back, after a lifetime of being in shape and only six months off the wagon, will be identical to someone who’s been sedentary for years or even their entire lives. I watch (and used to be) new exercisers struggle with simple form, not getting much from their workout because they don’t understand new form. And I think a lot of trainers don’t see this struggle, or understand it because it comes so naturally to them, either after years of repetition or other inborn skills. And with muscle memory, it will be a much easier journey to rebuild those muscles and get back in shape. Plus, once you’ve been there, of course you know you can get back there.

Of course, many of us have been thinner in our past, and have had times we’ve been more active. I’m not making an excuse. But I can also see how this journey will be much easier and might be insulting to others around him. We watch actors/actresses gain weight for parts, then through a professionally designed diet and a personal trainer’s workout plan, lose it back easily. Your body can bounce back quicker if your change is recent. This is why it’s easy for someone who’s been the opposite, overweight her whole life, to go back to being overweight. The sedentary lifestyle and eating habits are ingrained. Much like he’s turned to exercise when many people turn to food.

Again, I think it’s an interesting approach. And I hope he sees how even 10 or 15 pounds (not the 60 he’s at right now) make a difference on joints when you’re running. Or how unused muscles ache for days and days when you’re a beginner, when as a frequent exerciser, you look forward to that ache, that’s much more dull, and lasts a fraction of the time. I think someone who’s always been in shape can have a hard time relating. It’s easy to say, “Put down the fork and go for a jog.” But it’s a lot harder to do when you have these habits and don’t have the know-how to eat healthier or do the right workouts.

Again, not making excuses. I don’t feel like those situations even apply to me. I do stress eat. And I do turn to food for comfort. But I’m also turning those habits around. VERY SLOWLY. I am really active for someone my size (and I’m only about 30 pounds overweight, probably). But I didn’t get here overnight, either. Those first several months of working out are awful, especially if you’re learning proper form for weights, figuring out WHERE muscles are and what it feels like to truly fatigue them. There’s more misinformation about healthy diet than there is actual real non-for-profit information. It’s hard to find your way. It’s taken me about ten years on my weight loss journey to truly feel like I’m educated. And it’s a matter of putting all of that education into place consistently. I’m making very, very slow progress. But hopefully it’ll stick. And ten years from now it will be hard for me not to workout, like this trainer. Or the taste of junk food will be gross, and I’ll notice the negative impacts, like this trainer.

No one wants to be overweight. And I applaud this trainer for giving himself a different perspective! I hope he documents even more closely his journey back, making notes of the things he didn’t expect to be such a struggle, and the simple things he was able to do that maybe others don’t think about. For me, biking was a simple thing I could do regularly and burn calories, especially when running was hard on my joints and I was sore for several days from lifting weights. I could get on my bike almost anytime and get in a good workout. Even when it was disgustingly hot and humid. All it takes is getting started. Do the things you like. Make small changes in staying active or switching out bad food choices with good. There are things all of us wouldn’t mind doing that might, in the long run, make a huge impact. I think the trick is changing those things that are easiest first. And by the time you get to the harder things, maybe they won’t be such a struggle.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jennewby71
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:10:07

    hmmm…should be interesting. Yeah I agree, since he was fit before, it won’t take him as long to get that way again. I remember a long time ago reading something that if you are a regular exerciser and you’ve built muscles and then stop it only takes like 1/2-75% of the time to get back to that. Does that make sense? like if you trained for a year and then stopped, you’d get back to that in 6-9 months vs. 12 months. Who knows if that is true or not and i’m sure other variables need to be factored into it, like how much time was taken off etc. but regardless, yes, it’s not the same as someone being 70lbs overweight and NEVER have stepped foot in a gym and doesn’t know anything about form etc. But i do think it’s great that this trainer is willing to even try this. Now he truly will be able to relate in some sense to his clients. Good for him.

    Reply

    • stumbletowardhealth
      Oct 20, 2011 @ 17:15:30

      Jen! I always love seeing your posts! I agree! I think it’s great that he’s doing this. I think a lot of trainers put a lot of focus in their lives on being fit and on their appearance, and that’s what drives them to dedicate so much time. That’s NOT a bad thing! Appearance is part of what motivates me, too!

      But I don’t know many (or any – but I don’ tknow a lot of trainers) trainers who would do this to their body purposely. I like how he’s noticing that he’s becoming addicted to and craving those bad foods. Hopefully he’ll give feedback on how to get over that cycle. I struggle with the sweets cravings that I feel are almost indeniable (is that a word?). And then a food gets in my head and I can’t get it out. Usually by casual mention of the food or even by seeing it on TV or reading about it in a book. It’s weird. I don’t remember having those cravings when I was younger, but I probably did. So hopefully he can help figure out how to overcome those!

      And then I am looking forward to (not in a mean way) how or if he has to adapt the length or intensity of his workouts. I have a hard time running until I’m into the 180s. That sounds like a weird marker, but for me, my whole body just aches if I run when I’m heavier. I can do it, of course. I think it’s a combination of how long and much I’ve worked out to get ot the 180s. For me, for some reason, I usually “get a clue” when I hit about 200. That’s when my body starts to ache in everyday life. Back pain from a bigger chest. Joint pain from walking. Out of breath for simple tasks. And that’s when I FINALLY see how much I’ve ignored my health! So It’s at about the 15 pounds down mark, which this time is like 9 months into working out regularly! So it might be more the length of time I’ve worked out than the weight itself. But, my point is, I’d like to see if at 70+ pounds overweight he’s able to wrkout as long or as hard as he was before. And ifn ot, what he did to modify workouts and still see results. I think that’ll be key to building the most effective workouts for “beginners” or as many of us are, re-beginners! ;-)

      Reply

  2. FatGirlUSA
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 01:47:39

    This is such an interesting post! However, once you gain weight and lose it your body is never the same. I know. I’ve been up and down the scale a few times during my adult life. So I think he will regret this greatly in the long run. Bridgette

    Reply

    • stumbletowardhealth
      Oct 20, 2011 @ 17:10:07

      I agree with you. However, I’ll expand on that by saying I think a lot of it making your body different and making it harder (at least in my opinion) is as we get older, the harder it gets. When I lost weight just out of college, I did so almost effortlessly. The weight hadn’t been on mybody for long (maybe 2 years at the most), and I added in strength training for the first time.

      When I lost weight the SECOND time (I know, it’s embarrassing), I actually started to lose weight, got sick, dropped about 15 of the 30 pounds I wanted to lose, then over the next six months lost the last ten (I lost 5 initially). So that wasn’t too bad but only because I got sick and dropped weight fast and somehow didn’t gain it back.

      This time (round three, if you’re keeping track) the progress is painfully slow. I think part of it is because I already have muscle mass, so my metabolism isn’t drastically increasing, so I have to monitor what I eat more than I imagined I would. And with age, your metabolism decreases, plus I’m less active during the day than I’ve EVER been. My desk job is more desk-y. ;-)

      But, I also agree thatonce you’ve been heavy, it’s easier to get heavy again. Hopefully since his whole life has been healthy, he enjoys eating right and prefers healthy food, his transition back will be easier than mine. I don’t mind working out, but dont’ always make it a priority. And I like healthy food, but also like junk. Sad, huh?

      Reply

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