Today at the end of our Seniors Strength exercise class at the YMCA, one of the members introduced his grandson (I’ll call him “Andrew”) who was visiting from Vancouver, B.C. A year ago, this trim looking fellow weighed 323 pounds, his grandfather said, relating that out of 1000 applicants, he was chosen as one of the 20 contestants for the reality show, “The Biggest Loser” which began in May of 2014.
He managed to stay on the show for six months (the winner’s pot was $1M) but was cut three months from the end of last year’s series. It turns out that there was a consolation prize for those who were eliminated who lost the most weight at home by the final viewing of the show. And guess what, Andrew did just that, weighing in at 181 pounds and winning $100,000 which was no small chunk of change either.
When asked what motivated him and kept him on track, he said it was the pending birth of his son (born in October, 2014) and living long enough to see him graduate from school and to have children of his own someday. Andrew described how he learned to cook his own food on the reality show, making up shopping lists, and providing his own meals in addition to exercise and training. Now, he cooks all his meals for the week on Sunday so that he doesn’t get tempted to stray during the week.
As has been reported recently in other news briefs, what you eat and how much less you eat is the biggest factor in weight loss, much more so than exercise. Perhaps even as high as an 80-20 percentage (eating better to exercise.) He also said that when you snack on an apple, to add some protein to it so that the glucose spike and drop doesn’t occur as sharply as it might with just fruit alone.
When he got home, he emptied out his pantry and lost enough weight to win the runner-up prize three months later. He gave one metaphor for what to eat: which was if you’re stranded on a desert island, you would eat four kinds of food: fish, vegetables, nuts and fruits. That about sums it up.
What I found most interesting about the visit by Andrew was the discussion about personalized motivation. My husband’s mother is 96 going on 97 in October. Despite falling, eye problems and taking about 16 different medications every day, she is determined to live long enough so that her son, J., doesn’t have to retire prematurely (forfeiting part of his pension) in order to take care of her. They live in the same house across the street from us and J., my husband’s younger brother who never married, enjoys taking care of his mother in her old age. Without his care, she might be living in a nursing home by now. He has sixteen weeks to go before he retires with a full pension. You can bet she’ll be around to see that happen too, four months from now when she turns 97!
So, if you want to be healthier for the sake of your children and your own health, that’s a strong motivator. If you want to stay alive long enough so that others aren’t penalized for taking care of you, that’s another. For myself, I think I would like to have a healthy life with few physical ailments and see my children get to the age I am now and see how their lives turn out.
And more than that, I’d like to stick around long enough to be able to keep taking care of my dear husband, G., and myself as long as I can. Now is the best time to start, whatever age we might be.
Rather than forcing ourselves with abstract goals (lose weight, get healthier) identifying personalized goals can give us a sense of meaning. Which makes all the difference, don’t you think?