I’ve been tuning in to Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition each Monday night on ABC. Have you seen it? It’s an inspiring show where trainer Chris Powell works with a morbidly obese client for 12 months in order to lose the weight. This week’s episode was particularly interesting. If you missed it, I really encourage you watch it! You can watch it on ABC’s website HERE.
In this episode, Chris works with Wally, a 26 year old husband and father who turned to food at an early age to cope with a difficult childhood, and is now 350 pounds overweight. In the first phase of the program, Chris moves in with Wally. He is with Wally 24 hours a day, monitoring his food, training him one on one, etc. At the end of the first three months, Wally has lost 110 pounds!
However, in the next phase, Chris moves out. It’s now up to Wally to continue his regimen on his own… We see video of Wally talking about how great it’s going. Chris talks with Wally on the phone, and Wally tells him about the workouts and how good he’s eating. But you can see in the videos that he is not looking any smaller. In fact when Wally shows up for his six month weigh in, Chris thinks he looks like he’s gained weight! Chris becomes very angry because Wally has been lying to him. He expresses frustration because if Wally had only asked, he could have received more support and encouragement. Wally apologizes, and Chris tries to build him up, ready for a fresh start.
In phase 3, Wally stops returning Chris’ phone calls and emails. He is eating fast food every day. He begins to gorge himself on junk food, eating until he is completely nauseous and his jaw hurts, and then sometimes eating more. He can’t control himself. Wally’s wife has taken away his access to the bank account, but he is hiding money, lying to his wife, manipulating Chris, all to get the junk. Classic signs of an addiction.
After Chris receives a disturbing email from Wally, Chris and Wally’s wife confront Wally. He has gained almost all of the original weight he lost back. He is depressed, even suicidal. Instead of continuing into phase 4, Chris convinces Wally to join rehab. In an emotional ending, we see Wally checking into rehab. Chris is hopeful that Wally can recover from his addiction. I really hope that he can too!
Some see obese people and think “they got themselves this way, I guess they deserve it.” It’s so easy to look at someone who is severely overweight and think “why don’t they just change? Why don’t they just put the junk food down?” I truly believe that food addiction is THE hardest addiction to recover from. After all, an alcoholic can avoid alcohol. A drug addict can stop getting drugs. Even a shopaholic can stay away from shopping. BUT a food addict can NOT avoid food. We need food to survive! No matter what, they still have to eat food every day in order to live. I simply cannot imagine the struggle of being faced with trying to overcome an addiction to something that I must keep doing!
My heart goes out to Wally and all those like him. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with food addiction, please seek professional help. “I just love food!” I hear that all the time. But when is it crossing the line to an addiction? Here are some signs of food addiction to look out for: Food Addiction.
No trainer or dietician can help (Just like in this episode – Chris was unable to help Wally. He had Wally seek professional help.). The food addict must be treated for the addiction NOT the obesity!