READY, set… transform: Extreme Weight Loss medical director blogs about Kenny and Christy

Editor's note: ABC's Extreme Weight Loss is back for season four and this year participants will start their journey with a three-month boot camp at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC).

The non-competitive TV show follows super-obese participants through a 365-day journey as they try to safely loose half of their body weight.

The participants are guided by trainer/transformation specialists Chris and Heidi Powell.

Dr. Holly Wyatt, Medical Director at AHWC and Medical Director for the show, reflects on episode 11 featuring Kenny and Christy.

In this week’s episode of “Extreme Weight Loss” Kenny and Christy both began a life-changing transformation but sadly only Kenny succeeded.

36-year-old Christy started her transformation at 380 pounds. She serves as caretaker to her ill mother. Kenny, a former Marine, began his journey at 410 pounds. He is the father of three.

Both Kenny and Christy reached out and asked for help. Both committed to the transformation of a lifetime. Both had access to the same transformation team and resources to succeed, yet only one made it to the final weigh-in.

--Different outcomes--

What was the difference? Why do two people in almost identical situations go down two very different paths? In this episode it clearly came down to who was really READY to do the work and who was not

--Kenny was READY--

When Kenny arrived at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center he left his history of excuses at the door. Over the years he’s regretted his decision to quit the Marines, but this time he was determined to follow through with his commitment. Kenny was ready to take on and complete his 90 day boot camp with us. He worked hard and embraced his amazing opportunity. He asked for help, took advantage of the resources available and put in the work. 

--Christy was NOT ready--

Christy on the other hand, couldn’t move past her excuses. She was unable to accept what she needed to do, unable to take responsibility for her behavior and unwilling to do the hard work. She made her experience a miserable one.

Kenny transformed his life and Christy did not.

--Be ready, be positive--

I see this same scenario play out in my clinic at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center on a weekly basis. Two people facing the same decisions and challenges can have very different outcomes.

When faced with behavioral change, some people can only see all the things they are missing- for example no beer and chicken wings on Sundays, no sleeping in on weekday mornings. Others in the same situation will focus on the positives in their new experiences - the new foods, the new opportunities. Some have a long list of reasons why they can’t succeed and some check their excuses at the door.

Bottom line, some are ready to change and some just are not.

--Beware the big red flag--

It is also common in my clinic at the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center to see family and friends wanting it more than the actual patient does. This is almost always a big red flag.

While family members may have the best of intentions, there is no way to change someone who is not ready for change. As much as you care, you can’t do the hard work for someone else.

Everyone on the transformation team wanted Christy to succeed. She had every opportunity for help. Christy was just not ready to step up and take responsibility for her life.

I need to see the patient stepping up, taking responsibility and wanting the opportunity as much or more than their spouse, sibling or best friend. It is truly heart-breaking to send people home like Chris and Heidi did with Christy, but you can’t force a person to want transformation enough to do the hard work - and you can’t do it for them. They have to be ready to fight for it themselves.

--Are YOU ready?--

So how do YOU know if you are really READY for a big life transformation? When I say big I am talking big- not a few changes and a few pounds but big life changes that make a new norm at a significantly reduced body weight possible. BIG transformation is not for everyone.

Answer these questions honestly to see if you are READY for a big transformation.

  1. How important is it?  On a scale of 0-10 with 0 being not important at all and 10 being the most important thing in your life- where does changing your lifestyle fall? Anything below an 8 is probably not enough. If you do say a 7 ask yourself what would make it a 9 or 10. A score of 9 or 10 helps signify you are ready.
  2. What would you be willing to sacrifice for your new lifestyle? For example, would you get up at 4am if needed, learn a new way of eating, never quit no matter what? Being ready means being willing to sacrifice and change your life.
  3. Are you ready to be uncomfortable- I mean really uncomfortable.  Transformation always happens outside your comfort zone. Will you lean into the discomfort and let change occur or will you fight it every step of the way? Will you celebrate what you get to do or give excuses for why you don’t do it. Fighting it is a sign that you may not be ready.
  4. Do you know why you want to transform? Kenny had a great why and focused on it from day one. Do you really know why you want to lose weight?  Not the pretty superficial why but the deeper real why?  Knowing what really motivates you is essential for being ready to make a big lifestyle transformation.

--Are you really READY?!--

If you are then I say go for it - nothing will hold you back.

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