Peeling back the layers of success…

I originally wrote this last year; on the week that our national headlines were more Oprah-focused than healthcare or economy focused.  I put it aside and forgot about it.  I’m not sure where Oprah’s weight is today, and I really don’t care.  Still, this is more relevant today than it was a year ago. 

Oprah crack corn nuts, and I truly don’t care. Apparently many others do; all the fitness dogs laying at the feet of their masters, waiting to be told what to do and how to do it. And the masters themselves, the pundits of fitness in the modern era; supreme trainers, and exercise gurus who know much more than anyone else about what it takes to get the weight off.  They will tell you that their system of training and eating are the exclusive remedies that can help Oprah earn her weight back down, and can work for you and me too.  Beware of absolutes..

As I have been weaving my way through the internet this morning, I have bared repeated witness to our nation’s greatest concern; that Oprah has earned her way up to 200 pounds – again, and it is headline news.  Whether Oprah’s body-battle is a medically induced obstacle as some experts suggest; a thyroid or hormone related disorder. Or whether it is psychologically induced as others experts suggest; a disharmony of mood, behavioral tendencies, or a cross-wiring of inner circuitry. Or, whether it relates to her difficult childhood, as still other experts suggest, I have no idea, and neither does anyone else. Nobody truly knows Oprah but Oprah, least of all, those masters whose feet she lays before; Dr. Oz, and trainer Bob Greene.

Where Oprah has previously considered herself a fitness success for weight she has lost, she now calls herself an exercise failure for weight that she has gained back.  It’s sad that Oprah can’t see the ideal of exercise and fitness beyond right-fitting jeans as a barometer for her success.  She isn’t looking at the many other benefits exercise can bring into one’s life – beyond one’s hot-sexy waistline.  This over prioritization of weight loss as a primary reason to exercise wholly understates the many values, and utility of daily movement.

This led me to consider success stories which I have been associated with; pounds laid to rest by the will of my client’s fearless hearts, and scarcely guided by my knowledge and motivation. Over the years, I have been blessed to be involved with many success stories; several clients who have lost 100 pounds or more, a couple of dozen who have lost 50 pounds or more, and countless clients who have lost 30 pounds or more. Each of their stories is overflowing with lessons, not just of fitness, but lessons of fortitude and of personal growth. As a point of fact, their success came from within, not from me.

This reflection of success stories in weight loss, got me thinking about other success stories I have been associated with; stories that didn’t involve significant weight loss, but might have been just as life changing.

There have been some I have worked with to help lose weight, and did lose weight – but that’s not why I consider them successful. These people are successes, not because of pounds shed, but because of the pounds they now help others shed. Through the years I have had a half-dozen clients become more fit, and then become fitness trainers themselves – helping others fight the good fight. From being trained, to training others – that’s some kind of  success.

Among my favorite success stories, and the most important one I can state, is also the most basic. A client at her office one day, had been walking across a recently mopped tile floor, when she slipped in an awkward way, twisting as she fell to the floor – only to catch herself in a push-up position. That cease-fall, prevented a would-be face-plant from happening. She had caught herself, not with her hands, but with her strength; her strong core, arms, and shoulders had been developed by her efforts in the gym. She confessed to me that had she not been doing all the strength training, she would have certainly hit the floor, face first, and with disastrous results.

I have worked with other great successes too; ones who can now tie their own shoes when once they couldn’t.  One successful person can now get in and out of his car – no longer needing aid to do so.  Another success story is, that of a woman who lost little weight, but improved her heart health enough through exercise that she is no longer in need of blood pressure medication, and has an easier time playing with her children.

For the obese, losing weight will add years to your life, and enhance the quality of the life you lead. The concept of success in a fitness program, for trainer and for client, should not be limited to the ideal of weight loss alone – not even for Oprah.  If one simply stops and takes inventory of what, beyond weight loss, regular exercise has done for them – what it has provided them in the ways of strength, balance, flexibly, decreased blood pressure, improved posture, increased bone density, personal confidence, being in a better mood, I am certain that anyone who exercises regularly will consider his or herself.  Be well. rc

9 responses

  1. Many excellent points here Ray. There are so many benefits to exercise, but you may not convince some who see the superficial benefits as the only goal.

    I’m always amazed the way that people follow Oprah like the Pied Piper. Who can forget the Opti-Fast craze that she started. I do however, think it is a little harsh to say that she exercises only to improve her physical appearance. It seems to me that she has brought a number of health issues to the public eye. It is up to us to do our own research before jumping on the Oprah bandwagon.

  2. Great post Roy!!

    I”ve pretty much been on the lose weight for health soapbox for a while. Yesterday we had an incident in Florida that caught my attention. I know you have been a fan of functional fitness. Well there was a boat accident on the east coast. Three people were thrown into the water. One was obese. He was not able to swim long enough to be rescued and drowned. That’s functioal fitness, and very sad.

  3. Karen: Agreed. If I seem harsh on Oprah, it should be taken as more harsh against what she brings to the surface. I know Oprah has done great things for many people, and given much of herself for the betterment of others. Still, the buzz is always on the surface, and I guess I just have low tolerance for buzz.

    Dr. J: Nuff said. That sad story sums up my 900 word in a few sentences. I wonder who that person who drowned left behind…

    Diane: I will always argue that we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of others. If we all did that, society would be much more fluid.

  4. Very interesting how getting fit and healthy can change you from the inside more than the outside.

    I have over 100 lbs to lose and when I started (this time around just like all the others) I focused on that 100+ lbs and how I had to get the weight off.

    I’m too the point now where I’m enjoying getting strong and building muscle. It’s changed me down to my core.

    I haven’t lost as many lbs as a lot of people on the same journey as me for the same amount of time, but I know I’ve gained much more.

    Solid muscle… new habits that will endure for my lifetime… confidence I’ve never had… patience… spiritual growth… I could go on and on.

  5. I think the story Oprah can say to all out there is that even the best trainer & the best chefs are not going to guaranty weight loss success. It has to come from within. YOU have to do the hard work. The trainer & the chef can’t do it for you. It takes time & patience & consistency & HARD WORK!

    I really like many of your points. I loved the story about the lady & the push-up! I hurt for Dr. J’s comment.

    As for Oprah, I do think she does talk a lot about feeling good about yourself beyond the physical. And the one thing I have noticed in the past couple year is that she acknowledges she did it all wrong back then & even now she knows that it is about her & that maybe she does not want to exercise as much as she should or eat just right which would bring her better results. She does admit that now.

    As for this stage of life, I fight it every single day. I know what these hormones can do to a woman as she ages & I continue to fight. I had 3 months plus that I was at least 3 – 4 pounds over what I felt good at & no matter what I did, it did not move I knew it was the hormones & yes, it pissed me off & I was a grouch at times about it BUT I never gave up & finally it made a turn & yet, I still fight those friggin hormones!

    OK, like you Roy, on my blog that day, I have go on & on too much! 🙂

  6. AFG: The “confidence”you speak of is probably the most imprtant gain you have made. Life — struggles, day-to-day, et all, is so much easier to face with the confidence that comes from having ownership of your body. I have seen your workut videos — you defintley have that ownership!!!


    “In this corner, Jody’s hormones. And in this corner, Jody…. let the battle begin…..

    Jody’s hormones come out swinging — there’s a left, now an upper cut. Jody stands in though, bam, pow, boy those hormones are really taking a beating. Jody is fighting fiercely — wait, down go the hormones, down go the hormones, down go the hormones. Winner by a knockout — Jody!”

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