Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Heavy- episode 1- "Life is more than eating."

A&E's new show, Heavy, premiered last night and I LOVE IT.  It is real.  It is sometimes hard to watch.  It is very inspiring.  It makes me proud to be a personal trainer.

Every week the show focuses on two people who are morbidly obese and their struggles with losing the weight the old fashioned way:  Diet and Exercise.  The participants work for 6 months.  1 month is at a weight loss facility (like the Biggest Loser resort) and the other 5 months are spent at home trying to incorporate the healthy habits they have learned into their everyday lives.  If they start lagging at home they are sent back to the weight loss facility.  They are also given a gym membership, personal trainer, and access to a nutritionist while at home.

This episode covered 37-year-old Tom Arnold (not the famous one) and 36-year-old Jodi Van Kessel.  Tom weighs 638 pounds when we first meet him.  It isn't a surprise when you see him shoe horn his way into his vehicle, go through a drive through, and order 6 bacon double cheeseburgers and 3 orders of chicken nuggets.  For lunch.  It hurts for him to get up and walk around.  His whole life revolves around eating.  Jodi, a vivacious and funny mother of 2, feels trapped and incredibly stressed out with her life.  Her one comfort is food and lots of it.  We meet her weighing 367.2 pounds, and it doesn't seem like a surprise when we hear her mom (who lives with her and her husband- ouch) saying this disparaging comment about Jodi and her singing career:  "They want to see Madonna, not Jodi."

Going in for their initial check ups, the prognosis seems grim for both Tom and Jodi.  Tom has severe lymphodema, can't complete the stress test because he can't move his legs on the bike, and the doctor declares he SHOULD weigh 168-170 pounds for his height.  Jodi had a mini stroke 2 months before because of the incredible amount of stress in her life.  Even though she has a bright smile and a biting wit, you can see the pain and sadness in her eyes.

Jodi and Tom partner up at the weight loss "ranch" and meet their kick butt trainers, David and Britny (no e), who push them hard but with a refreshing dose of sensitivity that we don't see a lot of times on weight loss reality shows.  Tom, for example, can't even walk to the fitness center for longer than 1 minute at a time.  David patiently pushes and motivates him to get there and back everyday.  David puts it into perspective: "How hard is it to carry a refrigerator on your back and walk up a hill?"

There is a lot of tears, a lot of mental and emotional break throughs, and even a slip- Tom gains 23 pounds after returning home to his family of enablers and must return back to train with David at the weight loss facility.  But at the end of the 6 months, Jodi lost 74 inches and 77 pounds, ending at 289.8 pounds and Tom lost 155 pounds, ending at 483 pounds.  They aren't at their goal weight yet, but they are well on their way to reaching it.

Heavy is a really moving and wonderful show, well worth your time and DVR space.  It comes on Mondays at 10 pm EST on A&E.  WATCH IT!  I know I will.


  1. Wow. Every time I see people who have gotten so far gone, yet fight back and try and do it the hard way, the right way...I am so inspired. I can't imagine how hopeless that point would feel.

  2. I was curious about this show. Thanks for the recommendation