Advice from Former Obese Kids

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In the pages of’s Fat People Stories, you might find a 400-pound eighth-grade boy who believes that change is impossible. Also, you might find a former binge eater who was raised by overweight and nutritionally ignorant parents to become an obese teenager. In his case, on receiving a diagnosis of high blood pressure and hormonal anomalies, he simply decided he wasn’t having any of that, and changed his life. As a college student he lost nearly 90 pounds and compared the first few days of sensible eating to heroin withdrawal. But he declares that if you’re mentally unstoppable, you can do it. Which might be exactly what that 400-pound kid needs to hear.

These observations are distilled from the stories of many brave and anonymous online contributors. One successful weight-loser’s advice is to call upon the acting talent you always suspected was one of your hidden assets and “fake it till you make it.” A reader could not be blamed for an initial reaction of skepticism. Sure, that might work for a shy person — just pretend you’re not shy. But you can’t fake being fit or slender!

Ah, but you can fake being the kind of person who is capable of becoming fit or slender. Put yourself into the mindset of a jiu-jitsu champion and ask yourself, “What would Kron Gracie do?” He’d get up and go for a run. If your life were a movie, what would the hero do? Eat an apple instead of a doughnut. Be the hero of your own movie.

Get up

There are things that normal-weight people are not supposed to say but that another obese person can get away with, like “Stop being lazy.” According to at least one formerly obese person, laziness is the demon that resides in everyone who needs to lose weight. This is a very controversial position to take, and is best left to people who actually have experienced obesity.

Apparently, some people have been deterred by a mistaken notion that exercise has to be a big, huge deal, performed in a designated place, wearing a special outfit, and consuming a large chunk of time. But exercise can be as simple as walking up a flight of stairs rather than riding in an elevator. A person might think that there is no point to running, because she can’t do it very fast or for very long. But there is a thing called interval training. Run for 10 seconds, walk for 30, repeat. These hints may seem very self-evident, but to some they are fresh news.

Another great piece of advice is to think of shaping up as a long-term project and get used to the idea that it will take at least a couple of years to reach your desired weight, and then the rest of your life to maintain it. What helps to do that? Shifting the focus away from food as the only worthwhile reward that life has to offer. Get some new rewards — and not just replacement addictions!

An interest in other people is often recommended. A fellow with the evocative pseudonym “loveshinehero,” who went from 300 pounds at 16 to 157 pounds at 18, emphasizes the importance of keeping good company:

It’s all about the people who I decided to surround myself with and making the connections to where I felt socially obligated to exercise. I am not saying disregard friends who are overweight, but get in social situations where it is acceptable and easy to eat healthy. You should also know that those people shouldn’t be condescending towards you, that they should recognize that you are trying and support you so that you can achieve your goals.

This doesn’t really count as advice, because it’s not so easy to just go out and find a soulmate, but teens and adults of both sexes who have received unconditional love recommend it highly. Having a partner who digs you, no matter what, is incredibly powerful medicine. It’s great to mesh with a person who lets you be you, and even greater to let yourself be you.

Whole philosophies are built around the idea of “giving permission” for things to be the way they are. The ability to accept what we can’t change prevents a lot of grief. Most things are going to be the way they are regardless of what we might think or say about them, so we might as well spare ourselves the aggravation of resenting them.

There are things that can be changed but only about ourselves, if we have the courage to do it. The sad truth is, if anyone works on changing the things about himself or herself that can be changed, that person will be extremely busy — far too busy to worry about what anyone else is doing. If you accept someone for who they are, they may or may not change — it’s a crap shoot. But if you don’t first accept who they are, they can’t change. One of psychology’s big paradoxes can engender strange magic.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Fat People Stories,”
Source: “Hello! HamPlanet Boogie2988 here,”, 2013
Image by Kron Gracie Jiu Jitsu

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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