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About 20 years ago, I wanted to lose some weight and came to the decision to go to a commercial diet program. This program involved motivational counseling and pre-packaged food. I was actually pretty excited about the prospect, and for the most part was eager to get started. This program was a national program that did (and still does) a huge amount of national advertising. I really felt like I was taking my weight problem into my own hands and was really going to do something about it.

At the time, I was living in a small town in southern Oregon and gave their toll free number a call. When I called, I was told that the local program would not be able to see me for about a week (so much for being eager). I went ahead and made the appointment, and a week later I found myself standing in front of a building that happened to be a vacated restaurant…not the best omen.

My first session entailed meeting with two nice women that were the people in charge of that office. Neither one of them seemed to be overly fit, but they were nice enough and we talked about the food that was part of the company’s program, and the program itself. Towards the end of the session, they told me they needed to weigh me to get my starting weight. We walked down the hallway to a standard bathroom scale. It looked like one of the women just brought it in from home, right down the butterfly decal placed just below the face. I knew this wasn’t going to work, and told them so. They both said, sure it would, and told me to try it.

I stepped on the scale, and it immediately pegged out at 280lbs. They both stood there scratching their heads. They had an impromptu conference and quickly decided they would have to figure this problem out. They sent me home with my first week’s worth of food, telling me to go ahead and get started. They would call me with a plan to get weighed, and said this had never happened before. Strike one for the motivation.

I was a bit discouraged, but thought they must have a back up plan. Even then, people were on the super size kick and they must have run across this issue before. I went home, and the next day got started on the food they provided me with. I can only describe the taste of it as if you took the synthetic sole of an athletic running shoe that had been worn by a Kenyan runner training for the Mexico city marathon, set in a dehydrator for 12 days, covered it with a mix of spoiled goat cheese and rancid milk, and then tried to eat it. In fewer words…not good.

I muscled through the first 3 days of these horrible meals before getting a phone call from my “weight coach”. She had great news! They had located a scale that I could be weighed on. I asked her if she was sure if the scale would work, given my size. She told me she was, and proceeded to give me an address and the name of a contact at the place I would weigh in at. I assumed it was a doctor’s office, but recognized the location as a bit of an industrial area. I asked her what kind of business had this scale. She told me it was an auction house. I asked her why did any auction house have a scale? She told me it was a “stock auction house.” As in…LIVESTOCK. The scale was used to weigh cows, hogs, goats, etc. just prior to them loading them into the arena.

I never saw that one coming. They wanted me to mosey down to the stock house, get in line behind that day’s load of heifers, and find out just what I was worth on the hoof.

I must have been shocked. I just told her thank you, and hung up the phone. I have not been so embarrassed in my life. That ended my commercial diet program experience. In a way, I was relieved that I didn’t have to eat any more of that disgusting food.

My self esteem was so low, I didn’t even feel like I wanted to argue or point out why that was so wrong. What the hell was wrong with these people, that they imagined at any level that this was not only okay but a good idea? In reflecting about this, I wonder what the discussion between the counselors was about this problem. Did they conclude that this was the only option? Did they make other calls? What did they think my actual weight was?

Recently, I started to wonder what would have happened if I had not had that experience. At that time, I wasn’t nearly as heavy as I would become. I am guessing I was in the neighborhood of about 450 lbs. If I had started that program and been somewhat successful, my life may have taken a different turn.



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