Vail Daily column: Why do we get fat in the first place? |

Vail Daily column: Why do we get fat in the first place?

Don’t ever get fat. Seriously. If you get fat, you are likely doomed for the rest of your life. According to The New York Times article “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight,” the science is pretty clear that your metabolic rate drops radically after weight loss and your hormones perfectly balance to inflate your spare tire just by walking past the local bakery.

It is severely difficult to maintain leanness, especially for the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” or other morbidly obese people who experience significant weight loss.

The sensational New York Times article is frustrating. Not because of the inevitable failure ahead for most (initially) successful dieters. The article doesn’t annoy me because of the hard scientific fact that leptin decreases substantially during weight loss; leptin is a hormone that controls appetite, and all but disappears under caloric restriction. I’m not even upset about the controlled environment of “The Biggest Loser,” and the unrealistic fitness and dietary restrictions that are placed on the contestants.

By the way, I’m not downplaying how hard it really is for anyone to lose weight. However, contestants on a dramatized television show face a different reality than those who attempt weight loss in the real world. Successful dieters on their own terms face a far different animal outside of Hollywood. What really bothers me is the conclusion that we still need to research why initially successful dieters gain all the weight back and then some. Forget it, America. The “why we gain it back” doesn’t really matter, does it?

Let’s close the case.


According to the Times article, Danny Cahill “won Season 8 of NBC’s reality television show ‘The Biggest Loser,’ shedding more weight than anyone ever had on the program — an astonishing 239 pounds in seven months. When he got on the scale for all to see that evening, Dec. 8, 2009, he weighed just 191 pounds, down from 430. Dressed in a T-shirt and knee-length shorts, he was lean, athletic and as handsome as a model. ‘I’ve got my life back,’ he declared. ‘I mean, I feel like a million bucks.’”

“Mr. Cahill left the show’s stage in Hollywood and flew directly to New York to start a triumphal tour of the talk shows, chatting with Jay Leno, Regis Philbin and Joy Behar. As he heard from fans all over the world, his elation knew no bounds. But in the years since the show ended, more than 100 pounds have crept back onto his 5-foot-11 frame despite his best efforts.

“Mr. Cahill, 46, said his weight problem began when he was in the third grade. He got fat, then fatter. He would starve himself, and then eat a whole can of cake frosting with a spoon. Afterward, he would cower in the pantry off the kitchen, feeling overwhelmed with shame. Over the years, his insatiable urge to eat kept overcoming him, and his weight climbed: 370 pounds, 400, 460, 485.”


I know the struggle all too well. I was just over 260 pounds when I was 12 years old. I was a towering 5 feet 4 inches and struggled constantly. To say that I get it, and have compassion and understanding is noteworthy. I might be a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but my opinion matters when it comes to weight loss.

America, we as a society need to focus on the core problem of why we get fat in the first place. Why is Cahill eating the entire container of cake frosting in the first place? Why did I regularly eat an entire box of angel hair pasta and marinara sauce, and drink two quarts of fruit punch for a “snack” after school when I was a kid?

I came from a very distressed home life and food was an addiction to help me cope with my tumultuous household. Mr. Cahill has deep rooted, unfortunate strongholds — emotionally, spiritually, and or psychologically. Folks, the Titanic is going down and we are trying to figure out how to build a better boat. Forget about it, and start looking for a life vest!

If the “Whole 30” diet, Barre classes, or veganism was the solution we would be putting a dent in the problem — goodness knows everyone is on this bandwagon for hope. Obesity isn’t caused by GMOs, or by consuming large quantities of meat, dairy and grains either. Obesity is largely caused by very high stakes life events including but not limited to emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Obesity is caused by neglect, loss of a loved one, a stressful job, or divorce. Food addiction is not a lot different than struggling with alcohol, drugs or sexual addiction. Of course obesity isn’t exclusively caused by deep rooted emotional strongholds. There are outliers that happen to have real medical problems or perhaps are indeed lazy. These exceptions are however rare.

Let’s keep talking about this unfortunate topic. Next week I will address real tactics to fight this struggle, and hopefully give you encouragement to win the battle of the bulge. Have a great week!

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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