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Half their size

People Magazine Half Their Size 2014I picked up a copy of the new People Magazine Half Their Size issue yesterday (Jan. 2014) anxious to see who was featured, and how old they were. I look forward to it every year but this year with new anticipation.

It’s probably not surprising that I have renewed interest given my personal transformation and passion to help inspire and motivate others to get healthy and transform their lives.

People Magazine Half Their Size features “regular” people who have lost half their body weight through diet and exercise, no surgery or gimmicks. And, while I am inspired every year, I also note that the vast majority of people featured are younger — namely in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40 at best.

Of the five people in the main feature this year, ONE was over the age of 40. Her name is Debbie Lazinsky, age 58, from Wheatley Heights, NY. She lost a whopping 185 pounds — well over half her body weight. (Yay – Debbie, that is awesome! You go girl!)

The others were ages 31, 38, 24 and 31. And they all are model-like gorgeous especially after the People Magazine makeover they each receive for being in the feature. Let’s face it, People is out to sell magazines. Americans read their stories and want to look like that. I get it. I’m in marketing. I am a business owner.

But can People Magazine (and all media conglomerates who have the power to inspire and influence) do better? I believe they have an opportunity, if not a responsibility. People Magazine alone has a reach of more than 46 million people! That’s huge.

So, today, I encourage People Magazine (owned by Time Inc), and other media with the power of massive influence, to accept the challenge of inspiring even more “regular” Americans by telling a different story. To shed a light on those who accomplish this incredible feat later in life — when they are over the age of 40, 50 or even 60. Those who will end up after weight loss with not so perfect bodies, perhaps excess skin or pronounced age lines, but whom have dramatically changed their lives and reversed the course on the deadly disease of obesity. And, yes, I am one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. Losing half your size is not an easy task at any age. And, everyone featured in People Magazine — in fact, everyone in the country who has accomplished this incredible feat — deserves immense kudos. I mean it. I have done it, so I get it. I appreciate it. Honestly, big, big, big congratulations to each and every person who has accomplished this feat! It’s awe inspiring.

The truth this, most of us who get to be twice our size or bigger have battled obesity our entire lives. And, I’ve found from my personal experience and in working with others, that it is almost always about more than the weight. To address it, and more importantly to keep the weight off, you have to do more than just go on a diet (eat less) and exercise more, or have weight-loss surgery.

To lose this kind of weight, you have to be brave enough, strong enough and fearless enough to tackle the issues and challenges behind the weight. The “why,” if you will. You are changing lifelong habits and, in some cases, fighting compulsive eating and food addiction. You have to work on the head and the internal, as well as the external. And when we tackle all of this, most of us soon realize this is something we will work on for the rest of our lives. It is not a “get there and we’re done” scenario.

So…my point

My disappointment with People Magazine and the feature is this: Losing weight when you are in your 20’s and 30’s is easier than in your mid to late 40s and older. For many reasons. Not only do our bodies change and the weight just seems to sit and settle as we get older — usually in places we really don’t want it to!  But, for someone who has been obese his/her who life and struggles with compulsive eating habits or food addiction, it’s tougher to start and tougher to break through those life-long patterns. Often, it seems hopeless and too many people either never start or throw in the towel for that reason. BUT, it’s never too late. It’s not hopeless. And my goal is to shine a light on this fact, on the obesity epidemic, and provide hope to exactly that demographic.

This, to me, is the story worth sharing with America to inspire all of those who want/need it but think they’re too old to start. And I believe big media conglomerates ,like People Magazine (Time, Inc), who tackle the issue of weight loss have an opportunity, if not a responsibility to tell this story.

You are never too old. It’s never to late. You can do this!

My message to those who will read the People Magazine Half Their Size and see younger beautiful bodies and use this as a reason/excuse to prove it is hopeless: Don’t sell yourself and your life short. You are worthy. You can do this. It is doable. And it is so worth it. Life changing. I promise you that you, too, can be happy and healthy. And, it’s never too late. If I can do it, you can do it!

I was obese all through childhood, teenhood, and for sure most of my adult life. I was on more than 20 different diet and exercise programs over the course of 20+ years and, while I tried just about everything, I never lost more than 50 lbs at a time in my 20’s to early 40’s without putting it right back on. What’s more, I seriously started my internal and external transformation journey at the age of 47 – late 47. And I lost the bulk of my weight at age 48-49.

It worked this time because I went all in, I didn’t quit, was determined, and had the support I needed. But also because I proactively and aggressively worked on the internal as well as the external. And that made all the difference. Something not many people want to talk about.

A challenge to those with the power to influence

So, my greatest wish is that big powerful media giants, like People Magazine, who have the power to reach, and thus influence and inspire, millions upon millions of people, would tell and celebrate this story. Because that indeed would inspire people of all ages, shapes and sizes — model-like or not — to know that they too can do it…at any age. It’s never too late to make a positive change in your life. Particularly a health and happiness related one. I am living proof. And now I want to be an example and an inspiration. I want to shout it from the roof tops so everyone can be as happy and healthy inside and out as I am.

I built and own a marketing agency in the Twin Cities called Marketing that Matters. So I totally get what sells magazines, and I understand the demographics and psychographics of the People Magazine target market. Still, I believe as a responsible business they have an opportunity and perhaps responsibility to do better. And I bet they will.

Case in point. NBC’s Biggest Loser.

I commend NBC’s Biggest Loser for their take on this story of age and obesity. Over Biggest Loser’s 15 seasons, they have featured many, many older contestants and their personal journeys. Many of these started with serious health issues. This is motivating to millions of people, me among them.

In fact, some of you may know, my inspiration and mentor in this journey was O’Neal Hampton of Season 9 NBC’s Biggest Loser and now the O’Neal Hampton Wellness Foundation. O’Neal was indeed among the older contestants on the show (sorry O’Neal). And look how incredibly inspiring he is?! He is awesome and inspires people of all ages, shapes and sizes. He helped me believe that I could do it. He gave me hope and a nudge to begin — at 47.

I appreciate that the media, People Magazine in particular, helps so many Americans who battle with weight and related health issues by shedding light on the obesity epidemic in our country. And I love the Half Their Size feature each year. It is important and it does matter.

Okay, rant over. I will likely keep buying this issue of the magazine and commending anyone and everyone who accomplishes this great feat through diet and exercise. I just hope we can also tell the story of those over 40 and 50 who might not (or might) end up looking like a supermodel post transformation. In fact, I invite/challenge People Magazine to consider this angle for their feature next year. In the meantime, I will work on telling the story to as many people as I can.


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