Facing Adversity By: Matt Hagler, CEO – The Biggest Loser Resort

This week’s tale focuses on facing adversity and those nasty twists where life kicks you so hard in the privates that you’re not sure you’ll ever be able to get up again. For me this happened at the ripe old age of 21. In 1979, I was young, carefree in “Hotlanta” Georgia headed out for a night on the town with two buddies. Sitting in a left turn lane behind another vehicle the arrow turned green and I proceeded into the intersection. The drunken 19-year-old’s speed was estimated at 90+mph: I never even saw him coming. In court, the gent that lived on the corner where the accident occurred said he was sitting in his living room, heard an explosion, and his house shook! Both of my friends who had been with me in the car nearly died in the hospital that night. It took paramedics 45 minutes to cut me out of the car. I was later told by First Responders that they couldn’t believe we all survived the crash. Cracked ribs and shoulder, a fractured ankle, and about 100 stitches in multiple locations were the lesser issues for the life size bruise I became for the next couple months. My left knee now jointed in every direction left, right, forward and back as 2 ligaments were stripped from the bone and a 3rd completely shredded.

Shortly thereafter, I ended up in Washington D.C. and was fortunate to connect with a skilled doctor that worked with the Redskins and had a beta program for an experimental new procedure. He was very clear that even with his highest prospects for success, walking normally would be a lofty goal and a return to athletics would be well out of reach. Everyone faces adversity differently; for me, this single proclamation triggered my well-developed childhood response to an authority figure telling me I couldn’t do something. Screw that!

There is nothing quite like the invincibility of youth, and a couple weeks after the cast came off I took my twig of an atrophied leg out for a limp jog. The result was three months of weekly visits to an ortho who would pull 100cc of fluid off my knee. My body made it clear there would be a balance between education, respect, and effort. I spent a full year rehabbing in the pool and another year on a stationary bike until my leg became stable enough for running. Now, I’m not Phil Knight, (creator of Nike who just published his memoir Shoe Dog-good read) one of those guys who gets a hit of internal morphine on the 3rd mile in, but to be able to run seemed an important goal just so that I could feel normal again.

Facing Adversity
Working out next to BLR (Biggest Loser Resort) guests from all around the globe I’ve had amazing conversations. All of us lucky enough to work for this company see the joy as guests move from fear to pride in what they accomplish. Taking a spin class from Jenn (former contestant from the show) who continues to struggle with her weight, I’m impressed that I can’t keep up. There are common threads shared in workshops that unite our clients. We strive to help you understand the fear that keeps you on the couch, get back to feeling normal, recapture some of your youth, awake in the morning with energy and a responsive body.

Speaking with Blake recently (an amazing young woman in her early 20’s) who now lives by what she has learned, I’m reminded not to pretend like I know what it feels like to deal with the challenges associated with weight. I’m enamored with her pitch that she wants to come work for us because- while she loves all those incredibly talented skinny trainers guiding her – they can’t know what it feels like the way she does.

At 21 I accepted that if I didn’t incorporate a new habit set that included religiously working out that my future would be sedentary, arthritic and uncomfortable. My body continues to give me not-so-subtle reminders that twenty minutes on a back-yard trampoline with my niece Madison will result in 20 visits to the chiropractor. While I’ll never understand fully the exasperation associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity I know first hand the feeling that the world, your body and the odds are stacked against you. It is with this in mind that we will continue to refine a supportive environment for you to begin your journey and find success.

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