By: Matt Hagler, CEO – The Biggest Loser Resort

A few weeks ago I wrote about Stigma, Rhetoric and Starting a Movement. This week I’d like to dive deeper into this subject. A little more than a year ago I was at one of our properties working out next to Sally (48 and mother of 2) who had been wrestling with weight issues her entire adult life. Sally shared that last year she went to the facility at Duke University and she would always choose us over any other offering she’d encountered. This piqued my interest as I’m aware of the facility at Duke as a state of the art professionally run facility.

Probing deeper with open ended questions, Sally shared that no matter how well run the facility, the medically-oriented process was debilitating. Trips to physician and referrals in which she was diagnosed as a broken individual and prescribed to a course of treatment removed her sense of agency and was singled out for “fixing”. Then off to a medical facility-not exactly the best foundation for pumping up the endorphins to tackle her lifelong issues. She spoke openly about how she had to hit rock bottom.

Palm Desert Resort
Having spoken with dozens of “Sally’s” over the past 18 months I’ve come to understand much and am continuing to learn daily (part of my personal commitment and that of our company). A key learning-an aha moment

Medicine is awesome, but it is not everything. At the core of medicine is the Hippocratic Oath. This base DNA gives us the comfort and eternal thanks when we turn over our children, spouses, aging parents and loved ones to be “fixed” as we are completely out of our depth. Western physicians have been aware of obesity and metabolic syndrome, but the statistics on medicine’s ability bring solutions to market has been abysmal. As Sally stated so clearly, medicine is simply not designed to solve for the non-medical and social constructs tied to this issue that cover everything from how one feels about food and exercise, body image, relationship issues and the power of media and marketing on our perception of health and wellness.

Let’s be clear-we are not physicians and not trying to be. Our program of interventions is symbiotic with medicine as we recognize the essential nature of personal involvement in navigating your own journey.

Niagara Resort
The reason we selected high quality resorts to base the program was the understanding that this program is not easy and requires work and practice in learning and applying new information and habits.. What better place to be in the right frame of mind than a destination resort! Just the thought engages the mind and heart, gets endorphins pumping as you prepare for the beauty of where you’re headed. At their core, DNA level resorts and hospitality operations are built around the “Genuine Care and Comfort” of their guests. Which of these two environments sounds more effective in creating an environment in which you can immerse, connect and absorb what “you” need to take back control.

The last thing I’ll add here is related to the symbiotic relationship between our program and medicine/science. Approximately 6 months ago I attended a think tank symposium of leaders in the space from all walks. We all presented our varying approaches to the questions of obesity and metabolic syndrome. I was floored learning about where medicine and science are headed whether the Microbiome project at UCal or the plant based hunger suppressor under development by a private firm in Sweden. After forcing my gaping mouth closed I asked the panel a simple question:

Amelia Island Resort
“Given what you’re working on does it make what we’re doing moot? In other words, are we going to science our way out of this epidemic?

I received a unanimous and resounding response of no and that they felt that the programs we are delivering and perfecting to support and maintain healthy life habits will always be necessary with their solutions in support.

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