Are Formerly Chubby Trainers More Credible?

I’m going to tell you a secret that I usually don’t have to reveal—I am a closet aerobics junkie. I have a binder of workout DVDs for every kind of dancing imaginable, various generic “burning the bulge” titles, Hip Hop Abs, Slim in 6 and whatever infomercial has roped me in this week. And every six months or so, I remember that I’ve gained 20 pounds since college, go into healthy mode and actually use said DVDs. I have intense emotional reactions to all of the people on the tapes, telling me I’m doing a good job, even though I have been doing wonky, ineffective versions of what they’re telling me to do. In general, I assume that they have no idea what I’m going through because they probably came out of the womb on speed and have a healthy relationship with squat-thrusts. I would rather go hiking with my chubby friends … and then go have brunch somewhere decadent. This is maybe why I’m somehow more endeared to trainers who’ve been chubby in the past, like Jillian Michaels and Jackie Warner.

Jackie Warner of Bravo’s new weight-loss show “Thintervention” and formerly of “Work Out” admits that she started training when she gained 51 pounds in college. Granted, she was only 118 pounds beforehand, but that’s a lot to gain in a short period of time. Warner said, “I was alone in L.A., and it was a huge culture shock. I was depressed and ate junk food every day… I was miserable and felt so out of control. I tried covering up with baggy clothes, but I was insecure from the time I woke up until I went to sleep.”

With four months (!) of hard work, she got back to a healthy weight. Regardless of my skepticism on how healthily she could have lost that much weight in such a short period of time, it is somehow comforting that she’s been overweight. I think it’s also one of the reasons that “The Biggest Loser”‘s Jillian Michaels is so successful. She shared a picture of herself on the show “The Doctors,” showing that when she was 12 years old and just five feet tall, she weighed 175 pounds. Her mom enrolled her in a martial arts class when she was 13 years old and Jillian started getting the enviable body she has now.

I know it might be mean to discount the efforts of people who were never overweight, but how much harder is it to get great abs when there’s a chub tire around there? At least if the trainer has been where their audience is, they know that it takes crazy discipline and hard work to drop the weight. Giving up soda and doing a few extra sit-ups isn’t going to do the trick for most of us.

Has anyone else come to a point where they’re more trusting of health advocates who’ve been unhealthy in the past? I think it’s kind of like how only people of a certain race can laugh at jokes about their race—a former fatty is part of the club! If some skinny beyotch is chirping at you and telling you you’re lazy, it’s like she’s speaking from a place of ignorance. She doesn’t know how hard it is to feel like you’ve lost control of your figure or how good a KFC Double Down tastes. She might have a ridiculous metabolism or a speed addiction, for all we know.

One of the hardest parts about exercising for me is the feeling of hopelessness—that no matter how many laps I run around the park, I’m going to be the same weight tomorrow and will have to be back out there, sweating my butt off. Regardless of how many master cleanses I do a year, no miracles are going to happen overnight and this has been a constant disappointment in my life. I hate to discredit the really talented and kind-hearted people who are sensitive to my plight but haven’t been my size, because some of my favorite workout video instructors are of that breed. But maybe it’s sensitive high school me that suspects that the second the cameras stop filming, they’re calling me lazy for sitting out the push-up section. Or maybe it’s the cynic in me who thinks they were toddlers with six packs. It somehow feels as if formerly chubby trainers won’t call you fat behind your back and scoff at you with their other trainer friends between wheatgrass shots. Like if they were sitting next to you, they would pat you on the back and tell you it will be easier next time.

What do you think — does a history of being overweight make a trainer more credible to you? Or are you just as trusting of trainers who have always been fit? Or do you hate them all equally?

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