My better half has struggled her whole life with weight... She was almost 300 pounds at one point and busted her arse to get down to 240, and now due to some health issues her Mom is having, she's creeping back up. Also, she currently she works 50+ hours a week, and for atleast a couple months more she will be taking care of Mom leading up to (and after) kidney replacement surgery.

After watching shows like Heavy and The Biggest Loser I'm left wondering if their are any services like that for "normal" people or how one would go about signing up for a show like this?

I'm more interested in a show like Heavy, where the person is put into a controlled environment for a month or more while they get trained on new eating and exercising habits. I would love to get her out of her work environment and into a "retreat" type situation, with trainers and diet...

Being on Heavy (or similar) would be awesome, but I know odds are against getting on a show like that, so I'm looking for something more realistic and hopefully affordable. I'm looking to consider anything from hiring a trainer for a couple hours a week up to a full fledged experience like Heavy.

We live in southern Delaware. Once we are 100% out of debt and her mom is healthy (early next yearish), I want to know what options would be available for something like this.

2 Answers 2


There are definitely services like the one you described.

There are 2 issues though:

1.They are extremely expensive and ridiculously overpriced

For example one of the ones I found is the Hilton Head Health which was used on the show Heavy costs $350 for one day.

Their 28 day program costs $12,000.

Here's a disclaimer from the mentioned resort:

(Note: Those featured on A&E's HEAVY docudrama resided at H3 for 6 consecutive months.)

Which would cost you $81,600

Here is what you would be paying for specifically

  1. Individual Consultation with Wellness Counselor (every other week)
  2. Small Group Support and Fitness Sessions (2‐3 per week)
  3. 90 minute Initial Coaching Session
  4. Week goals discussion with a coach (Every week -starts 3rd week)
  5. Introduction to Online Food and Exercise Journaling (Seems like a group class)
  6. Hands‐On Cooking Session with Chef (2 ½ Hour session) (Group class)

So a 6 week program would include:

  • 3 consultations with counselor
  • 12-18 group classes
  • 1 x 90 minute training personal training session
  • Weekly goal discussions with a couch (I estimate like 20 minutes)
  • 1 Group class about exercise and diet logging
  • 2.5 hour cooking class

Total: $20,000


What you can get for $20,000 on your own:

  • 100 hours of cooking classes at $25/hour ($2500)
  • 100 hours of personal training (NOT group sessions) at $30/hour ($3000)
  • 50 hours of psych sessions at $100/hour ($5000)
  • 5 years of Gym membership for group classes/equipment at $50/month ($3000)
  • 1 year of healthy groceries $500/month ($6000)

Total: $19500

I hope now you can see how you are paying like 100000% just because it's a 'resort'. You will get infinitely more value if you bought the services yourself.

2.Their effectiveness is extremely questionable

I've only watched several episodes of Heavy but I do remember seeing contestants relapse and go back to their habits the moment they go back home. Gaining dozens of pounds back. This isn't surprising since:

Being fat is not the problem, it's a symptom of a problem.

One study of dieting obese patients followed them for varying lengths of time. Among those who were followed for fewer than two years, 23 percent gained back more weight than they had lost, while of those who were followed for at least two years, 83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost

Losing fat isn't the solution. People lose fat all the time, it's akin to the Mark Twain quote:

Its easy to [lose fat], I've done it hundreds of times -- Mark Twain

The only way to lose fat in a sustainable way is to change your habits and behavior. Diet isn't the answer because it's temporary. What do you do after you finished your Atkins regiment? Go back to how you used to eat and gain all the weight back.

So this means you have to address your immediate environment and behavior in everyday life. Not be in an artificial and alien environment where you don't have stress, food is catered to you, and your entire day is structured and restricted. Sure you learn how to do better in a fat loss resort.

But you do not live in a fatloss resort.

Forgot the fantasy

Television is television. It's not real. Make your own retreat. Have your SO take a 12 week break from work and start structuring her lifestyle so that she can lose fat. If she can't do it at home, she can't do it anywhere. Only then you won't be further $40,000 in debt.

Here's how you can actually help

Stop spending your money and start spending your time. People love to buy products and try to just throw their credit cards at their problems. That doesn't work. Spend time with your SO and help her establish better habits:

  • Make sure you both have good sleeping habits. 8 hours a night minimum -sleep before 11pm.

  • Walk with your SO every day. Doesn't matter how long, just go and walk.

  • Cook and prepare your own meals. Find 20-30 minutes everyday to prepare meals for the day.

  • Do NOT buy any junk or processed food. Yeah it's easy but it's also robbing years from you and your SO's lifespan and life quality.

  • Motivate your SO to stay on track and positive.

  • Get her a gym membership AND go with her. Set a schedule and go exercise. Take exercise classes, do yoga, go on the elliptical just do something.

  • Stop wasting time. There is 168 hours in a week. Lets say 50 hours of work and 56 hours of sleep (8 hours/day). That leaves you with 62 hours - 8.8 hours a day! You are wasting a lot of time that can be spent exercising/cooking/improving your situation.

  • "The only way to lose fat in a sustainable way is to change your habits and behavior." That's exactly what I'm looking for. Following the old adage that it takes 30 days to break old habits and create new ones, I'm looking for a "resort"/"bootcamp" type setting where new habits are trained IF it's affordable. Most of the other items (Cooking, walking, motivate, excercise) are things we've been working on, but have recently had issues with because of other problems (work + mom's issues). I'm not surprised by the numbers, but had hoped they wouldn't be THAT bad.
    – WernerCD
    Nov 2, 2011 at 19:16
  • @WernerCD 30 days won't help in your situation. You don't become super obese because you eat one too many pretzels for your snack. You become that way because your entire lifestyle is completely warped to create and sustain that state. You need years to overcome that, not 30 days. Can it help? Sure. Is it anywhere near cost-effective no. Which is why your best course of action is continuing the other items. Stop focusing on fantasy shows and keep your nose to the grindstone. Never expect a sudden and dramatic transformation. Change is always slow, determined and HARD.
    – mike
    Nov 2, 2011 at 19:44
  • 1
    @mike given you like writing such detailed answers, can I perhaps persuade you to try writing a blog post for the Fitness.SE blog?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Nov 3, 2011 at 8:23
  • Yeah... I am also definitely impressed by the answer as well. Was just giving it a day or two before I accepted it.
    – WernerCD
    Nov 3, 2011 at 12:36
  • @IvoFlipse sure I would love to.
    – mike
    Nov 3, 2011 at 16:56

Mike has clearly laid out great reasons why an external solution is probably not a good idea unless you are rich. I would add that there has never been clinical proof that following any diet will result in long-term weight loss, so anything you do will likely be a waste of money. However, it makes sense, and I have seen anecdotally, that sustained weight loss is possible with permanent lifestyle change. The great difficulty, is that permanent change.

I don't know what your exact circumstances are, but most people are too busy to make the kind of changes that are necessary. Sleep, exercise, and cooking take a great deal of time. Exercising for one hour often involves travel time + a shower + rest. (I give 2.5 hours to my 1 hour crossfit work out). Cooking healthy food that you enjoy involves going to the store, planning, and cooking (I have cooked professionally, and still spend at least 1 hour a day cooking 3 fast meals. If I want something interesting, that easily goes up to 2 hours). Now you throw in caring for a sick family member, and finding time to do the things you need to do starts to look out of reach.

Going to bootcamp, or even taking some time off of work does not solve this problem. I believe you have to set up your entire life to make that time available. This may mean moving closer to work, changing to a job that does not require as much time, and giving up hobbies and other responsibilities. If you are rushed during a usual day, you do not have a sustainable lifestyle, and you will eventually start to trade simplicity (boxed meals or fast food) for health. Creating a life where you have time to take care of yourself is, in my opinion, the first step in the situation where a lifestyle change is required.

  • Yeah... Time is definitely our problem right now... the hope is that once mom is healthy and we are debt free, she has hours free and she can cut back hours at work. Time (to exercise & cook... prepare & clean for the first two) is a huge issue atm, definitely. I'm not trying to be unrealistic, I know that change is difficult (Side note: Foster Dad is a 20 year recovering alcoholic, so I know how hard life changes are). "Bootcamp" is an extreme, but I just wanted to see what the options and costs were outside of a 1-Million shot of getting on a "Reality" show. Mike definitely answered that lol
    – WernerCD
    Nov 2, 2011 at 22:45

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