We all have our own unique goals for health and wellness, but losing weight is often high on the list. Considering how difficult weight loss is for most people, it's hard to imagine intentionally packing on the pounds once you've reached your goal—but that's exactly what Seth Kaufmann did.
A yoga instructor, gym owner and sports nutritionist in South Florida, Seth was one of 10 trainers starring in A&E's docuseries "Fit to Fat to Fit." His assignment: Gain 50 pounds in order to motivate his 380-pound client, Dave, to change his unhealthy ways. This extreme weight loss experiment was designed to give the trainers a firsthand understanding of the struggles faced by their overweight clients, and then lose the weight along with them.
How He Packed on the Pounds in Just 4 Months
At first, Seth was excited at the prospect of eating unhealthy, delicious foods—"I thought it was going to be a four-month-long cheat meal"—but after the first over-indulgent meal, he was ready to go back to his healthy ways. For someone whose life, education and career were rooted in health and fitness, the idea of undoing all his hard work was daunting, but ultimately he was up for the challenge.
During the filming, Seth attempted to eat 10,000 calories a day, in stark contrast to his normal caloric intake of 1,800 to 2,500 calories a day. He ate anything and everything, including plenty of pastries, cookies and pies. He also drank a lot of soda and anything with a high amount of calories.
With the exception of sugar spikes and crashes, Seth found that gaining the first 30 pounds was shockingly easy. All of his friends and clients were happy to shower him with their favorite cheat foods. The next 20, however, posed a sizable challenge, as Seth started to resent food and stopped enjoying his meals.
For Seth, an even harder task than unhealthy eating was not being able to exercise for four months. "I just didn't feel like myself," Seth says. To get him through the dreariness of the weight gain, Seth relied on his meditation practice to maintain a positive outlook and to stay centered and focused.
The Extra Pounds Pay Off
Once Seth hit the 50-pound weight gain target, he was ready to do whatever it took to get back in the best shape of his life. He started again with a vengeance, working out two or three times a day and eating a clean, nutritious diet. But after six weeks, he got an unwelcome surprise.
"I literally couldn't have done anything better, yet when I looked in the mirror, I was still fat," he says. "It was the most defeating, demoralizing moment of my life—I just wanted to quit and go eat a piece of cake!"
Seth rationalized that it had taken longer than six weeks to gain the weight, so it would take longer to lose it. He was suddenly on the receiving end of all those pep talks he'd been giving his discouraged clients for years. After another six weeks of hard work, Seth had lost all of the extra weight and was in even better shape than he'd been before, both physically and mentally.
Seth's weight gain and subsequent loss also inspired his TV client Dave, to lose more than 125 pounds. Even now, Seth and Dave continue to work out together, losing more weight and pushing each other to be their best.
Ultimately, Seth's weight gain helped him to better empathize with his clients. Before, as an uber-fit trainer, he could logically tell them what to do and how they should feel, but until he went through the process himself, he couldn't truly relate to their experience. "Now, my clients trust me more because they know I've been there before," he says. "I know what it's like to work so hard and make so many sacrifices, and not get the immediate results we all think we should get."
Seth's Two Nutrition Secrets
In his personal training and nutrition counseling, Seth shares these two important practices with his clients:
Seth's typical diet consists of five to six meals a day, every three to four hours, although some of those meals consist of juice or a protein shake. "I'm really eating three actual meals and drinking three drinks in between to bridge the gaps," he says. "A typical meal for me is pretty simple: It always contains a protein source, a green vegetable, and depending on the intensity of that day's workout, a 'good' carb source."
Here's an example of Seth's daily menu:
The one constant of Seth's fitness regimen is his daily yoga practice. "It's not so much about the physical postures as it is the meditation and balancing of my mind, body and spirit," he says. He also enjoys weight lifting, and does a regular strength routine four or five days a week. This includes metabolic conditioning workouts, where he lifts lighter weights at a higher intensity to burn fat.
For his clients who struggle to stick to an exercise regimen, Seth's words of wisdom are to find something, anything, they enjoy doing. "There are so many ways to exercise and get in shape—you just need to find something that relates to you, that you don’t find torturous, and stick to it," he says. "Just do what you can to the best of your ability and do it consistently. With time and desire, you will get the results you want."
Seth's Weight Loss Tips
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