Photo: Fat March Contestant Kim, © 2007 American
Broadcasting Companies, Inc., Richard Pasley
Kim: I don't feel they were honest with my story. If you add up everything negative you say in a week, anybody could be made out as a whining *itch. They didn't show the jokes and the smiles. What I am mad about is that I was misrepresented as to my character, integrity and values.
Wendy: The contestants weren't told until the show started that they would be walking 570 miles. What kind of show did you think you were signing up for?
Kim: Part was my own assumptions. They try to disclose as little as possible. I thought it would be a weight loss show. I thought they would address weight loss from a counseling perspective. I thought we would delve into why I gained weight. I thought we would be individually assessed for physical ability and not expected to all meet the same goal. My legs were atrophied - going uphill was like carrying a truck on my head. If they had used body fat measurement instead of weight, you would see the difference. It wasn't a level playing field.
I would love to do "Biggest Loser" or "Celebrity Fit Club." But I need a valid weight loss regimen for my lifestyle. This was "Fat Survivor Meets the Amazing Race."
Wendy: What coaching did they give you? I was amazed that they expected you to walk 5 miles the first day at the Boston Marathon during a cold nor'easter.
Kim: I was crazy freaking cold at the Boston Marathon. They told us to dress warm and so I had on layers and layers of clothing. We had to carry backpacks with a half gallon of water and food in them. It wasn't doing one or two miles. We were people who hadn't even walked to our mailboxes in years. That first day I felt like I was having a heart attack. My lungs were burning. When I couldn't catch my breath, it scared me. But the trainers said we all finished hours ahead of when they expected we would finish.
I never got to be warm and I never slept for three days. In camp, we had to camp on wet ground in sleeping bags. They told me I was over the weight limit for an air mattress, so I had to sleep without any cushioning between me and the ground. My body was locking up from overexertion and then laying on a hard surface and freezing.
The second day I didn't complete the entire distance. The third day I had to catch up my miles and so I walked further than anyone else walked that day. I walked for 11 hours for over 10 miles.
I had blood clots under my toenails and that scared me because my mom died of blood clots. The boots they had for me to wear the next day were very tight and I was wearing a couple of pairs of socks in them. This made my feet very painful. When I finished, everybody on the cast and crew cheered and cried.
The next morning, I asked to sleep in a bed just one night to recover. If I could have just walked half of the miles the next day, I could have continued. But it wasn't about my wellbeing, it was a race. I knew that if I started walking that day and couldn't finish and then quit, my teammates would have had to make up all of the miles I didn't complete. So I prayed on this and I did the math. My body said no amount of money was worth the pain I was in. I thought this show would be a fitness regimen that could be a long term lifestyle. But it was just walking, walking, walking with cameras in your face and somebody yelling at you.
(Wendy's note: watching the show, I got the impression Kim quit in the middle of a walking day, while she says she quit in the morning before starting Day 4. This is an example of dramatic editing.)
Kim: I left having accomplished more than I have in my life. The producers wanted me to be the underdog, way in the back, who finally made it. But I felt like I was sacrificing my health and the projects I had lined up for after the show. I didn't want to hold anybody back. Others wanted to quit before me and I sat and talked with them. I tried to be an emotional support. I wasn't allowed to speak to the team after I quit and give them my reasons for quitting.
Wendy: What message do you have for others?
Kim: First, definitely be encouraged to do something about losing weight. Second, be happy with who you are now, before you lose weight.
Kim: My story is that I've been making my own way since age 15. I was 180 pounds when I came out of college. I wanted a recording and television career and was told I needed to lose weight. I lost weight the healthy way with eating more vegetables and cutting out sugar, losing 3-4 pounds a week. Then I began an exercise program and worked out for 1-2 hours 5 or 6 days a week. I had a recording career but I came to feel objectified. I wanted to be respected and thought if I were physically unattractive they would respect me more. Once you are out of the exercise habit, you stay out of it. I thought the show would address my emotional reasons for gaining weight.
Kim: Now I have a plus-size fashions business, Fatabulous Clothing. My clothes help people feel great. I developed a clothing line for young people to have a little "flavor," so they don't have to dress from Wal-Mart or Lane Bryant. The girls who model for my line weren't models. After their makeovers they feel great, beautiful and confident. Why shouldn't you have something great to wear to a movie or on a date? A lot of people wear stuff that is too tight and doesn't accentuate their figures. My closet looked like a funeral - all black! So my clothing line has clothes in colors to accentuate what looks good, and darker items to hide figure flaws.
Wendy:Thanks to Kim for the frank interview.