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Why Fat Camp Didn’t Work

I recently had a client tell me about a vivid dream she’d recently had. In this dream, she was back at “fat camp.”

My client explained that, when she was an adolescent, every summer her parents sent her to a camp designed to help children and teens lose weight. This started when she was seven years old and continued until she was 14.

She described her experience at camp as being a mixed bag. While she hated the tasteless meals, the mean exercise trainers, and the “fat camp” uniform, she reveled in the camaraderie that she felt when she arrived at the campground. At the camp, she could spend her summer with people who really understood what it was like to go through the world as a “fat kid.”

However, in this particular “fat camp” dream, she knew that it was her last day at camp, and she was filled with that familiar sense of dread and excitement that came with transitioning back home. What she did at “fat camp” wasn’t sustainable in her life at home, so she would gain the weight back every fall and arrive back the next summer even heavier than she arrived the summer before. “Fat camp” was a temporary solution to a more complex and complicated issue.

When she arrived at Structure House for the first time, my client expected a similar experience. She assumed that the food would be bland, the trainers would be cruel, and the time would go by slowly. However, even after just a week at Structure House, she realized that this program was much different from the “fat camp” of her childhood.

At Structure House, she learned to look at her entire life, instead of merely focusing on what she was eating and how much she was moving. At “fat camp,” no one asked her about the reasons why she was eating. They just told her that she was eating too much and that she should really know better. At Structure House, my client had her first real opportunity to understand her relationship with food and learn why she had been overeating the way she was.

However, the one commonality between Structure House and “fat camp” was the fellowship and support that she enjoyed in both settings. Being surrounded by thin people in her family and friend group, my client always felt alone in the world. She felt like no one looked or thought like she did. At Structure House (and at “fat camp”), others could relate to her struggle, and this made all the difference.

Learn more about Structure House’s positive alternative to fat camps.