The big fat truth: J.D. Roth interviews JD Roth

I’m not the only semi-celebrity J.D. Roth. For more than fifteen years, I’ve been receiving email and tweets and Facebook messages intended for the other JD Roth, the former executive producer of The Biggest Loser — and tons of other television shows.

Apparently the other JD Roth has a lot of fans. Actually, I’m one of them. I’ve been watching his shows since 2009, when season seven of The Biggest Loser inspired me to start my own weight-loss journey. When he published his book The Big Fat Truth in the spring of 2016, I read it the day it was released. I thought it was great, and wished that I could interview the author, but Kim and I were in the middle of our 15-month RV trip across the U.S. and I couldn’t make the logistics work.

In 2017, when I learned that Roth had created a TV version of The Big Fat Truth, I knew the time had come at last: J.D. Roth was going to interview JD Roth. Last August, we made it happen.

Note: It can be tough to tell the two of us apart. We’re both 5’8″. We both have the same facial hair. We both have beautiful wives/girlfriends. And we both share similar underlying philosophies regarding success and personal development.

That said, there are some subtle differences between the two of us.

  • I spell my name J.D. Roth; he spells his name JD Roth.
  • I live in Oregon; he lives in California.
  • I have one producer credit on IMDB; he has 51 producer credits.
  • I have 22,030 followers on Twitter; he has 848 followers. (You should follow both of us, by the way!)
  • When I was younger, I looked so much like Star Trek‘s Commander Riker that some of my friends actually called me Riker! The other JD Roth was actually one of the final candidates for the role of Wesley Crusher.

For the purposes of this article, here’s how to tell us apart: When I write about myself, I won’t do it in the third person. I’ll say “I” and “me”. When I write about the fitness JD Roth, I’ll use proper journalistic form and refer to him by his last name.

The Big Fat Truth

“I’ve been watching your new show [The Big Fat Truth], and I really like it,” I told JD Roth at the start of our phone conversation. “I like that it’s less of a game show and more about helping participants address not only their health, but the other things they’re struggling with in their lives.”

“Yeah, it’s all interconnected.”

“Plus, The Big Fat Truth feels less produced than The Biggest Loser. There aren’t any weekly weigh-ins and there’s not dramatic music. It’s you sitting down and helping real people living their real lives facing real challenges — but still achieving real results.”

“Thank you.”

“In one episode, for instance, you have a couple analyze how they allow words to hurt them — how they use what others say as an excuse to make bad food choices. Or there’s the mom episode where you go over to Nancy’s house and it’s a mess. Her basement is a disaster, so you ask her to clean it up. I think you say something like, ‘Fix your mind and the body will follow.’ I love that.”

All of these things in your life — your basement, your bank account, your belly — are a microcosm of what’s going on in your mind. Being ready to assess your inner life is probably the hardest part of losing weight. But it’s also the most important.”

“Here’s an exercise I’ve used in the past,” Roth said. “I tell participants to go home and clean out their bedrooms. If you want to lose weight, empty out your bedroom. Let yourself wake up to peace, organization, and calm. Give yourself this one oasis to escape from the chaos of life. This small step is a great place to start.”

From Desire to Transformation

“How do you help people move from desire to transformation?” I asked. “Many people want to lose weight, just like many people want to get out of debt. How do you move them from wanting to doing?” Before Roth could answer, I explained my own approach. Continue reading

Moving from emotional to analytical (with finance and fitness)

This morning, for the first time in more than eight years, I weighed in at 200 pounds.

I am not proud of this fact but it’s the truth. I own it. I got to this point through my own actions, not because some cruel tormenter force-fed me cheeseburgers and beer.

When I’m overweight, I tend to internalize the problem, which generally leads to a vicious cycle of overeating, shame, and self-loathing. While I’m older now and more aware of my mental processes, I still struggle with self-defeating thought and behavior. (This is exacerbated, of course, by my recent battle with depression. In fact, I suspect the depression has a hand in my life-long weight issues. The onset of both seem to be correlated.)

Being fat affects my self-confidence and self-esteem. I’m less likely to be social. When I do go out and see people, I’m less engaging (and I know it). Right now, my weight is actually hindering my work too. In April, I started a Get Rich Slowly channel on YouTube. My goal is to produce a couple of videos per month — but I’m not willing to put myself on camera at the moment.

In short: Like many people, I allow my physical make-up to dictate my mental make-up.

People are funny like that. We internalize stuff that ought not to be internalized. When we do, it becomes much more difficult to do the right thing, to make the changes that need to be made.

Take money, for instance.

Net Worth Is NOT Self-Worth

People allow their net worth to dictate their self-worth. This is true at every level of wealth.

At one extreme, you have folks like the guy in the video below who — because they’re rich — believe that they’re better than everybody else, exempt from the normal rules of society:

On the other end of the spectrum, you find folks who feel terrible about themselves because they’re buried under a mountain of debt.

In my personal life, I’ve seen tons of examples of how folks conflate net worth with self-worth. Heck, I’ve done it myself!

  • Back when I was trying to figure out how money worked, my debt made me feel like I was drowning, like I could not catch a breath. I felt miserable. I felt like I’d never amount to anything, as if my debt were an accurate measure of who I was as a person.
  • My father — who would have turned 73 yesterday — internalized money too. For most of my childhood, my parents struggled to make ends meet. Dad often told us that he felt like a failure because he couldn’t give us everything he wanted to give us. When the ladies from church brought us food, he was mortified. Mom and dad rarely had people over to the house because they were ashamed that we lived in a run-down mobile home.
  • More recently, my little brother (who, at 45, isn’t exactly “little” anymore) went through some rough times. A decade ago, he lost two homes to foreclosure. He declared bankruptcy. He moved his family to Seattle to make a clean start, but he couldn’t find work. “I don’t feel like a man,” he told me at the time, unknowingly broaching an interesting issue of gender dynamics. “I can’t provide for my family. My wife is the one earning money. It’s killing me.” (I’m pleased to report that Tony has managed to turn things around and seems to be doing well these days.)

In some ways, it’s natural that we internalize factors like our fitness and our finances. They are, after all, scorecards of sorts. When I weigh in at 200 pounds, that’s an objective reflection of everything I’ve done to my body during my 49 years on this planet. My net worth is an objective reflection of every penny I’ve earned or spent during my life.

Both weight and net worth serve as a scorecard for how well we’ve managed our fitness and finances, but they’re not complete measures. That’s why we use other numbers, such as BMI and muscle mass (for fitness) or saving rate and income (for finance).

Plus, it’s important to note that while for most of us, most of our weight and/or net worth is a result of the quality of our decisions, chance does play a role. Some folks are born into better situations than others. And some people suffer misfortune (or enjoy lucky breaks) that drastically affects their situation.

If I believe we shouldn’t internalize factors like weight and net worth — and I do believe that — what then is the alternative? Continue reading