People ask me what kind of people come to Duke Diet and Fitness Center and the question is surprisingly hard to answer. I have met two fathers and daughters, two mothers and sons, one set of sisters and several couples. People come with friends or plan to meet up with friends they’ve made on previous visits. Most, like me, come alone. There are lots of women who seem to be glad to have shaken free of their families for a few weeks, men who talk a lot about their wives–and curiously often about the weight of their wives, tiny trophies they treat as talismen. ” She was 98 lbs when I married her 44 years ago and she is 108 lbs today”. “She’s only a little bit of a thing and she runs marathons” We have seen a steady stream of gay men. Here, there are brilliant students, doctors, lawyers and professors who have mastered everything but their weight. This month, there are lots of teachers and faculty members, taking advantage of their summer break. For some people, money is clearly no object, but for most it’s a bit of a stretch to stay here and something they’ve worked hard to make happen. There are more women than men and more people over 40 than under. Most people are white but there are a smattering of Latin would-be losers and two or three African Americans out of a shifting population of around fifty. Hassana has come from Pakistan and there is a French lady here to support her son.
Some people have horror stories- ” I have lost 100 lbs 4 or 5 times with diet pills and put it back on every time”- but many returnees are great advertisements for the program. Marilyn has come back every year for the last 18 years and is 100 lbs lighter today than when she first arrived. Many come to regulate their blood pressure, or sort out their blood sugar and some need to lose only a few pounds. Others are slimming so they can have hip or knee surgery and some are dealing with years of dysfunction around food, and trying to save their own lives. All are fat and want to be more healthy.The staff seem able to work with us all. You should come here just as fast as your (delete as appropriate) stiff/cellulite-covered/stubby/weak-kneed/swollen-ankled/ulcerated legs can carry you. Fat camp is fab.