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““Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn”

Here is a little back story on how Mitchell and I got started on his journey to lose 80lbs in 5 months and get ready for his second appearance on CBS Undercover Boss.

I got a phone call from Mitchell the day after his UCB episode aired this past November. I think he was a bit surprised and embarrassed seeing himself on television at over 300lbs, and the feedback he got from emails about his weight were not altogether kind.

I’ve known Mitchell and his family for over 10 years. During this time the average weight for him was between 270-300lbs. When he got married to Robin 14 years ago he weighed 225lbs. Mitchell’s family is his life. Being morbidly obese, he needed reminding that he posed a risk of an early exit.

Modell’s is celebrating their 125 anniversary this year! They are the oldest family owned sporting goods store in the country with over 3000 employees and 153 stores and growing. Aside from his 3 daughters Ashley, Brittney and Missy , Mitchell has two boys, Mathew and Maxwell, who are both under the age of 12. His vision is to see them carry the torch into the 4th generation of the business. Mitchell’s brother and partner in the business name was Michael Modell. They complemented each other and were inseparable growing up. Unfortunately, Michael was afflicted with illness his entire life and died of cancer way before his time. He was very close to Michael and has told me he thinks of him every day.
Losing weight and overcoming food addiction is a enormous undertaking that few are able to conquer. Part of my strategy to get Mitchell to commit to a plan was to use the above and appeal to his intense family ties.

Aside from goals of feeling and looking better, we discussed his responsibility to his family, friends and associates to live a long healthy life. Not seeing his sons carry on his legacy, and not being able to mentor them into the business took the focus off him and became a motivator to lose the weight. Mitchell shared with me the fact that his brother had no control over his illness and that his overeating and under exercising were his choice and he vowed to do something about it. Powerful stuff.

Another one of the tools I used out of the gate was visual. At my fitness center we use a variety of modalities to get people in shape. One such item we use are 20lb chains that add additional resistance to varying exercises. I called Mitchell the day of our initial meeting and had him meet me outside his home. In my trunk I had 4 chains weighing a combined total of 80lbs- the exact amount we agreed Mitchell needed to lose. I greeted him and proceeded to drape the chains one by one around his neck. Mind you, this is our first meeting and less than a handshake into the session. With the weight on his shoulders, hardly able to stand and with much protest I coached Mitchell to take a few staggering steps. With a few choice words and self-deprecating remarks Mitchell dumped the chains off his back into a clanking pile. He said, “What are you trying to do, kill me?” I said, “No, you’re doing a pretty good job of that already. This is the extra weight you have been carrying around with you 24 hours a day.” The stress of the additional weight and the visual of the 4 chains made an important impression.

Another effective visual aid I used with Mitchell was with a current client (Lou) who lost over 100lbs in 6 months. I knew I needed to create a belief that this was actually possible, and as competitive as Mitchell is, I knew this would work. Lou was very similar to Mitchell in many ways: their starting weight was exactly the same(305lbs), both had 3 or more children, each ran companies with over 300 employees, they travelled extensively for work, avid sports fans and plenty of good excuses why they couldn’t lose weight. Before and after photos of Lou and an exact copy of the program we used were presented on our first day. This packet made it very real and obtainable. No guesswork, just dial in the map provided. Period. Exclamation point.

Maxwell is Mitchell’s carbon copy He is far ahead of his years and takes pride in the family business. Not uncommon to see Max (all of 10 years old) at one of the 153 stores, talking to the manager, checking inventory and supervising the day to day activities. His work ethic is beyond belief (as is Matthew’s) and he follows the lead his father has set. Both Mitchell and Max have voracious appetites for life and everything under the sun. Their personalities and positive attitudes are larger than anyone’s I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, both developed poor eating habits that needed some adjustments. When Mitchell decided to make some lifestyle changes with diet and exercise, Max was there lockstep in the journey. They had a check and balance system pushing and encouraging each other along the way. Max even started working out with me a few days a week and lost 24lbs! Being a role model for his family has its responsibilities- good with the bad. Setting a foundation of good eating and exercise habits has made Mitchell appreciate the value of what he has done these past 6 months not only for him but for his loved ones both directly and indirectly. This will continue to be a driving force in his quest for maintaining his ideal weight.

Aside from being mentally prepared, we actually now had to do it. We followed a realistic eating program I developed over the past 25 years called the Evolution plan that changes every 2 weeks so he would not get bored and his body would not get adjusted or stale. Water was a constant—drinking one gallon a day. Meals were evenly spaced and fewer calories at day’s end. He lost on average of 1/2lb a day consistently, week in and week out!

Workouts were vanilla box like the first few weeks, allowing the body and mind to adjust to the new regimen. 3 days a week evolved into 4,5,6 and sometimes 7, at 45 minutes at a clip. We gradually ramped up the intensity each workout continuing to keeping it simple but added different angles, rep schemes and volume. We trained the same time every day (before sunrise) and took field trips to Body Chemistry (my fitness facility) on weekends during the hours the gym was closed. Somedays we’d opt out of the lifting of weights altogether and conquer the elements with a brisk walk around the neighborhood. A pedometer charted our daily steps starting with 4000 the first few weeks, gradually increasing to upwards of 15,000 as of today.

Weigh-ins occur one time a week. Same time, same day charting our progress on a big board similar to the ones used to measure the progress for a fundraiser or blood drive. The rest is history. In 5 months we lost 75lbs and are almost at our goal of 80. Stayed tuned, going to be quite a journey.

About Mitchell Modell

  • President and CEO Modell’s sporting goods
  • *$700,000,000 revenue
  • *3500 employees
  • *125 year old company (oldest in country)
  • *Undercover boss star 2012 and 2013
  • *Lost close to 100lbs in 7months with diet and exercise
  • *Philanthropist -raising millions of dollars for crones and colitis every year.