That afternoon in the fall of 2010 will go down in Reid family history. Marshall Reid, then in fourth grade, came home from school saying he’d had it with being bullied and mocked for his weight. He proposed a project: Be healthy for one month, and document the process on video. They’d call it “Portion Size Me,” a spin on the Morgan Spurlock film "Super Size Me."
Marshall’s mom, Alex, 42, was up for the task. While she’d been vigilant about healthy food when Marshall and daughter Jordan were small, over time she’d been hit by the scourge of weary cooks everywhere: complaints at dinnertime. “I felt beaten down by everybody’s lack of enthusiasm, so I copped out,” Alex recalls. That led to lots of fast-food meals, with Jordan’s hectic soccer schedule contributing to the Reids’ eat-on-the-go lifestyle.
A return to the kitchen, as a family, formed the backbone of the Portion Size Me project. Everyone helped choose dishes and pitched in to make meals. Marshall took quickly to cooking: “It’s really entertaining when you have to keep up with lots of things at once,” he muses. He was also a natural at hosting the family’s videos. Conceived as a way to share Portion Size Me with Marshall’s dad, Dan, 44, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army then stationed in Iraq, the videos began attracting regular viewers to the family’s YouTube channel. The Reids chronicled six months of their experiment in their book, Portion Size Me, but the project is now a new way of life for the family. They prepare—and enjoy—healthier takes on favorite dishes, like Mulligan’s Stew and Shepherd’s Pie, and Marshall hits the gym with his dad (now stateside) three mornings a week.
Thanks to Portion Size Me, Marshall, now 12, has dropped 36 pounds. His parents have also lost weight and exercise three to five times a week. They say their energy levels, sleep and concentration have improved, too. Even 15-year-old Jordan, a former junk-food junkie with a lightning-fast metabolism, has become a more adventurous eater—fruit’s big on her list—and is drinking more water than soda.
Perhaps best of all, the bullying at school has stopped. “It’s been a morale booster,” Marshall says. “I’m not quite where I want to be, but I feel good about where I am now.”