Reality TV vs Reality: Who Is The Biggest Loser ?

America is obese, or half the population is and we are collectively looking for inspiration to lose our unwanted pounds and join the ranks of the healthy other half. Many are turning to the reality shows like Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover Weight Edition. These shows take morbidly obese individuals and they transform them over approximately a years’ time. Now we are not talking about a fifty pound weight loss, we’re talking over a hundred pounds.  Many people find the stories inspirational. I’m not one of those people.

Why you ask? I mean losing weight is a good thing, right? Yes and no. Yes losing weight sensibly is a good thing. Healthy living and a healthy weight is certainly worth striving for. But losing large amounts of weight in a very short period of time is not a good thing. It’s been proven that there is a high chance of that weight coming back on plus additional pounds. Slower weight loss generally means long term success at keeping it off.

Having lived through this experience I can say that it is unpleasant, demoralizing and extremely unhealthy. I lost 80 pounds in ten months, the reality shows lose more.  My body and my mind weren’t in sync at all. There hadn’t been enough time to catch up with each other and when I was thin, I still felt fat in my head. I also wasn’t ready for life as a thin person. The world relates to you differently when you are a thin person. I wasn’t able to handle the additional attention. Fat was my comfort zone. I also ate a restrictive diet with no carbs or sugar. Well, when you give in to the cravings for both, you end up acting like a starving person. You eat as though you’ll never eat again at every meal and throughout the day and night. The weight comes back on faster than you can imagine. And then you are miserable again, but comfortable.

It is well documented that the healthiest weight loss amount per week is one to two pounds. Not ten to fifteen or more like on the reality shows. On the shows, contestants are working out four to six hours day and eating very low calorie intakes of food, similar to my experience with the no carbs and no sugar diet. And many of the winning losers are heavy again because they lost weight in an unrealistic environment without the challenges and pitfalls of real life living with a job, family, friends and life.

I recently watched Extreme Makeover Weight loss edition and they featured Ashley, who weighed in at 323 lbs. In one year’s time she lost over 150 pounds. They put her in unrealistic settings and with an unrealistic schedule to accomplish this weight loss. When she was in a real life setting, surrounded by family and food that non-dieters were eating, she only lost a small amount of weight. When they took her out of that environment and put her in a living situation where she focused solely on weight loss, she lost the unrealistic numbers.

I did take away the fact that exercise is vitally important to losing weight, and that I need to do more for my weight loss journey. But having watched both reality shows and researching failure stories I have reached the conclusion that the shows do more harm than good. I know I am losing in a healthy way, but my feelings watching the show were that I was a failure because my numbers weren’t as good as the shows. Ridiculous, and unrealistic, but real for me in that moment. I have to say, you don’t need this negative influence when you are trying to lose.

We are a society where bigger is better and apparently we believe that to be true in our weight loss as well, no matter how unhealthy that belief is. We are striving to be like the unhealthy and unrealistic models we see in magazines, and we need to have the largest numbers in the shortest amount of time when we attempt losing. It’s a sad commentary on our society’s propensity for gimmicks and unrealistic expectations. There was a weight loss show called Ruby on the Style network that ran for four seasons. She was losing weight slowly, and the show depicted her life as realistically as a reality show can. But it was cancelled before she hit her goal weight.

My story will not be on a reality series, nor will yours I’m guessing. But we won’t be setting ourselves up for failure. We will not be fodder for the unrealistic expectations of an obese nation. We will lose slowly, and be the healthy loser, not the biggest or most extreme loser. But I believe we are the ultimate winners.

Book Review: Weight Loss Boss by Dave Kirchhoff

Written from a man’s perspective, Weight Loss Boss is Dave Kirchhoff’s story of weight loss and maintenance as well as his career with Weight Watchers as their CEO and lifetime member. He describes his struggles with food and exercise and the battle he had losing his weight. I think it interesting that Weight Watchers hired him when he was overweight. I have to admit, I like a man who is in touch with his emotional side and is self- aware. Kirchhoff writes about his reasons for eating as well as telling the story of how he has been a lifetime “sneaker” of food.

Since I am in the battle myself, I thought I could use the encouragement from the book. I have to say, it is encouraging. Once you get past the resume that he expounds upon, the book is informative and easy to follow. He lists nerdy facts and research that you know an organization like Weight Watchers is privy to, (WW doesn’t spout all the technical stuff at you, preferring to keep the approach user friendly and simple)so I may not be one for statistics and research, it was heartening to know that the program is backed by science.

I wanted to experience a man’s perspective on WW, and I think he did a good job representing his gender.  While none of the WW information was news to me, I’ve learned most of it from the online program and by the forums, I still derived information from the book. For me, it’s the exercise that is posing the biggest challenge, and he shows you how much he programs into his busy schedule, something for me to strive towards.

I would say get the book if you are in WW or are interested in WW.  If you are looking for diet tips, not so much as there aren’t a lot of chapters devoted to tips. There are other ways of getting that information. Since men are the minority in WW, it is nice to see a quality publication be available that may bring more men to the fold. His blog http:/ManMeetsScale.com  is great to follow, very informative. It is important to note that the profits of this book are going to charity.

If you read it, come back and give your opinion…I’d love to hear what you think.

 

Gaining While Losing

I have put off this post because I don’t want to face it. No, I didn’t plateau this past week, I gained. Two pounds. Now I know this is a normal part of the weight-loss process and journey, but that knowledge doesn’t make me feel any better about it. I looked over last week and I realize it was caused by several factors; I ate out a lot, I ate beef out, I didn’t exercise enough, I may not have measured my portions the way I should when I ate at home. So, I have been nursing my disappointment and avoiding the blank page was one of the things I did as a result.

With each set-back, be it gaining or plateauing I am renewing my committment to the program and to the goal, pushing forward, revising my plan, doing the next right step and looking forward to Sunday and a change in the scale. You do have to be vigilant on the journey and not fall into a complacency rut. I was beginning to think that this was so easy, and I stopped being hyper-vigilant about my daily interaction with food. Following through on things is new to me. In the past, I was good at starting things, but never really stuck to the plan of whatever I was doing to finish it.  This is a plan I have to follow through on all day long, since I can slip easily.

If you are experiencing the same things in your journey, or you know of someone who is, let me know. I would love to get some insight and shared experiences about this. I promise the next post will be more positive and informative.