Weigh in on “The Biggest Loser”: Gimmicky or Real?


I hate to admit it, but I am a regular watcher of “The Biggest Loser.” I use it to motivate myself to keep on a good eating and exercise program, but I have some problems with the show.

Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition winner

Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition winner (Photo credit: audiovisualjunkie)

Problems I have with this show

First of all, trainer Jillian is a real witch. She’s really mean to people, then she does  pop psychology on them. She seems like she has a split-personality. On one hand, she is nasty, then she puts on her happy face and sweet voice. (She calls everyone sweetie when she’s being nice.)   I really hate when she gets contestants to drag her around as a weight. Plus, her smile is crooked which gives her a devious look.

On the first episode this season she threw most of her team out the door and told them to consider leaving.  (The poor people were all throwing up because the tasks she made them start out with were too hard.) Did she have to start them out with such difficulty?   Several contestants considered their options and went home. Can you blame them?

Last week she made some poor woman go in a coffin for a few minutes. It was to help her realize that she needed a new lease on life. She was fooling around with serious stuff. It’s a good thing the woman, who is claustrophobic, didn’t end up going crazy.

The other trainers are easier to take. Why Bob has tattoos going all over his arms and everywhere is beyond me.  Why get your body in shape, than disfigure yourself.  I like Dolvett, who is the boxer. He seems to have his head on straight. He, like Bob, have a more positive approach then Jillian.

The challenges

I have to hand it to the writers for thinking up those bizarre challenges. Traveling through bubble gum, slogging through mud. throwing them off heights. Contestants on that show are either desperate for money or attention. Some of the stuff they make them do seems downright life threatening. Last week they had to hold up weight, and when they couldn’t anymore they were dumped into water.

It does manage to hold my attention, so I guess the writers know what they’re doing.

The weigh- in

What kind of person would get up with all their flab hanging out to millions of people? All the contestants on “The Biggest Loser.” The weigh-ins are really odd. Who loses 12 pounds in one week? Either they’re starving them to death or working them too hard. They make it seem that this is a healthy weight loss. If someone loses 4 or 5 pounds in one week, you’d think the world had come to an end. I think this give people the idea that losing 10 to 12 pounds a week is normal. I wonder how many of the contestants end up with eating disorders after the show is over?

You know, some of those people are going to regain most of their weight after the show is over. They never talk about that.

Although I find some real serious  problems with this show, it does manage to motivate me. I think about what I look like, my health and what I’m eating.

I do like the promotion of exercise, but at my age, I’d never attempt half the stuff they do on the show. I do a lot of water aerobics, elliptical machines, and walking. I would never be willing to leap off of high places. Not even for money.

They added kids this season

Thank goodness they’re not making the kids put on embarrassing clothes, and put them on the scale. It’s mostly a promotion of exercise and healthy eating. Naturally, some of the parents of these kids are also overweight. Last week, they showed a teenager pleading with her mother to also try to lose weight, so she won’t die. Wasn’t it real exploitation  to show this on national TV?

Do you think this show is exploitation or it’s an earnest attempt to motivate the viewers? Or just get ratings? Is it ethical to humiliate people on TV to get good ratings, and people like me watch?

 

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Extreme Makeover Weight Loss: Mike’s Story


Tonight, I watched Extreme Makeover Weight Loss. This is the TV show that follows a very obese person for a year.  I occasionally watch these programs to inspire myself to lose weight. It’s kind of like attending a Weight Watchers meeting.

We have the adorable personal trainer, Chris, who picks a person to work with for a year. He tortures them in the gym. He makes them lift weights, run, and want to scream bloody murder.  He makes them move their fat all over the place. Despite all the hardship he puts them through, they usually end up being best buds with him.

What I found truly inspirational about Mike’s story was his family.  They all pledged to lose weight right along with him. They did it too! That is real love.

How did he get so fat? He was a shy guy, and  spent a lot of time in front of his computer, TV  and turned to food for comfort. Sound familiar?

One of Mike’s goals was to run a triathlon. Eventually, after losing gobs of weight, he gets to the point where he can attempt it. Cute Chris runs right with him. Mike struggles and struggles, but finally makes it across the finish line. Talk about an extreme race. I was glad he didn’t have a heart attack.  But, we love to watch him triumph, so what’s better than a triathlon?

Meanwhile, he’s met the first girlfriend of his life. Every time they show her, she’s crying because she’s so happy that Mike is in love with her.  I’m wondering why Mike is picking such an obese girl for his girlfriend. It doesn’t seem like she’d be good for him. After all, he’s going through agony so he’s not obese anymore. It’s kind of  like an alcoholic living with another alcoholic. Not such a great idea.

Time marches on, and Mike loses a whopping 232 pounds. He also has skin surgery, and looks fabulous at the weigh-in. He’s a hunk. His family has also lost weight too. Everyone is happy. Too make things even more glorious, Wal-Mart has supplied him with a $50,000 gift certificate. (Shouldn’t they give that to a hungry family?)

Epilogue

The next time we see Mike, it’s a couple of months later. He doesn’t look quite as buff as he did in the reveal. As a matter of fact, he looks like he’s put some weight back on. He dumped his girlfriend.

I hope he keeps the majority of his weight off. But the problem is, excess weight has more to do with emotions than it does to running marathons, or doing 400 push ups. Besides, who can keep up that training schedule?

Am I expressing sour grapes? Experiences with regaining weight after spending hundreds of dollars at Weight watchers? Watching so many people lose and regain weight?

But, it does inspire me, and I’ll watch the next episode.  After all,

My Weight Loss Coach

My Weight Loss Coach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

hope is eternal.

What do you think? Is the show exploitive or inspirational? Should we watch it? Is it a crime to be obese?

I Used to be Fat: TV Review


I Used to Be Fat

I Used to Be Fat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes, I really like to watch those weight TV shows. They seem to motivate me. I really would like to take off some pounds. Like everything else, you have to work at it.

I watched a teenage oriented show on MTV entitled I used to be Fat. The young woman on it had been fat all her life.

When we meet her parents, and family we understand why. Although I do believe some people have a tendency to put on weight, the environment plays just as big a role.

They have all the creamy bad stuff in their pantry and refrigerator. Several different types of pancake mix, creamy stuff, and generally bad. They all put it in a big sack to give to the food pantry. (I suppose it’s not okay for them, but okay for the poor.)

Anyway, this young girl has a trainer who is merciless on her. The first day she is running across the football field. When she’s done with that, she’s going up and down the stairs of the stadium. ( I think he could have just had her run back and forth across the football field on her first day.)

Her father, who is overweight himself, tried to motivate her. He obviously cares about her, and that’s a good thing. I think it’s the case of the pot calling the kettle black. I think it would really motivate her  more if he was earnestly trying to take off some of his bulk. It looks like he’s making a half hearted attempt.  Her mother seems to be out of the picture. She does take responsibility for her kids being overweight.

The trainer and father point out that losing weight is a mental exercise. She keeps saying she can’t, can’t, and can’t. Finally she starts saying, “yes, I can.” (Sound familiar).

There is one scene where she goes to a restaurant with her brother and friend. They order all that bad stuff that they serve in restaurants:  hamburgers, french fries, and fried food. They seem to enjoy taunting her with it. She orders a salad, but you know those restaurant salads, some of them are loaded with hidden calories. At least she’s trying.

Finally, she manages to run a marathon, and succeeds. She goes off to college, and after about 3 more months she’s lost 79 pounds, and looks like a different person. (She could’ve picked a more flattering outfit to show off her good points.)

Her parents at the reveal still look pretty overweight. That was a disappointment. It means she’ll go back to the same lousy food environment when she comes home.

This program reminded me that losing weight is such a mental exercise, and that negative self talk is such a defeating thing. If you can find some determination, you can change things for yourself. (Even if you’re over 60)

Even thought this show was about a teenager, I still found it full of good information. It’s things I knew, but needed to be reminded about.

 

 

TLC’s My 600 Pound Life : Why Do We Watch It?


Fascinated with obese people? It’s not polite to stare at them on the street, but you can watch them on TLC―The Learning Channel. Is it unethical to watch these shows?

I did watch, TLC’s My 600 Pound Life. It followed several 600 pound people for 7 years. Each person endured Gastric Bypass surgery. They were so obese that their lives were in danger if they didn’t do something to lose weight.

There is also the operating room piece to this series. You get to watch the doctor perform surgery, and get to see their huge stomachs being reduced. It is both disgusting and fascinating.

In most cases, the people were no longer mobile and couldn’t get their own food. So how did  they get it? From the people who were  their caretakers or loved ones, their enablers.

In every case their enablers were also grossly overweight, but didn’t have a clue as to why their loved ones got up to 600 pounds. Talk about not taking responsibility, or seeing yourself as having a problem.

I wanted to shout out to the screen, “It’s partly your fault!”

In many cases, it was parents who got them started with their bad eating habits in the first place. While their loved one was recuperating, they were still chowing down on fast food in front of them.

In one case, a mother― grossly overweight―talked about how her daughter went and hid food in her bedroom, and there was nothing she could do about it. You can tell, by her reactions, that she is not a kind person. Although she’s obese herself, she’s ready to tease her own daughter for her weight problem.

I’m not putting all the blame on the enablers. When you get to a certain age, you have to take responsibility.

I disagree with some people who think these people copped out by getting Gastric Bypass surgery. That’s a gutsy thing to do. These people were putting themselves in mortal danger, and the recovery was painful and difficult.

Why do I watch this show? Maybe to motivate myself so I won’t get up to 600 pounds. Maybe to remind myself that food is only for nourishment, not for companionship or recreation. It shouldn’t be for emotional self- soothing.

In our society it’s become all those things to many people.

I’m wondering how many people only eat for nourishment.

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity is a big problem in the USA.

Despite all the problems these people encountered, some of them also beat the odds. There is a happy ending to some of the stories. It gives hope that life can drastically change if people do the work.

Despite her teasing mother, the young girl lost a lot of weight, went back to college, and is leading a normal life. One of the men was determined to lose weight at the very beginning and he did. He even married his girlfriend in the end.

Not everyone had a good outcome. Some went back to their old eating habits.

Do you think there’s something basically sick about watching these shows?  Is it fair to watch someone else’s private misery?

Is it similar to going to a carnival sideshow as suggested by some reviews I’ve read?

Does it have any value at all? They wouldn’t produce these shows if people didn’t watch them.

What do you think?

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