Saturday, March 14, 2009

Biggest Loser Binge--a lesson for everyone

I'm a an avid Biggest Loser viewer. I can't really explain why but I watch in amazement as these very big people perform physical feats beyond what I would think they could. And I marvel at how comfortable they all seem to be exposing themselves both physically (skimpy outfits for very large people) and emotionally. I admit to tearing up when someone has an amazing week, whether it be a bad one or a good one. And ofcourse I know all the reasons why I shouldn't "like" this show: It's scripted (I hope you realized that) like all reality shows are and it's edited for drama so that stuff shown on screen is often out of sequence. In other words, it's all manipulated. And I do hate they way they drag things out. And repeat things as if the hours and hours of footage wasn't enough to fill the time. And it's not reality because these people are living in a time warp. Who has the time in real life to devote to hours and hours of exercise every day? Hours and hours. And, sadly, many of the former contestants have gained all their weight back. But I watch it anyway.
I don't learn much from watching the show. It really is some perverse sort of entertainment for me. I don't learn much because I already exercise every day. And I have never eaten fast food or smoked or sat around eating potato chips and dip. So I don't really identify with the contestants.
But I did learn something this past week and I hope lots of viewers learned something.
Because the contestants go on pretty strict diets, they give up everything they really like to eat. Yeah, I know. Broccoli is delicious. Sure. Just as good as fried zucchini sticks dipped in Ranch dressing? And, yes, cute Rocco cooks up some tasty low calorie Italian fare for the contestants but nothing as delish as they could get in a good Italian restaurant. Let's get real, folks.
So what have they really learned? Well, apparently nothing. See, last week, one team went on this 24 hour relaxation experience. Massages and manicures and pedicures and....a restaurant experience. Instead of using what they supposedly have learned during their ten days of deprivation, they binged. They drank, smoked and over ate. And the implication is that you can't have mashed potatoes or fried chicken or tequila if you are trying to lose weight. BS!
Yes, you can. Because the contestants have been deprived for ten weeks, they lost control. They weren't paying attention to their tummies. They were eating with their eyes and their palates. The lesson the producers should have been teaching--and make no mistake, there is a lesson here---is that the contestants could have had steak and mashed potatoes and fried chicken and tequila as long as it wasn't a binge. But because these people felt so deprived by the diet they are following, they lost control and not only didn't order mindfully but also didn't eat mindfully and intuitively.
The result was weight gain and guilt. A lesson for them but also for the audience. The lesson most people think they learned is that you cannot "cheat" on a diet. But that's not the lesson!
The lesson is, follow your feelings. Of course, we can't just eat what we want. Health has to be part of the reason we choose foods. But on days when your choices are perhaps a little skewed towards the hedonistic, just stay in contact with your body. Know when you've had enough. And then, move on. Don't make guilt part of the experience. If you choose foods you really like, then enjoy them and move on. The contestants not only ate and drank themselves into a stupor, they then suffered remorse. So they negated the entire experience. So sad for them.
The result was that they gained weight or didn't lose. Truth is, they might have gained weight or not lost on any given week regardless of what they ate or how much they exercised because that's how the body is. This group of contestants seems to have done a good job of losing consistently which also is not "reality".
If they go home from the show thinking they can never again have fried chicken, then they will not have learned much. Fried chicken is out there. It's part of the real world....not the biggest loser world. But they're all returning to the real world soon and if they don't learn how to live in it, they're not going to be successful.

1 comment:

sBs said...

Excellent post!