Okay: I admit it. I watch The Biggest Loser. I'm not a rabid follower, and I mostly just watch the weigh-in portion of the show (last 30 minutes) and that's it. If I miss it, no biggie, I go to MSNBC.com for the synopsis. But over the years, I have had some issues with the show in general.
Yes, I realize that it has inspired people to take charge of their lives. And yes, there are some people who have had continued success with it -- Phil & Amy Parham from my area of the world come to mind. They are the kind of people that I root for, the ones for whom it was more than just a contest. They really did change their lives, their outlooks, their futures.
My biggest issue is that for many who sit on their couch, it provides unrealistic expectations. I was plenty ticked earlier this season when a contestant -- who'd lost 100+ pounds before she got on the show -- was sent packing because she fell below the yellow line. They frickin' did a "slow clap" because she "only" lost 2 pounds that week. And a couple of weeks ago, another contestant who lost 161 pounds was sent home. He was in pure agony at the scale because he'd only lost 1 pound -- not enough to keep him around.
I realize it wouldn't make for much of a show if they followed these people through a healthy weight loss process over the years it should take them to lose weight. No one would tune in to watch them work out for only 30 minutes a day, an hour possibly. Sure, there are some disclaimers about being under the guidance of a doctor, check with your physician, etc., but really? Shouldn't a doctor be on at the beginning and end of each hour, reminding at-home viewers that healthy weight loss is anywhere from one-half to two pounds per week? That they need to strive for 30 minutes of activity on most days? That what they're seeing is not typical?
Unfortunately, it sets people up for unrealistic expectations when they walk in the doors of a weight-loss group (be it Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or a bariatric clinic). They want to drop 100+ pounds in 14 weeks just like (contestant) on TBL. I want some doctor, some nurse or even a WW receptionist to scrunch their nose, cock their head to the side, peer into their eyes and say, "Did I just hear you correctly?"
Yesterday, a lady joined at our center and said, "I have a challenge to present. I have a high school reunion at the end of July and I want to weigh what I did in high school." She had this twinkle in her eye that told me she was jesting, but she was serious about getting to a better place of health. So I hope that she will stay in it for the long haul and get back there. But so many people do walk into various places and seriously say, "My son is getting married in 3 months, I have 8 weeks to find a dress and I need to lose 45 pounds." Really? When did your son propose to his intended? Do you really think it's healthy and realistic to lose that much in that timeframe? What I need to say in response is, "We will help you lose weight, but healthy weight loss is no more than 2 pounds per week after the first 3 weeks or so. So aim for 20 pounds and then go dress-shopping. And you'll be 20 pounds lighter than you are now, and who knows how much lighter than you might have been if you hadn't come in!"
I want so much for people to have a real-life view of weight loss. I want them to focus on what they can gain by losing: more confidence, strength of body and spirit, a complete paradigm shift for life. To reclaim themselves and their lives again. I want them to have goals but to also be aware that reaching the goals is more important than how long it takes to reach the goal. I want them to make themselves, their lives, their health a priority, and to tell some of the naysayers and energy vampires in their lives to um, well, um, (ooh, keep it family-friendly),...... well, you get the idea. I want them to claim the power of choice in their lives, and of owning all their choices, good and bad. It's a process I'm still learning. I have some energy vampires in my life that need to be in my rearview mirror. I have moments when I don't claim my choices but I do it more often than I ever did before.
And that, folks, is reality. That's real life. That's gaining 0.4 one week and not knowing why and losing 3.2 the next and saying, "WHEW." That's thinking, "Okay, I'm tired, it was a long day, but I can at least go for a quick walk around the neighborhood. I gotta do something." It's saying, "Oooh, how many PP for those chips and salsa? Yow. Next time, I'll know better..." (and following through).
Reality. What a rush!