I recently started watching The Biggest Loser. Apparently, there's a law that says fat people have to watch the show because every season someone would suggest it to me or stare at me in disbelief when they discovered that I was not a viewer. Finally, my resistance and rebellion wore off and curiosity got the better of me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I cried...lots... through the first episode. But, now that we are into the actual competition part of the show, my tears are less frequent. Mostly, I just sit there wondering, "what were these people thinking when they signed up for this?" I guess they each have their reasons for auditioning for the show, but here is a list of reasons why I never would:
1. I don't need more shame and humiliation in my life: I put a great deal of time, energy, thought and emotion into avoiding being seen in all my flabby glory. There is nothing that would compel me to voluntarily walk around in a sports bra and spandex pants. Squeezing through aisles, not fitting in waiting room chairs, sticking out too far from the table in restaurants, people either staring or averting their eyes when I pass by...that's humiliation enough for me, thanks.
2. I will not starve myself thin: Basically, that is what is happening on The Biggest Loser. Women are allowed 1200 calories. Men get 1800 calories. And then, they work out for 4-7 hours a day...plus challenges. One man recently lost 41 lbs in a week. That means he had a calorie deficit of -20,500 a day. He consumed 1800 a day. I don't see how that is healthy or sane. A doctor would tell him to consume at least 3500 a day if he was also exercising for one hour daily. I'm shocked that there haven't been more trips to the ER for these folks.
3. I won't make my health about competition: As a woman in America, I am confronted daily with images, opinions, standards, measurements and comparisons that tell me if I am not below a healthy weight I'm not beautiful, I'm not worth anything. As a single woman, in my own head and heart there is a consistent compare/contrast thing going on, stacking me up next to the other single women around me, telling me where I'm superior and where I fail to measure up. I don't need more reason to feel like I'm competing.
4. I want my success to be based on my success: When contestants step on the scale and see their number, they aren't seeing their number, they are seeing how their number relates to the other contestants. Whether I lose 1 pound a week or 6, I need to know and believe that I am moving forward. That every pound lost is a victory.
5. I want the changes I make in my eating and exercise habits to be sustainable: Read interviews with former Biggest Loser contestants and they will tell you, the life they live on the Ranch is not real life. It is not possible in real life. None of us have nutritionists holding our food hostage and dispensing it in modest portions. None of us have 7 hours a day to be forced to workout. We have jobs and friends and family and church functions and responsibilities and concerts to go to and tv shows to watch. On top of that, no one can live in starvation mode for the rest of their life. No one should. This is called anorexia or exercise bulimia when it happens anywhere but the Biggest Loser Ranch. What does work is, knowing what you burn and what you can consume to burn at a consistent and healthy rate. What does work is a regular routine of exercise. What does work is a system that fits into your life and allows you to live it and learn to make good choices and set priorities.
6. I don't want to set myself up for failure again: Any radical, ridiculously restrictive and intense diet plan is going to bump up against reality and, in most cases people are going to find themselves in a place where they can't sustain that extreme anymore. Their motivation is replaced by frustration and they cave. That happened to me when I did a low carb diet. Sure, I lost 100 pounds in less than a year, but I couldn't live that way long-term and I crashed and burned and gained all of the weight back.
7. I want to honor God: I want to learn to be wise, to care for my body and also enjoy the foods God created without sinning. I want my motivation to be free from competition or selfish ambition or wanting to measure up to the malnourished women plastered all over creation. I want to be free from the bondage of food and image and fear. I'm not going to find that when I'm weekly forced to compete with and knock down someone I should be helping and encouraging and happy for.
With that said, will I continue to watch the show? Probably. Though I don't agree with their methods, it is inspiring to watch these folks push themselves to the limit and struggle and fight to reach a goal. More to the point, it is inspiring to watch people that look like me push themselves to the limit and struggle and fight to reach their goal. It makes my 30-45 minute jog look like a piece of cake. ;)