Yesterday, I spoke to a writer who was doing a story on reality weight loss shows. In case you think the Biggest Loser is the only one of these shows, there are now many others and these shows are really a phenomenon. I’ve written about The Biggest Loser before but it has been some time and I think it’s worth revisiting.
I mentioned this topic to Lisa and Melissa in the office yesterday. The both pointed out how unrealistic it was to live secluded from “reality”, exercise hours a day and focus your life on your weight loss. To me, this is not unlike an alcoholic or drug addict going to an in-patient treatment center. Though I don’t think everyone needs to stop their life for their weight loss, this isn’t my main concern with these shows. The difference though between treatment centers or detox and reality television is that many do not provide treatment from a dietitian or psychologist.
In fact, emotional eating is virtually ignored on the shows I’ve watched which is probably what got many contestants so heavy in the first place. It’s no wonder that a large percentage of people on these shows regain their weight. However, clients I speak to aren’t focused on how much weight contestant’s regain they are mesmerized by how much they lose. I was in a meeting with a client who recently had a baby. She gradually losing her baby weight but asked me “how come I don’t lose like they do on the Biggest Loser?” It’s as though one or two pounds a week isn’t good enough anymore because people see gigantic seven, eight and ten pound losses on TV.
I must’ve been in a good mood when I last wrote about BL because I posted about its ability to inspire people. There is something about watching people massively change their bodies that just may get us off the couch and taking action. Yet with larger and larger contestants I worry that it can also do the opposite. If someone has 20 pounds to lose, they very well may say, “I’m alright, I don’t have to lose 200 pounds” thereby ameliorating their own issues. There is a voyeuristic element here. What will Lady Gaga wear? What will Chris Brown say? And what will happen when a 400-pound person runs sprints? Uh oh.
The writer asked me what my ideal reality weight loss show would look like. As a massive fan of HBO’s In Treatment (how great is Gabriel Byrne?) I would love a weight-focused version of this show but with real people. I think everyone could benefit from watching others sort out their real food issues and the issues behind the food issues and I know a nutrition that would do a decent job in case anyone wants to start filming (shameless I know).
Do you watch reality weight loss shows? Any you like better than others? Do you find these shows inspiring or frustrating to watch?