Tag Archives: biggest loser

The Very Bad Idea of Revenge Weight Loss

So it’s Hulu season. For those wondering what that means, it is the time of year when I dust off my Hulu Plus subscription and continue my love affair with prime time television on my terms (and portable devices). So while I waited for my season premieres to air this week, I snooped around on Hulu to see what, perhaps, I had been missing. I made a huge discovery!

So I am obsessed with weight loss reality TV. I suspect I am not alone in this. I find it inspirational, mostly. So I never miss an episode of The Biggest Loser, and though not my favorite, I do also watch Extreme Weight Loss (it’s the skin surgery as reward that sits uneasy with me. Maybe as I get closer to goal, I’ll re-evaluate my position, of course entirely dependent on how much sag I’m sportin’). So I see a show called My Big Fat Revenge, and I think “ok, I’m in.” After the first episode I was so put off I think smoke was coming from my ears. Here’s the premise, the overweight contestant (all female in the handful of episodes I watched (all recon for this post I’ll have you know (cause I owe you thorough research and first hand accounts))) goes away for three months to lose as much weight as they can in order to return and perform an act of revenge on someone who treated them poorly in the past because of their weight (most often an ex boyfriend). So the contestant loses the weight and the sets up this PUNK’D, Candid Camera-esque revenge scenario designed to give the loser in her life a taste of his (mostly, but some of her) own medicine. You know what happened 99% of the time? The callous asshole walks off camera. No apology. No “wow you look great.” Just more of the same douche-baggery as before. So does the contestant really see their nemesis get his comeuppance? Does she feel better? No. Instead she has linked her desired outcome, her hard work to become a healthier, perhaps slimmer, human being to the behavior of a person that she has NO control over. You know what happens when she doesn’t get that apology…the weight comes back on because, well, the thing she thought would win her approval didn’t.

OK, OK. Perhaps there is some awesome motivation to be found in silencing the nay-sayers, in psyching yourself up to feel like the one who got away, in proving that you are not all the negative things anyone ever tried to say you are. Great. Put your ex’s face on a punching bag and get that cardio in if it helps, but here is what I know about assholes, if they don’t love you fat they won’t love you skinny. If they we’re mean, abusive, threatening, manipulative and the like when you were heavy, you being not heavy will not change who they are. I think it a bad bad bad idea to link self-worth to the musings of an idiot. Losing weight to enact revenge has got to be the worst idea ever because you can not get answers or apologies from psychopaths or even mildly pathetic low self-esteem losers who needs to bully others to feel empowered.

Ok, here is another beef with this show and the damage it is doing. We see footage of the contestant at the gym, but we don’t meet or learn anything about their trainer or training methods, we don’t know anything about their diet and exercise routines. All we know is they go away for 90 days and come back having lost up to 25% of their body weight. People at home should know this kind of extreme weight loss, including very low-calorie diets and 6-8 hours of daily exercise, should be medically supervised.

You wanna lose weight? Great! But do it for yourself. To impress yourself, to improve your health, to love who you see in the mirror. Not to prove anything to anyone else. Not to make some foolish boy love you. Or to correct years of bad behavior from an abusive loved one. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m at my goal weight I hope every Negative Nancy and Doubting Thomas get the memo, but my results are not linked to them, because mostly likely they just won’t give an F. After all, the work is its own reward.

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No, I’m not Tongan, I’m just fat

So as I disclosed in my previous post, I watch a lot of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I recently finished season 7 again and am now on season 9 again (I watched season 8 last week – my daughter and I re-watch seasons based on the contestants we like/don’t like, so we don’t watch in order). If you’ll recall, season 7 is when we were introduced to the contestants Felipe and Sione. These guys are Tongan cousins and were so concerned about the trend/tradition of obesity in their culture. In season 9 of TBL another set of Tongan cousins, Koli and Sam, shared these same concerns.

 

Ok OMLD, your point? Well here’s the thing, since I was an adolescent, I have been asked if I was Tongan or Samoan. I am *sure that part of the reason for the question has to do with my skin tone or hair or some ethnic marker. I think more than anything though, I was asked because I’m fat. I am not Tongan or Samoan, I’m just fat. I have wondered though, what it would be like to grow up in a household, or community, or even culture where I wasn’t ostracized for my size. Where I look like the women in my family. Where I am not the fat sibling. Where my plate at family functions is not policed. Of course, I know, “the grass is always greener.” I don’t presume that people in cultures where largeness is accepted have it easy, clearly Felipe, Sione, Sam, and Koli wouldn’t have appeared on TBL, but here’s the thing (and in telling you the thing, I will reveal certain identifying markers – “O brave new world…”), it sucks being different from your family. It sucks feeling like an alien in a place that you call home, where love and acceptance should abound.

 

Now to be clear, my mother (she is my natural mother) and I are the same nationality, American; we share some ethnic heritage, English, Irish, Scottish; but we are not the same race, she is white, I am black. The standard of beauty for her race is in many many ways not the standard of beauty for mine. Not to generalize, or over simplify, but certain physical attributes are more accepted in the black community. My mother didn’t grow up in the black community. She grew up with icons like Twiggy.

 

Growing up with a petite, super skinny mom was hard af (as the kids would tweet). I wanted to be like her, but by 12 was taller and much larger than she. She didn’t know how to have a fat daughter. So we fought. I want baggy clothes to hide my fat, she wanted me in the smallest size I could squeeze into (this has not changed). We fought about food, I had to carry the OG slim fast in a thermos to school, and at 14 she put my on Jenny Craig. We fought for control. Of my body. Including piercings and haircuts. Eventually I won. My prize was getting fatter.

 

Now as a *responsible adult I am actively trying to understand my triggers. My mom is el numero uno. I’m trying to understand why when my mom asks me “can you have X on your diet,” I want to eat cookie dough because I can *have whatever the hell I want. Or why when she wants to go to the gym together, do I talk my way out of it, and find myself napping half the day. I don’t have all these answers yet, but I now recognize these triggers and redirect my responses so that I am making positive choices instead of negative ones. AND of course I can’t trade my family in for a community of fat people, where I feel a sense of belonging. BUT I can create that community for myself with people who are not necessarily fat, but whose respect and acceptance create a safe space for me to be fat today and work toward being less fat tomorrow.

 

I had to say it out loud (type? it out loud?)

 

Thanks for reading.

My thoroughly dysfunctional relationship w/ The Biggest Loser

So I watch my fair share of reality TV. No Jersey Shore or Bad Girl’s Club, but reality game shows (Survivor, Amazing Race, etc) do reserve sacred space on my DVR. My favorite of these is NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I have watched EVERY season, some of them twice. In fact as I type this, I am re-watching the season 8 finale thanks to Hulu Plus.

I weep like a babe during most episodes, and am inspired by several of the contestant’s journeys. But for every inspirational moment I also take a blow to my self esteem. And the tears I shed watching have a direct correlation to the number of trips to the fridge I take during commercial breaks.

Now no one was more excited for the season 14 season premiere than me. Jillian Michaels back on the show. Dolvett and Bob still lookin fine as ever, and coming of season 13 which has been my favorite yet. This go ’round I even vowed to not eat ice cream while watching a single episode (so far so good on that front). However, for someone at home on her own “weight loss journey,” false hope sure can run high. Seeing players lose 10, 15, 28 pounds in a week can certainly be inspirational, but it can also be depressing as hell.

If you are a viewer anything like me, you sit at home thinking “man I could lose all my weight in just X weeks if I lost like that.” But instead I am on a program that promotes an average of 1/2-2 pounds per week. So it’s more I like I can lose all my weight in 2 years. Ugh.

Now this post isn’t to suggest I have a defeatist attitude, because I will for damn sure plug on with my 1/2-2 pounds a week and be very thankful. Nor am I condemning TBL for kickstarting the lives of its overweight contestants, but what PISSES me off is the contestants in their confessionals in which they bitch about a 4 pound loss. I might sell services on the black market for a 4 pound week. It’s a game, a competitive one, I get it. But let’s send the right messages to the at home fatties like me.

Now here is my even bigger beef. Last week they trapped contestants in a room full of craptastic food and sweets for 4 hours a day for a week straight. What kind of cruel and unusual BS is that. I get that it was to demonstrate to America how our sedentary lifestyle is making our kids fat. But really who is holding kids hostage with a box of twinkies in front of the xbox? It’s about CHOICES, which these contestants were not given. Now every season there are “temptation” challenges, but the contestants have a choice to participate, usually with a inciting incentive or reward like immunity or a weight advantage at the end of the week. Last week’s stunt was a punishment for poor performance in a challenge. Now every parenting handbook under the sun will tell you that food should not be used as punishment or reward. Wanna talk about childhood obesity? Let’s talk about that.

It’s a game, a competitive one, I get it. But damn it I really didn’t like that move last week.

But of course I will tune in again tonight, to see what miraculous fuckery ensues. I will leave you with a pic of #TeamPink from last season. Kim was a beast, and I loved it.

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             Kim Nielsen (left) and Emily Joy