The Biggest Loser... Or is it?
Yesterday I met a man who was approaching 250kg and forced to now work as a driver because it allowed him to sit all day. We got chatting and he asked me what I do. When I responded that I was a nutritionist, he asked me what I thought of The Biggest Loser. I stayed silent for a moment so as to give him a thoughtful answer, and in that time he said he loved watching the show but it always left him feeling disappointed because he didn't seem to be able to lose the weight like the contestants did.
I realise that he mustn't be the only person who feels discouraged by TV shows and it only causes me to feel even more strongly that these programmes may be more damaging than beneficial.
These shows set people up to fail.
No, I'm not saying that people shouldn't be encouraged to become healthy, but is the structure of these shows really a good one? Do the techniques work for everyone? Let's break it down!
In the real world, who has personal trainers at their disposal for 8 hours every day of the week? A nutritionist living in their house to teach, prepare, regulate and monitor their diets? Cameras spying on them so that every little slip up is noticed and addressed? Unless you're a Hollywood A-lister (Hi Brad and Ang, I always knew you followed my page!), then I'm willing to bet that the above things don't apply to you.
The sad reality is that many contestants on weight loss shows reportedly put back on all the weight they've lost AND MORE! Aside from those issues already mentioned, what are the reasons?
Genetic and cultural factors often play a part, but it's more than this. There are very strong links between obesity and emotional/psychological issues. Please don't think I'm saying that because someone is overweight that they're impacted by these things, but being healthy is about treating the whole person - mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. When just one of these things is off kilter we can experience health issues.
So, back to weight loss shows specifically. I would so dearly love to see contestants offered genuine emotional and psychological support throughout the show. Discover the real reasons they are struggling with weight. This is a long term process and doesn't exactly make for riveting TV or an exciting competition, but I want people to understand that there is so much more to weight management than just calories in v calories out. EVERYONE is different, so don't be disheartened when what worked for a friend doesn't necessarily work for you. There is so much misinformation out there that it's easy to become confused and think we are eating healthily when we're actually not.
If you're struggling with weight management it may be beneficial to see a health care professional for some tailored guidance. There's no shame in admitting you need help and may be the very first step toward making positive long-term changes to your health.
Change the channel, or better yet, turn it off and take yourself to the park. Taking that first step is the hardest, but it could change your life. What have you got to lose?