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Friday, January 7, 2011

Lessons from The Biggest Loser

Last season, I didn't watch The Biggest Loser. I just needed a break. But earlier this week, I watched a "where are they now" special and found myself drawn to the show again. So I sat down to watch the opening episode of the new season, "The Biggest Loser, Season 11."

I'm not sure if TBL posts will become a regular occurrence here again or how I'll write about them. I'm leaning more toward exploring one topic from the show than providing a re-cap of what happened on the latest episode.

There are 11 pairs on this season -- too many to keep track of right now. But two of the people come to the show having already lost a significant amount of weight, with a significant amount left to lose. Courtney, part of the mother-daughter on the aqua team has already lost more than 100 pounds at home, inspired by previous seasons of The Biggest Loser. Arthur once weighed 646 pounds and has lost 150 pounds at home. I calculated his then and now BMI, which come in at a staggering 98.2 and 77.1! (Anything over 30 is considered obese.)

There are twin brothers on the show, again. And another man from Tonga named Moses, following in the footsteps of Philippe, Sione, Sam and Koli. Maybe they should just start a Tongan BL series. I mean, honestly, the Tongans are fat people. I get it. Aren't there any fat Germans or Englishmen who need an intervention?

There was the falling down and throwing up of the first workout. There was Jillian screaming and Bob taking someone outside the gym to talk -- the equivalent of a psychiatrist's couch.

One of the funniest things I heard was Jillian saying "I don't want to yell. Do it because I asked you to, not because I yelled," and Bob responding, "Asking Jillian not to scream is like asking the grass not to grow, the fish not to swim, the lions not to roar. Jillian's always gonna yell at people."

Not that Bob's incapable of being in-your-face. At one point he said to Arthur, "Of course you want to lay down. You weigh over 500 pounds!" Funny, but harsh.

There's a new twist, as well. Two new, mystery trainers. I'm calling them "Ninja Guy" and "Boxing Gal." The teams had the opportunity to sign on with the new trainers and have four weeks of immunity or to work out with the successful, known quantities of Bob and Jillian.

I said I wasn't going to re-cap the episode, didn't I? That I was going to explore one topic from the show. So here goes.

Seven of the 11 pairs on this season are parent-child duos. At least one mom spoke of feeling guilty for her child's weight issues. That struck home for me.

I've been overweight for the better part of 30 years. I don't for one minute hold my parents responsible for my weight issues. They raised 5 kids and I'm the only one who struggles with weight. What weighs heavy on my mind, no pun intended, is how my habits and choices regarding food have impacted my own family. Even when I think I'm being sneaky with my own bad habits, they are more aware than I know. Whether it's a propensity to drink Diet Coke instead of water or the couch that's imprinted with the shape of my hind end, I don't always give my kids the best example.

Annie takes after me and has already found that food is both her friend and her enemy. The boys are pretty lean right now, but I worry what will happen when they grow up and they find themselves with less built-in activity and more sedentary time on their hands.

Some people watch The Biggest Loser out of sheer voyeurism, wanting to gawk at people whose skin is  painfully stretch across their stomachs and whose weights reach unbelievable numbers. Others watch hoping to see Jillian rant and rave. Some tune in for inspiration in their own weight loss and to cheer on those working to regain their lives.

Watching the show the other night and seeing all those parents and children was like holding a mirror up to my own future. I recently wrote at Fit City about moving two steps forward and one step back. This first episode of The Biggest Loser Season 11 was an inspiration to me to keep my eyes fixed ahead and move forward, for myself and my family.


Sharon said...

You just motivated me to watch it this season. Thank you.
I really do find the show to be inspiring (minus the corny product placements, like Extra gum)

Eternal Lizdom said...

When that mom apologized to her daughter at that weigh in... I cried. That really struck me.

Joanie said...

I do watch for inspiration. I'm always so impressed by their commitment to a healthier lifestyle. I like to see, around episode 4 or 5, when the contestants "get it" and the complaining eases off and the notes of pride are in their voices.

Joanne said...

Amy I am so glad you posted about TBL. As I mentioned I am not watching for some of the reasons you mentioned earlier (same old same old). That said I love reading introspections and your note about the parent child duos also hits home with me. I watched both my parents struggle, my brother struggles and I struggle. But it was nothing my parents did - when I lived with them I was slim and fit. My weight came from my first marriage -- as much as he was a good man he undermined me on many levels and the only thing I could control was my weight.

Here I am in my middle 50's still struggling even though I am happier than I have ever been in my life. For me its just sheer laziness -- diving into a bag of chips is so much easier than weighing and measuring out something that is better for me.

There is a ton of inspiration here in the blogs and as I also mentioned I am trading TBL for our Canadian version Village on a Diet -- just a bit more real for this overweight struggler.

Linda said...

I am glad you posted about TBL. I love reading your take on the show.

I definely feel inspired when I watch it.. if somewhat briefly. lol

I actually lost a whole lot of weight after getting sick 2 years ago and kept on working at loosing weight after my health crisis stabilized.

I am still involved in a hospital outpatient therapy program where I have an occupational therapist, social therapist, a dietician and a physiotherapist and it is wonderful to have all the professional help.

I still have a lot of weight to loose (60 lbs or so)and the show reminds me that I need to be careful to not go back to where I once was.

I have 4 young adult kids and all three girls are heavier than they really should be,so I feel lots of guilt for their weight issues. They are so happy that I am thinner and healthier, but they most certainly are thrown by me weighing less than them and borrowing their clothes!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this week's episode, too, much more than I enjoyed all of last season.

My favorite line was to Arthur when he was whining about hurting his leg. Jillian said, "You need something for your leg? I have something for your leg. It's called a treadmill."


Joanie said...

I left something for you on my blog!