Friday, January 28, 2011

Vanity & The Biggest Loser

I've been talking about The Biggest Loser a lot lately. This is the first season that I've actually started watching from day one of the season, because I got completely caught up in Rulon Gardner's Olympic saga in 2000 and to know that his weight has more than doubled, well, it's something else. I wanted to see how somebody who was a marvel of health (and, no, he wasn't exactly svelte, but a champion wrestler? Well, his body was built specifically for action, not necessarily for the cameras) ended up sliding so badly.

The biggest thing that bothers me about the show is the humiliation that the contestants need to go through. I'm not exactly shy about my body...but I'd feel quite exposed walking around amongst my friends & family in my underwear. Here, you have the most obese of the obese, and they're essentially in their underwear, and they're on television for millions of people. You're seeing them cry, puke, pass out. In a perfect world, these would be private moments. But, keeping those private doesn't necessarily make good TV.

I'm left wondering at what level you take away the "for the common good" and start investigating "for the best of the individual." I, honestly, believe that The Biggest Loser is good for the nation as a whole. There isn't an office that I know of that hasn't done some sort of "Biggest Loser" competition (and, while we can talk about whether weight loss should be the focus when you're dealing with health, most people, if they want to be healthier, need to lose weight...the only hope is that the weight loss is done in way that's as productive as possible for the body...I should note that weight programs are a significant portion of the Biggest Loser workout, and if weight loss were the only goal, they'd be near completely ignored). The Pound for Pound Challenge that they've initiated is a phenomenal idea. The show is taking a serious problem, finding obvious examples, and putting a harsh mirror onto the american public.

I'd look like a freaking supermodel on the show, and I'd balk at having cameras follow my workout & tape me in my underwear as I stepped on a scale. I guess it's obvious to anybody who signs up that they know what they're getting into. They're getting a certain amount of time with world class trainers & dietitians at the cost of having to check their humility, a certain amount of pride, and their privacy at the door.

I have to imagine, for the best of the contestants, it would be to provide the "Biggest Loser" experience, but to leave the cameras out. Put people who are having real & legitimate issues with their relationship with food at a place where they can concentrate only on themselves. Enable them to make the best decisions about food. Guide their workouts. Keep some element of competition so that people know that sliding will not be tolerated. But, for the love of god, allow people to preserve their dignity. I guess the question is, will that really do any good for anyone beyond the people in the room? Does that stripping of dignity empower more to take inspiration and work for themselves? I, of course, don't know the answers here. I just worry about psychological damage. But, is that damage any worse than going about your daily life thinking that every person you pass thinks you're repulsive (I don't think I'd think "that person is repulsive" if I passed the average contestant on the street, but I know I've certainly thought that people must think that way about me as I've been heavy)?

With all that said, I'd kick absolute ass at "The Moderate Loser," provided I didn't balk every single time a camera found me. I'm actually feeling pretty good about "me" these days. I've been allowing my food plan to slide a bit . . . I broke down and had a doughnut the other day, and I've had the random snack of chips. I've chosen french fries over a salad on several occasions. I've had second helpings when I didn't absolutely need them. With all that said, though, I'm not doing poorly. I'm still running, and I'm aware that the food decisions that I'm making are, perhaps not the best decisions. It's when I stop noticing that I'm making those decisions that I start getting in trouble. Right now, I'm in a golf-shirt that's just the tiniest bit tight around my biceps, which makes me feel all sorts of "guns" are, maybe .22's, hardly .45's...the shirt was obviously cut weird, but I'll take the ego boost. I actually haven't been doing much in the weight training department because of my elbow, which I'm having looked at next Wednesday...keep your fingers crossed that the pain I've had is just an abnormal & adverse reaction to winter and not something worse.

This morning, I did manage to run for a little bit. Last night was a cranky night from Leila. I had the alarm set for 4:30, but I set it for 5 after waking up between 3:30 and 4:00 with her. In all honesty, I'm not really sure who woke up, or what was going on, but I was out of bed, so I reset the alarm. After a quick dog walk, I managed a 30-something minute run. I actually pushed my pace below 10 minutes/mile (which is something, considering that I'm in several layers of clothing, some of which are trying their damndest to fall of my body).

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