Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: I Used To Be Fat?

Q&A Wednesday: I Used To Be Fat?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: What do your think about the mtv show I used to be fat? what do you think about the 6 hour workouts everyday?

Yeah… I don’t like it. Shouldn’t be much of a surprise there, though. I don’t like most things as they apply to weight and wellness.

But let me be fair, though. I’ve never seen an episode, and probably never will. I just.. don’t do “weight loss” TV shows. I used to host Biggest Loser chats on the BGG2WL FB page, but after I wrote this post, I couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore.

I’m always aware of the fact that teenagers have major, major, major body image issues… and let’s face it – teenagers aren’t as bright as they will be as 20-somethings (and, even though I’m a 20-something, I know I’m nowhere near as bright as I’ll be as a 30-something… and so on and so forth.) Shows like this might come across one way to adults, but what message do they send to teens?

Are we telling our teens that hard work produces results? Or are we telling them to get skinny by any means necessary, even if it means embarrassing yourself on national television, being berated and telling the nation your shortcomings and thereby allowing millions of people – people who, by virtue of the fact that so many of us are in fact overweight and still collectively gaining weight, don’t know much about weight loss or weight management – to judge you and feel justified in telling you how what you’re eating is “what caused you to gain weight in the first place?”

You know people do things like that, right? Shoot, they do it to me, and I’m just a blogger.

Never mind the fact that most people don’t have the slightest idea of how to manage weight, or “what to eat for weight loss.” They just know that what YOU are eating… is wrong. They just know that THEY are the person to tell you… and they know that it is wholly appropriate for them, a stranger, to be the one to put that kind of pressure on you in public.

I also know that this kind of pressure? This is the kind of crap that can push a teenager toward an eating disorder. Black or white, male or female. It happens… far too often.

I’ve written about this kind of stuff before, too:

I can recall an argument I got into with a friend of mine about shows like TBL.. with his argument going something like, “We need shows like this to show people what it looks like to work hard in the gym. You sweat, you grind, you burn, you get pissed, but you’re happy when you see the results.” Yeah, I hear you talkin’, but um… 17lbs in one “week?” What about ol’ dude that lost ~30lbs his first “week” there?

My complaint has always been that it sets an unrealistic expectation for what one can continue to expect throughout their weight loss journey. The average person – who probably (unfortunately) knows very little about how their body handles weight outside of what the commercials tell them – doesn’t recognize that “hard work cannot produce 11lb weekly weight loss” on a regular basis. What I can see happening (and admittedly, what has happened to me), is someone going to the gym, busting their tails, “only” losing 4lbs and thinking that “This is as hard as I can work, and I only lost 4lbs? Why can they lose 11lbs in a week, and I can’t? I can’t do this anymore!” and giving up. We all know that people will sometimes look for reasons to give up… and while it isn’t NBC’s responsibility to keep us motivated, a little integrity might be nice, here.

And since we’re talking about scales, I can fuss about the weigh-ins, as well. I just spent three months ramping up my weight lifting routine so that when I burn the rest of this fat, my skin will have an actual shape to cling to.. not just dangle and hang there. I know how many inches I’ve lost, and I know how much leaner my body has become. I also know that I actually gained weight during that time, too. If I were a scale freak, I might be bothered by this. TBL encourages weight lifting with the left hand, and breeds scale freaks with the right – your longevity on the show (and your chance at 250k) is wholly determined by what shows up on that scale. Replacing muscle with fat (replacing a pound of muscle with a pound of fat… is still replacing a pound with a pound)… means that you’re not losing. A scale freak’s nightmare.

I love the stories of people overcoming their struggles. I also love the fact that TBL shows people working as hard as they can, and the joy on their faces when they see how that hard work paid off. Despite how manipulated that footage or situation may be, the message that gets across is that “hard work produces results.” I can respect that. TBL has inspired countless “office competitions” where groups of co-workers host their own TBL competitions and support one another. We cannot deny the fact that one of the biggest examples of weight loss porn has done some good.

We also cannot deny the fact that TBL creates an environment where “normal” results are frowned upon, and now it seems like unhealthy methods of weight loss are being glorified on the low. The average American, approximately 20-30lbs overweight, is not going to lose 30lbs in one week without surgery. I’own care what you say. Two pounds in a week makes sense, but someone losing 2lbs on the ranch is ready to cry. The everyday TBL fan won’t always say to themselves, “Well, if I was on a ranch where all I did was workout and sleep, 2lbs would be a disappointment to me, too.” They’ll say, “2lbs? Gosh, he sucks.”

Nine times out of ten, if you lose a gang of weight quickly, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll keep it off. Why? Because you probably lost it by doing something you can’t maintain for the rest of your life. Living on a ranch where your only stress is losing weight – no bills to worry about, no kids to chase around, no boss to brown nose – is not a lifestyle change. It simply isn’t. And with as little as many of us know about our bodies and weight gain… we’re not focusing on that lifestyle part of this. We’re focusing on the “how can I lose 8lbs in a ‘week?’” part of this… as evidenced by the average supermarket magazine cover.
Excerpted from The Biggest Loser & The Problem With Weight Loss Porn | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

And really, can I question how realistic – or unrealistic, for that matter – it is that these kids want to lose a ton of weight in only three months time? Are they pushing themselves far beyond what makes sense just because they want to be able to produce results for their show? They don’t want to “disappoint America,” so they over-perform, risking injury and goodness knows what else?

And again, how focused are we on lifestyle changes? That kind of thing doesn’t happen in 3 months time. How focused is the show on health, or do they know that “no one cares about health?” Does the show take the opportunity to teach its viewers about health and lifestyle?

Even I have to admit… I don’t care about the answers to the questions in the last paragraph, because any potential good that the show can do for America… isn’t worth the damage it does to those kids in the show.

Working that hard toward skinny, as opposed to developing a well-rounded understanding of wellness overall… is the kind of hollow mentality that can, in fact, lead someone to an eating disorder. Combine that with an intense pressure to perform – and perform well – for the cameras, and… it just feels disastrous to me.

Call me paranoid if you want, but I’m sensitive to the issues of girls and young women… and in my studies regarding disordered eating situations, I’ve learned just how much these things affect both young women and men.

Any show targeting teens that focuses too intensely on them changing what they look like without tact, as opposed to showing them how to love who they are in spite of what they want to change… is going to get the side-eye from me.

That being said, no, I don’t do weight loss porn shows… and while I’m not going to tell grown folks what to do, I certainly won’t be advocating for those kinds of shows on a website where I’m very aware of how many teen girls frequent and participate.

So… all I have to say is this – if anyone’s actually listening to me, take these shows for what they are – manipulations of reality for entertainment value. The kids work hard but still deserve our sympathy and compassion just like any stranger on the street or loved one sitting across from us struggling with a food addiction. They commit insane amounts of time to being able to pull off astounding numbers – something many of us cannot do – because they want “new bodies” but also don’t want to disappoint US.

I just can’t figure out why WE even care… but that’s just me.

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Vanessa February 16, 2011 - 2:06 PM

I’ve never watched Biggest Loser and the two episodes of I Used to Be Fat were more than enough. For all of the reasons you mentioned. I would like you to watch a couple of IU2BF, mainly because I want your opinion on the parents. The single mom purposely would not stop buying junk food and flat out told her daughter that trying to lose the weight was selfish of her.
The other kid’s mom wanted no part of it, while the dad made a point to eat everything healthy with the daughter (egg whites, oatmeal, etc).
All that to say, I really would like your opinion on how you think parents contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. In those two episodes, I found myself watching their actions more than the teena.

Erika February 16, 2011 - 2:10 PM

You tell me white two episodes you’re referring to, and I’ll watch them just for that specific purpose.

Shante February 16, 2011 - 3:22 PM

If I may add to what Vanessa has said. I would REALLY like your opinion on the episode with the young black girl and her single mother. Her mother made me hotter than Hades. I mean really I wanted to smack her mom. The whole you get older gain weight and stretch marks and just need to deal with it and get a job and help pay bills instead of working out made me ANGRY. Makes me wonder how many young girls have to deal with this. No offense to single mothers because I was raised by one but when you decide to have children it is wrong as all heck to try and force the older child to do what is best for you versus what is best for them. My own mother did that to me and it is so beyond wrong.

Monica February 16, 2011 - 8:50 PM

The two episodes are Daria and Kirsten. The episode with Daria involves the unsupportive mother. When watching this episode it is easy become upset and even embarrsed being a black woman, myself. I think it can send the wrong message. In support of the mother, I think the point that she was trying to make to her daughter is the same argument that you have here in that thinking you are able to spend most of your day working out is not realistic. The mothers point was that her daughter has chores to do and other daily responsibilites that would prevent her from being able to commit to such a drastic commitment such as doing the show which would involve her working out most of the day.

rochjeff February 17, 2011 - 11:15 AM

I will say that the episode with the single black mother made me very angry. It seemed like the mother was upset because she was a single mother and I think she almost wanted to take it out on her daughter. I think she didn’t want her daughter to surpass her or enjoy her teenage life because she was denied the opportunity to enjoy her teenage years. Her daughter was 5’3 and 185 lbs and she was insisting that her weight was fine. Mind you, the mother is a nurse.

christine November 25, 2013 - 1:48 PM

Yeah the single mom..sighs! I think alot of that had to do with control. What would happen if her daughter lost weight..she would start doing things, moving around and wouldn’t “need” her anymore. Unfortunately there are parents like that everywhere, I know a couple. Keep the kid fat, unhealthy and around the house.
I watch both shows once in awhile, basically for the diet tips, I can always learn something new. But who the hell has time to exercise all day, unless you’re independently wealthy you have to go to work

Fearce Diva February 16, 2011 - 5:24 PM

Yes both of those episodes were a trip. I was proud of that one dad and that single mother i wanted to strangle.

Gina February 16, 2011 - 2:14 PM

I really enjoyed this post ( your entire blog for that matter)! Sometimes I find myself saying wow that makes a lot of sense an then other times I’m looking at the screen with that *sista girl frown* b/c I know you’re telling the truth but I didn’t want to hear it lol! I’m really working to live a life where I don’t eat “unclean” or processed foods. At times, it’s a struggle but when I do succeed I truly feel better from the inside out! Im praying that one day it wont even be a struggle to eat good wholesome food on a consistent and regular basis.Keep doing what your doing and getting the word out about healthy lifestyles!
Be blessed

Shante February 16, 2011 - 3:04 PM

I don’t like that these shows don’t express as well as they could and should be that these people are working out for hours upon hours day after day for months and have had their calorie intake cut to most likely a quarter of what it used to be. I mean really anyone that did those things would drop the weight quickly. I also do not like that they only focus on the physical and not the mental. I mean come on! There are a lot of issues that contribute to people gaining weight and to just ignore it is inviting the weight to come back. Yes, diet is more important that exercise but the mental at least in my opinion is more important than both.

Angelisa April 11, 2012 - 5:27 PM

No offense but show does express the mental aspect to be honest.

Chanelle February 16, 2011 - 3:15 PM

I really think you should watch it before you decide you don’t like it. While it may be embarrassing for the teens to show themselves before they get in shape, there is absolutely no berating on this show from trainers, a ot of the trainers become good friends with the teens. It is highly inspirational and shows actual struggles they have with family, friends, classmates and it’s very realistic. Although they work out a lot to see results, it’s all based on eating healthy and hard work and the only competition is yourself. The whole focus of the show isn’t even solely on weight. There are familial issues and just the issue of gaining confidence that is also talked about. I think you should at least watch one episode without any preconceived thoughts.

Erika February 16, 2011 - 3:27 PM

I’m sorry, but I absolutely will not. If they aren’t being berated on the show by ANYONE? Then fine. That doesn’t address the several other points I made. It’s exposure to a very sensitive topic that I don’t believe teens can handle. *shrug*

Bannef January 12, 2012 - 4:42 PM

Even if every single person, both on camera and off, is polite and supportive with these kids, the very fact that they’re being videotaped and broadcast across America means they are “inviting” judgment. People watch these shows and go “he sucks” and “she’s ugly” and “how could he mess that up!” I know that, and these kids know that, and I can’t imagine how having to worry about that kind of exposure IN ADDITION to all the other self consciousness issues of teenagers could be a good thing.

Dominiqua February 16, 2011 - 3:22 PM

I enjoy your blog and read it every day. It’s wonderful that you’ve been so willing to share your journey because unlearning this behavior can feel rather isolating. I’ve been on this journey off and on for over 30 years and it’s finally clicked for me. While I am as anti-The Biggest Loser as you, I wish MTV had a program like I Used to Be Fat in the late 80s to motivate and inspire me to make the changes that I’m finally getting a grasp on now. I get what you mean about weight loss porn, but I don’t see that with I Used to Be Fat. I’ve seen every episode. The trainers come into the home, clean out the pantry, teach the teens and the parents about processed foods vs whole foods, and try to work on the self-esteem issues. Vanessa mentioned an episode where the mother called her daughter selfish for wanting to exercise and get better. In that episode, the trainer went to the home and had a sit down with the mom. In the other episode, the dad was immediately on board to help his daughter develop better eating habits and motivate her at the gym when she was ready to give up on herself. After the summer is over, it’s up to the teens to continue or not. Usually by then, the teens have developed better eating habits and fitness is a regular part of their life. Their self-esteem seems to leap from the tv screen, and no, I don’t work for MTV. lol This show really inspires me and I’ll be 40 next week. If these kids can make the attempt to embark on a course that will change their lives, I feel as I watch them that I can, too. I don’t dig making fun of overweight people, bullying them, jumping on their backs or any behavior that’s humiliating. Since I’ve been watching I Used to Be Fat, I’ve felt nothing but inspired by the teens and the trainers. There’s even a section on MTV’s website where the trainers offer nutrition and exercise tips. Pretty valuable info, IMO.

Monica February 16, 2011 - 8:20 PM

I also agree. I happen to love watching I Use To Be Fat as well as The Biggest Loser. Im 41 and also find the kids to be an inspiration. I think the point of both shows is too motivate. I hope that the people adults and teenagers watching these shows understand that in real everyday life, its not realistic to beable to work out 6 to 8 hours a day and that if you dont weigh 500 lbs you shouldnt expect to lose 30lbs per week. As stated I see the purpose of the shows to be motivational, educational and entertaining.

SingLikeSassy February 16, 2011 - 3:23 PM

I watched two episodes and thought the amount of weight they lost in the short amount of time they lost it was dangerous for their health.

Also, I think they were exercising five hours a day. I don’t think that’s a realistic goal for the average person trying to be more fit.

I did feel sorry for the young lady in the second episode I watched as her mother initially didn’t care if she lost weight and seemed to be undermining her efforts to eat better and stuff. That environment appeared unhealthy in many ways. Still, after the trainer talked to her mom, things seemed to improve and she didn’t lose all the weight she wanted but she lost a good bit of it.

SuzieQ February 16, 2011 - 5:14 PM

I understand how you feel about the IU2BF. I’ve thought about the message and image MTV is portraying to young adults about losing weight. It’s wrong to have these young adults believe if I lose weight in one summer like this then I’m set for life. Not the case. They do need to show these young adults(& MTV viewers) the best way(s) to manage their weight in the real world. Working out 4-6 hours a day is unrealistic. I hope there is more education happening behind the scenes on managing their weight after their documented journey is over. If there is another season of IU2BF, hopefully they will share more information with the public about the weight management, losing weight in a healthy way and maintaining the healthy weight.
By the way love your blog!

Daphne February 16, 2011 - 4:04 PM

I agree about the weight-loss porn. I’ve known co-workers who were absolutely fascinated by The Biggest Loser, and thought the participants’ stories were inspiring. I’ve seen maybe a couple of episodes of the former, but I’ve never watched I Used to be Fat, only because the title told me everything I needed to know (and didn’t want to watch).

But even before I started to get serious about my own health, I knew that these people were living in a vacuum. Of course you’ll lose weight when you are sequestered from your daily life, with most or all of your time focused on exercise and diet. Of course you’ll lose weight when it’s about a competition for money (at least, with TBL), with the peer pressure of other participants, and the glaring national stage via TV. But none of that resembles real life for the vast majority of people, so when you remove those elements, the weight loss is a lot less sustainable (if at all).

And so with IUTBF, there is even more angst and potentially damaging mindsets because they’re teenagers.

I can totally believe that parents can sabotage their children, even if inadvertently. I was the “big” one of my siblings, and my mom used to tell me, “If you don’t watch it, you’ll be big as Gina (daughter of a family friend who was older than me and obese).” Which I’d heard as early as age 10 or so. OK? Given that I didn’t buy groceries, and pretty much ate what she cooked (until I started preparing my own unhealthy meals as a teen) – how exactly was I supposed to do that? And since the rest of the family didn’t really gain weight from her soul-food cooking, she didn’t think she needed to do anything differently. It was all on me because I was the only one who “looked” different. My dad wasn’t much better.

Now I love my parents, and think they did the best they could with what they knew. I’m just using a personal example of how parents who don’t know better (and/or don’t want to know) contribute to their children’s health issues. Of course, once I became a young adult, it was my responsibility, period. Still, I think Americans, we of the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” philosophy, summarily dismiss how much your environment as a child, pre-teen, and teen influences adulthood. Parents make a difference – positive or negative.

Erika February 16, 2011 - 4:11 PM

Of course you’ll lose weight when you are sequestered from your daily life, with most or all of your time focused on exercise and diet. Of course you’ll lose weight when it’s about a competition for money (at least, with TBL), with the peer pressure of other participants, and the glaring national stage via TV.

Right – you’re given tools for success in a fantasy land that you eventually DO have to leave in the end… and if your tools don’t translate well into your daily life? Struggle.

…and that ties into this:

But none of that resembles real life for the vast majority of people, so when you remove those elements, the weight loss is a lot less sustainable (if at all).

Bingo. If your tools don’t directly relate to what you face in your daily life? You lose out on the incentive salience that’s connected to making the right decision and benefiting from said decision. It promotes life-long LEARNING.

Actually, let me stop. That’s another blog post. LOLOL

Daphne February 17, 2011 - 12:14 AM

This is why I appreciate this site – it’s a holistic approach. I love the fact that you stress the lifetime maintenance aspect of it. I am sure there are success stories from these type of reality shows, and of course, that’s what we’ll see on TV.

But I am willing to bet money that the short-term success of the MAJORITY of past participants hasn’t translated into long-term (by that, I mean, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight approx 2-5 years later). It’s incredibly deceptive, and who knows how many teenagers and young adults fall for the okey-doke.

Jackie February 18, 2011 - 2:03 PM

I agree that you are entitled to your own opinion but I also agree with other members in that you are being a bit too negative about the I Used to be Fat Show. The show begins 3 months prior to them entering college, so they are more of a young adult than a teeny bopper. They are taught, along with family members and us viewers, the importance of eating healthy meals and exercising. They are allowed to talk about their reasons for being overweight and their goals for the future. The 4-6 hour workout, I agree is extreme, but they get it done. This is motivation to them that they can do whatever they want to if they put their minds to it. Pressure from being overweight on TV? Trust me, if you’re overweight, you’re going to feel pressure anywhere; parties, clothing stores, schools, etc. I believe that they are overcoming this pressure during the process. On the show they set out to lose a certain amount of weight. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. As humans, sometimes we reach our goals and sometimes we are still in the process. After the show, the people tell how they have incorporated their new lifestyle with college life. Most are still kicking butt and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There is no doubt that some will relapse on the diet and exercise plan but that’s absolutely fine because we all go through it. It’s up to us to use the tools that we are taught and find our own motivation to keep us going. So if you’re ever watching television and nothing else is on, give the show a peek 🙂

Bre February 16, 2011 - 4:55 PM

I completely agree with you on everything you wrote. I do have to say that I caught an episode of this last week and it was much different than I was expecting. In the 90 days that the show took place, the girl didn’t lose massive amounts of weight, but somewhere around 10lbs per month which I thought was attainable for others and a healthy pace. I also noticed that her dad got involved with the whole process and started changing his lifestyle as well. He was a great motivator for her. She was trying to do this before she left for college.

Once she left for college, she was still keeping up with everything. She would work out for about 2 hours per day as well as going to class and she would only hit the salad bar at the dining commons. She ended up losing more weight before she went back home to show everyone her progress. Definitely a more realistic approach. Also, she had a goal of getting a 10 minute mile and running her first 5K.

I don’t condone these types of shows either, but the one I saw was definitely better than the unrealistic approach of TBL.

Deanna February 16, 2011 - 5:26 PM

I am new to your site and have thoroughly enjoyed what I have read. I was going to post on this topic, but decided to read the previous one about TBL. First, weight loss porn? HIL-AR-IOUS!!!! But on the serious tip, that’s a great way of categorizing it. I admit, I am guilty of one minute saying how tired I am of “reality” shows and then watching the newest one the next minute. But you made some excellent points in these posts. Also, I had no idea about the Kai interview before viewing it here. What an I opener! I never viewed these shows as reality in the least, but as inspirations of where I DON’T want to end up…unhealthy mentally and physically. It would be great if each person could take a step back and look at the journey that lead them to an unhealthy lifestyle, be it emotional eating (I was a boredom eater as a child), food addiction, etc. Once they assess THEIR personal journey, they will be more empowered to start a new personal journey. Focusing too much on another person’s weight loss, hair, what-have-you is dangerously addictive.

OhDoogs February 16, 2011 - 5:40 PM

I can’t stand weight loss porn (an excellent way to describe it) and after one episode of I Used to be Fat, I couldn’t bring myself to watch any more. Unfortunately, I actually caught half an episode of TBL at the gym last night when a woman changed the channel before starting her run. It actually made the rest of my workout really uncomfortable, because I realized that there is a major “freak show” element to these shows. The humiliating slooooow pan up the contestant/subject’s body before weigh in, it almost invites the viewer to gawk and feel superior or worse, be disgusted. And why did that woman need to watch the weigh-in before while starting her run? To reminder her what she’s running away from?

I feel like there is so much shaming of the obese already, if it was really an effective tactic, we’d be the fittest country on the planet. I can understand why some would find these shows inspirational (and even why some of the shows produce results for the participants), but for me, they’re the worst kind of exploitation and just make me feel kinda icky.

LaShanda Glover February 16, 2011 - 7:27 PM

I have not seen that show, however I am seeing more and more obese kids and teenagers. Also on The Biggest Loser, many of the people are pretty young and got huge during their teen years. So I feel that this issue does need to addressed! It’s better to get uncomfortable now and lose weight than have heart attacks and weight related illness later in life.

malpha February 16, 2011 - 8:14 PM

This post is so timely for me, thank you. I’ve been feeling really down lately because I feel like I’ve upped the aerobic exercise, I’ve added in some weight training, and I’ve recently started doing Yoga, I’ve got my calories set at 1400, yet my body is staying right around the same 1-2lb fluctuations around 160 it’s been doing for the past 5 weeks. I don’t want to be a scale freak, but at the end of the day, at 5’1”, I am basically 25lbs overweight right now. That weight’s gotta go.

It’s frustrating because then all the exercise and making these recipes becomes really rote work I’m doing because I should, but with no real belief that it’s actually working. And yet you hear people on TV who are either all 1) “simply eat less and exercise more, the weight will fall off” or 2) totally going all out with these crazy diets/exercise you see on TV. And then I’m well, crap, no wonder I’m not getting any results! So I’m like, should I cut it down to 1200? I already don’t drink sodas or eat anymore sweets. Cut the carbs, the fat? In the gym three hours everyday instead of 1.5-2hrs everyday?

But you definitely have to remember that a lot of the stuff is being done for them. They have trainers that look at their body specifically and design routines specifically for them. Meals specifically for them. Changing up their exercise when the loss slows them for them. They just have to show up and sweat. In real life, people have to make up their own routines and spend their own time cooking and researching alternatives to keep their weight loss up and for at lot of people, they have do it alone without some trainer to yell at them or be scared of disappointing. Sooo, I too refuse to watch those shows. I had considered watching the new MTV show, but at the end of the day, I looked at the shoes I was in and whether I’d feel okay basically watching someone feel the way I feel for entertainment or even “inspirational” value and I didn’t really.

monique February 17, 2011 - 9:29 AM

Hey I sent the question in and I ased that because I actually go to college with one of the girls on the show. I talked to her and she has kept the weight down but her eating habits are bad but she works out for “balance”. And she is scared to disappoint everyone

Erika February 17, 2011 - 9:40 AM

Why am I TOTALLY not surprised?

marie September 14, 2013 - 5:11 AM

so she actually did not learn anything from that show?
that’s sad… this could result in more fat shaming.. 🙁

Nikita February 17, 2011 - 5:54 PM

I do not watch any of these shows for the very reasons you gave. They are not healthy. No one loses weight like that without extreme diet and exercise changes or weight loss surgery. Their only concern is losing weight so they do not learn how to eat well or what to eat. There is simply too much pressure on these folks to keep the weight off. Taking a year or two to lose weight gives you the freedom to learn how to eat correctly and exercise regularly and to deal with, if you have them, the real reasons that you eat. I stand emphatically behind any plan that teaches and encourages. Though the shows I have caught do not blast the kids it teaches them nothing.

I watched one show and the young lady worked her butt off. You could see she got smaller but the numbers stayed the same. It was implied that she did not reveal everything that she was doing. No one told her that she was building muscle and muscle is heavier than fat. No one told her she was losing fat period. All that they saw was that the numbers on the scale did not move. Major fail. This is why I do not like or watch these shows. No education, not telling folks you lift weights to keep up your metabolism and to help your skin have somewhere to go. No telling them how important protein and carbs are for you body to replenish itself and muscles to repair. It is simply ridiculous.

JP February 19, 2011 - 11:01 PM

Hmm, usually you have some great points, however how can you not like something, you’ve not seen?

Having said that the show is not about getting skinny but getting healthy for the entire family if they choose to be a part of the show. It’ s about stepping into adulthood by taking charge of your health and breaking bad habits.

I’ve watched these kids work out hard and they are learning that if you put forth the effort in working out (translated to all areas of life) then you’ll see the results.
I’ve yet to hear any trainer encourage unhealthy habits or encourage getting skinny. It’s healthy, size for your body and frame.

Working out and what you choose or I choose would be different based on our goals and where we are currently. They work out at least 4 hours a day, which to me is no different than doing 2 a days to get ready for competition.

Not all stories end in great result which is why it’s reality. Not all families are on board and not everyone has support. Sounds a lot like what most people deal with.

Erika February 19, 2011 - 11:29 PM

You’re mad that I wrote a post about something I haven’t seen, but nothing – NOTHING – you’ve said refuted the very real issues I brought up, here.

Besides, check out the comment from earlier:

“Hey I sent the question in and I ased that because I actually go to college with one of the girls on the show. I talked to her and she has kept the weight down but her eating habits are bad but she works out for “balance”. And she is scared to disappoint everyone[…]”

I don’t do weight loss porn. It doesn’t work for the participants… it doesn’t work for me as a viewer. I’ll NEVER accept it so long as it falls under my description of “weight loss porn.”

The other commenters suggested an episode to watch for a specific purpose… and I’ll watch that for that purpose. But beyond that? Weight loss on TV has FAR too many problems than benefits. Y’all don’t have to like that or think it’s a “good point” for it to stand as my point, lol.

JP February 20, 2011 - 1:23 PM

Not mad…no emotion behind it at all just a comment. LOL

Kitty February 20, 2011 - 4:56 PM

There is a better show on A&E called “Heavy” http://www.aetv.com/heavy/ They focus more on healthy results and changing lifetyles. They help the people relearn nutrition and exercise to help themselves and their families. It really is worth the watch.

I’m not so sure of the MTV show you are talking about though. I’m not in to MTV at all. *tunes in to NatGeo*

My Opinion February 21, 2011 - 10:50 AM

I agree!

It isn’t a “reality” after all… I mean look at all the celebrities who have publically lost weight… done the media rounds about all the weight they lost… Only to go RIGHT BACK (or go back slowly) because the true underlying issues weren’t dealt with.

Sometimes the slower way (really all the time) gives you time to think… to monitor our habits… to deal with our emotions and to adjust to the changes of our bodies, emotions and attitude. THAT is what helps people keep the weight off…

And even further… how much more humiliating is it to loose weight (in most cases super fast) on national TV, to become a ‘weight loss success’ only to gain it back? Ouch! Like you said, even MORE pressure (and circumstance) for more unhealthy eating habits… the other extreme to keep it off… Yikes!

The irony is that most of these stories were never really successes in the first place… They hadn’t given themselves enough time to see if they could maintain the changes made, and/or, develop the habits/attitudes that will provide long term HEALTH and weight loss.

I pray for all of us who feel so pressured or desperate we feel we need to loose weight by any means necessary. It’s really sad. 🙁

Stefanie August 3, 2011 - 2:21 PM

Ahhh…the weight loss shows…I watch them sometimes. I watch them because I like to see the transformations done and I like to get exercise tips from them. However, I will NOT work out 6 hours a day to lose weight. I’m sorry, I know it will not incorporate into my day to day life (which is why, unfortunately, many Biggest Loser contestants gain the lost weight back plus some).
I understand why some people do the shows – not to be humiliated, but to get all the help possible and to be in a controlled environment. I do not compare my weight loss to that of the people on those shows because what I’m doing is slowly changing the way that I live. The weight loss is awesome, but most of those people have to be realistic and know what they do on TBL is more than likely not what they will do at home every day.
As far as the show I Used to Be Fat…hmmmm. I like the show in general. I understand your POV in regards to the message it sends out. But, I don’t see anything wrong with those young people wanting to get into shape to start a new life. There motives for doing it is what counts the most.

Catherine August 16, 2011 - 12:43 AM

So I’m 18, female and weigh 224 lbs at 5′ 9″. When it comes to weight loss, I don’t like thinking about the number because that’s not my main focus.

I usually think about my waist size and how clothes are fitting but that is natural to come by. I don’t think it’s something I should wait for.

I am kind of impatient when it comes to losing weight. I think it has to do with the “weight” I lost in middle school (I lost two dress sizes every three months but I actually gained weight due to my growth spurt).

I think the most healthy way to help me be patient is to look at my strength and how much stronger I am then I was before. How much more I can do. That comes faster than everything else and makes me prouder.

Jineane August 17, 2011 - 3:06 PM

Your openess and honesty make me proud, and I don’t even know you.

Roni October 18, 2011 - 11:50 AM

It sounds like everyone is afraid of workouts. It does take alot of work to lose weight and these programs show that.

LMichelle_Esq January 23, 2012 - 7:32 PM

WOW! Great Post. I know I am a little late reading it, but I totally agree with everything you pointed out. These shows are definitely made for “shock value”. They push people to extremes (that they cannot maintain) and show them losing enormous amounts of weight. It’s hard to explain to people that on average you will only loose 1-2lbs a week once your body adjusts to your workout and eating routine. People do NOT like to hear that they will have to spend all that time at the gym, diet, and only loose a few pounds. That’s why I try and emphasize that HEALTH is a LIFESTYLE while being skinny is cosmetic.

Elen June 28, 2013 - 5:22 AM

Great post as always. I was positively surprised to read that you are 20-something. How old are you, if I may ask? You look wonderful and are a huge inspiration in my life.

Noella September 13, 2013 - 12:15 PM

Very well said. You read my mind. Scale freaks will make themselves sick over the numbers as opposed to noticing the real physical changes.

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