As promised (just for you Gary!) here is my mini-rant on “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss” – ABC’s answer to “The Biggest Loser”.
The show started last year and I mentioned once before that I wasn’t a huge fan. I’m a little more on board with the show now. This season they focus a lot more about the person’s background (which I think is important!). What choices did you make, what circumstances happened that caused you to balloon up to your current size? You didn’t wake up one afternoon weighing more than a half-ton. Just like I didn’t wake up one morning at 400 pounds. A lot of bad decisions and wrong turns went into that number. I’m a firm believer in fixing the root of the problem instead of the side effects. I was unhappy with who I was as a person and I turned to food as a comfort, an activity etc. I can eat healthy and go to the gym or barre all I want ~ but that won’t fix what’s on the inside.
I have this saying at my desk at work, in both my phones and next to my bed:
Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
Back to the show so the host is also the trainer, Chris Powell. I like him, I like his philosophy’s concerning weight-loss (except for one giant exception which I’ll get to in a second). He advocates healthy eating, cardio, weights and most of all – figuring out why you overeat.If you don’t know what got you lost in the first place, how can you prevent yourself from getting lost again?
His program is set up into 3 month segments – Phase 1 is three months of boot camp essentially. Phase 2 gets you read for a physical challenge of some kind (hiking, biking, triathlon) and then Phase 3 prepares you for skin surgery. During Phase 1 Chris moves in with you and transforms your house into a gym. Woo! I’m fine with this. However, I think his weight-loss goals are often entirely too lofty. In 90 days he has some contestants losing 120 pounds. Do the math – that’s 1.3 pounds a day or a burn of 4666 calories PER DAY. That’s insane + frankly unsustainable. Ya know what happens when you lose that much weight that quickly? Loose skin. Like woah. Like this:
Why does this happen? Extreme, rapid weight loss causes your skin (which is an organ) to be unable to adjust. Your skin is a living organism ~ it expands (stretch marks) and it contracts. However, it does so slowly. By losing more than 1-2 pounds a week you not allowing your skin a chance to rebuild its elasticity and go back to normal. Now, will it ever be perfect? No. You will still have stretch marks and in some cases when you lose 200 + pounds you will need to have skin removal surgery in some areas. So why am I bitching about it? I don’t like the EMWL goal of Phase 3. Skin surgery. EVERY contestant has it and every contestant is excited about it. Skin removal surgery is a HORRIBLY painful process – why would you WANT to lose so quickly it became your only option? Oh right, because you’re on a game show. In addition skin surgery can be looked at like corrected vision surgery. You must maintain your current prescription for X amount of time (I believe it’s a year) before you can undergo laser eye surgery. On the show you literally hit a weight-loss mark and BOOM – you qualify for surgery. No maintenance required! This is (in my mind) a very bad practice. When you reach a goal there needs to be a level of maintenance to ensure you’re really there – you understand what’s required of you physically and mentally. Having skin surgery at the 9 month marker is instant gratification. If you haven’t learned anything ya know what happens? You’ll balloon back up to where you were.
I feel strongly that gastric bypass is not a choice for me – you guys know that – but the reason I’m so against it is tied in with what irks the shit of out me about this show. With GB you don’t learn to eat – you can still eat cupcakes and ho ho’s – just not as many as before. Hell you can lose 200 pounds and go right back to where you started if you’re not careful. Your skin (which is now scarred) will stretch back out and you will be right back in the same pickle you were in before….only now you have physical scars to remind you of your failure.
Do the contestants look amazing? Of course. This is Mike – he went from 493 to 238. He’s a different person! Oh and he also had almost 3 FEET of loose skin removed. Needless to say there are no pictures of the “after” showing the scars.
So, that’s my beef with the show. Yes it’s got some merit but dammit, why rush the process? Why advocate for dangerous surgery when it could (hopefully) be avoided.
I am losing weight. SLOWLY. Sometimes at a snail’s pace! But, I am keeping it off and learning a lot in the process. What I ate on a day-to-day basis 2 years ago is world’s away from what I eat now. How I feel about myself is also world’s away. I don’t want to be skinny – I want to be strong. I don’t have my mind set on a number I must weigh or a size I must attain (though for a long time 143 was the number and 8 was the size). I’ve come to a point in my life where I want different things. I want to be curvy yet strong. I don’t want to rush this process and end up looking like Frankenstein. Of course, that’s me – you’re welcome (as always) to your own opinion. That’s what makes this great nation so great – to each their own.