April 28, 2010

The Biggest Looser; You are what you watch

Okay, so I have to admit to watching this show a few times each season to keep track of what they are doing and not doing. I could validate my behaviour by the fact that almost every person in the "weight-loss and health" classes I facilitate watch it faithfully or even worse, have been motivated by it (hence there participation in my class). To be brutally honest, it is like passing a really bad car accident. You know you shouldn't look because it could be gross, but you just have to.
Last night I happen to catch an episode of said program which detailed the visitation of the "biggest losers" to Texas part of which entailed a visit from the male trainer to a large fitness center.  I watched intently as he was leading a large step class and spin class and found myself feeling very envious of such an opportunity myself. At the end of the event, he offered a Q&A session with the participants and allowed a few questions to be asked and answered on TV. One of the questions came from a woman who was having knee pain while running. Her question was something like "Should I and how can I run a 5k run?". 
Now, any fitness leader with even the smallest amount of education and training could answer this question. The appropriate answer would be something like "Running isn't the only way one can achieve fitness results. Walking at a brisk pace, cycling, even swimming can meet your fitness needs." What was his answer? Something related to keeping hydrated and sticking with it.
(insert shock, awe, and silence here)
I guess why I bring this up is because I feel for all of those people glued to their TVs watching and believing in this show.  True, they become motivated and, true, it may lead to life long health changes in diet and physical activity. Unfortunately, the chances of this truly happening are low.  If it isn't the potential injury caused by absolutely ignorant comments like the one above, it may be the initial overexercising as seen on TV. Too much +  too soon +  too fast +  too hard +  too overwhelming - fun and enjoyment = dropout!
I warn anyone applying what this show demonstrates to their own lives to take a moment and ask a fitness trainer in your area what is safe and what isn't.  I bet there are more educated trainers in your community than those "pretending to be" on TV. Believe me, anyone selling protein powders and other meal supplements does not have your health first and foremost in their head. 
Do not be a looser. Losers may loose weight, but they certainly don't gain anything but injuries and false promises to remain svelte and fit for life. In fact, the rate of gaining the weight back in this population is exceptionally high.
Eat less; exercise more.  Eat more vegetables; eat less processed foods.  Say "no" to the gimmicks, TV shows, motivational speakers, and snake oil sales people that want to sell you a beautiful body in a can and say "yes" to health. Even after I write this, I understand the complexity of my statement. I believe I will leave this for another post.
Yours in critical thought,
K

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