November 5, 2010

Weight Loss Pop Culture; Can health promotion really compete?

Look at her go! She's half
naked, she's starving for a
burger and fries, and she is
very happy now that she
weighs next to nothiing. Yet
another pop-culture visual
of how we define weight loss!
So I was sitting at my desk yesterday, minding my own business, when the phone rang.  Instantly, I jumped a mile out of my chair...because my phone never rings. I felt a rush of excitement as I picked it up. Who could it be? Could it be someone interested in a course? Could it be a high ranking official requesting my presence at a very important meeting? Could it be an offer to speak at a professional development day? At any rate, I was hopeful it was someone interested in health promotion.

The voice on the other end informed me of a large group of women on the base who were very eager to begin a weight loss program and was hoping I could provide some ideas to how this would be arranged. All of a sudden a wash of emotion flowed over me; excitement, joy, hope, happiness, love, and even (dare I say it) bliss at the thought that someone is requesting my support.  Then, in a few words from my caller, it all went to hell in a gigantic hand basket.  "We want to have a competition to see who can lose as much weight as possible within a certain amount of time."  I felt as betrayed as when I heard my favorite radio station was going country. It hurt me as deeply as when I watched the last episode of Lost. I couldn't believe I was hearing her correctly. How could she choose this over the amazing program I offer as her health promoter?

 I still haven't gotten over it. I took it home with me and sat on my couch with a big bowl of popcorn (eating emotionally and watching Oprah) as I was trying to get the words out of my head. Why would they choose a "biggest loser" program over one that promises success for life? I know I keep coming back to this subject but I find it fascinating, disturbing, frustrating, and challenging. If I can come up with a strategy of marketing that is as sexy and attractive, I could bring people in from miles around. AND...they would walk out with the safe, sound, effective, and fun strategies the would be with them for life and lead to behaviour change success.

I'm not bitter. I'm not angry (really..I've just started drinking heavily and find myself in the fetal position rocking back and forth on occasion...nothing to worry about). I just know, as I know I'm sitting here blogging, that 9 out of those 10 participants of this "biggest loser" program will revert back to old behaviours before Christmas. I have seen it a thousand times. It's a given. So why do they continue to beat themselves up with programs that really don't work? I have seen friends, family, colleagues, and those TV personalities do "biggest loser" - like programs only to go back to old behaviours. Every.........single.......bleepin'.....time.

Until I figure out a way to market a weight loss / lifestyle change program in a way that can compete with the pop culture programs (and I promise...I will) I will continue to be baffled at the popularity of something that bites you in the ass in the end.  Especially when I can report that over the last 10 months I have lost 20 pounds while enjoying what I eat and how I exercise. I have employed all the strategies I present and KNOW that this program works. My secret? Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables, sleep 7 -8 hours a night, and become physically active every day.'s not a sexy message, but it is the authentic one.

That's all I got....but don't worry, I'll get over it....somehow.


  1. LOL - Oh Kathy I hear you about weight loss, especially after I have tried and tried and this time I gave it "no time limit". This time, I have done it over 2 years and -65 and its part of life now. Some cheats along the way but mainly I know what to eat and I still work out daily, even while traveling. I guess they want to make it "fun" although
    they don't know that "fun" is not the correct way yet they might see results to beat the other team. But, you have to provide them the stats, let them see they might "win" but in the end "loss" and at the end you will be there to help them find how to do it right! Be your supportive self...... and they will win the bet and maybe even win by knowing you better and understanding. That's all I got..... I am being optimistic but...... good luck to that group:) and you. Marilyn

  2. Thanks for your awesome comment, M! Again, I always hear from people who have lost significant weight overtime that they did it the old fashioned way...and not the "sexy" way. Perhaps it isn't so much hearing the stats and information, but hearing success stories such as yours that will make the change.
    Way to go! You worked very hard for these changes and I am very happy to see that they are ones you appear to enjoy (and I also have to are one hot momma!)