January 25, 2011

The starting line

When I first started this blog back in August, I watched a lot of documentaries to get ideas and inspiration. This weekend, as I watched the first episode of the A&E show "Heavy," it got me thinking, as always. pics from the orlando sentinel websiteI've read a lot of blog posts and Twitter updates about the show, including many comparisons to "The Biggest Loser," which I need to admit that I've only seen once, but even that was once too much for me. This new show has been touted as being similar to "The Biggest Loser," only without the competition aspect, and that intrigued me since that's precisely why I have no interest in "The Biggest Loser."

If you have not seen "Heavy," I would definitely recommend checking it out (you can stream the episode from A&E's website). Something that I really liked was that Tom and Jodi spent the first month in a controlled environment, but were then on their own (though, if they could not succeed yet on their own, they would be brought back to the ranch for more assistance). Weight loss is a giant math equation - every plan boils down to burning more calories than you take in - so no matter what method you choose to follow lose weight, the most important thing is that it needs to be sustainable for you and your own personal situation. As wonderful as it sounds to be put in a weight loss utopia, it's not something you can likely replicate in the "real world."

Watching these two people in the beginning stages of weight loss really resonated with me. One of the most difficult places to be in this journey is the starting line. For me, the first few weeks were among the hardest because there were so many changes that needed to be made, and it often felt overwhelming - it's tough to adapt to new healthy habits after being inactive and eating so poorly for so long, no doubt about it. And despite knowing that it's in your best interest to stick with your program and do the right thing, it's still unbelievably hard to stay optimistic and give every day your best when you're facing 210 pounds to lose. For me, something that helped me stay focused what something that was said in one of the documentaries I watched back in August:
There was a study done in the 1950s of people who entered treatment programs for weight loss. The research showed that most of the people in the program quit; most of those who stayed did not lose weight; most of those who lost weight did not maintain losses. The narrator pointed this out and cited an updated study that shows that, over fifty years later, the statistics are not all that different. She called this the "grim shadow behind weight loss efforts" - if the odds are not in your favor, why bother putting in the effort to try? During a scene with the married couple and their therapist, the latter said that, at some point, it finally hits you that "it's not about how far it is across the stream, it's about how bad you want to be on the other side."
I saw so much of my old self in Jodi - and I can still relate to so many of her hangups, so many of her negative thoughts. For people with so much weight to lose, fear of failure is often a secondary thought to fear of success. I know I'm going to lose 210 pounds, but I don't know if I'm going to be happy and feel satisfied with my life. These are things I can't measure on the scale, and the lack of certainty can feel overwhelming. Obesity is comfortable, at least in a sense of being familiar, and the thought of changing your entire life is terrifying, especially when there is no specific result that you are guaranteed.

The journey of weight loss is so much more than simply losing the weight and living happily ever after - you have to change the way you eat and how active you are, but also the way you look and the way you interact with family, friends, and the world is completely different. The best we can do is try and tackle some of the emotional hurdles while also working on the physical ones.


Amy said...

I actually watched Heavy for the first time last night. I really like that it was supportive through the entire show whereas that is definitely the argument with The Biggest Loser... that there is the competition and if you fail... you go home.

The thing I love about The Biggest Loser is you feel like you actually get to know the people, and you get to watch them week after week through their entire journey. At the end of each episode someone does go home, but they also show you where they are now, and they've always lost more weight - I've never seen an episode where someone didn't continue their weight loss at home - if anything they may have just been losing it at a slower pace.

Shannie (akaSolidice242) said...

I like the show, particularly the first episode because i saw myself in Jodi and that helped me commit more to my fitness goals. Because she was giving up even before she tried and I felt like I was doing the same thing. Unfortunately I was too tired to watch last night's episode but I am going to see if they will allow me to watch it on the website.

Jessica said...

I have not seen this show, but will definitely check it out :)

Delliemcc said...

Don't think it's on any channel over here (Ireland) but will deffo keep an eye out for it.

That's shocking about the weightloss success. Hmmm, I can just hope that all I am doing of late is changing my lifestyle - the idea of a 'diet' you go on and off of, well I suppose that's the crux of the situation.

Love the blog <3

Anonymous said...

I've heard a lot of people compare Heavy to The Biggest Loser but if you've watched Biggest Loser, you see that the contestants drop weight in astronomical amounts a week at a time. The Heavy episode lastnight, in one month the woman lost 16 pounds I believe in a month. On the Biggest Loser the results would be almost double. That has me wondering what the difference is? I do admit to watching both shows and the only difference I see is that I get a more in depth view of the people in Heavy as opposed to a generalized view of who the contestants are on BL.

Jenn @ watchmybuttshrinking.com said...

I can relate with what you said about how losing the weight doesn't mean that everything in your life will magically get better. I used to think that way - "Oh, when I lose this weight, I won't feel inferior to others, people will treat me better, I'll be happier." I don't think that's necessarily true. There will still be times when someone doesn't treat me well, or when I'm not happy. I have to disconnect my weight with my emotions - something I'm still trying to do.
Great post!

TMLfans.ca said...

Your last paragraph summed it up nicely. There's so much more to the journey than just watching what you eat. Cheers, Rick

Ellie said...

I must admit I'm a bit of a weight-loss junkie! I watch Biggest Loser because personally I am motivated by competition. Some people just need that spark to make them really commit to something.

But I also watched Heavy and was very inspired by the stories, these people would be too "Heavy" to even be on a show like Biggest Loser and I'm glad someone is out there telling their story and giving hope to people who think there is none.

I also really enjoy the new show "I used to be fat" on MTV. It details the emotional and physical struggles of a single teenager trying to loose weight before they start their first year in college.

All these shows help me know it can be done and in a healthy way!

TMLfans.ca said...

Mary, I forgot to mention that I linked to ya yesterday - because you're doing awesome! http://rickgetsfit.ca/228water

Unknown said...

I am always so happy when people post about the 'whole' self. You are a testament to that fact, Mary. The way you handled yourself over the holidays shows this, and if I'm not mistaken, didn't you also lose weight? Interacting with family and friends who have not changed their eating habits is a difficult obstacle to overcome; it takes a lot of strength and courage to do it but it can be done.
I haven't seen this show but I've heard it can be watched online so I'm going to check it out...thank you for reminding me!

Retta said...

I will see if I can find the show, thanks for talking about it.

As for the feelings about weight loss... as I read what you felt, I thought that I might have written that years ago, about it being comfortable, familiar and scary to change. But... if allowed to continue, that changes. It is no longer comfortable. It is painful, not only emotionally but physically. The damage to the body becomes devastating, and some it permanent.

So... for me, it was not the beginning that was the hardest. At least then we are fired up with anticipation, hope, enthusiasm, etc. For me the hardest is now, the middle.

I am in a little boat, crossing a vast ocean. I no longer see the shore from which I left... but I cannot see the other side yet. I am out there, and sometimes there are huge storms. And not seeing either side, it's hard to gauge progress sometimes. So... you hang on by faith, and just keep going. Always keep going.

For those with less to lose (I need to lose 261) they can perhaps keep the shorelines in sight. But for us, it takes courage to get out there, and let go of the safety of the shore. And sometimes it feels like that courage is failing... so... we just keep going, not by feelings, but by choice.

Loved this post... as usual, your insightful posts make me think.


Unknown said...

I jumped online last night to watch Heavy and was not disappointed, thank you for recommending it! The episode I watched had a gal and a guy named Rickywayne on. Rickywayne (all one word) is such a strange name, which is why I remember it, that and he looks exactly like my ex husband (sadly). Anyways I'm hooked and will be watching another episode sometime soon. I don't have cable or even basic tv channels (tv is for dvds only) so it's super nice that it's online to watch!