Last night I couldn’t go to sleep after Real Housewives of New Jersey (seriously, could anyone?) and I ran across the premier episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition on ABC.  The focus of the episode was a 21-year-old teacher named Rachel, a beautiful girl with an infectious smile, a can-do attitude, and a body weight of 369 pounds.  The premise of the show was that a personal trainer whisked her away from her normal life for a one-week “boot camp” where she was taught diet and exercise strategies, and then for the first three months of the program the trainer lived with her at her family home to get her started off on the right track.  Then the trainer left her to her own devices and just checked in once every three months for her weigh-in.  She met her weight loss goal for the first three months, but failed to meet any goal after that.  Yes, she lost 161 pounds in a year, which was amazing, and she looked absolutely beautiful at her one-year weigh-in, and was obviously very happy with her healthy new lifestyle.  But I found several things about the show disturbing.

Her family was apparently not at all supportive of her efforts to lose weight.  Here’s this poor girl, morbidly obese and at risk for serious health problems, and these people are so self-absorbed they can’t give up their brownies and “taco night” to help her out?  I hope no one in that household develops diabetes or heart disease, because they’ll have a tough time of it.

Rachel’s final weight was 208 pounds.  They never said how tall she was, but I’m assuming she’s not eight feet tall.  She’s still significantly overweight, and still looking at some serious health risks.

She was evidently exercising five hours a day.  That’s not realistic.  Unless you’re a professional athlete you shouldn’t be exercising five hours a day.  And for one three-month period she lost only three pounds total while exercising that much.  That just doesn’t add up.  I guess what I’m trying to say is I wonder if this girl was done a disservice by being selected to be part of this show.

Did anyone else find this show disturbing, or am I just reading too much into a one-hour bit of network fluff reality TV?  And in case you’re wondering: Yes, I would love to lose about fifty pounds, and yes, I did eat a snack while watching the show (but it was a salad).

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9 thoughts on “Perspective”

  1. Oh… I have it Tivo’d and I’m going to watch it soon. I’ll let ya know how I feel about it after that. I have watched The Biggest Loser on and off for years, and I get disturbed by it, too. No one needs to work out 8 hours a day, and no one needs to lose 23 pounds in a week. It’s scary. It’s reality tv, though, and I always think about what’s NOT shown…

    1. I can’t wait to hear your take on it. I’ve never watched The Biggest Loser, so I wondered if maybe this was just “what people expected to see” on an extreme weight loss show. I thought the same thing about the editing – they could probably have edited their clips to make whatever point they wanted when all was said and done :/

      1. Ok, I watched it, and I have two words: Tivo delete. Although I would like to put that little sweet trainer guy in my pocket and take him home.

  2. We’ve been having a similar discussion on my running group’s website (, not about this show, but about Louisville’s HORRIFIC ranking as one of the least healthiest metropolitan cities in the nation.

    Here are my thoughts:

    Society as a whole doesn’t give a rip about being healthy, because it takes work. Think about the people you know, just simply in your day to day dealing with the public. Are those people healthy? I know at work, I’d seriously say that 90% or greater of my patients smoke, and it all goes down hill from there. I’m NOT saying that smokers don’t exercise, but the people that I know who exercise on a regular basis DO NOT. It’s not congruent with a healthy lifestyle.

    We’ve slowly become accustomed to a bigger is better attitude — it’s the old frog in a pot analogy. Think about how when we were in school, were there any fat kids? MAYBE one or two. Why? Because we had PE, we played outside, before school, during school,and after school.

    Look at restaurant portions — they’ve gone up slowly but dramatically over the past 20 years. When we were young, our ‘Cokes’ were a treat, and they came in 8 (maybe 10) oz bottles. You certainly weren’t drinking two or three a day. Now – if you buy a soft drink — minimal size you buy is 20oz — nearly three times as big as 20 years ago.

    About the show:
    Once every three month weigh in? Ridiculous. Where are the WW people? Don’t they weigh in each week? At my running group, we do a weekly weight loss/weigh in kind of thing. It’s all about accountability — if I never weighed but every three months, seriously, how would I know if what I am doing is working?

    Lack of family support – this one burns my craw. I hear moms complain about how their children won’t eat anything but candy, cookies and junk. THEN DON’T BRING IT IN THE HOUSE! You cannot expect one person in the entire household to eat healthy, while everyone else is going hog wild.

    Exercise – puh-lease. I’m with you — Serena Williams might exercise 5 hours a day …. and maybe not. 1) You’re setting up unrealistic expectations for the general public, 2)if someone TRIED to exercise 5 hours a day, they are probably going to get injured 3) if she exercised 5 hours a day, why in the world is she still overweight?

    Sigh —
    There IS no magic pill, or instant fix. Being healthy is a lifelong lifestyle change, and it’s hard to stay motivated. Here are things that work for me:

    -set reasonable expectations. I started running in October. Am I ever going to run the Boston Marathon? Probably not. I AM going to run as long as my body will let me. I set reasonable goals, and when I hit them, I reward myself.

    -reward yourself, but NOT with food. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past, hitting Starbucks after every run. Now, I buy myself new running gear, or something of the sort.

    -SUPPORT GROUPS – maybe not a group, per se, but surround yourself with people who support and encourage your efforts. I’m lucky – my husband is right in tune with what I want to accomplish.

    I’ll sign off now, and leave room for other people to comment 🙂

  3. There was a similar discussion about The Biggest Loser. Those folks exercise 5 to 8 hours per day as well, and as we all know, that is impossible when you are not living “on a ranch” and being part of a TV reality show. Who, among us, with working full time (even part time) could exercise 5 to 8 hours per day. It tends to set unrealistic goals for the “normal” folks. Now having said that, I too, would like to lose about 50 pounds. I know what I need to do, but fight with the discipline. And, I don’t think these kind of shows really do anything to help us with our discipline or our knowledge of how to do it correctly. It does, however, make for good TV!

  4. Hilarious! I ate during the show too and it wasn’t a salad! Ya I found several things disturbing about the show. 5 hours is very unrealistic. They also need a week of boot training every 3 months to reconfirm her healthy choices and her exercise efforts. Especially if the family wasn’t truly supporting her diet.

  5. Dianna, you go girl. You are absolutely right. Processed food is killing this country. I’m not an exercise person as a rule, but for years took a brisk 4 mile walk 5 days a week, and ate what I wanted. I have never liked fast food of any kind. You know the saying “You are what you eat”. If you want to be a Big Mac knock yourself out.

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