Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Why I don't like "diets" (and what I don't like about shows such as The Biggest Loser)

I'm someone that loves makeovers. LOVES them. Transformations, before-and-afters, big reveals, you name it. For me, that is the appeal of TV shows The Biggest Loser and BIG: Extreme Makeover (which was a show on channel 9 recently). I like seeing how they have changed their lives and lost weight and are feeling healthier. In fact, when the last season of The Biggest Loser was on, I only watched the weigh in episode on Sunday nights - I just liked to see how much weight they had lost that week and how different they looked! Contrary to what some people think, I don't see the appeal of these shows as that we like to watch other fat people so we can feel better about ourselves. Well it's not like that for me anyway. (Just to reiterate how much I love makeovers, I also am obsessed with that UK show How Clean is Your House, where they visit the most disgustingly gross and messy houses you could imagine, then clean them up and show you the sparklingly clean finished product at the end of the show. It's a show about cleaning.)

Anyway, the whole point I want to make is that despite the fact I love the transformation aspect of these shows, I don't like the method they use to lose weight. For starters, on the biggest loser they are doing a crazy amount of intense exercise every day, I'm talking multiple hours every day, and that is just not something you can maintain in the real world! I mean, unless you don't have a job, or kids, or friends, or a life... Secondly, the trainers give them strict diets to follow. These vary among teams but in general they seem to be along the lines of eating mostly protein and vegetables and hardly any carbohydrates (or literally none at all, as was the case for one of the teams). I don't think cutting out entire food groups is a good idea, not only because it is just unsustainable, but also because it just isn't healthy - your body NEEDS carbohydrates for energy! I hate when celebrities say in interviews "I don't eat carbs" - it just sends out such a bad message.

BIG: Extreme Makeover was a bit more realistic in terms of exercise, because the trainer came to their house and showed them things they could do at home or at the park to fit around their life. But - he also came into their kitchen with a huge garbage bag and literally chucked out every single "bad" food he could find - chips, chocolate, soft drink, frozen foods, etc etc. Sure you shouldn't keep vast quantities of these sometimes foods in your pantry because they are indeed that, sometimes foods. But I think telling these overweight people that they simply couldn't have ANY of these foods sets a bad precedent. It just makes them all the more tempting. I know that is what it would be like for me - in fact what it used to be like.

I used to think that I had to be perfect, that if I wanted to lose weight I had to "cut out all the junk". What invariably happened is that I slipped up, ate something "bad", then told myself that day was a write off and binged. It's just a vicious circle. I am constantly proving to myself that I can slowly return to my most comfortable, healthy weight even when I eat chocolate, and pizza, and cake. To me, food is something that should be savoured and enjoyed! So enjoy it everyone!