Amidst all the political goings-on between Donald Chump, Hellary, Burnie Sinders, and the rest (and those are NOT typos, folks - I am just no fan of our current politi-choices in any way and will sooner write in Bugs Bunny or Mario before I will vote for any of them), it seems THE BIGGEST LOSER has become the biggest newser, particularly those contestants who have gained their weight back. Personally, I find these so-called news-worthy revelations an insult to my intelligence as a human being, as well as an insult to someone who has spent most of her adult life as a heavy person and has had to work very hard to change that.
It is being purported by a "shocking new study" that the contestants' metabolism slowed after they lost weight. The fact is that this is not "shocking" at all, nor should it be considered "new." They have studied these contestants for six years, and during that six years, the former losers have aged six years. They have also gone from exercising for 23.9 hours of the day in a gym, with a crazed Jillian, Bob, or Dolvet screaming in their ear (he can scream at me anytime, by the way), to normal life, where one cannot exist solely on a treadmill, eating only the advertised diet food of the week. It should not be shocking that they have slower metabolisms. It should be even less shocking that they have gained weight by exchanging working-out-all-day-and-eating
-nothing for real-life-and-eating-real-food
. The worst thing about this media storm of BIGGEST LOSER fails is that it is giving many people a very bad mindset when it comes to weight and the foolish, defeated acceptance of too much of it. Really, it is convincing people to duck out of the thin and healthy election, as if all the delegates are in obesity's favor and there is no point in trying anymore.
Our society today likes to blame. We like to take offense to EVERYthing. We have gone from being a human race with a somewhat thick skin to incorporating "bullying" and "shaming" into our everyday vocabulary. We do not want to be held responsible for our own behavior, and we don't want anyone to say a word to us about it if we suffer the consequences of our own action or inaction. Being fat is NOT okay. It is unhealthy, from a physical and mental and even social standpoint. While we are all predisposed to look a bit different and have our own individual traits and builds, OVERweight and UNDERweight are NOT what your body was meant to be. Accepting it, excusing it, condoning it, and blaming science and biology for it instead of taking personal responsibility for it is not helping anyone. We all have different obstacles that make it difficult, but I don't believe anyone is incapable of losing weight or even maintaining a healthy weight range. I know, because I lost 174 lbs. myself, and I'm certainly no BIGGEST LOSER. I'm simply a normal, relatively lazy, 45-year-old woman who sits on her butt for twelve hours a day, stressing myself into high cortisol belly-fat levels over every little thing, has a frozen shoulder that keeps her from being able to lift things, gets very little sleep and always has a bad case of the midnight munchies, has never stepped foot in a gym, doesn't have a Mr. Neon to assure me I don't look like roadkill, and couldn't grow a vegetable or cook a meal from scratch to save her life. I love junk food, fast food, and fat food. I am not Jane Fonda, and I am not biologically predisposed to look like Twiggy. No offense to my family, but one side of it is generally very large, so much so that as kids, we used to joke that the people circling the Thanksgiving table resembled the solar system rotating around the sun. We ALL have obstacles, be it any of these things or a slowing metabolism. We can blame these obstacles or work around them, but if we choose to do the prior, we will never see the benefits of doing the latter.
I have been a fan of THE BIGGEST LOSER for quite some time, especially since one of my former co-workers was on it a couple seasons back. (I knew Mike Dorsey well and worked with him for several years, in the office just down the hall from his, and what a great guy he is, and he did a great job on the show.) I have nothing against THE BIGGEST LOSER, the network, the trainers, the hosts, or the shamelessly advertising foodstuffs that weasel their way into every episode. What I DO have something against is excuses, and I'm even more hard-headed about that since I started losing weight myself. For decades, I found excuses too. I blamed my solar system-esque genetics. I blamed my sedentary job, since the most active thing I ever did was reach for a pencil or walk nine feet to have a much-needed caffeinated tryst with my boyfriend between phone calls and filing. I blamed my culinary clumsiness, as it is likely that it is some sort of felony in most states for me to even attempt to cook anything more difficult than fried bologna (and I once caught some of that on fire). I blamed my tight budget (because a $6 chili dog at Rally's is SO MUCH a better value than a whole 99-cent package of turkey dogs and a whole can of 180-calorie chili sauce, right?) I blamed anyone and everything for my weight except for the one true culprit: ME. I do not believe in self-loathng or self-blaming to the point where it cripples us, and we definitely shouldn't shame and bully that person staring back at us in the mirror, since that is a person whom God made and adores, but we have to take responsibility and quit using excuses, even if so-called scientists have wasted their time to "discover" one that our common sense should already tell us. It really gets my goat that this recent report is allowing overweight people to use their biological processes as a scapegoat, and some of those re-curvy contestants have had the audacity to concede to that and say so.
I am here today, in what THE BIGGEST LOSER would call "Onederland," an escapee from the land of the almost 330s. I am also an escapee of the gaining-it-back conundrum, as I lost and gained tremendously in 2003-04, a vicious cycle I have no intention of repeating this time. I am here to tell you that no matter what your metabolism is or isn't, no matter what your genetic or health factors are, no matter what your culinary or budget limitations or time constraints are, no matter what your family or job situation is, and no matter what traumas and emotions and habits you are dealing with, you can always, always decide to do something for yourself, to improve your health and your outlook and your longevity. Most people really do not need Oprah's Weight Watchers (if you can count points, you can count calories, folks...and you don't have to pay anyone to do it) or surgery (which I wholeheartedly believe should only be a last resort in specific circumstances) or to be on a reality show (but, hey, I DO fit in my SURVIVOR buff now. How many calories are in grubs and coconuts anyway?). Most people just need a big ol' boost of determination, a little know-how, and a willingness to put those into action on a DAILY basis, as well as a willingness to hop back on the wagon every time they backtrack a bit.
Many people have pummeled me with "can'ts" lately in regard to weight loss: "I can't put down the snacks at night... I can't eat 1,200 calories a day... I can't drink that much water.... I can't stand Splenda... I can't settle for a kid's meal when I want a Big Mac... I can't put down my Big Chug of Coke... I can't eat right because I've got family to cook for..." I am here to tell you that you CAN do all these things, and you CAN make adjustments to accommodate for any metabolism changes and other obstacles in your life. Several of those plumped-up contestants have admitted that they went back to the same or very similar eating and lifestyles they had before, and they seemed shocked that they now weigh similarly as well. It's absurd for them to think that they were not going to gain weight back, as if being on a reality show was some sort of lifelong vaccination against weight problems. We all know the definition of insanity, right? As Grandpa put it (which bears repeating in many blogs), "If you always do what you've always done [or if you go back to doing what you did before], you will always be where you are [or end up where you once were]." That, my friends, is not shaming or bullying, media or science; it's just the common-sense, life-proven truth.
Do not allow excuses. Do not settle. Do not let alleged science and the media tell you that anything is undefeatable, even a slowing metabolism. It does take hard work, dedication, willpower, and a deep knowing of yourself and your triggers and what you can personally handle, from a dietary and emotional and exercise perspective, but you CAN lose weight, no matter how much you have to lose or how many obstacles stand in your way. It may take you longer than it does others, and you may have to do some trial and error to find what works for you, but you should not give up and say, "Oh well. Since my aging body and emotions and DNA makeup are working against me, I'll just be big and root Lane Bryant on for using overweight models." (For the record, those ladies are just as unhealthy as the anorexic ones, and I don't feel like a shamer or a bully for saying so!) Maintenance is a whole other animal, and it will require a lifelong commitment, working against the factors of aging, one of which is a slowing metabolism. Remember your why, the reason why you wanted to lose in the first place; in my case, it had much to do with the people in my life and not wanting to desert them too early, like my little nephew, who has a whole lot less of his "Aunt Hottie" than he did the day he was born in 2013! Carry your fat and/or thin pictures around for motivation or tape them to your fridge. Use smaller plates to trick yourself into thinking you're eating more. Join a gym or buy a treadmill if you are so inclined (pun intended, of course). Throw out all your butter and sugar and buy Parkay spray and Splenda instead. Take a detour on your way home so you're not tempted to waddle through McFatties. Put a padlock on your snack cupboard or don't have one at all if you can't handle it. Channel your inner sloth and brush your teeth at 6 p.m. so you won't want to bother eating and having to brush them again. Log all your meals/snacks in your Nutrition Tracker in the morning, so you simply have a plan to stick to instead of winging it. Stay in your cubicle when that guy in Accounting brings in donuts for everyone. Allow yourself to celebrate and enjoy holidays, knowing that you CAN take off whatever you put on, because you have the know-how and determination to make corrections. Eat a little less if you know your metabolism is not going at NASCAR speed. Whatever it takes, you CAN work toward a healthier you, in spite of the hurdles, and when you accept that mindset and stop settling, blaming, and accusing the difficult truth of being shaming, you will ultimately be the biggest loser and maintainer you've ever been!