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I wish I could say when I’m pondering weighty matters it means I’ve been contemplating the possibility of life in other galaxies, how to make the planet on which we live a better place, the cure for any variety of ills – or even, “Which came first – the chicken or the egg?”
Unfortunately, I’m not only female, but also a product of today’s constant onslaught of information. Meaning, the moment I even hear the word “weight,” the part of my brain that houses insecurity and self-doubt goes into overdrive. The next thing I know, I’m puzzling non-stop over why we gain it, how we lose it, and for me, why it just keeps creeping back.
So, of course, when I heard the incessant chatter about The Biggest Loser’s recent winner, Rachel Frederickson being too thin, I’ll have to admit I shook my head and sort of chuckled about how very silly we mortals are.
Ms. Frederickson entered what she probably thought would be her 15 minutes of fame when she somehow managed to shed 155 pounds as a contestant on The Biggest Loser. During an appearance on the show’s finale in February, the Twitter world went wild with speculation about whether or not she had lost too much weight, and how this could possibly be healthy in such a short time period.
Well, duh, I said to myself! Exactly what is the show all about in the first place? Could it possibly be losing lots of weight in an amazingly grueling fashion during a relatively short period of time? Bingo!
What I find amusing (or would “disgusting” be a better choice of words?) about this entire brouhaha is the whiplash speed with which public opinion can be swayed in today’s 24/7 entertainment-as-newsfeed and speculation-filled environment.
I’ll have to admit, I’ve tried several times to watch The Biggest Loser, but to me it always sort of feels like I’m watching someone pluck the wings off of flies, putting salt on slugs, or holding a magnifying glass over an unsuspecting bug while the sun bakes it. You know; the kinds of things little boys did to make us scream and squirm back in the day! I get no joy out of watching anyone get constantly yelled at as they struggle to perform a task no one in their right mind would ever really want to accomplish.
Heck, most of us get plenty of that action in our day-to-day lives. I don’t know about you, but the little voice in my head (why do they call it “little,” by the way?) spends countless hours telling me all about my oversights, failures and flaws.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy weight loss, especially as we continue to discover real science backing up claims that obesity does contribute to a wide variety of diseases. Just last week I read yet another headline about breast cancer, proclaiming how genetic flaws make some of us even more susceptible to the disease or its recurrence if we are obese.
I actually have a bone to pick (because that’s all I’m allowed) with many of today’s weight loss reality shows, self-help books and DVD bonus packs. Not only do they often create unrealistic expectations, but they are also frequently guilty of advising people to use artificial sweeteners, non-fat this and sugar-free that, which to my way of thinking is every bit as unhealthy as being overweight in the first place.
What I have personally found that works is eating healthy, local, farm-to-market goods whenever possible, minimizing the processed foods I stuff in my mouth, and making sure I get plenty of weight-bearing exercise. My doctor assures me that walking is a weight bearing exercise (imagine that)! I also try to do something meditative like yoga, so I’m working both my body and my mind. And because I’m human, I have my good days and my days when I am REALLY human and I slip just a bit. I do what I can to keep that voice in my head full of good thoughts so she has a hard time harping on me, and sometimes it actually works.
In preparing myself for this commentary, I watched the Today Show interview with Rachel Frederickson because I was intrigued by what she had to say about both her weight loss and the resulting furor. What I saw was an attractive 24-year-old woman thrust into the limelight, exhibiting much more grace under pressure than I would have been able to muster at that age.
When asked if she worries about backsliding and gaining weight (yes, they are already speculating on this possibility, it is a 24/7 world you know), she said, “What I’ve learned is I have inner strength. I was critical and judgmental of myself, but you are with you for the rest of your life, so you had better accept you and love you.”
I love her bravery and determination under duress. So here is my fervent wish for Ms. Frederickson: I hope she doesn’t have to eat her words (although the last time I looked, they don’t have any calories)!