Weight Loss TV Shows - Good or Bad?

nrtauthor
nrtauthor Posts: 159 Member
I am SO out of date with this one but part of my weight loss prep is getting myself motivated by watching weight loss transformations. In the process of doing this I stumbled across a show called Extreme Makeover with Chris Powell. And while it was pretty cool to watch people drop 100+lbs, I found myself completely horrified by the speed of their loss.

80lbs in 90 days? What? That's like 6+lbs a week!

Which got me thinking about shows like the Biggest Loser and etc.

Here's the thing though, while I understand what they're doing isn't possible for the average person working without personal trainers and $25000 gift cards from Walmart... I still found it motivating in a weird way. So it can't be that bad, right?

I'm sure this topic has been discussed on this forum in the past but after a quick browse of this forum I didn't see any recent discussions about it.

So...

Do you think these extreme weight loss TV shows are helpful to inspire people OR hurtful because they create unrealistic expectations which will lead to people crashing and burning?

What do YOU think? What's your gut reaction?

Me? I think it's great. For me, personally, I completely understand it's 'TV' and while I don't think I could ever reach those levels of loss without a personal trainer and a LOT of help, that's okay. In my head I'm like: It'll take me longer, but I could have those results too!

I do wonder about the people on these shows and whether they'll be able to keep that momentum once they lose the support system and personal training and motivation of being filmed. But ultimately, overall, it seems a good thing.

But there is a part of me that wonders if the average person would have the same mindset or if they'd get discouraged after they're not losing 6lbs per week.
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Replies

  • Falklang
    Falklang Posts: 220 Member
    I love watching them personally. I just love watching people succeed and it kind of intrigues me how other people's lives are. I just bare in mind though that the majority of the shows do make the people lose TOO much too fast and to remember that slow and steady wins the race.
  • nrtauthor
    nrtauthor Posts: 159 Member
    Just based on the ones I have happened to see: I think they tend to promote unrealistic time frames for weight loss and push the idea that weight loss has to be some form of punishment or a really grueling activity.

    I can see that. Like the show I was watching this morning... 2 hours of exercise a day. My insides curled up and died a little watching that girl cry her way through some of those workouts.
  • MelodiousMermaid
    MelodiousMermaid Posts: 380 Member
    If the data in this study are reliable, and there is not an issue of causation versus correlation, I would have to vote "bad".

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989512/

    A lot of people like to follow along or mimic experiences, and if there has been true lasting damage, it would be better to have more "vanilla" shows (healthier regimens) or ones that are built over a long period of time, which could either be in the format of a "season" where things have been edited for fitting regular timeslots, or they could be worked into another show format (e.g. news or daily show) where there are periodic check-ins where people are filled in on what's going on.

    I have a feeling neither idea would sell really well to the general public, though.

    I love getting my "success fix" in the success thread section. I'm currently noshing on the AMA thread by Vismal. He's got a great thing going there, and has a lot of great advice for people.
  • nrtauthor
    nrtauthor Posts: 159 Member
    If the data in this study are reliable, and there is not an issue of causation versus correlation, I would have to vote "bad".

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4989512/

    A lot of people like to follow along or mimic experiences, and if there has been true lasting damage, it would be better to have more "vanilla" shows (healthier regimens) or ones that are built over a long period of time, which could either be in the format of a "season" where things have been edited for fitting regular timeslots, or they could be worked into another show format (e.g. news or daily show) where there are periodic check-ins where people are filled in on what's going on.

    I have a feeling neither idea would sell really well to the general public, though.

    I love getting my "success fix" in the success thread section. I'm currently noshing on the AMA thread by Vismal. He's got a great thing going there, and has a lot of great advice for people.

    Surprisingly YouTube has a lot of great weight loss videos that are SUPER realistic. I have been watching those too. The ones I've seen so far are young women who encourage losing at a rate of 1/2lb per week or 1lb per week and speak very realistically about how long it takes and WHAT it takes.

    The good news is, most young people are on YouTube so if those are the role models they can find, that's great!

    That's a good point about people liking to mimic experiences. Definitely an interesting perspective.
  • iWishMyNameWasRebel
    iWishMyNameWasRebel Posts: 174 Member
    Shows like the Biggest Loser piss me off to no end, because these people are rough-housed so badly in such a short period of time, it just is too much for me. However, shows like My 600lb Life, I find helpful because most of these folks are trying to relearn how to live in a sustainable and supportive way.
  • MelodiousMermaid
    MelodiousMermaid Posts: 380 Member
    HDBKLM wrote: »
    Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover both worry me a lot, personally. I've watched a couple of shows that take a different kind of approach. On British television there has been Supersize vs. Superskinny and Secret Eaters. Neither is still on the air but you can watch on YouTube. Neither is specifically a weight loss program, much less fast and extreme weight loss, and certainly no plastic surgery. In the former they stick an undereater and an overeater in a house together for a week, and they not only rub off on each other but both consult with a doctor. In the latter people who claim they 'eat healthy' but keep gaining weight and can't understand why are tailed by friends, coworkers, and even private investigators to show how they're lying to themselves and/or eating mindlessly. Both are fairly entertaining, and to their credit, seem more useful to the casual viewer to take usable lessons from than some of their American counterparts.

    Next time I'm looking to veg, I'm totally looking these up! Thanks for the recommendations!
  • Tweaking_Time
    Tweaking_Time Posts: 733 Member
    nrtauthor wrote: »
    Just based on the ones I have happened to see: I think they tend to promote unrealistic time frames for weight loss and push the idea that weight loss has to be some form of punishment or a really grueling activity.

    I can see that. Like the show I was watching this morning... 2 hours of exercise a day. My insides curled up and died a little watching that girl cry her way through some of those workouts.

    I used to feel the same way when I was 80 pounds heavier...now I train for Sprint Triathlon's, miles long swims, and hours long bike rides. I don't do 2 hours a day - that seems obsessive to me too - but I probably average 7 hours a week in the summer, less so in the winter because of less daylight hours and I find the gym to be a bit boring as opposed to exercise outdoors. But on some crazy days I will put in 4 or 5 good hours of biking. Then there is work on our farm...
  • Tacklewasher
    Tacklewasher Posts: 7,122 Member
    Shows like the Biggest Loser piss me off to no end, because these people are rough-housed so badly in such a short period of time, it just is too much for me. However, shows like My 600lb Life, I find helpful because most of these folks are trying to relearn how to live in a sustainable and supportive way.

    ^^This.
  • LivingtheLeanDream
    LivingtheLeanDream Posts: 13,345 Member
    I enjoy watching them but I always think the amount of weight they expect folk to lose per week is just too high. I also cringe at the amount of exercise they make them do when they are so heavy, I think their hearts will never stand the pace.
  • RaeBeeBaby
    RaeBeeBaby Posts: 4,245 Member
    edited March 2018
    <<<<< Guilty pleasure watcher here. I do enjoy the weight loss programs. I want to see the people be successful and I cheer them on (in most cases). Are they realistic for the common man/woman? No, of course not. It's a TV show and it's always going to be the extreme or it doesn't make for good TV.

    Because I feel a certain affinity with the players, I usually only watch these while exercising - walking on the treadmill or doing a dumbbell workout. If I was sitting down eating pizza or a pint of ice cream, then there's something definitely wrong there. I guess if I'm exercising it makes it OK. I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with that philosophy, too. :D

    Thoughts on a few of them:

    Biggest Loser - lots of hype, extreme exercise regimen and very little nutritional guidance. What passed as nutritional education was advertiser driven and product placement (Jenny-O turkey products and Subway). Most of the contestants have regained the weight they lost. Not sure that I agree that they ruined their metabolisms, as one study has suggested. A lot of them admitted going back to their old patterns. That'll do it every time (as we all know). I do not feel sorry for any of these people. They were all clamoring to get on this "game" show as were thousands of others. The casting call would literally draw thousands of people in every city. Those contestants knew exactly what they were getting in to. There was as much strategy and game play as there was actual weight loss and health improvements. Kind of sad that this one is over AND that trainer Bob Harper had a heart-attack!

    My 600-lb life - super sad that people get to the point where this extreme bariatric surgery is their only option. Most of them experienced some psychological trauma in childhood that led them to self-medicate with food. Some of them are success stories in the end and some of them are not. Several of the people on this show are super manipulators who control everyone in their environment and somehow force their caregivers into providing all the food that they desire. In nearly every episode the person sneaks around, cheats on the diet and doesn't lose the weight until they "snap out of it" and start complying so they can get the surgery. Usually they show one brief clip of the person getting counseling or therapy, but that's not the major focus. Often the rest of the family is also obese, just not quite as bad as the main character. This is the part that bothers me the most. The rest of the family rarely changes their eating habits while expecting the bariatric patient to stick to their diet. They've started doing a second year follow-up on some of them and that is rewarding to see them even more successful in year 2. A handful of these folks have really turned their lives around. But then, a few of them are so obnoxious that you really don't care if they're successful or not.

    Family by the Ton - a new show about a whole family of extremely obese individuals who decide to all have weight-loss surgery and support each other along the way. I'm about half way through the episodes on this one, so I haven't seen any great transformations yet.

    I watched a show from the UK for awhile that I thought was really entertaining. Not sure if it was Secret Eaters or not. They would talk to these people about their diets and they really thought they were eating healthy, but then there were films of them drinking and eating at the pub, buying take-out, etc. The show producers would show the film to the person and they'd be really surprised at all the "hidden" calories. I can't recall how I stumbled upon that one but it was fun.

    I watch these programs for entertainment, but I know there are real people in the stories and this is not a realistic way to lose weight.
  • psychod787
    psychod787 Posts: 4,088 Member
    It all makes me sad. Just really, really, sad. 600lb life makes me cry. I am not to macho to admit that. I also look at it, that could be me if I fail to keep my weight off.