I’ve always been quite thin. I’ve never really had to count calories or be diligent about going to the gym for the sake of the scale. And yet, over the years, I have been drawn to the various weight loss reality television shows. It seems that there are always more of them popping up, and for good reason. The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that more than one-third of the U.S. population is obese. It is a major health concern that is nearly always trending in the media, so it only makes sense that reality television would aim to target this demographic.
The Biggest Loser is probably one of the more popular weight loss reality shows. It captures the attention of me and my husband each Monday evening after the children are in bed. And clearly others are watching, too. In the past 11 years, the show has produced 266 episodes. The hard-nosed trainers, and fast weight shedding, along with its heart-wrenching back stories on the contestants are just some of the elements that create the “hook” for viewers. And despite former contestants speaking out against the show, the show is nearing the end of its 17th season.
My newest-found weight loss show is Fit to Fat to Fit, airing on A&E. This show first follows a personal trainer for 16 weeks as he/she attempts to gain weight in an amount or percentage near what the next client is looking to lose. The premise is that if the trainer can gain weight, they can have more empathy toward the individual who they will be helping to lose weight and will actually be losing the weight side by side with them over the period of another 16 weeks.
These shows make for compelling television. With all the crime and generally negative commentary in the news and throughout the world, it is nice to be able to sit down and watch something that aims to change lives in a positive fashion. Yet, I wonder how many of us watching the show really use it as an impetus to change anything in our lives?
If you came in my house on any given Monday or Tuesday as I’m watching these shows, you’re probably apt to find me sitting on the couch, with a soda and some popcorn or perhaps a big bowl of ice cream. I can’t say that these shows have motivated me to get off the couch and get moving. I’m not naïve to think that simply because I am thin I am healthy. I’d be the first to admit that my cardiovascular stamina is probably nil, and that my muscle strength is about the same. I hope that for others it is a bigger motivator if they are looking for something that will jump-start their journey to a healthier life. So I pose the question: Do you watch these shows? If so, what is your motivation to do so?