I have been thinking about this show a lot lately, and I think I've finally figured out what is bothering me. As I said in my last post about the show, there was a little bit of backstory provided on the Mastropietros, but mostly I got a sense of "They were fat but they got thinner and now they're happy. The End!"
I didn't like all the emphasis on the beautiful wedding because it seems to reinforce the idea that if you could somehow just become magically transformed to a thinner person, everyone will love looking at you and your life will be one big gorgeous lovefest. Sure, the daughter went through some misery, but now she's all better! Who cares what's going on with the brother -- he's still fat! Let's focus on the pretty blonde girl! Jillian coming in yelling and kicking everyone's lazy butts off the couch was all it took to fix everything, right? Sure, there was some happy talk about dealing with their problems, but which left a stronger impression -- the idea that people have to stop hiding from their problems or the screaming?
In reality, none of the people in the family were bad or stupid or lazy. They probably had some sense that eating huge meals soaked in oil and butter was not good for them. They knew on some level that exercise was probably important. But mostly, like everyone else, they believed that the fat itself was the problem. Fix the fat, and they'd all be better.
Let's imagine for a second that Jillian really was a weight-loss fairy, and she came in dressed like the Good Witch Glenda, waved a magic wand, and they were all transformed, neck pillows and all, into the thin, fit people they wanted to be. Woo hoo! Now they're all skinny and they don't have to go through all that horrible diet and exercise stuff to get there! Let's even pretend that she could keep them from ever getting fat again, no matter how many tubs of store-bought mashed potatoes they ate. Wow! That would be super cool! Hot fudge sundaes for everyone!
Would they be happy? My sources say no. They'd find some other problem to focus on, like Michelle did with her "droopy arms." Besides that, if they went on living their same lives, slouching on the couch with their neck pillows and eating in front of the TV, how could they be happy? They still wouldn't be communicating effectively and would be looking for ways to avoid thinking about their problems instead of solving them. My guess is that they wouldn't be any happier. For a while, they'd all enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror and getting compliments, but they would get used to them eventually and be back to the same place.
What if, and this is a radical idea to say out loud in America, it isn't the weight loss itself but the stuff it takes you to really get and stay there that makes you happier and healthier?
It could be that living a more active life, eating better-quality food, and developing a sense of achievement and personal empowerment is what makes people happy when they lose weight.
This came home to me when I was listening to some more back episodes of Fat2Fit Radio while gardening. There was a show about the "10 Fitness Gifts to Avoid" and they were all magical-thinking items: Supposed ab exercisers, detox kits, electrical stimulation devices that supposedly exercised your abs while you sat on the couch, etc. All of these things are designed to get you to that end goal of a gorgeous body without any work -- but what if it is the work it takes that is actually the part that makes you feel good?
I was gardening while doing this and not running... maybe that helped me feel so positive about exercise, but still, even without a whole lot of weight loss success, I have been feeling good about the workouts I do. I enjoy 90% of them. There is the occasional one that I just have to get through, but most are fun. I would really like to have the fit body as a trophy for my efforts, I'm not going to lie to you, but I wouldn't go back to doing nothing if I could be guaranteed to lose 5 pounds while sitting on the couch.
We all get so much validation for getting wrapped up in the weight loss/gain drama. All this "Obesity Epidemic" talk suggests that someone's going to lock us all up in containment wards so we don't contaminate the few remaining skinny people. It's easy to believe the lie that someone will come along and hand you your "Deserves to be Happy" plaque when you've lost the right amount of weight.
What if you were deserving right now? How would you live your life?
Because you are. Now what do you want to do about it?