Tuesday's episode of "Losing it with Jillian" really frustrated me (but it did mostly follow the pattern I identified in an earlier post).The dad on this episode was 290 pounds, a nighttime snacker, and someone with sleep apnea. He also came across as a really self-centered, arrogant guy who liked everyone to take care of him. Even by the end of the episode, I didn't really believe he had changed, though I think his wife had.
That's not what frustrated me.
I'm tired of "this weight is going to kill you, you're going to die" being the mantra of weight-loss shows, first on "The Biggest Loser" and now on this show. Yes, studies will show that your risk for death can double if you're obese, but they don't highlight that it goes from 1% to 2%. The risk of this guy dying from weight-related causes might have been higher because of his sleep apnea, but he didn't look in immediate danger of keeling over. His bigger risk was becoming more and more restricted in what he could comfortably do because of his weight. He had beautiful, healthy daughters and his weight seemed to get in the way of him playing with them. I know Jillan's workouts were killer, but they tired him out before he even really got started. He was obviously being hurt on a daily basis by his weight, so why focus on some distant-seeming, unlikely death?
Besides, focusing on the fat = death equation is discouraging. Even on a "Biggest Loser" style regimen, this guy was months away from being at a healthy weight, so how could he feel excited about starting a regimen where he was going to be working hard for months before his risk of death was going to feel like it was going away, because he'd still be looking at a fat guy in the mirror every night.
On "The Biggest Loser," there has been proof that just a week or tow of eating differently and working out is enough to get the contestants off their medications and feeling much better, even though they are still hugely obese.
It could be that it isn't the fat, per se, that's so dangerous, that it's the behaviors that got you fat that can cause health risks. It seems logical to think that it could be the sedentary lifestyle and the junk food full of fat, salt, and sugar that is causing people to become diabetic and have high blood pressure. Replacing that lifestyle with a healthy one might be all it takes to get rid of any health risks.
Changing the behavior would also result in the weight loss, eventually. But flipping the way it's framed allows someone to be an instant success. We always have a choice on how we behave. We can't quickly change how much weight we are carrying but we have an opportunity in each moment to choose how we behave in that moment.
After all, we are all going to die, no matter how fat or skinny we are. We have no choice about that. We do, however, have a choice of how we're going to live.