Fans of “The Biggest Loser” reality show are often heartbroken to learn that many of the contestants have regained some or most of the weight lost on the show.
How is it that someone afforded such a fresh start at physical health, someone who leaves the show healthier, stronger, and happier—and better educated about weight loss—manages to regain the weight in often such a short period of time?
Some explanations, for those of us that do struggle with our weight, make sense. One contestant talked about the pressure of keeping the weight off, and the embarrassment of facing a once-endearing public when the weight begins to come back on.
This pressure and embarrassment often leads to depression, for which the only coping skill the contestant has probably ever used—overeating—is the result.
Most dieters know how to lose weight—it is no secret: Eat less, eat healthier and exercise more. They have often been on dozens of diet programs and know their bodies very well.
Despite the fact that the exercise regiment on “The Biggest Loser” is unrealistic and unsustainable for most in the real world, the real problem is overcoming what nearly every contestant suffers from—an eating addiction. Unfortunately, this is an aspect of losing weight that the show, and most diet programs, really does not address, or address thoroughly.
As one contestant noted, “I can do anything for three months.” That is both exactly the point and the problem, weight loss is not a sprint, and it is not a game show. For anyone to lose weight and keep it off there must be a complete commitment to a lifestyle change.
Just like any other addiction, the overeater probably needs continued counseling, family support and consistent monitoring. They need the ability to overcome the mental challenges that certainly lie ahead. They need another place to turn when stress or other societal pressures create the circumstances that would normally lead to overeating.
The harm to ourselves caused by obesity and eating addictions, in terms of not only our own burdens, but also on society in terms of our current healthcare crisis, is at least as significant as the harm caused by alcohol or drugs. However, rather than treating poor eating habits or eating addictions, we treat the consequences—cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.
Our society needs a complete nutritional overhaul, we have been led to believe many dietary falsehoods—which has us made an incredibly sick, and somewhat addicted, nation.
I speak as both an advocate and a client.