Reality TV: 'The Biggest Loser', Unhealthy Message (cont.)
In my opinion, viewers should not try to follow either the red or the blue diet. Anyone tempted to try these restrictive plans should definitely check with their doctor first. Weight Loss Clinic members, be assured that your eating plans are in line with professional guidelines and would stand up to medical evaluation.
The Value of Support
The WebMD Weight Loss Clinic program works because we advocate a lifestyle that includes plenty of nutritious foods to keep hunger at bay, daily physical activity, and support. Most any member of the WLC will tell you that one of the best features of our program is the support from fellow members, moderators, and professionals.
Encouragement is a crucial aspect of weight loss success, and I don't think the tough-as-nails approach to The Biggest Loser contestants qualifies as positive reinforcement. We need our friends and family to rally around us when the going gets tough. That is what helps keep you going, not berating and scornful comments.
Forbidden Foods Create Desire
Can you imagine how hard it would be if you had a glass-front refrigerator stocked with your favorite decadent foods staring at you 24/7? The temptations displayed in the refrigerators and at mealtimes are certainly not the right way to help the contestants overcome overeating. I wish they would stock those refrigerators with delicious fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy -- foods that satisfy hunger while meeting nutritional needs.
Studies have shown that when you deny people certain foods, they tend to crave them. At the WLC, we let you have your favorite foods (albeit in limited quantities) because we know you can sustain an eating plan that includes food you enjoy. The best strategy is to stock your kitchen with nutritious foods and to limit your exposure to foods likely to trigger overeating.
Four hours a day is the exercise schedule for some of The Biggest Loser contestants. Realistically, most of us struggle to meet the guidelines of one hour per day! It's hardly likely that contestants will keep up with this punishing regimen after they leave the show.
The best plan is to find activities that you enjoy and to gradually work up to an hour per day. Small changes, like taking the stairs and parking your car farther away from your destination, contribute to your daily physical activity. Strength training a few times a week is also important, to keep muscles strong and metabolism high.
To find time for your workouts, I suggest turning off that television! The Biggest Loser is simply perpetuating many of our society's unrealistic views about weight loss. Eating healthy and losing weight is not a contest, but a journey that should last a lifetime.
Published Oct. 27, 2004.
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