Tag Archives: reality tv

Dancing With The Stars (or A Workout Friends Hangout)

I haven’t watched “Dancing With The Stars” since the beginning, but I have been interested in this current season. The son of my late acting coach is one of the stars this season and I was so excited to get to see him on the show. And as soon as the cast for the current season was announced, I went online to try to get tickets. I was put on a wait list for tickets and was hoping I’d get tickets in time to see Chris on the show. Sadly, he was eliminated after the first week and right after that I got the email that I could now get tickets.

Even though Chris was eliminated, I figured it could be really fun to go to a taping. I’ve been to many tv tapings before, but I never had been to a live show. I knew that it would be really cool to see how everything happens during the commercial breaks and decided to get the tickets and then just enjoy whatever stars were still in the competition at that point. I asked around to a couple of friends to see who could come with me, and 2 of my Orangetheory friends were able to go! So it was Orangetheory night at “Dancing With The Stars”!

The way that all tv tapings work is that they give out more free tickets than there are seats. They assume there will be no shows (or in my case I ordered 4 tickets and only needed 3) so they ask you to get there early to try to get in. We got there about an hour before we were supposed to be there by, and that ended up being perfect for us. Even though we heard the speech multiple times that not everyone would be let inside the studio, the 3 of us ended up being the last 3 who got in! It’s so crazy that we were the cut off point, but I’m so glad we made it!

There were no phones allowed inside the studio so I don’t really have that many photos from the taping. We were in the first balcony toward the side behind the judges. We had some moments where the view was blocked, but we could see most of the stage. And when we couldn’t see things there was a tv monitor that we could look at so we could see what it looked like on live tv. I know so people want to be seen on tv when they go to tapings like this, but I didn’t care to be on tv. The only time you could almost see us is when they showed the entire audience. But unless you knew where to look, you’d never see us.

Yeah, you can barely see the 3 of us between those red arrows.

When I got my tickets, I didn’t know what the theme for the show would be. But it ended up being Disney night and that seemed so perfect to me! Each of us had Glow with the Show Mickey ears to wear during various parts of the taping. I was so excited about that because I never had those ears before. But when the taping was done we were told that we didn’t get to take them with us. Oh well. I only wish that I didn’t have to turn my phone in to security before going into the taping so I could have taken photos with the ear. They were super cute!

The advantage of going to a live taping is that you know exactly how long it would be (unlike going to a sitcom taping where it can be 5 hours for a 22 minute show). Neither of my friends watch “Dancing With The Stars” and I think they were a bit worried that being there for 2 hours would feel like a long time. But it really flew by! All the dances were so amazing and there were a couple of live singing performances at the show as well. And of course, I loved the music because they were all Disney songs. I knew pretty much all the songs and was excited to see how the dances matched with the songs.

And while the dances were awesome, I did love watching the crew during the commercial breaks to see how quickly they changed over the set. There was a big clock on the screens during the commercial breaks so they knew exactly how much longer they had to do everything. They were super efficient and you can tell that they practice a lot to do the set changes in the time they had. And while the show was live, it was neat to see the choreography that the cameras had to do. There was a lot of work with a steady cam, but it was also interesting to see how the stable cameras worked with the steady cam and to see the camera work on the floor and then look up at the tv screen to see how it looked for tv. I know that I’m a bit of a nerd with the behind the scenes stuff like that, but it really is amazing how much work the crew does to make everything look as perfect as it does on tv.

Once the live taping was done, we were excused from the studio pretty quickly. It took a bit of time to get our phones back (the security team was super organized but there were so many of us in line to get phones) but we were quickly on our way out of the studio. Even though we were only in the taping for 2 hours the entire time including being in line was about 5.5 hours. It was still a shorter day than most tv tapings, but it was still a good chunk of time.

Even though Chris isn’t a part of the “Dancing With The Stars” season anymore, I have been watching the show this season and will continue to watch this season to see who wins. There are a lot of amazing dancers and stars on the show still and I’m excited to see what dances come up next! And if I get another opportunity to go to another live taping, I’d probably do it. It was a fun thing to do and I know I have other friends who couldn’t go this time but would love to go with me!

Fit2Fat2Fit (or A Book and TV Show That Get It)

I while ago, I heard of the book “Fit2Fat2Fit“. It was the story of a personal trainer named Drew who gained 75 pounds so he could understand what it was like for his overweight clients to lose weight. Immediately I was interested and got the book to read. I read it so fast and loved the message that the trainer shared.


So many trainers and coaches out there have never had to deal with a weight problem. They don’t understand the mental and physical toll excess weight puts on a person. They see someone overweight and think that the person is uneducated and just needs to be taught how to work out and eat better. They think it’s just as simple as that.

But that’s not the case at all.

Compared to most of my friends who have never had a weight issue, I’m possibly more educated about nutrition. I can guesstimate calories with the best of them. I know what is good, what is bad, and what is ok as a treat. Every bite I take I know if I should be ok eating it or if it’s something that I need to think of as an ok indulgence. I know the food pyramid, how many servings of each thing I should have each day/week, and how many calories my body takes to be alive. I might not be the most educated on what workout routines I should do, but I’ve got nutrition and food down. I may have an eating disorder, but I don’t have a lack of education.

Lack of education may be the issue for some people, but it isn’t for the majority. We know what we should and shouldn’t do, but there is something else in our bodies saying otherwise. And unless you have been there, you don’t get it. I try to explain it the best I can on here, but I know that the voice in my head is so much louder and more persuasive than I could ever explain.

That is why I loved the book so much. Drew didn’t understand at first that when you are heavy, you might not have the same motivation or energy to work out. Or if you are used to eating fatty foods that your body craves them and that eating healthy doesn’t give you the same joy that food has given you in the past (and you have depended on that joy from food). Once he gained the weight and tried to immediately get back to his old routine, he realized that it was not as easy as that. People don’t need to be educated, they need to be understood and guided to a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve been lucky at Orangetheory that none of my coaches have judged me or have tried to talk down to me because of my weight (that has happened with coaches/personal trainers in the past). They understand that I have an eating disorder and am working my way toward recovery. They get that I need support but not lectures. But I know that not everyone has that experience. As much as I think that all trainers should do this experiment to understand what their clients go through, I understand that it isn’t realistic. But I think reading the book can help them get it.

I’ve loved the book for a while, but I discovered last week that now there is a TV show on A&E with the same name about the same concept. A trainer takes 4 months to gain as much weight as they can and then work with an overweight client to take the weight off together. I’ve seen the first episode so far, and I really enjoyed it (and didn’t hate-watch it like I do with other weight loss shows). The trainer didn’t quite understand that things would be hard when he gained weight at first. But once it was time for him to get back into his regular routine and try to lose the weight, he got it. He understood the food withdrawal and the exhaustion of exercise. He became more empathic about what clients might be going through and saw the journey from the client side instead of the coach side.

I’m sure that all the episodes will follow a similar format, but I think that it is an amazing show to watch. I know that people will still judge me and other’s based on appearance, but hopefully they can understand the issues we face just a little bit more.

Unreal Reality TV (or I Need To Stop Comparing Myself)

I’ve talked about my love/hate relationship with weight loss reality shows in the past. They are still a guilty pleasure of mine. I really don’t know why I still enjoy them when they make me feel so bad sometimes.

The only weight loss show on during the summer that I watch is “Extreme Weight Loss” (I think “The Biggest Loser” isn’t coming back until the fall or winter). I was watching it last night when I started to think more about why I watch these shows.

On “The Biggest Loser”, time is condensed, obviously. You are watching one week of footage in a single episode. But each week there is only one episode on. So it’s almost like it’s in real-time.

On “Extreme Weight Loss”, each episode represents an entire year (each episode follows a single person for one year). Every week, it’s a different person’s year.

I think I’m holding myself to the standards that these reality shows are creating. It’s not normal to lose weight like that. And I think that “Extreme Weight Loss” is making me judge my weight journey really badly.

Within a 2 hour episode, you go from seeing someone who is even more overweight than I am to seeing someone who is pretty much at a goal weight. That all happens in 2 hours. But in real life, that took a year. It makes things seem so quick and easy when they aren’t. Even though the contestants on these shows have pretty much no distractions while losing weight so they are able to focus on it 24/7, you still don’t really see the struggles someone has when the scale jumps up suddenly. You only see the weigh-in where the weight is down (this is not technically always true, but the majority of the time it is).

Why should I think that my journey should only take 2 hours as well? And the weight loss goals that they reach are completely unreasonable for me. On last night’s episode, the guy features was challenged to lose 118 pounds in 3 months (he was over 200 pounds overweight). If I lost 118 pounds in 3 months, I’d pretty much be done. That’s not possible (or if it is, it is definitely not healthy).

I should not look to these shows to be examples or even inspirations. They are for entertainment purposes only.

It’s hard to find inspiring people in the real world who have gone from obese to a goal weight. Most of those people either gain the weight back (like I have several times), or they aren’t out and about sharing their story. And some of the ones I have seen are people who had weight loss surgery or have used some other method that I don’t want to do.

So I need to turn myself into my own inspiration. I need to start thinking that losing 2 pounds in a week is awesome instead of horrible (since all the people on reality shows seem to lose double digits every week). I need to start think that it’s ok if my journey takes a year, or two years, or even a decade. As long as I keep going. And I need to start thinking of all those reality shows as mindless entertainment instead of examples.

It’s not easy to change how you think, but I’m really going to try.

Biggest Loser Finale (or I Wish I Didn’t Have To Write About This)

On Tuesday evening, the finale for the most recent season of “The Biggest Loser” aired. This is the season that had the contestants that I saw at my birthday spin class. I’ve already written about how the show is a guilty pleasure of mine and that I have issues with how weight loss is shown on the show. But now I feel like I need to write about the reactions to the finale.

In case you aren’t too familiar with the show, the finale is a live event (or at least live for the east coast). Everyone who was eliminated prior to the finale weighs in for the at-home prize. The contestant with the highest percentage of weight loss wins. Then the finalists come out and the finalist with the highest percentage of weight loss wins $250,000.

When the finalists came out, the two men who were finalists looked a little thin, but that’s to be expected when they try to be at their lowest weight to win. Then the girl finalist, Rachel, came out. And you could hear gasps coming from the audience.


(photo courtesy of US Magazine)

I thought she looked pretty thin. Her legs were muscular, but her arms and face seemed very very skinny. When she weighed in, her weight was 105 pounds (she’s 5’4″). She lost about 60% of her body weight in about 8 months.

Immediately people were posting various sites online that Rachel must be anorexic now. People seemed shocked by her appearance. And two of the trainers on the show looked pretty surprised in the live show and later released a statement that they would not comment on her weight since they weren’t her trainers during the show.

It seems like people are finally seeing some of the problems that I’ve noticed with “The Biggest Loser” years ago. When you reward people for the highest percentage of weight loss, people do drastic things to make sure they win in the finale. Historically, the contestants gain weight back after the finale because they are extremely dehydrated (to make sure there is no water weight causing them to lose the weigh in). Many contestants gain back a lot of the weight they lost because the show is not realistic. And when you lose weight with a finish line in mind, you aren’t looking at it as a lifestyle but a temporary situation.

I know that last one for sure. When I did the RFO diet the first time, it was in preparation for my hip surgery. I knew that the less I weighed, the easier my recovery would be from surgery. And since I was about 90 pounds lighter going into surgery, I did have a very easy recovery. But after surgery, I didn’t have the same motivation any more to lose weight. And I gained a lot of it back. I did the RFO diet again, but again looked at it as a temporary situation (you have to when you aren’t eating any real food). And I gained it back again.

The other thing that makes me pretty mad at “The Biggest Loser” is the fact that many, if not all, of the contestants are at high risk for starting anorexic or bulimic behaviors. It’s a pretty safe guess that most of the contestants are going in to the show with an eating disorder. Probably the same eating disorder that I have, a binge eating disorder. When I was in therapy for my eating disorder, the biggest thing that I remembered is that I will always be at a high risk for another eating disorder because I have a history of having one. I’m also at high risk for another addiction of any type.

When you take away the food from a food addict (which is similar to a binge eater), they have to find their addiction somewhere else. You can see this a lot in people who have had weight loss surgery. When you can’t turn to your comfort item, you find something else that gives you comfort. And if it isn’t comfort that you are seeking, it’s order or control. And anorexia or bulimia gives you a sense of control (even if it’s a false sense).

I’m sorry for the rant, but I’ve been holding this in for a while when watching “The Biggest Loser”. And it seems like many people are now seeing things the same way that I do. I don’t know if they will change “The Biggest Loser” now due to all this backlash, but personally I would love to see them focus on body fat percentage instead of weight. Or maybe on inches lost. But sadly, seeing someone drop 155 pounds still makes good tv.

But at least now, some people will think about it a bit differently.

Reality TV (or How Losing 200 Pounds Can Be Something That Is Booed)

I’ll admit that reality tv is one of my guilty pleasures. I love “America’s Next Top Model”, “The Amazing Race”, and “Food Network Star”. But I also watch a couple of weight loss related reality tv like “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weight Loss”.

One reason that I enjoy the weight loss reality shows is because most of the time, the people at the beginning are in a worse place than me. I know this is a horrible thought, but it’s nice to see that I’m not the most out of shape person in the world. And it gives me a bit of hope that maybe I can win this battle eventually.

But there are a lot of negative things about these shows. First of all, they are extremely unrealistic. The contestants on them typically aren’t working their jobs (and they get a small stipend from the show for participating). Also, they are working out sometimes 5 or 6 hours a day. If you have a job, you probably don’t have the time to do that. Sometimes contestants on these shows also have either a chef or food delivery service so they don’t have to worry about their food.

Another negative thing about these shows is how the contestants feel about weight loss. On “The Biggest Loser”, when a contestant loses 7 or 8 pounds in a week, they feel like they are a failure. Sometimes the other contestants mention how that person isn’t doing enough. Seriously?!?!?! If I lost 7 pounds in a week I’d be so excited!

But something that really ticked me off happened on this week’s “Extreme Weight Loss”. If you don’t watch the show, it takes place over 1 year and each episode follows one person’s journey. This week is was a girl name Alyssa. She weighed over 400 pounds when everything started. The show gives weight loss goals for every 3 months. She met her first weight loss goal and then started to struggle with the second. And in her struggle, she started to have anorexic and bulimic tendencies. The host of the show did offer her help and had her do a blind weigh in (this is something I have to do at the doctors because I don’t trust their scale).

At the final weigh in for Alyssa, they did it in front of all her friends and family (this is the format for the show). She weighed in and had lost over 200 pounds in one year! But she was a few pounds short of her overall weight loss goal, so when the final number came up, the crowd booed. My mouth dropped open when I watched that. Since when is losing 200 pounds something to boo about? They should be cheering her on no matter what.

But I guess that wouldn’t make good reality tv.

Will I still watch these weight loss reality shows? Yes. They do have good tips in them and they do help motivate me. But I really hope that other people watching can see how what they see on tv isn’t always the most helpful thing when trying to lose weight.

While it may be reality tv, it isn’t reality.