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.

3 responses to “Unreal Reality TV (or I Need To Stop Comparing Myself)

  1. What is that comparison quote? Hmmm…

    “Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt.

    To me, comparison is mindless, self-destructive mind chatter. I’ve been able to silence the voices in my head…taken their power away…so that I just embrace life as it is without having an internal critic. It takes time, but it is SO liberating!

    Over the years, I’ve been able to shed about 40 pounds. (Weight is relative, so for me, this was a struggle). It took time…and ultimately a lifestyle change. I realized that rather than listen to what worked for others, I had to find out what I enjoyed – from food choice, to working out. Ultimately, when I landed on what I liked, things started falling into place for me.

    Also, consistency was the key. I dunno if you’ve heard of this before, but there’s this really great app called Streaks. It helps you track your “streaks” of whatever you might be doing. For me, pilates. It’s fun to challenge myself and see how I’ve been able to keep up with my own commitments…pilates 3-5 times a week! Woot! Maybe that’ll help you too?

    Anywhoo, keep up the good work, girlie. I believe in you!

    🙂 A

  2. The way I’ve started thinking about it is like this: Losing 1-2 pounds a week is considered normal, healthy weight loss. I only weigh myself monthly, because weight naturally fluctuates 1-2 pounds over the course of a day/week. So, for example, this past month, I was 8 pounds down from where I started. Technically, I lost 2 pounds a week, even though I know that some weeks were better than others, but because I didn’t pay much attention to the number during the month, but focused on my diet and exercise, the weight came off without me thinking about it.

    And 8 pounds doesn’t seem like a whole lot when you have 100 pounds to lose like I do – but then I remember…there are 52 weeks in a year. If I just keep doing what I’m doing every day (maybe kicking it up a notch every month), that’s at LEAST 52 pounds lost. At BEST, that’s 104 pounds lost in a year if you’re really consistent. So, yeah. Consistency. And also remembering that all those tiny bits of progress ADD UP if you keep doing it!

    It’s hard to be consistent when you think that you’re NOT making progress…but the thing is, 1-2 pounds a week IS progress! That’s not nothing! And at the end of a year, you could be at your goal weight. Think about how quickly a year passes!

  3. I posted a rather lengthy status on FB a few weeks ago about the show Extreme Weight Loss. It made me SO angry watching it, and it makes me so mad that shows like this exist. In the episode I watched, there were MULTIPLE times where the person lost an insane amount of weight in a ridiculously short period of time, but they didn’t reach their “goal weight” for the week/month, and the trainer was actually disappointed. I couldn’t believe it. Shows like these make people feel inferior, and give us a completely wrong sense of how the world works. Like you said, it took these people a year, but even so, if you lose weight quickly, it’s almost always NOT a sustainable lifestyle.

    I lost 55 lbs in 8 months, and gained almost all of it back within a year, because I didn’t learn sustainability. I didn’t learn lifestyle change. I know a ton of people who have lost 50-100 lbs and have kept it off, though. It’s absolutely real and absolutely possible, but it took them longer than these ridiculous weight loss shows. It sickens me that money & entertainment is so much more important than health. The only reason I watched that show was because my boyfriend had it on, and I was listening to it. Otherwise, I refuse to watch any show like that. Ever. Don’t compare yourself to those people or that fake reality. As long as you’re doing a little bit better each day, you’re making progress, and that’s what counts.

Leave a Reply