Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Show: Heavy

Last night I watched this new show on A&E called Heavy. The blank faced traumatized looking woman on their ad banner bugs me. I have conflicted emotions about it. The premise of the show is that they take fat people to this spa, where they are taught to exercise, eat right, and given therapy for a month, then they are to go home and continue the program to lose weight. I watched the show that had Jessica who weighted 289 and Ricky who weighed 555 lbs at the start. [and also part of another that show Tom and Jodi.]

Jessica talked about how she couldn't play with her kids nor keep up. In the high 200s, yes people get exhausted. Ricky, admitted he was a food addict and said "There is no off switch with my brain when it comes to food". Definitely some sort of satiety disorder there, those levels of hunger are not normal. Jodi admits having had a stroke giving her the impetus to lose weight. I think her health problems to have had a stroke that young are far more complex then the obesity but wonder if the doctors are looking into it? Tom is seriously overweight with bad lymphedema.

The therapists and trainers did seem to care about their charges. I am not sure how much the psychological affected them. I wanted to know more about Ricky's mother, was she fat too? Was this an inherited problem by any chance? He blamed himself for too much. One could tell he was broken hearted, I do think when he got angry, and yelled, he was just asking for some space, that was not good timing on part of the trainer to approach him just seconds after walking out of therapy, dealing with the death of his mother.

They taught them some good advice, like stay out out of the middle section of grocery store. One can be trained to shop, and it helped me, though it didn't solve all my problems. I do think that healthier food is far harder to come by, for me to maintain a celiac diet and manage my food allergies, grocery shopping is like a military campaign, I can take 45 minutes to write a list of a 100 dollars worth of food items for husband. One thing these programs need to tell people how hard it really is and not hold back, I related to Ricky being overwhelmed in the grocery store, I'm still overwhelmed, so much junk and so much digging to get to the good stuff. Should an apple cost a dollar each? At the smaller store here, they do.

One thing one can tell from this show, the social outcomes of obesity are severe, all the fat people you could tell felt ostracized from society and like they didn't fit in. They all spoke of things they faced in life such as Ricky admitting he can't go out because people laugh at him. Jodi's rather cold husband admitted he was on the verge of leaving her, and she quit singing for a rock band, being embarrassed about her size which I thought was sad, but have felt some of the same emotions. Tom admitted not dating for years and years and seemed to live the typical very lonely severely fat person's life, though in his case his brothers do help him. I didn't get the show's claim that he had not seen a doctor in 15 years, how did he make his living?, he had to be on disability.

We weren't told about what their real diet was while fat, Ricky was shown eating a sandwich, but then that would be the normal diet of thin people around him even if they gave us the gratuitous camera shot of him taking a big bite, music and all. Were all the 6 greasily baked pork chops for him? The three packages of stuffing were a bit much. During the second show [this one with 628lb Tom Arnold and 366lb Jodi], they showed him ordering 6 junior burgers and 3 spicy chicken nuggets and eating them all.

I've addressed this issue on this blog "Are Fat People Hungrier?, how much of this driving hunger comes from a psychological or lack of will power but something awry physiologically in the body?

They didn't go in much detail about what they fed them at the center. I found myself thinking a few mixed greens with a sprinkle of green beans and vinaigrette wasn't much of a lunch. Where was the protein? It would have done nothing to keep my blood sugar going if that's all they got.

Ricky had the leg that was dark red and leaking fluid, by the way when you are at that point, you have an infection, I have been hospitalized for over a week for a leg that looked only half that bad and hadn't broke out leaking. I was literally frightened for him, because blood poisoning via cellulitis is a reality, and I've almost lost my life to it shooting up to 105.5 degree fever. How he managed not to succumb to weakness shocked me, he must have moved into the chronic stage, I am glad his leg looked better by the end of the show. [Mine has improved, I used to have 6-7 infections a year, but only had one so far in the last 14 months]. By the way, they gave a false snippet of information, where they said lymphedema was caused by obesity, thin people get lymphedema from different conditions, where their limbs swell up. Obesity can exacerbate lymphedema but is not its sole cause.

The thing that most disturbed me about the show, was the bootcamp exercise and the tears of frustration, pain and misery. Taking fat people who have barely moved from 0-60 in one day seems dangerous to me! The show was heavily advertised this way, showing us groaning, straining, literally bawling out of pain and distressed fat people. This alarmed me greatly. How did any of these fat people avoid going to the hospital? By the way when someone is throwing up [and I've done it from over-exertion] that means you are about to be in the emergency room. How do the extremely obese ones keep from swelling from congestive heart failure? [Most people above a certain size, retain tons of fluids from the heart not being able to keep up, in fact this more then anything limits the degree of exercise I can do] During the second show Jodi is barfing. Part of me thinks, you know a lot of thin people are just thin, via eating normally and doing a nice job on the treadmill, they aren't puking their guts out, wailing and turning red. One thing Ive said in my case, if I could burn it all off without ending up dead, I would. One seemed to have some type of exercise induced asthma.

I think fat people should exercise, I make myself walk the length of my large apt building everyday [just 18 months ago, I couldn't do this], because I fear losing mobility from being housebound due to cold, and lift cans for weights at least once a day. If I did the level of exercise they showed these fat people doing, the paramedics would have needed called--my physical therapist, had to stop me a few times, and I'm not kidding. Someone could say well maybe they are in better shape then you, with your bad lungs, cardiomyopathy and multiple conditions, but they showed at least one of the fat people with their multitudes of pills. One thing about me, before my severe fast weight gain, as late as 1995, I used to walk for FUN and knew I walked at least 2-3 miles if not more on many occasions.

That said, there is something disturbing about watching people put through the gauntlet so bad, they are crying. Is this the answer to obesity, for trainers to get that whip out, act as drill sargents and literally force the fat to "feel the burn". Aren't fat people punished enough in this life?
It seems all the "solutions entail more suffering" not less. There is a problem with that. Some of them seemed to be risky serious injury. I thought in the fitness community, the misleading "no pain, no gain" ethos had been left behind.

This is something that always bothered me about The Biggest Loser. Is exercise supposed to be life threatening and painful? One thing I pick up on when it comes to the fat, pain and torture seems to be the responses from this society, "let us cut your stomach out, let us make you do so much exercise you start barfing in the bathroom". Something is really wrong with that equation. To be frank, the levels of exercise on this show seem dangerous to me. Why did my physical therapists treat me so differently?

This fitness blogger writes about Jillian Michaels [from a different show], who I think is downright abusive to her charges so I don't watch any show she is on. He brings up the point what good is exercise that brings injury to the obese? I was happy to see some personal trainers on this website that get it. Wish I had money to hire one. At least the show Heavy as far as I have seen, hasn't made anyone run, but it brings up good points.

One thing I noticed too, is a lot of the weight gain in the different parties, seems triggered by stress, [I address that here: "Is Stress Making Everyone Fat?"] such as in the case of Ricky losing his mother and being overwhelmed. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about this facet of weight?

I am glad they lose weight, and seem to do better. The show has inspired me to try and add more exercise in my life though I will have to do things differently. In Ricky's case, his greatest test will be living at home with a family that obviously will not be eating the same diet, Jessica being more moderately obese and the one managing the kitchen, has a greater chance of success. But over all I find myself thinking, are these solutions really going to work? Why doesn't anyone get more to the core root of the hunger problems and the bad food this society is awashed in? Most severely obese people are never going to be able to afford a month in a nice spa with day to day personal trainers. I told someone the other day, they'd be opening gyms with affordable HEALTHY training and physical therapy for fat people all over, and make healthy food more widely available and less expensive if they really wanted to deal with the obesity epidemic.

My other worry about this show, is it promotes the same failed solutions we have seen so far, no I am not against people trying to lose weight or following exercise programs, but isn't this the same stuff that has failed all these years when looking at long term projections? It promotes the majority of the world's belief that if the fat people just got off their lazy duffs, they would be thin. If this was true, Wouldn't all fat people just go join the gym, eat healthy and be done? It makes the viewers think obesity has simple solutions, and that everyone can follow this formula and be a thin person for the rest of their life. I am hoping all the parties succeed, but I've seen other fat people lose for a time, get gung-ho dedicating hours at the gym, but one thing, just a slight let-up on this intense work, and the weight will come back. Have seen it happen time and time again. Does this mean these people are all "lazy failures" or that something else is in operation?

I will have more comments on this show as it continues......

1 comment:

  1. your right it is not helping fat people's cause at all. it is sending the wrong message. i find it funny that the solution ot a serious problem is pushed again and again when experience/studies prove it is incorrect. they can't seem to move on. people's ideas of this "cure" gets stuck in their brains and they can't get it out. if they really care about fat people let them look for the real cause then the cure will manifest itself outright without much effort.