The Weight Loss Reality TV Spectacle
Most Americans have seen their share of reality TV. It could be a survivor battle in an exotic location, an abandonment journey where an individual finds a way back to civilization, a cooking championship, a competition for the best tattoo artist, or a weight loss journey of battling food and exercise.
I find the weight loss shows the most interesting.
One of the latest weight loss shows is a bit different. It catalogs the journey of a famous mother introduced on a previous reality show with her obnoxious beauty pageant daughter. Everyone is older in age, but immaturity is still in the air. I caught the advertisements for this show and surprisingly found myself 4 hours into the season. It is a spectacle really that appears to entertain on the razor’s edge between (1) making fun of the poor judgments of this family, and (2) the atmosphere of cheering on the underdog with very few resources. I’ll put aside the entertainment value of the idiotic family interactions.
Instead, let’s focus on the types of resources it takes for this underdog to win in the midst of adversity. In scene after scene we see the mother battling the lifelong temptations of sweets and fatty foods. She appears to only know how to keep doing what she has always done, which is to eat to soothe her pain, anger, or loneliness. This woman also has very little understanding herself or the value of making the right choice. She wavers between goals such as wanting to look good, wanting to be healthy, attracting men, seeking revenge on her ex-husband, and being a role model for her family. Her body is a mess, her life is a mess and her mind appears to be a mess, too. The mother also battles the habits of her children and family members. One would hope that your family would support you in a positive life change to lose hundreds of pounds. And, whether it’s the film editing, or something else, even the coaches’ involvement appears sporadic and unhelpful. The coaches come across as dramatic, demanding, and uncaring in their attitudes. The flawed individuals around her can’t seem to see beyond their own noses and mouths to find a way to support the mother’s change. What this woman needs is clarity.
Clarity can have an internal and a relational aspect. The first aspect for clarity is about the internal strengths the mother is lacking. She hasn’t done the hard work of defining her “why” for the weight loss changes she is making. Without this internal commitment, she also lacks a clear path towards fulfilling the reason for all her hard work. Her wavering and inconsistent outlook is keeping her from achieving more. The second aspect for clarity is relationships. I’m not sure I could emphasize fully how important this one is to life success. To achieve hard goals, we have to have the support and encouragement of those who care for us. When we lack wisdom, we can find some from wise friends. When we lose our way, the good counsel of others can get us back on track. Some may say that it was my hand that put the food in my own mouth, but that too came from internal commitments and external supports. We may have said, “I enjoy food. I want to taste and appreciate all these great sweet and salty foods.” We may not realize it, but that becomes our strong goal and we are committed to it. Additionally, certain friends are more than willing to help with those tasty food goals. They say, “Please have some more. I know this is your favorite.” Or: “It’s your birthday, indulge a little!” Or, “Come with me for some ice cream. It’ll cheer us both up!” Those friends provide support for the goal that leads to weight gain. And weight gain can be a goal as much as weight loss can be a goal.
I believe that’s where the mother of this reality TV show finds herself. She is being given advice, but not always good advice. What she really needs is a caring friend to remind her of her goals. She would be helped by gentle advice. A supportive peer would distract her from that pounding urge inside her head that will inevitably lead to adding a few more pounds to her body. Whether I am working with a business person seeking career development, a college student suffering social anxiety, or a parent suffering over pain from a past trauma, my goal is to help people seek clarity.