Surfing the TV channels the other night, I happened upon the The Biggest Loser (Australia) and decided to give it a whirl. By the first ad break I was slumped in my chair, deflated and demoralised and hating myself. Not because I identified with anyone on the show, but because I realised I may as well be sitting in the crowd at the Colosseum in Ancient Rome, yelling at the Emperor to give these losers the thumbs down and throw them to the lions.
I felt dirty. I was watching people getting red faced and exhausted, falling over and clutching their chests, while impossibly toned and fit young gladiators bullied and harried them into pushing themselves beyond their limits. “Believe in yourself!” Michelle Bridges roared in the ear of a young girl who would make four of her, huffing and puffing on a running machine. Good grief. The girl fell off, gasping for breath and I finally went in search of another show.Something entertaining. Something uplifting. Something that did not involve a group of fat people facing each other off with a handweight and dreaming of being the one to stay standing, red faced and saggy kneed, longer. Just believe in yourself, folks.
How is this helping anyone? How is pushing people to the point of collapse for our “entertainment’ doing anyone but the studio execs and those overpaid trainers any good? When they are not threshing about gasping for air, the contestants are sobbing all over the place, releasing their ‘demons’ and berating themselves for being fat and unhealthy. How is tempting them with fattening food helping them, kind of like waving a packet of smokes under a quitter’s nose? Lit smokes at that.
And how is it helping us, in our quest to keep various weight related diseases at bay? Are we supposed to identify with these demoralised, sobbing, bullied, pitiable people? Are we supposed to think “there but for the grace of God and Michelle Bridges and the one called Shannon and the one who looks like he wishes he was actually in the SAS, go I?” Or are we supposed to feel the fear of God and Michelle Bridges et al, and quake in our slippers in case they come for us next? Put down that biscuit or else the cat gets it!!
Going on the usual Google hunt after being horrified (enlightened, inspired, excited – not) I found I was not alone in my concerns. There is a petition to stop the show promoting bad health and diet behaviours, and even sporting celebrities have come out again it. Good to know this is not considered the normal way to treat people who are obese and teetering on the edge of heart attacks.
Strangely enough, while hastily changing channels, I was again reminded that the only approach to health I have seen on TV that I admired recently is a flippin’ health fund ad. It’s for BUPA and you can see it here. I dare you not to get a teeny bit teary. Now, like most people, I can’t even afford to join a health fund and yet here I am, being incredibly moved and inspired by a TV ad. Not a show which is designed to tug at my emotions and just leaves me feeling disgusted, but a TV ad that goes straight to the heart of the matter. That’s what I want. That healthier me, that person I haven’t seen for too many years, before the cares and pressures of life took away her love of life and most costly of all, her love of herself.
But fortunately, what the ad doesn’t tell you is that you don’t have to belong to a health fund to get those benefits. You can Google “healthier you’ and find, not just the BUPA ad, but a whole websworth of places you can learn to find your healthier self again. Try these:
Your local government or Federal health body – I live in Queensland.
Health fund websites are actually a good source of advice. Try AHM.
Reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack.
Find a good health magazine.
Discover that finding a healthier you can be fun! Champagne and caviar? Yeah, baby!
Or you can download my free ebook, and follow the guidelines to a detox weekend to get you started.
The point is, finding that healthier you does not have to be a punishing process, letting fit bullies throw you to the lions and the derision of the crowd. You can take the gentle approach, loving yourself enough to want the best for you, enjoying food and life to the point where exercise and a good healthy diet become natural and life enhancing. Yeah, it’s about feeling good about yourself, not sobbing and blubbing in front of the cameras about how much you hate yourself and your horrible life and how grateful you are to that woman with the snarling face pushed into yours.
BUPA got it right, even if I still can’t afford to have health insurance. I can still afford to find a healthier me. And this didn’t turn out to be a rant against TV after all. It just depends what you watch. A lousy show, or a good ad?