Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Biggest Loser

Fair warning: this is going to be one of those posts where Maggie Cats uses a television show to delve into her personal problems and tell you way more about herself than you ever needed to know. Ok, so maybe it won't be that bad--but get ready for some personal shit.

I never particularly wanted to watch The Biggest Loser. Why? Because I've been overweight, nay, fat for most of my life. I was a chubby kid and I was a chubby adult. At my peak weight 4 years ago I was big enough to compete on The Biggest Loser. There's a sobering thought for you. It took my Mom having a heart attack and my Dad having a triple bypass to wake me up to the sad reality that my heart was a ticking time bomb. From that point on I swore I would not let myself end up like that, and I got serious about getting in shape. Almost 70 pounds later I still have quite a ways to go, but I feel great about how far I have come.

So what does this have to do with The Biggest Loser? I never wanted to watch the show because I didn't want to see other people who were as big as me who were able to get their act together. Once I did start getting serious about getting fit, I just assumed the show would be about watching fat people run around and isn't that HILARIOUS? Basically, fat humor hits a little too close to home for me, so it wasn't anything I was ever interested in.

And then I discovered Jillian Michael's workouts. I've done three of them so far and love them. I am sure some people find her loud, annoying, and mean, but to me she is absolutely motivational. I know she got her start in the mainstream on The Biggest Loser, so when I heard this season she would be returning to the show--my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to tune in.

Well, color me surprised, but the show was not anything like I expected. It's a reality show, so it comes with all the usual annoyances--product placement, sound bites that repeat action we just saw two seconds ago, a sometimes glacial pace (especially in the bloated two hour episodes)...but underneath all that corporate crap is a group of people who are willing to work their asses off (literally) to get healthy. It wasn't about making them look funny or stupid or sad, but it was about everyone just working together to lose the weight.

She might just "accidently" miss and smack Jillian in the face. Not that we would blame her.

I was only about 10 minutes in before I wanted to cry. Not because it was "so beautiful!" or "they are so brave!" but because I saw so much of my old self in the people on the show. I had felt the way they felt and had gone through similar things. And watching them all work so hard with their trainers...even though I had already done my workout for the night, I just had to get off the couch and lift some weights. If they could work so hard, what excuse did I have? 

And in the end, that's why I'll keep watching. The show actually is motivational. Sure, there is some producer-manipulated tugging of the heart strings, but who cares? Some nights I don't feel like working out, but I just think of The Biggest Loser folks and all of a sudden my excuses don't seem to matter much. And yeah, maybe that's cheesy, but it's the truth. Oh, and it makes me VERY invested in the eliminations because I don't want any of these people to go home! I've watched them all struggle and work and it's just heartbreaking when the work isn't reflected in the weight loss. Perhaps in a couple weeks if the claws come out and people start backstabbing one another I'll change my tune, but for now? I LOVE THEM ALL.

As for Jillian, I have to admit it's nice to see her yell at someone other than me for a change. When she's not running the actual workouts she tends to veer a little too much into Oprah territory ("why do you think you sabotage yourself?), but you can tell she genuinely cares about the contestants and wants them to do well. When she started crying at the elimination...that's when I kind of lost it too. 

The Biggest Loser airs Monday night at 8:00 on NBC.

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