I was out for a walk yesterday and this thought came to me: I am living in my own Biggest Loser season.
I am not a reality show watcher by any means. In fact, BL is the only one I've ever watched a whole episode of, but it was a guilty pleasure for me around Season 6 and 7, I guess. I was watching it at a time when I was going to the gym a lot and watching what I was eating (maybe WW? maybe low carb? maybe 5:2 fasting?), and I figured the show was perhaps good motivation. It was astounding to watch these very heavy people come to the ranch in the first few episodes and exercise as hard as they could, which wasn't much since they were pretty out of shape, and keep going and going until they collapsed/puked/cried/cursed/were injured. I was horrified and fascinated. These people were literally working their a$$es off. They didn't pay as much attention to the eating, surprise surprise, since it makes for a lot less dramatic TV.
The appeal of watching a dozen or so people totally remake their bodies very quickly was strong. These people were losing 80, 100, 150 pounds over the course of less than a year, and they were so happy and excited about it. They looked better, of course, but they also moved better - running, hiking, swimming, biking. They seemed happier. How amazing.
I thought that although I would never do that (hello, fat shaming - why make them wear skimpier clothing in the early episodes and let them put on more clothes the thinner they get? because we like to see them look awful, that's why - they have to earn their dignity), maybe it would be the only way I could do that. I mean, 100% focus for a year or however long, everything working toward this one goal. Trainers. Physicians. Equipment. Focus. Focus. Focus.
I kind of wished I could be on BL. Not really like I actually wanted to be on the show, but like wishful thinking - I wish I could do something with such magical results. Maybe a magic pill? A midnight deal with the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi?
I knew I could lose the weight. I'd done it before, several times - hey, I looked and felt great at 140 lbs! But I knew that keeping it off was the problem, and these BL contestants really seemed like they had made over their lives. With all that focus on diet and exercise for a year, and such great results, certainly they could be successful at keeping it off...
Nope. They're not. These two articles were my first Aha! moment. They're articles about a scientific study that has been done to examine the outcomes of former BL contestants, and they're a pretty good, although depressing, read. I've posted these articles before on my blog, but they really were a beacon shining in the night for me.
BL contestants don't keep it off. Or, rather, a few of them do, but for the most part the ones who keep it off have WLS. Even the big winners gain it back. Metabolism levels of the contestants plummeted during the year they were losing, but although doctors thought they would pick back up a year, two years down the road, they didn't. A 180 pound man who'd lost a bunch of weight might have to consume 400 or 500 or even 800 fewer calories per day even six years later than a man who'd always weighed 180 pounds. Talk about a punch in the gut. Good luck keeping it off with those numbers.
These next two articles pushed me in the direction of WLS, as well. They talk about reasons that WLS works when diets don't (hint: some of it has to do with metabolism).
So, at that point, I was convinced. A bit less than a year later, I had my own WLS. Fast forward a bit more than four months...
My own results are getting to BL sorts of numbers. I've lost almost 80 pounds in five months (one month pre-op plus the four post-op). I can move around better. I'm walking and hiking. I just feel better. So, am I in my own BL season? Yes and no.
Yes, I've lost a bunch of weight super fast. Yes, I'm looking way better and feeling way better.
However, I am certainly not living like the BL contestants: I don't exercise until I puke/cry/collapse, I'm not hungry (thank goodness), I don't feel like I'm being punished, and I actually stand a decent chance of keeping it off long term. It all feels a lot easier than BL looks on TV, weirdly enough. To be fair, I had to have my guts rearranged to get to this point, but I feel fine now, and I'm living my life.
I found my magic pill, or my deal with the devil, or whatever. It was WLS. No need for Jillian shrieking at me to get back on the treadmill. No need to cry it out with Bob. No getting kicked off the ranch if I lost less than the other contestants. I'm eating low carb and exercising a fair bit, but to an enjoyable degree. It's good. I'm good. It's working. It still feels a little like magic, though.