Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sharp Eye On Impact Of 'The Biggest Loser"

Quirky Linda Sharp weighs in on impact of "The Biggest Loser"

If you have never read the writings of a woman named Linda Sharp, then you are missing out on one of the most optimistic and joyous people on the planet Earth today! This humorolumnist (that's the new word I made up today for people like her who are humor columnists) is syndicated in various web sites around the world with her Erma Bombeck-styled writings. If you are a parent or sometimes feel the weight of the world is barreling down on top of you, then Linda's book Stretchmarks On My Sanity will help put things back into perspective for you!

Sharp also has a blog called "Don't Get Me Started" for people who can't get enough of her take on life. I was especially drawn in to her comments posted this week regarding season two of NBC's breakout reality show from last summer "The Biggest Loser" that debuted on Wednesday night.

Before I get into Sharp's comments, let me applaud NBC for posting information about a wide variety of weight loss plans at their web site. This gives people valuable information about which plan may work best for them and allows for many different options that may work for them.

Biggest Loser Diet Club – Sign Up Now

I was very pleasantly surprised to read what "The Biggest Loser" Weight Loss Consultant Dr. Dansinger said about the Atkins diet:

"This eating strategy is so controversial because it is far outside the "traditional" approach to weight loss. However, preliminary medical studies have consistently demonstrated that most people who maintain a weight loss on the Atkins diet improve their cholesterol levels, despite the high fat and meat intake. As with other weight loss diets, people with high blood pressure or high blood sugar also improve these heart disease risk factors. The Atkins diet seems to work for weight loss by causing a reduction in hunger and appetite, and ultimately calories eaten. Many people find the Atkins diet works well for them when other diets have failed because the logic behind this eating strategy, as well as the food choices, are so different from other plans. As with all eating plans, the weight loss remains only as long as you stick to the program. If you choose to follow this diet, I recommend doing so under your doctor's supervision to ensure that your overall health is improving as you lose weight."

WOW, WOW, and WOW again! Finally, one of these health "experts" that gets it! Dr. Dansinger acknowledges that there actually are BENEFITS (gee, what a concept!) to a low-carb lifestyle and that many are enjoying these healthy characteristics that come from this way of eating. THANK YOU to NBC for selecting a consultant who is willing to see the positive benefits of livin' la vida low-carb and sharing them with the fans of their show. After all, "The Biggest Loser" winner from season one, Ryan Benson, is maintaining his weight loss thanks to exercise and low-carb!

While Sharp admits she was a little skeptical about watching this show about a group of fat people trying to see who could lose the most weight as a percentage of their starting weight, she admitted that she watched the first episode and was "hooked" from the very beginning by the tales of these contestants. She even had some rather interesting comments about the biggest and most lovable contestant from season one named Mo.

"I mean there is fat, and then there is FAT. Remember Mo from season one? You could have cloned me four times and still not have had enough weight to balance a scale with him on the other side. But God love him, he stood there in front of millions of American viewers, flab hanging every different direction, a set of manboobs to rival Pamela Anderson’s silicone set, and a determination to get his life back.

Hee hee! See, I told you Sharp has a quite a way with words. She transitioned her comments from talking about the television show into a general discussion about people who are overweight and obese that really moved me by the truths she wrote.

Check out her quote about this group I used to be a part of for the vast majority of my life:

We all know that weighing 250 - 400 pounds is not good for anybody. But so many overweight and obese people simply have either lost the will to do something about it or are lost in the maze of propaganda about how to lose the weight effectively and forever. This [television] program manages to show viewers that there is no magic bullet, no overnight fix. It all comes down to what I have told people for years when asked how I manage to stay in shape after three children: You simply have to chew LESS and move MORE. Oh yeah, you also have to make the choice to DO IT.

Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes. Sharp is exactly right in everything she wrote in that paragraph. I write about this same subject in my upcoming book, but when people reach the point that they feel there is no way they will ever be anything but fat, then that is exactly where they will stay for the rest of their lives. Overcoming weight problems is not an easy thing to do, but it is not impossible if you settle it in your mind that it is important enough to you to do. Of course, you need to have the right plan of action (in my case, it was livin' la vida low-carb and exercise), but you also need to stick with that plan.

I got a great e-mail from one of my readers this week letting me know that she started a low-carb lifestyle after reading about my 180-pound success story at my blog. While she has already lost nearly 30 pounds in less than two months (WOO HOO!), the weight loss has stalled for a few days and she wants to know what is wrong. I told her that NOTHING is wrong and to just keep doing what she has been doing. Eventually that scale will start moving down again, but celebrate the success you have had without convincing yourself that you are a failure just because some electronic device is telling you that your efforts are in vain.

Explaining to her how my own weight loss stalled in the midst of my 180-pound weight loss, I encouraged her to keep her head down and move forward to get through it. Put the scale away for a few weeks and just enjoy life. Too many would-be losers (of weight, that is!) prematurely decide to give up on their weight loss because they feel they are not losing weight fast enough or that the stalls in the weight loss are just too long to endure. Puhleeze! Those are such a lame excuses for giving up on something as important as managing your weight and getting healthy again. JUST DO IT!!!

If you are on a plan such as low-carb and it has already been working very well for you, then why wouldn't you want to continue on with that same plan even if the weight loss stops temporarily as your body adjusts to getting skinny. Focus on how your body is changing and on how good you feel even if you have only lost a little bit of weight off of your body. At least that is weight you didn't need that is gone forever! Positive thoughts beget positive results. That feeling of accomplishment is empowering and should propel you to continue on with your efforts despite the minor roadblocks that may come from weight stalls.

Sharp added, "What [overweight and obese] people need to acknowledge first is that they have also actively made the choice to get to their current weight. No one has held a cannoli to their heads - they have done it to themselves. The choice to be big is just as real as the choice to do something about it."

OUCH! Now there's some tough truth to swallow, isn't it? But that is indeed the truth and exactly what I was talking about in this recent blog post. Yes, I know you already know that you are fat, but most overweight and obese people who stay that way fail to acknowledge that since they are the ones who put themselves in that position that it stands to reason that they are the ones who should get themselves out of it, too. Taking personal responsibility for my own actions rather than waiting for someone else to do it for me is a major reason why I was able to get back my life by losing a lot of weight. It was a conscious choice that I made and a very good one at that now that I look back at it in hindsight. I will be living a longer, healthier life as a result of that self-imposed change I made. I've proven it can be done if you have the desire within you to make it happen.

I like the fact that Sharp challenges the 150,000 prospective contestants who didn't make it on "The Biggest Loser" show to still do something about their weight despite the fact they will not be on television or competing for prize money. She believes this moment in their lives could be just the thing to them on the right path again to better health. I know how much the first season encouraged me as I was in the midst of my weight loss last year. Whatever it takes, whatever you need to do to get going, just make it happen! Not tomorrow or next week ... TODAY!

This quote from Sharp just floored me as well:

Perhaps what I enjoy most about The Biggest Loser is that it humanizes these people. Face it, even though a huge chunk of our society is obese - 25% - the other 75% tend to look right through these people. Or if we do actually pay attention, it is accompanied by snide thoughts or verbal slams. Being obese doesn't exactly win you fans and if people are staring, it's not because they are PHAT, but because they are FAT.

If I had a dime for every time somebody looked at me with "that look" when I was bigger, then I'd be a rich man today. Sharp is right on in her commentary that overweight and obese people are just overlooked. Why? Are they any less of a person just because they happen to weight 50, 100, 200 pounds more than "normal?" Absolutely not.

But there is silent discrimination that goes on in the United States and it has nothing to do with the color of a person's skin. Fat discrimination is very subtle, but it manifests itself in failed promotions at work, poor service at a restaurant, and a general disregard for "those people." This is why my heart aches for overweight and obese people because I want them to not have to experience this any longer. I've even noticed a marked changed in the way people interact with me now that I'm at a "normal" weight. It saddens me to see this kind of thing happening in the United States of America.

Describing the feeling of watching someone lose a lot of weight week after week as "awe inspiring," Sharp said we are glued to our television sets to shows like "The Biggest Loser" because these contestants "sweat, they cry, they swear and then they rejoice as they realize that they are slowly reclaiming ownership of their bodies." The television audience is cheering them on like prize fighters in a boxing match. But this fight is about much more than the physical strength and endurance of two physical specimens. Rather, it is quite literally a personal fight for each of the lives of these people who are engaged in the challenges to bring the weight on their bodies under control and to help them live a longer, happier, and fuller life. In the process, maybe seeing these experiences by the television contestants will give that person at home the impetus to do it for themselves as well.

"Those ignored, ridiculed people who are all too often thought of as nothing but big losers can make the choice to ultimately be life’s biggest winners," Sharp concluded.

I couldn't have said it better myself, Linda!

Be sure to send an e-mail to Linda Sharp thanking her for sharing her thoughts on the subject of weight and encourage her to write more about this in future columns.

9-17-05 UPDATE: I got an extremely quick e-mail response from Linda Sharp about my blog post on her:


Thank YOU for not only embracing the blog article, but for taking the time to send me a personal email.  It is always wonderful to know that a piece has managed to touch someone's life.

I appreciate the glowing entry you made at your site (and I LOVE your site title, Livinlavidalocarb!) and hope others will take the time to read the whole article.

My all time weight 'high' was 165 pounds - now, granted I was pregnant, but the child was only seven pounds of that equation.  At barely 5'2" - you can imagine I was about as wide as I was tall!  After my third daughter, I made the decision that I wanted to "take back my body" and have exercised and watched what I eat for 8 years now. 

I get many comments about my size, but I am always quick to explain that I am naturally SHORT, not naturally THIN.  I work at this and it is the choice I have made.  I have three daughters who I am determined to keep up with and I have never felt better in my life, or about my life!

Again, thank you for sharing my Biggest Loser article and please feel free to drop in anytime.  The inbox is always open.

39 and Fabulous,
Linda Sharp

It was a privilege to be able to share Linda's writings with my readers today and I look forward to many more moments of laughter and reflection again in the future when I read her posts. What a very nice lady, too! :-)

**11-26-05 UPDATE: Check out these incredible photos of the contestants from Season One of "The Biggest Loser." WOW!!!**


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