One of my morning classes was canceled so I headed to the library to read for this afternoon’s Sociology of Food class. I found myself thinking about the finale of The Biggest Loser and the winner Rachel. The internet, facebook, twitter, and all social media have been buzzing since the reveal on Tuesday night’s show. Rachel, 24 year old swimmer, who started the show at 260 pounds, lost 155 lbs. At 5’5”, she weighed 105 at the finale. Most people who saw the show felt she was “too skinny.”
According to most weight to height charts, she is indeed underweight, but not as much as many are suggesting. Weight charts I was able to find suggested weight from 111 to 130 for a small frame. Her BMI was 17.5 and according to CDC site 18.5 is the lowest for a normal or healthy range. According to her interview later, she said that she is eating 1600 calories a day and working out every day. She also said she followed the advice and support of the medical team.
Do I believe she might have taken this too far? Probably so. We have seen this played out on the finale of the show many times. Everyone puts on some weight after the show and GAME are over. Yes, it is a game and a contest for $250,000. Rachel is one of the most competitive players I have seen in the Biggest Loser and she said she wanted to win. I certainly hope she did not trade one type of eating disorder for another, and I hope she is able to find a balance for the healthy lifestyle she wanted.
Why am I writing this? I wonder why people were not shocked and angry and demanding action when Rachel appeared on the show weighing 260 pounds. Why didn’t someone in Rachel’s life demand something be done before she appeared on national TV? Where is public outrage that we have a nation of obese people and children? Instead the public cries out for something to be done when a person who has lived with such pain and guilt over what they have done to their body tries to lose the weight and as Rachel said “to gain back my life.”
I guess the real question I am asking is why no one was outraged that at 5’1” (almost) I weighed in at almost 300 pounds. I remember long before hitting that mark on the scale, I saw the doctor’s chart while the nurse took my blood pressure, and I saw the words “morbidly obese.” I was shocked. How could that be? I had always been “chubby” or big boned”, and even the fat girl, but if my chart said morbidly, why didn’t the doctor say something about it? My grandmother told me I was fat all the time. I was teased in school and church as a young girl, and I hated my body, yet the word shook me. It was something more than how I looked and what size pants I wore. This meant I was sick and could get sicker and perhaps even die from my weight. It would be a few years and many more pounds before I made realized what that meant.
Five years ago, my doctor had a talk with me. The lab results were back from my physical and I was now pre-diabetic and would need to be on medicine and stick my finger for a blood sugar count daily. I now also needed too be treated for high blood pressure. I knew something had to change, but how? I have tried dieting and only had success once in my life.
I was in recovery from alcohol and drugs, but this was different. It was harder. It continues to be hard today. Along with making a lot poor choices when it comes to food and not getting enough exercise, I have an eating disorder. I am a binge eater. I don’t offer it as an excuse, but because most people know very little about eating disorders. Here is what it looks like: Binge Eating Disorder
- Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
- A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
- Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
- Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.
I have had to ask friends and family for help dealing with this. I have had to tell those close to me about these behaviors when I see them start to resurface. I have lost almost 100 pounds and put back on a few. I am no longer on medication for diabetes and no longer have to monitor my blood sugar. I am still on blood pressure medication but at a much low dosage. I still need to lose more weight, probably about 40 pounds, but I can’t seem to get past the place I am at right now and it is discouraging. And, even if I lose all of the weight, the damage done to my body can’t be undone.
As I watched the show I realized that I still see myself as the “before” contestants on the show. Each season when I look at the women on the show, I know that I used to weigh more than most of them. This year only Holley and Tumi weighted more than I did at my highest weight. By the end of the show almost all will weigh less than I do now. I wonder if I will be ever be able to do what Rachel and the others accomplished.
I understand what it is to lose weight and see your body change. In spite of successes, I still see the fat girl. I want to work harder and eat less just to be normal. I have put my health at risk at times by overdoing exercise and not eating properly. If I had the chance, I would work with a trainer like Jillian, Bob, or Dolvet. I would be happy to have someone push me to the point that the show contestants are pushed. (Yes, there are trainers here, but I can’t afford the cost of private training.) Announcement—- I don’t need advice on diet plans or groups. Read my blog and you will see I have done them all!
I just want to be healthy. I want to buy clothes in regular stores or not have to go the Plus Size department. I don’t want to feel embarrassed to go to the beach or wear shorts. I want to look at myself in mirror and not be saddened by what I see. I don’t have a small frame like Rachel, so I will never be in a place to be judged and criticized for being “too thin”, but once in a while, I close my eyes and wonder how it must feel.