I had a very visceral reaction to the 4th episode of this show. I couldn’t believe what the producers expected of the participants this time. I thought it was very dangerous. I know enough about how your body feels when you’re fat as well as how any body reacts to extreme heat and activity to wonder about the the planning of this show. I’m sure they have medics available and hospitals nearby. But what we see are 2 personal trainers working with the group. That’s not much support for people who are seriously obese.
I had mixed feelings about how the group of individuals should have handled the situations. I should probably detail them so you can understand my concerns.
First the was a 15 mile walk in 5 hours, up and down many steep hills, with temps in the low 90’s and humidity high. Not much shade to be found. I realize that 3 mph is not a big deal to the average sized person. But when you are carrying around an extra hundred pounds or more, that’s enough to make you drop in your tracks.
There was a trust building exercise – climbing a telephone pole, whether you had a fear of heights or falling or not. When each contestant got as high as they could get, they had to step off and trust the group to lower them to the group with ropes attached to the harness they were wearing. I think they would have lost me right here. I’m one of those people who is not pushed into doing something I don’t want to do because I’m told I have to. I’m probably too independent to have ever been chosen for the show.
The challenge was a cabbage harvesting race. The girls raced the girls and the guys raced the guys. At least that was a little fair. But when you have 100 lb difference between the individuals, it still favors those who were lighter to begin with.
The next walk was 18 miles in 5 hours. Not quite as hilly, but the weather was worse – in the upper 90’s and humid. The pavement where they walked was actually sticky because the heat was melting it!! Again, very little shade. No one made the deadline. The closest anyone got was half a mile out. There were people at 2.5, 6 and 11 miles from the endpoint. So, if they were to finish, they would all have to go back and start from that furthest point of 11 miles out. You can imagine how that made people think when it came to vote off time.
The participants showed a lot of anger at the way they were being pushed and I don’t blame them at all. I would have been a rabble rouser – it’s my natural state. I would have worked to get everyone to agree to vote off the trainers. Now THAT would have been an interesting vote off!!
I find that my opinions regarding the participants have changed over the course of 4 episodes. When we were first introduced to the group members, I thought Anthony was a nice guy. Now I think he’s catty and manipulative. Immature. Hope he grows up. The only woman I really didn’t like because she was so negative quit on her own right away. Good. You can’t improve your life with a negative attitude. She can go be a fat diva and leave the rest of the world alone. In the beginning I thought Will was a bit unwilling to participate as a team member and kind of arrogant in his interactions with others. I changed my mind over the 4 weeks. I think Will is a little like me – I know I would be more interested in doing what I could do for my own well-being than to be a martyr for the cause. I felt really badly when he was voted off at the end of this episode. He was the one who stopped after only 7 miles. He was nauseated and in pain, light-headed and dizzy. If I had been in his shoes, I’d have done the same thing. I’d have gone as far as I felt I could safely push my body and then I would stop. I would not push myself to the point of being sick enough to need transport to a hospital due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. I wouldn’t be that desperate. The sad part is I think Will was finally getting the idea of being a team player and trying your best. If he had made it further, I know he wouldn’t have gotten voted off. The vote off was not looking at the interest of the team this time. It was individuals saying, “Ain’t no way in hell I’m going to do those 11 miles again!” That’s what’s really lousy. Good luck at keeping at it, Will!
The heat is really nasty for a lot of us with the extra baggage. I explained to my husband that having all that fat around your body is the same thing as blubber on a whale. It’s insulation! Whales need it to keep themselves warm in the cold ocean waters. Humans don’t. When we have it, we overheat easily. That’s why I didn’t like the approach to heat that the show took.
The weigh-in was good in the sense that everyone lost. Matt, who had only lost 1 lb the last show made up for that with an 18 lb loss this time. The women still lost less than the men – both in this show and overall. Shows that the program should be different for the women than the men. They need different strategies.
One thing that really surprises me is that the participants aren’t allowed to have any contact with their family or friends. Their only support is to come from the group. That sounds like a very military approach. But this was is weight loss, not bombs and tanks. People need the support of someone they trust and know as well as the support of the group. Either these folks should have had 1 or 2 support persons that they had known previously available to talk to by phone or there should have been more group sessions prior to the march beginning. That could have built the trust and comradeship. This show seems to focus far more on the physical end of things (exercise, good eating) than it does the psychological end (why did I get this way to begin with?).
I wonder if, in the long run, it will be any better than a fad diet. I wonder if they’ll follow these individuals and let us know how they’re doing in 5 years. I doubt it. We’ll all have moved on to another voyeuristic “reality” show by then.