I can’t believe it’s done! Boston to Washington, DC. 575 miles in 10 weeks. Now what will I watch?
Oh, I know, you’re looking for commentary on the final episode of Fat March. Hold on a second – I have to shut off the TV. Martha Stewart has started and I find her voice and speech patterns very annoying and distracting. Okay, that’s better. Peace and quiet.
Frankly, I expected a bit more drama and excitement from the last episode than I saw. The participants started out in PA. They had an 11 mile “easy walk” and a marathon ahead of them in this stage, as well as the obligatory challenge day.
This had to be the lamest challenge of all. Here we all are in a strawberry patch. Step 1: Pick a bucket of strawberries. Put the bucket into a basket on a bicycle (talk about alliteration) and pedal to the second point. Step 2: Shovel ice into a matching sized bucket. Then put that bucket in the basket on the bicycle and pedal to the final step. Step 3: Using strawberries, ice and whatever, blend up a smoothie and fill a glass. Voila – first one done wins. No teamwork this time.
Shea won again – her third challenge win. She was just behind Sam the whole time, but trailing only until it came time to make turn on the blender. Apparently she had better dexterity in the blending department (which of course is a significant physical challenge) and beat Sam by a matter of seconds. Loralie finished last.
The prize for winning this lame challenge was a jazzy home gym set up, a Gold’s gym membership, and a year of personal training. I liked the Hawaii trip better, myself. They did spring a surprise and double the prize. The allowed Shea to chose someone else to get the same package as she will. Did Shea give it to Sam, who had won the hard parts of the challenge and who had looked so defeated when she won at the blender? No. She gave it to Loralie, the whiner who wasn’t willing to try to help everyone finish. Loralie, whose goal was to get fit so she can get pregnant – at least that was the initial goal. It seemed to me that her goal changed to getting that money as the focus, not fitness. If she was really focused on fitness, it wouldn’t have mattered if they didn’t get the money because they would still have worked together to get fit.
Much of the focus was on Jami Lyn in this last episode. She began having trouble with her knee. She was angry at the group for the way they voted Anthony off. She contemplated quitting some time on the last day as payback (unless all 6 who started this last leg finished, there was no monetary prize). Her knee got so painful it required a trip to the hospital to be checked. No structural damage – RICE prescription (rest, ice, compression, elevation).
When the rest of the group found out about her thoughts on the night before the last (marathon) walk, they were shocked and outraged. Especially Loralie, that team player that she was. I wasn’t. I understood her feelings – well, some of them anyway. I doubted that she’d have carried out the plan in the long run – she’d worked too hard to get that far to quit in a fit of anger and revenge. And she did. It wouldn’t have made a very good TV show for the network if she had quit at the end and no one got a thing, would it? I wonder if there was any pressure?
I was impressed with the support shown by Michael to Jami Lyn when she started to lag behind because of the knee injury. Not only did he “go back” and rewalk miles he had already done on the shorter walk, but the day of the marathon (26.2 miles), he went back and rewalked 7 miles in addition to the marathon so that Jami Lyn would not have to walk over 33 miles alone. It seemed to be the coaching in his background that came to the fore. The group should be grateful. If Jami Lyn had been alone, she probably wouldn’t have made the 33 miles and the group would have ended up empty handed. No sinister plot – just pain and no support.
Support was one thing I had a big issue with in this series. The participants were cut off from everyone they knew – incommunicado! We often heard people say they wanted to go home to their family or friends. I think it was a big mistake. I’m sure there was some way to allow adequate support without allowing those “folks back home” to sabotage the individuals or the show. I think it would have made a big difference to have someone you really know and trust in your corner.
Everyone made it to DC. The participants who had been voted off or quit were there to meet them as well as family and friends. No cheering crowds of on-lookers. No big celebration. Walk across the line, hug the trainers and other participants. Hug family and friends.
The final weigh-in was anti-clamactic. Of course everyone lost weight; you could see that just by looking at them. The men lost an average of 80 lbs and the women lost an average of 50 lbs. The weight loss, per se, was great. But I was thinking about it in another light – pounds per mile and pounds per week. If you go by the week, that’s 8 (men) and 5 (women) pounds per week average. What about by the mile? That would be .139 (men) and .087 (women) pounds per mile on average. What does all that mean? I don’t know. Just another way to look at things, I guess.
Another way to look at things, which wasn’t really discussed on the show, is Body Mass Index (BMI). It’s a ratio of weight to height and is used more frequently by medical weight loss programs than simply pounds themselves. There’s a great page at the National Institutes of Health for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute where you can find a BMI calculator. The link is: www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm . I used it to calculate mine – it’s 44.4 today. Since a BMI of 25 to 29.9 puts you in the overweight category and a BMI of 30 or more puts you in the obese category, it means my doctor won’t be happy when I see him tomorrow. I’m not happy about it today.
I looked at the results of BMI calculation for the participants and have put together a chart so you can see the results and make your own conclusions.
Participant; starting BMI; final status; final BMI
- Chantal 45.7 Completed all stages 36.4
- Jami Lyn 33.4 Completed all stages 27.5
- Kim 37.4 Quit – 1st stage
- Loralie 41.3 Completed all stages 32.8
- Shea 43.8 Completed all stages 36.6
- Wendy 37.8 Quit – 3rd stage
- Anthony 51.2 Voted off – 5th stage
- Matt 48.2 Quit (injury) – 5th stage
- Michael 41.8 Completed all stages 30.3
- Sam 54.8 Completed all stages 43.9
- Shane 67.8 Voted off – 2nd stage
- Will 60.3 Voted off – 4th stage
I also found another blog following this show. That one, by certified marathon coach Wendy Bumgarnder, focused on the technical and medical aspects of what was being required of the participants. I felt that my own amateur perspective was on target. (Her site at About: Walking is www.walking.about.com . Check it out if you’re interested in another perspective.
I sit here as on obese woman with fibromyalgia wondering why I chose to watch this show. Was I looking for inspiration or encouragement? I could never hope to accomplish what most of the participants did because of the fibromyalgia. Was I being a voyeur like plenty of others? How will these fat folks fare? Was I being sadistic? Let’s see how many fat folks fail. No, that’s definitely not me, although I suspect there were some watching with that in mind. I know that I did look at the show’s shortcomings. I didn’t think it was a very well done show – I was concerned about the health issues, about the psychological issues, and the motivation of the network. What was the point of this show? Did it help any of us know more about how to be healthier or how to lose weight in a healthy way? I don’t think so.
It was more like a soap opera. Maybe that’s why I watched. I’m a sucker for a serial story, whether it’s All My Children on daytime TV or Deadliest Catch (docu-drama about crab fishermen in the Bering Sea). I love personalities and trying to understand people. I think that’s it.
I’m sorry to tell you that was the last installment. Let’s hope I can find something else to replace it.