Friday, July 6, 2007

Shaq's Big Challenge & What I'm Ticked About

Did any of you watch it the past couple weeks? This past episode had some things that just bugged me. So I think it's really great that Shaq has a reality show about taking a stab at the huge problem of childhood obesity. It's great. I love the idea (although, the show really touts it as his own idea & project... yeah right... not the idea of some ABC reality show producer... but whatever.)

He has 6 kids that basically come from the projects of Miami, that have agreed to participate in his program and try to lose a bunch of weight. These kids are in their preteens & teens & each weigh well over 200 lbs. So he visits them all, gets them checked out by a doctor, then sends them a nutritionist, then rents them a gym and asks them to exercise 5 days a week on their own. So that totally fails. (Duh! But why did they structure it that way? Why make the point that people can't do it on their own? How depressing & unoptimistic.) So in Tuesday's episode, he finally gets them a trainer. And it is the stereotypical military type drill sergeant guy who yells and yells. Well, one of the "girls" (pictured above), "Kit," starts hyperventilating and clutching at her heart and quits after 2 minutes of exercising with this guy. They wheel her off in an ambulance. Later they diagnose her as having an anxiety attack. Her parents pull her out of the program for good.

So this is what I have a problem with. The show at first made me feel kind of impatient with Kit & her parents. "What is wrong with you? Why can't you just exercise? Get up off your butt and try!" And to her parents: "How could anyone be so ignorant? You coddled her all the way up to 263 pounds, and she's only 14! When are you going to wake up?" But when I started thinking about it, I really don't think they (meaning the trainers, producers, etc. on the show) had Kit's best interest at heart. If they really cared about helping her, as an individual, why wouldn't they provide more individualized training, rather than making all 6 kids, no matter what their gender or exercise preference do these military-like drills, such as crawling up and down the gym, jumping jacks, who even knows what they were doing. They were just being yelled at. I think the approach was a HUGE MISTAKE on the part of the producers & planners of the show.

Flash back to my own preteen and teenage days... That was the whole reason I stayed out of sports: I was scared to death of drill-sergeant-like coaches yelling at me. Luckily, I had the option of dance because my parents could afford it. That's probably the only reason I didn't become obese in my teens. But what option do these kids have? Especially with the other problem the show points out: non-mandatory P.E. in public schools. But I digress.

My main point is this: where is the psychological help??????? Celebrity Fit Club (possibly the worst reality show I've ever seen) had one good thing about it. The perfect trio of experts: a trainer, a nutritionist, and a psychologist. I think the psychological element is more than KEY in changing your lifestyle for good. Nutritionists & trainers are almost useless without overcoming the distorted thinking and mental blocks. The field of psychology could really help out here! More than having a beef with Shaq's show, I have a beef with the whole psychiatric field. I feel totally abandoned by them in my struggles to lose weight. Our nation is going through a huge epidemic health crisis, and I'm so glad for all the awareness and research and discussion in the medical community. But the psychiatric community has just been shamefully absent in this whole discussion. Where is the PSYCHOLOGICAL research on how to help people lose weight? Where is the awareness campaign on getting psychological help? Where are these people??? Where were they on Shaq's show when someone was carted off in an ambulance because of psychological trauma?

I currently go to a therapist because of depression. Once in a while I bring up the fact that I have a lot of anxiety about getting out there & exercising. Also, why can't I stop the emotional eating? I intellectually know that it will kill me, but I can't stop. And in a nutshell, what I'm told is, "Oh, just get over it. Exercise & healthy eating are good for you." Ok! Thank you! That's just brilliant. They would never think of telling me that type of thing when I complain of depression: "Why don't you just stop feeling that way? Can't you just buck up, lil' camper?" Someone who said that to you in therapy would get their license taken away!

There is a lot of awareness about the reverse problems, anorexia and bulemia, but binge eating and the related exercise-anxiety that SO MANY OF US HAVE are ignored like the unloved stepchild. I guess that's the way it's been for a long time. The skinny kids get all the breaks.


Christine said...

Hey stumbled on your blog and I am really glad that I did. Shaq's show kinda ticked me off as well. These are kids - not the army. I put myself in their places and would have started crying in the first few minutes. It was intense to watch - I will continue to watch - but I do agree that they need a different approach for each child - and defintely something geared more towards kids.

I have some anxiety issues as well. Have felt better since starting my weight loss journey though. Sleeping better and not relying on sleep aides. Not sure if the weight loss is to be the reason - but I just feel better about myself - therefore less anxiety.

Your blog is great - keep up the great work. Would love to keep an eye on your blog if you don't mind. :)

Cory said...

I haven't watched the show, but I have to agree with you on that story. Children don't respond to that kind of thing. There are reasons these children weigh over 200 pounds, and they should be explored.
I have anxiety issues, and I know it's self-esteem issues (at least partially) that got me into the shape I am in now. I think that people are starting to realize the psychology of weight loss, and some of the experts ARE starting to talk about it. But no real studies have been done yet. I think that in the coming years we will see more information come out on this topic, but I expect it to be slow starting.

honib1 said...

excellent post.. i have been watching the show to and agree with you... her parents are enabling ( as much as I hate that word) her.. Hopefully they can get her back in the program and hopefully they will start individualizing the programs to the kids..I agree to that our issues are overlooked as issues.. that Binge eating is only associated with purging... bullima etc... its kinda of a damned if we do and damned if we dont situation... glad u are going to a therapist to help you work out issues.. thats a good call...

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

I agree that these reality shows do not approach weight loss in a healthy, realistic manner. But I do think there's a lot of psychological talk about weight loss. There are many different books about it, and there are therapists who specialize in the psychology of eating/weight/etc.

Anabell said...

Let's see if this comment appears

Anabell said...

It did! ok then:
Thanks for commenting on my site. I've been reading your entries and I'll answer you as quickly as possibly. I just wanted to tell you I haven't forgotten.

Annaliese said...

You have to remember that the point of the show isn't to educate or inform or, heck, even help those kids lose weight. The point of the show is to garner ratings and generate revenue. Without the drama I doubt anyone would be talking about the show at all so I suspect the controversy is intentional. Mean drill sergeant guy is "the evil character" and I imagine Shaq will eventually be the "hero of our story".

Personally it's not my kind of thing but if Shaq can get kids to start exercising and thinking about the food that they eat, I'm all for it. Sort of.