Tag Archives: The Biggest Loser

Is Godzilla Yo-Yo Dieting?

Japanese fans are up in arms about the new Americanized Godzilla’s hefty size–citing poor diet as cause for the unwelcome change.

The trailers for the newest Godzilla film have hit American shores and has spawned some significant controversy.  It appears that Godzilla has come “under fire” not for his acting (which has been notably wooden in the past) but for his BMI.  No we are not talking about the Bad Monster Index–where Godzilla holds the undisputed title of King of the Monsters.  We are talking about the Body Mass Index.  Many are currently arguing that Godzilla is just sporting too much weight on his 350-foot high frame.  Using the current BMI, Godzilla could weigh about 750,000 pounds before he hit the dreaded “Obese” category.  Godzilla has not been forthcoming about his weight, but many Japanese fans have calculated that the hapless lizard may have stomped out of the “ideal weight” category.

“He’s so fat I laughed,” was one particularly cutting remark found on Japanese forum 2chan.  Others have referred to him as “metabozilla”, “marshmallow Godzilla” and even “pudgy and cute”.  Some have speculated that Godzilla’s size is due in part to his American diet and sedentary lifestyle.  “That’s what happens when all you do is eat Snickers bars,” said one commenter.

Much of this has led to speculation about Godzilla’s diet.  He has never been shown on screen eating (although he has ingested a nuclear reactor and seemed to absorb energy from that).  He has been seen in comic books eating raw seafood.  Most people guess that he lives largely on radiation and sushi.

It seems pretty likely that Godzilla has to eat quite a bit to sustain is 350 foot high body.  An African elephant weighs in at about 7,000 pounds and needs to eat about 500 lbs. of plant matter per day to sustain itself.  Using that same ratio, Godzilla would need to eat about 50,000 pounds of plant per day.  Now the King of Monsters might be able to absorb some of his energy via nuclear radiation.  And naturally protein sources like fish are more dense in calories than say, trees.  But I ask you, do we really want a creature that needs to eat 10,000 pounds or more of food per day to turn to a protein diet?    So far as we know, Godzilla does not eat people, yet.  But I don’t know if I want to encourage him.

But Godzilla hasn’t always been svelte.  A quick look at his film debut publicity photos in 1954 show a relatively “fluffy” monster with more of a pear-shaped figure.

There is no question that Godzilla has gotten bigger over the years.  Traditionally, the giant lizard has grown larger in proportion to the buildings he stomps around.  The Godzilla of 1954 was a mere 50 meters tall.  The newest Godzilla is over 100 meters tall and noticeably beefier:

But if you look carefully at the creature’s shape, you might notice something very interesting and somewhat familiar.  It’s even clearer if you look at this picture here:

Clearly the great monster’s shape has cycled too.  He appeared to have shed some pounds in the the MusoGogi period (1964) beefed up considerably in the BioGogi period (1989-91) gone through some sort of radical weight loss program in the Shodaijira period (1998) and bulked back up for his current appearances.  Seem familiar to you?  Seemed that way to me too.  In fact, I think Godzilla is experiencing the most common outcome of trying to stay slim.  I think the King of Monsters is weight cycling–probably from yo-yo dieting.

Now there is no way to know for sure.  As my good friend Ragen Chastain says, the only thing you can know about a fat  person (or monster) by looking at them is your own prejudices about fat people (or giant lizards).  But if our good friend Godzilla is experiencing weight cycling, he would certainly be experiencing the same thing that most people who try to lose weight experience.  Most people are able to keep some weight off for a while, but the vast majority of folks (90 percent or more) regain the weight they’ve lost and often a little more.

So this leads us to the question of what should be done about Tokyo’s most famous building-stomper.  I think if we are seriously going to spill digital ink regarding the size of a fictitious reptile who bangs buses together for fun, we should use this as a truly teachable moment.  Let’s talk about what really works in making creatures of all shapes and sizes happier and healthier.  I think the first thing we should do, is to stop trying to shame the poor creature.  There is ample evidence after all, that shame doesn’t help anybody lose weight.  I’m sure the producers at The Biggest Loser are planning epic monster battles between Godzilla and their “Monster Trainers” as we speak.  And even though the King of Monsters’ agent is probably taking calls right now from diet companies seeking his endorsement for the new “Monster Weight Loss Formula”, we should probably discourage him from falling into his old habits of dieting and weight cycling.

I recommend the same thing for Godzilla that I recommend for everybody else.  He should eat a varied diet including foods that he loves (but not including people).  He should engage in joyful and pleasurable physical activities (not too close to major cities).  In fact, I think he should try my DVD.  He should sleep well.   And he should manage his stress (again, hopefully not too close to major metropolitan areas).   At 60 years old, Godzilla is showing no signs of slowing.  If he follows these simple recommendations, he’s likely to stay happy and healthy for many years to come.  Which is good.  Because I freakin’ LOVE this guy.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

CEO: Every BODY Can Exercise.com

 

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Ellen and the Biggest Bully

I love the Ellen show.  I love the sweet, silly nature of it.  I  love the dance breaks.  I love Ellen’s work to end bullying.  So I was so very sad when one of my readers gave me a heads up that Jillian Michaels was going to be interviewed on the Ellen show.  Sure enough, the show aired yesterday, and I am so very disappointed.  I am so sad that Ellen had professional bully Jillian Michaels on her show for a super soft interview.  First, she let Jillian go on and on about how she’s helping people with The Biggest Loser.  Please. Who exactly is Jillian helping with that show? Scientific studies have been conducted.  One of those studies indicates that people are less likely to exercise after watching The Biggest Loser.  So the show discourages exercise.  What about weight loss?  According to Yoni Freedhoff in his excellent article “When Science Met the Biggest Loser” even former contestants of the show are unlikely to keep the weight off.  There are a few, who have since made their body size into a career with lucrative speaking engagements and product endorsements who manage to stay thin.  A group of researchers including the show’s own Robert Huizenga have determined that those participating in shows like The Biggest Loser face an extremely significant metabolic slowdown after their weight loss, making it very difficulty and extremely unlikely that participants will maintain their weight loss.  Another study cited in Freedhoff’s excellent article indicates that people who watched even a single episode of The Biggest Loser led viewers to “dramatically increase their own hateful and negative biases towards those with obesity”.

So who is Jillian helping?  She’s making millions of dollars participating in a show that increases stigma against people of size, makes people less likely to exercise and espouses a weight loss method almost guaranteed to leave participants even larger in the long run.

Next, Jillian went on to complain that her role on the show is taken out of context and that people see her as a “cartoon caricature”.  Yet, in this same episode of Ellen, Jillian participates in a segment where she “yells at Ellen” and is in turn yelled at by Sean Hays for not, yelling at Ellen well enough.  The clip concludes with Ellen and Sean making sure Jillian is gone and then stuffing popcorn and donuts into their face as quickly as they can.  So if Jillian  worried about her image as the woman who yells at people a lot, she sure has a funny way of dispelling that image.  I think it important to mention the one thing in this clip that is accurate.  There are studies that indicate that shaming and bullying people is more likely to produce binge eating and other negative health habits than to encourage healthy habits.  So score one for accuracy there.  But I don’t think Jillian is misunderstood.  She is a professional bully.  She makes her living by finding new ways to humiliate and shame fat people.  She makes MILLIONS of dollars at it.  Misunderstood?  I think she’s understood only too well.  If by chance there is some shred of decency in her, if she really doesn’t believe in behaving like a cartoon villain, guess what?  All she had to do was walk away from the show and not come back.  All she had to do was turn down those big fat paychecks.  She didn’t.  She may use that “I’m helping people” line to make herself feel better, but she isn’t making people feel better.  She isn’t making people healthier.  What she’s making is money and LOTS of it.  What’s not to understand?

Then Jillian went on to a section where she busted some exercise myths.  Please.  As if Jillian Michaels is somebody we should trust to fill us in on health and fitness.  The Biggest Loser is one of the greatest perpetrators of exercise myths on the planet.  As I pointed out in two previous posts, just about everything they do on The Biggest Loser goes against solid exercise science.  And as was stated previously in this post, science indicates that The Biggest Loser does more harm than good.  Either Jillian is in agreement with what happens on The Biggest Loser which demonstrates poor analytical skills, or she’s in disagreement with what happens on The Biggest Loser and participates merely to make a buck.  Either way, this is not a person I’m going to turn to for solid advice about health and fitness.

I can’t say I’m disappointed in Jillian.  She delivered exactly the kind of nonsense I thought she would.  But I am disappointed that Ellen caved to whatever pressure was brought to bear and allowed someone like Jillian Michaels on her show.  I’m so sad that Ellen offered yet another media platform to a person who makes her living hurting and humiliating fat people.

By the way, the petition to keep kids off The Biggest Loser is still live.  If you haven’t signed yet, you still can.  Why not do it Right Now?

Love,

The Fat Chick

Roll Models

love_handlesIt’s hard to say whether kids today have an easier time or a harder time with the whole size acceptance thing.  On the one hand, kids have access to a much more diverse community now.  When many of us who are currently adults were children, our community was pretty small.  We were influenced by television and magazines and movies of course.  But most of our role models and experience came from a much smaller group comprised of our friends, the kids at school, our church or community group, the folks in the neighborhood and our families.  Via social media, kids nowadays have access to a much wider group of people.  There are social groups focused on size acceptance on the internet.  And some of their heroes like Adele and Lady Gaga have spoken out directly about the notion that kids can love their bodies just as they are.  Thus many kids are exposed at a much earlier age to the concept of size acceptance.

On the other hand, that social media is a double-edged sword.  Kids are constantly communicating and critiquing one another.  Mistakes can be immortalized via words, photos and videos and be part of an child’s online presence for life.  If a group of kids should decide to pick on another kid, they can do so relentlessly, 24 hours per day and 7 days per week.  They can find and follow their target even if they choose to move away.  Sometimes this cyber bullying can have disastrous consequences.

And there’s also the question of kids being sexualized at a much younger age.  Kids as young as 3 are paraded around in beauty contests.  Companies sell padded bikini tops to preteens.  Child actors and particularly singers are presented as sex objects well before the age of consent.  Kids are under more pressure than ever to conform to an extremely thin, sexually desirable, designer clad, hot number at younger and younger ages.  And yes, obesity and childhood type 2 diabetes have gone up in the past 20 years (although there is ample evidence that this is now leveling off or even decreasing).  But we also have a situation where hospitalizations for eating disorders for kids under the age of 12 is up 119%.  That’s kids UNDER 12 here folks.

So what are we to do?  How can we help?  Well one thing we can do is all go sign the petition created by Ragen Chastain and I to keep kids off the next season of The Biggest Loser.  The last thing kids need is to see other kids like themselves battered, bullied and abused on national television just because of the size of their bodies.  If you haven’t signed the petition, hop on over there and do it.  I’ll wait…

But the other thing I think we grownups can do, especially when we are grownups of size is to be good roll models for our kids.  Sure we can also be good role models.  We can choose not to disparage other people for their size and we can speak out when we see it happening.  But I’m also talking about rolls of flesh–our bumps, and love handles and folds of skin.  We can wear those body “imperfections” with pride.  We can wear tank tops.  We can choose not to speak negatively about our bodies, especially in front of kids.  By walking around, comfortable in our own skin, we send kids the message that bodies are wonderful and beautiful and diverse–and that there are lots and lots of other things we can choose to be neurotic about other than how we look in our skinny jeans.  I’m not talking about lecturing to kids.  We all know how well that goes.  I’m talking about simply modeling a level of casual comfort over the whole body thing.  Because so often while kids are busy not doing what we tell them, they are watching intently to see what we do.

So what about you?  Are there ways that you can be a roll model for today’s youth?  I’d love to hear what YOU think!

 

Love,

The Fat Chick

Body Intelligence or Body War?

golda_biggest_loser

This week, I’ve come across two very different approaches to young bodies in the media.  One is the announcement (and subsequent activism response by the amazing Golda Poretsky) that the television show “The Biggest Loser” will now include teenagers and the other is a new study about the effectiveness of “intuitive eating” among young adults.

It’s hard to imagine a stronger dichotomy than these two approaches.  On the one hand, we have “The Biggest Loser” which teaches us that our body is the enemy.  No punishment is too harsh.  No humiliation is too great.  We must deprive ourselves of delicious foods.  We must exercise until we vomit or pass out.  We must make our bodies thin at all costs.

The study outlines a different approach (at least to eating) by documenting the outcomes of young adults who practice intuitive eating.  The study defines intuitive eating by the young people “trusting their bodies to tell them what to eat” and “stopping eating once they felt full”.  Based on the Biggest Loser story, one would imagine that those who trust their bodies and allow hunger to guide their eating would be larger than those who focus on controlling body weight.  However, the study seems to indicate the opposite.  Those who trusted their bodies not only had fewer signs of disordered eating, but also had a lower average BMI.

Now, it’s important to remember that this is only one study.  But we’ve yet to unearth a single study that indicates that deprivation and self hatred is an effective way to maintain a lower body weight or BMI over the long term (more than 5 years).  So what should we be teaching our kids, to love their bodies or make war on them?

While it seems obvious to me that teaching kids to trust the innate intelligence of their bodies is the better choice, I think it’s important to recognize this is not the easier choice.  I think peer pressure plays an enormous role both for children and their parents.  I think many of us have faced discrimination and outright cruelty from others because of the size of our bodies.  We don’t wish that pain on our worst enemies.  So it’s not surprising that we don’t want it for our children.  And the prevailing wisdom of the women at the beauty shop, Aunt Thelma and even our pediatricians often involves hushed side conversations about what the parent is going to “do” about a child’s weight.  It seems clear to me that peer pressure bends us towards putting our kids on diets, obsessing over their BMIs, forcing them to exercise, sending them to fat camps and yes, even allowing them to be on “The Biggest Loser”, even though there is so, SO much evidence out there showing that this approach doesn’t work.  But at some point, we have to ask ourselves, “Is peer pressure a smart way to decide what’s best for kids?  Is bowing to peer pressure in this case going to make our kids happier or healthier in the long run?”  I think we need to ask the proverbial question, “If our friends tell us to run off a cliff, will we do it?”  Or will we put peer pressure aside, assure the ladies at the beauty shop and Aunt Thelma and even our pediatrician that we are doing what science indicates is best for our kids, and teach them that their bodies are wondrous and intelligent and trustworthy?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Love,

The Fat Chick