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The Biggest Losers

On a run after work this week, I shared with my husband how stunned I was to discover that the First Lady is considering an appearance on the show “The Biggest Loser.” Stunned about what? Stunned about the deep lack of knowledge around weight stigma and eating disorders that pervades the American public–lay people, politicians, health care providers, insurance companies–pervasive.

My husband had never heard of the show The Biggest Loser. During my attempt to explain it to him, he became confused–focusing on the term “Loser.”

He thought the show indicated that the heaviest person was the biggest loser. Because in America, anyone that is in any way overweight, but especially those who are obese, and especially if they are female, are implicitly considered losers.

I tried to explain to him that the explicit “winner” of the Loser show is the person who loses the most weight (weight loss=good, thin=good, fat=bad). The winner gets the opportunity to be called “The Biggest Loser.” Regardless of who wins the show, the implicit message is that overweight and obese people are losers.

Now, throw in the twist that if people could exercise like crazy (which is the psychiatric term I use for the trainers on the show) and eat only the “Right” foods, they could become a non-loser. On the show, the contestants no doubt lose weight; they also no doubt engage in a completely unsustainable lifestyle. Diets don’t work. They can cause eating disorders, including Binge Eating Disorder, which is often associated with obesity. Diets do not cure eating disorders or low self-esteem. Diets and exercise do not heal trauma or depression. Bariatric surgery and weight loss don’t cure it either.

Developing body acceptance, a sustainable relationship with food and a pleasurable movement/exercise practice will lead to wholeness and health.

News flash for the biggest losers: Health comes in all shapes and sizes!!!

This world needs a Biggest Winner show. The winner being someone who accepts herself, regardless of her size; someone who respects herself and her truth regardless of what the cultural ideal says; someone who cares about her health as measured by cholesterol levels, blood pressure, glucose tolerance, etc., rather than a number on a scale used to calculate a somewhat arbitrary “measure” of health as determined by the CDC in BMI.

We might want to consider changing our coins to “In Weight We Trust.”

I think our chances of abundant living are best with the original. And I believe that God made each of us with the potential to be healthy and loving of ourselves with a wide range of numbers on the scale. That just doesn’t happen when a giant scale is God.

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