I rushed to yoga this morning with my right contact inside out because I overslept. I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch the season finale of The Biggest Loser.
I am/was shamefully addicted to this show!
I know, I know…
I know all the arguments for why I shouldn’t like it. I know people on the long, hard path to weight loss who find The Biggest Loser irritating in the extreme.
These Biggest Loser contestants are living in a weight-loss terrarium filled with perfect food, personal trainers, state-of- the-art gym equipment, a team of health care professionals at the ready, and are totally guarded and protected from the outside world and its stressors of kids, relationships and job. For them it is a 24-7 focus on weight loss. Period.
My friends who are trying to lose weight say: Sure! Put me in that situation and I could lose weight too! Easy Breezy!
And they’re right, of course.
But still, I am transfixed. It is like watching an epic, like The Odyssey. The contestants, like Odysseus, long to return to the homes of their healthy bodies, but on the way they have to travel from the Land of the Lotus Eaters (food addictions), battle with Polyphemous the Cyclops (Jillian screaming: “Unless you faint, puke or die, keep going!!”), have a love affair with the witch-goddess Circe (face food temptations, the eating of which will turn the contestants into swine), and be tempted by the deadly Sirens (going off the Ranch as a reward and being tempted by restaurant food and drink).
Week after week, you watch them struggle, step on the scale, fall below the yellow line, throw somebody else off.
Week after week, you watch them struggle with their demons, but they persist.
It takes a long time. But they keep going. And we TV watchers get to see the drama and the incremental changes, week after week.
Change is soooo slow, but it happens. It happens in 2, 8 11, sometimes 15 pound increments.
Week after week, it doesn’t seem like anything is changing, until BAM!, there’s that one week you go: Whoah! Look at her! Look at him! Holy shit!
The thing that so inspires me about these contestants is that they persist. They persist over time. They go slowly. They encounter major frustrations and roadblocks and even hellish weeks when they workout like fiends and don’t lose an ounce, and sometimes even gain! And yet, they persist.
In the end, they lose huge amounts of weight. They lose whole people. The girl I hoped would win (Tara) lost 155 pounds! It’s crazy! She’s transformed into a completely different person by the end. Inside and out.
Then, when they return home, just like Odysseus, they are not recognized at first by their loved ones. They have to clean up their houses, throw out the suitors (all the crap food in the cabinets) and re-establish their relationships with their “Penelopes”(wives, husbands, friends, kids).
It’s the path of transformation.
In the case of The Biggest Loser it comes via weight loss, but it’s the same process for any transformation.
Slow persistent practice over time.
It’s an Odyssey.
And it inspires the hell out of me.