Before I get into this particular episode, there was one topic I neglected to mention in my initial review of the first two episodes.
The finale of the show apparently is going to revolve around a half-marathon. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I’ve been saying that total health is more than just scale weight. Improved ability to move one’s own body is certainly a marker. But for very overweight people, rushing into a 13.1 mile race may not be wise.
Hang on, you may say if you know this blog. Um….. didn’t this whole thing of yours start as a fat man setting a goal to run a half marathon?
Yes it did. So I have particular experience that I bring to this. Still, my first half-marathon attempt was a 13 month process. And it didn’t go well. I lost weight and did a lot better just two months later, but the point is I know what it is to bang your head against a wall with endurance sports training while not losing weight. This is still primarily a “diet” show, so hopefully we will see people feeling stronger just by losing the weight. Even so, my time in the endurance world, interviewing people for podcasts, observing common struggles, and dealing with my own ups and downs, it all adds up to my skepticism over a half-marathon being the best goal.
But again, they’re making TV here, and the running boom is still surging. The half-marathon distance is the fast growing distance. And yes, I am personally riding that wave and starting a new half-marathon this year. So hypocrisy may reign supreme here. You tell me.
One other overall production note: I watch this on Hulu so I am not sure how it is airing, but apparently it is two per week. I am not sure if that’s a good sign for it’s popularity. Getting a show over with in 7 weeks instead of 14 doesn’t seem like a recipe for sustaining interest. But I’m not a network program executive.
On to episode three……
At the end of episode two I was unclear whether the fired experts would mean a contestant joining up with another trainer on the show, creating larger teams, or whether they would a new expert. From the opening credit sequence, it is still unclear. Like any reality show (I assume, I only know from the tattoo competitions) all the original competitors are still in the opening credits.
With the Wellness Smackdown gone, (title says it all – nonsense) the contestant has chosen a new expert whose plan is called the Strong Safe and Sexy plan. She’s into martial arts, and the diet is pescetarian. Vegetarian plus fish, eggs and dairy. She’s also gluten-free. Off the bat, she strikes me as a normal, balanced person.
The fitness trainer (milestone judge for everyone) is explaining why stairs are good training for a half marathon. She’s talking about heart rate training. This will drive anyone nuts who is a hardcore zone2 devotee, but I’ll tell you, I know what it’s like to climb steps and feel how out of shape I am. In fact, stair climbing is a major long term goal of mine. So this challenge might cause some inside-baseball debate about heart rate among trainers, but I think it’s a great thing for the show. How many people get winded on just a couple flights of stairs?
As they do the challenge, going back and forth up the stairs, they turn around signs that have their stated goals on them. I like this a lot. Again, weight loss is not just about a number, it’s life improvement. One of the signs said “Take a family photo.” This one just about had me in tears. I know all about that. We fat people may not look fast, but we have developed ninja-like skills when it comes to avoiding cameras.
OK I don’t want to dwell on every minute of the show this long, or it will be a five hour write up. But another one of those goals did bring me to tears. “Go to an amusement park with my family.” Yeah. I know about this one. Sure, I’ve taken the kids to Disney three times, and we frequent our local Pa treasure Knoebel’s Grove all summer. But I also have a strong memory in my mind of the time Meghan and I went to Six Flags New Jersey. We waited in line for over an hour for Batman the Ride. I couldn’t get the harness to fit. I had to get off the ride in front of hundreds of people in the pavilion and wait in the exit corridor while she went on the ride. (I insisted she do so, I couldn’t imagine her not riding it because of that.) I know all about that humiliation.
These goals are normal, human goals. Some may be a stretch, like getting to a certain dress size, but some are simple as “wear clothes off the rack.” These folks aren’t trying to magically become Victoria’s Secret models, they want to live a normal life.
At Home Again
Next segment we go back to the home training with the experts. I like this concept generally. It isn’t fat camp. It’s real life.
But still, No Diet guy is getting all his airtime with tricks that have nothing to do with the make up of food itself. Mirrors, chopsticks to slow down eating. I can’t say any of this is nonsense (like fat-redistributing massage) but it is just one of those things people can latch on to as if it is the real secret.
Strong Safe Sexy
We finally get to hear something from the new girl. She makes a case that gluten is just not necessary. I’m with her there. There is a lot of blowback on the gluten-free movement, and people in America will get downright angry with a person who chooses to avoid it. If you’re not legitimately celiac, you’re mocked. Yet no one can ever answer this question: name an essential carbohydrate. One does not exist. We absolutely do not need to eat grains. Many people can without problems, but they are more trouble than they’re worth for a large segment of our population.
Oh look! She’s actually cooking! They’re making egg muffins. She didn’t didn’t take out the egg yolks. She added cheese and spinach to them! Holy crap! Abel, watch out. She’s on a similar vibe. I want to see you both win at this point.
There’s my man Abel. His segment is on keeping good snacks in the car. I’m going to sound like I’m going back on my earlier anti-trickery rant because I like Abel, but this one is about actual food. Setting yourself up for success is important. So many of us have tried weight loss plans where we can’t figure out what to eat when on the road, or we end up in convenience stores grabbing all the wrong stuff. Abel is having his guy prepare for those times when he will snack in the car, and do it right. He even swaps out ketchup for hot sauce. Careful man, the swap lady will sue you for copyright infringement.
Her focus is on goal setting. OK, that’s fine and all, but as we saw earlier, everyone knows their goals. To point out how far they have to go is one form of motivator. But you are there to show her how to progress. Not just repeat how hard she has to work to do it. She’s not coming off as crazy as before, (yet) but she hasn’t shown us any real diet help.
Green smoothie popsicles… OK. But she is trying to get her off sugar while also talking about reducing fat. Sounds like the traditional advice which has gotten us nowhere for 40 years. This may work for some people. OK I know it does. But for folks who’ve gotten severely obese? Not usually.
Do we really need to make a woman cut her fingernails? Just so she can put her hands in boxing gloves? This is the only way to work out? Just reality show manufactured drama.
Oh wait – Clean Moma is talking food! What’s she saying? “You can eat anything you want! In MODERATION.”
Oh boy. At least this time she let her trainee pray without taskercizing. Sort of.
I got him a red shirt! Seriously? Again with the color tricks. Maybe he’s auditioning to get killed on Star Trek. (Hey man, bulls don’t charge because the cape is red. They’re color blind. They charge at movement.)
Do laps. Run. Well, they are training for a run. Running is probably needed for the goal.
Working out with heavy water jugs. Getting outside in the sun while exercising. Nothing weird or crazy, so little air time. Slow and sensible wins this race.
Strong Safe Sexy
Being in NYC on 9/11 led her to martial arts. A human moment. Her trainee is also looking at a big life change.
What seemed like a potential for something here, was a missed opportunity. The trainee is saying that she has a history of 3 week cycles of working then quitting. And if she doesn’t see a big number (on the scale) she is going to be feeling like quitting. So Momma’s solution: let’s work out hard. I get that endorphins make us positive, but there may be more to it than that. On the other hand, sometimes we need someone to just push us through the walls and help us “fake it til you make it.”
Superfood Swap – 4 pound loss, and she’s happy. I like that. 16 pounds overall.
Wild Diet – another 11 pounds down. He’s thrilled. Down over 30.
No Diet plan – he lost a red and a blue. no wait. But he did lose an inch off his waist. And only one pound. He is frustrated. A blunt back and forth conversation is had about whether other progress is as important because it’s a weight loss show. But it’s the client who has the upper hand here, not the trainer yelling at a client. I still like this model so much more than that other show.
As much as I find the trainer sort of out there with his focus on colors, his statement that this is a 14 week process and weigh-ins are just quizzes before the final exam: he’s totally right. But I have a feeling that he’s not going to do well on the final.
Smart Safe Sexy – no loss with the vegan, Taj is very nervous for the first week with the new trainer. She gets health stats. She had gained 2 inches with the woo woo lady. She has lost those inches with the new trainer. And she lost four pounds. She’s thrilled.
Clean Momma – one pound loss. She’s very frustrated. She did the work. And Clean Momma herself is saying “hey it works if you work it” which is a subtle way of saying “you must not be doing it right. I know this always works.” Way to blame the client.
Our top two contestants are of course sticking to their plans. Taj has switched previously so she is ineligible.
La’Tasha seems like she might switch, but she decides to stick with Clean Momma another week. She doesn’t seem happy about it, but she doesn’t want to fall into the three weeks and out pattern she has identified in herself. I get that. But she says after four weeks, she’s out if it’s not great.
No Diet Plan – Jeff was unhappy with weigh-in and had words with Jay, but he has felt overall success and he is sticking with him.
I will be very surprised if the next episode does not result in someone switching.