Comfort Cravings

How to soothe yourself without food—and how to eat healthfully and mindfully

Heavy

Heavy, a new take on The Biggest Loser.

Heavy, a new T.V. docudrama about obesity, debuted on A&E.  Have you noticed several T.V. shows about obesity and eating disorders popping up on different T.V. channels? Some have been better than others-depending on the angle.  A few have showcased eating disordered behaviors as odd and "entertainment" whereas are more geared toward helping people learn.  On a positive note, the plethora of T.V. shows seems to reflect an overall growing curiosity and interest in how eating problems develop and how to best treat them.

Five aspects of Heavy were unique and inspiring.

1) Instead of pitting individuals against each other in a competition to lose weight, they did something completely different. The show paired people up to provide support and encouragement. It was obvious that Tom and Jodi benefited greatly from joining with each other. They did not seem to feel "alone."

2) Jodi said it so well. You need a "tribe" of people to help you change-your family, work, and supportive professionals. Tom lived with a family of "enablers" who fostered her disordered eating. Having a strong support network is key.

3) The show focused less on food and more on changing one's mindset. It was particularly evident in Jodi. In the beginning, her mind was resistant, full of unrealistic expectations and created high walls and barriers to change. It was incredible to watch her mindset evolve from "I can't" to "I can."

4) This show gave them tools, sent them home to use in their home environment and then followed up with them for an extended period of time. Many recent shows have offered short term therapy without much follow-up, which may set people up for a greater sense of failure.

5) There was no money incentive or prize. The reward? An improvement in health and quality of life. Focusing on the daily, natural benefits versus a one-time carrot at the end will likely keep the motivation going and what you'll get in "real" life.

Way to go Tom and Lisa! Wishing you continued success. I hope that future episodes of Heavy provide good insight and help to those watching.

Dr. Susan Albers is a clinical psychologist and author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and four other books on mindful eating. http://www.eatingmindfully.com. Her work has been featured on the Dr. Oz T.V. Show, O, the Oprah Magazine, Shape, Health, Prevention and the Wall Street Journal.

Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns and mindfulness. 

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