Last Tuesday night I watched the Biggest Loser. It was the first time I have ever made it through a whole episode from start to finish. Although I know that most television shows, even the reality shows, are carefully scripted, I found it appalling. It looked like a reenactment of the Bataan death march from World War II. Suffering, pain, emotion, triumph, and despair may make compelling entertainment, but at what price? And I’m not just referring to the unlucky contestants who were bullied, ridiculed, and abused but to the impression the show leaves with the viewer that this is what it takes to lose weight and get healthy.
Extreme exertion is probably counter-productive, if not dangerous, especially to those who are not in top physical condition, yet most people continue to think it is good for them. The first person to run a marathon dropped dead after running 26 miles from Marathon to Athens with news of the Greek’s victory over the Persians. Robert Browning, who must have been a big sports fan, wrote in Pheidippedes, “Joy in his blood bursting his heart, he died—the bliss!” Modern marathons continue to claim victims and can cause irreversible damage to the heart.
Exercise is a good thing for many reasons, but it is not necessary for weight loss. You don’t have to throw up, go to the hospital, develop blisters, or endure humiliation and abuse like the participants on Tuesday’s show. Weight loss comes naturally as part of a healthful low-carb lifestyle and that is what I call bliss.