You’re Too Fat! Hey! You’re Too Thin!

I didn’t even watch “The Biggest Loser” last night, but heard about it on the radio.  Came into the office and clicked on Google to see what all the fuss was about.

So apparently, the winner of this season’s show, Rachel Frederickson, lost 60% of her body weight. Went from 260 something to 105 pounds… and everyone is in an uproar.

The LA Times wrote, “She was a competitive high school swimmer who gave up a full college scholarship to follow her boyfriend to Europe. The relationship ended, and Frederickson came home full of regrets and ate to tamp down her sorrows. She said she gained more than 100 pounds and had trouble recognizing herself in the mirror. Earlier in the season, Frederickson said that winning the show would allow her to reclaim the champion within and embrace an empowered new future. Week after week in the weight-loss competition, she proved what a fierce competitor she was and was all but destined for a spot in the finale.”

Well, she won. Alright.

Girl is thin.

article-0-1B34CC8F00000578-321_638x591

Every “fat” girl’s dream.

And I put “fat” in quotes, because a size 8  is  the new “fat” – and girls don’t even know which way is the “right way” to look anymore.

I don’t care who you are. If you are a “fat” girl watching that show, you’re thinking, “Well, she may be a little thin, but I’ll take it.”

And look at you… YOU aren’t even fat either.

ScreenShot020

And everyone is screaming at the television, “Eating disorder!” and “OMG!” and “She is clearly starving!”

When before everyone was screaming, “fat” and “worthless” and “ew.”

Hey, here’s an idea. Why won’t we all not have an opinion on her weight?

I hate this show now.

I can’t even stand to watch a second of the damn thing. I used to love it.  So inspiring. So many amazing stories. The stories are still there, I guess. But it feels so very wrong in so many ways, I can’t even count. Because of the way it makes me feel. 

I think she looks very thin, yes.  But I always say that I would LOVE to spend just one day in a 100 pound body, just so I could run.  I mean, how fast would I actually be if I was 100 pounds less? I mean, I can run a 8:30 minute mile (for one mile only!) now.  So like a 6:30?  Would I hold the land speed record? Would I be Swim Bike Cheetah?

When I see the negative reaction to “fat” in the media, and then I see the reaction to this. I just shake my head.

It’s also funny to me that suddenly, everyone is “concerned” about Rachel – and how she needs “help”.  Don’t people realize that eating disorders are BOTH sides of the spectrum? Why is the public only worried about the skinny girls?  Why are the “fat” girls not-so-worrysome …because they are “lazy”?

There’s also a pile of money at stake here. It’s a competition. As a former Olympic-style weightlifter who cut 16 pounds in two weeks before a competition, I wonder if Rachel–as a former competitive swimmer–just put on her game face, laid down the gauntlet and collected her winnings… (of course, not healthy either…)  But put $250,000 in front of me, and see what monkey tricks I can do. 

But guess what?  We can’t know her motives, her situation or her current state of health. It’s her journey.

We can only do better with ourselves, and with our children.

This whole situation reminds me of this fabulous post, “How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body.”

“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works. Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight…Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.”

I wish that for one day, I could turn on the television or radio and not be forced to think about my body. That I could just run and be free and work on being healthy… for the sake of sport, for the sake of my family, for the sake of feeling free.

You’re Too Fat. You’re Too Thin.

IMG_4706

Holy crap.  I wish it would all just stop.  I work on it every. single. day.

I tell my athletes all the time, “Celebrate what your body CAN DO. And forget what it LOOKS like.” (And I say this to them so I can also hear it myself!)

Easier said than done.

But I have tiny little non-athletic (and don’t care to be athletic) friends who would fall over after 20 miles on the bike.  And guess what? They look better than me in jeans. So-the-F-what.

Until we, as a whole, stop feeding this crap to ourselves …it’s never going to stop.

We are athletes here. Or, we are baby athletes-in-training. But one thing we have in common—we are better than the damn scale, a size of jeans and a skewed perception in a bathroom mirror.

IMG_3768

We can swim and bike and run. Or, we are trying to swim and bike and run.  We are DOING something.  We are not pretty pet rocks, sitting, waiting for someone to tell us how pretty we are.  We are people in action. We are sweaty, stinky people in motion.

`1

How amazing is that?

This morning, I felt overwhelmed by this whole Biggest Loser crap.  How Rachel looks. How she doesn’t look. How I look. How I don’t. Whatever.

So I chose, instead, to close my eyes for one minute. During that one minute, I thought about all my triathlons and training, and I CELEBRATED what MY body can do–and what my body has done–and the things I know my body will continue to do.

0496_54473

And I opened my eyes and felt amazing.

I encourage you to just do that today, at some point during your day. CELEBRATE where you are, celebrate where you have been–and put your eyes towards the future and what you WILL DO.  Do it. It will make you feel amazing.

Happy hump day, friends. We are all a work in progress… #justkeepmovingforward

Comments

  1. says

    The thing is Meredith is that people, esp young girls look at that show and have eating disorders or are on the border of having one and this “celebration” of being that thin will make it worse. The look on the trainers face was mirror to many at home. I haven’t watch the show in years after season 9 Michael’s win. When Jillian when apeshit when the curly hair kid gained weight while training for the marathon. umm yeah it happens. Feed/fuel your body. Nothing wrong with that.

    We can celebrate our bodies for what it does. But sometimes our mind is the thing that hurts us the most. And there is no way I will think that the winner this year is to be celebrated. To me she needs help.

    • AMZ says

      The idea is though that if you are celebrating your body mentally, your mind will work with you not against you. The idea is to teach our children that. I don’t disagree with your point as a I have a friend that has suffered from an eating disorder for years, but if we are so busy celebrating our bodies mentally and physically that we are far less likely to have an eating disorder.

  2. says

    Thank you for your perfect words. From someone who focuses on her soft round belly in the mirror while performing bikram yoga. The women I compare myself to can’t do bikram, won’t even attempt a tri, yet I think of them, with their flat bellies as athletes while I am just poser. Me, with 5 half marathons and a triathlon under my (longer than theirs) belt. I’m glad this snowday gave me a chance to discover your blog.

  3. Jodi says

    I’ve watched this show every year since it started. You have to remember these contestants are trying to win the prize money of 250,000.00. They will try to lose as much as possible. Yes she is thin . But so was bobby. They give everything they got until the end of the season, then once it is all over they usually return to a more healthy weight . as you can see from some of the older contestants. This is still a very inspiring show. It gives people hope. I myself have never had a weight issue until i hit my 40’s . I don’t like to workout but I do it to stay healthy. This show helps me get through day when I don’t even want to get out of bed when I’m sore from a training session or tired from training for a 1/2 marathon or triathlons. If this show can motivate 1 person it’s done it’s job . Just my opinion. Stay strong and Keep doing what you are doing.

  4. Sabrina says

    I am still fat. People make their judgments, I train and race for my own health, not appearance. Bottom line, fat, skinny, just be healthy!

  5. Sue D says

    Thanks. I struggle each and every day with my weight. It does not help that I have been running, biking, swimming, kayaking, weightlifting, etc. for 3 to 4 years and can NOT get rid of the weight. In your 50s, after years of being fat literally since I hit puberty, it has been tough. Hell, tough doesn’t cover it. I run with friends who, bless them, are so incredibly supportive. But still, after losing 49 lbs and now being stuck still 40 lbs overweight, it is horrible to go to a running/biking store and find NOT a single shirt that I can wear, even an XL doesn’t fit. I am active and eat healthy. Who decides that women that run/bike are all so small? I hate that I have to always order a men’s size in races, or when purchasing clothes. I hate that I look at pictures of myself and my running friends and I am always the biggest one in the picture. But I work at this more than I have ever worked at anything before and I do not seem to be successful, even in my own eyes. Thank you for putting words to my frustrations.

  6. Miki says

    i was just telling my little 9yo tri-girl on monday night how much i love my body. i’m not a super model (‘you really AREN’T, mom’) but my body has done AMAZING things. i’ve carried two amazing children and given birth to them. nursed them for years. taken care of my family and grown a career. ridden 100 miles on a bike (‘104, mom!’), run a 5k, a 10k, done a triathlon and will do more. countless metric centuries.

    and we cheer our little girl for all the amazing things HER body can do. run, jump, ride, swim, climb, laugh, hug, snuggle….all of it. she will never be thin. genetically, it really isn’t something she’s built for. but she is STRONG. and we’re teaching her to embrace that.

  7. says

    I actually blogged about it as well… just for the fact that she doesn’t look HEALTHY now. & you are spot on actually – one extreme to the other with disorders… & that’s sad, but I ‘m sure she felt like she had to do that to win.

    FYI – during the whole show, she spoke about her relationship with her father & how when she gained the weight, he sort of dismissed her & she so badly wanted to get skinny for him… not for herself.. for him (She didn’t say that part – but she did talk about how her dad was proud of her when she was athletic. I think there is a LOT of issues here with this young lady. Sadly, the show is about loosing weight – nothing else :(

    • says

      I blogged about it too. My biggest concern was the glorification of, what I saw as, her extreme thinness. I, like Michelle above, worry for the girls out there, like the Middle Schoolers I teach, who see this “winner” as what is perceived as ideal. I worry that they will see this as an example of healthy and fit and her earlier, 150 pound, self as “fat.”

      I don’t want to shame her or anyone for fat or thin. I just want to make sure we have realistic examples of health for our girls out there. Thank you for your post, it was a good perspective for me to read.

  8. Kathi says

    I also felt she looked too thin and not very healthy and was hoping she was just going for the win and will even out. All of the other contestants looked strong, she did not. I don’t typically watch that show but did watch a few episodes this season. It definitely has it’s pros and cons – emphasizing gaining control for a healthy life while also putting too much emphasis on how you look.
    Personally, I am sick of all this “weight” crap but I get caught up in it too. Thanks for keeping it real!

  9. Angie says

    I was horrified when I saw Rachel come out last night because I was so happy with how strong and fit she was as her time on the ranch was ending. She looked the way I think we should strive to look. And when they showed her with the Dr. at the end of her time on the ranch, he said she had 19% body fat – then she lost another 40+ pounds before the finale! I hope she was just trying to win and will now go back to a healthy weight. My husband and I agreed that she didn’t even look attractive anymore.

  10. says

    Great post, I am so glad you said all of this – I really needed it! I haven’t been watching the BL lately, but the way they frame the show without showing how they handle nutrition (unless it’s a product endorsement) bothered me when I watched it in recent seasons. Are they teaching them healthy habits for life? I know it’s television, it’s entertianment, it’s for ratings, but these are people’s lives. I do like how they show the value of working out hard and being committed in the gym, and the body accomplishing more than it could before as they get more and more active.

    As someone who has just lost weight, I am getting comments like “I hope you aren’t going to lose any MORE weight” and “how much do you weigh now anyhow?” – I’m trying to be honest with people and tell them that I need to work this year on eating to maintain, eating enough, and fueling my body for the endurance activiites I am doing. I have told people honestly that I do not want to end up with an eating disorder, so no – I’m not “trying to lose more weight”, I want to try to be healthy, strong, and fit. It is a hard balance though when I have been focused on losing weight for so long and the # on the scale seems like the king in our society.

  11. Kathy Bruinooge says

    Well said.. I too work on this everyday… I try to concentrate on the “feeling” of being strong.. And the clothing follows… Great blog today…

  12. Stephanie says

    Rachel is clearly underweight. I think she knows it and I think she knows its not healthy. I think she knows she had stiff competition and dropped extra weight to guarantee a win. She wanted to win and that’s what she did. I think she will get her weight back up to a healthy level. She won’t be able to compete athletically, particularly in swimming, in her current state.

    I think the show needs to address this and I think the contestants should have a minimum weight under which they are eliminated from winning.

    It’s a competition yes, but I like the show because despite the gimmicks it shows the power of the human will to change and really informs as to the true underlying reasons for over eating.

    I’ll give the show a second chance. I would like to hear Jillian Michaels speak out.

  13. says

    You’re right on girl! When this show first began, I really felt like they were helping people, motivating them and showing/teaching them how to be healthy. A few seasons later, it really has become about the competition. Some of these weigh ins, when contestants lose 26 pounds in one week and another loses only 10 and is disappointed, I mean, come on!! Who loses 10 pounds in one week and is disappointed. I struggle with my weight every single day. People look at me and think it’s no problem for me because I’m fit, but it’s a struggle to not eat every minute or every day. I’m never full and always hungry. Wish they could be in my shoes for one minute and feel what that feels like. So, I run, cycle, taekwondo and do anything else I can find to fight off the urges.

    This show is supposed to be a “reality show” but really doesn’t have much to do with “reality”. I am happy for those that have lost the weight, I would never take that away, and I’m so proud of those that have kept it off. Our bodies are all such a work in progress and we should all be proud of where we are in the process, because it is such a process.

    I enjoyed our post and agree with your points. You go girl!!

  14. says

    Perfect. I have never been able to stomach the show, mostly because my sister and her eating disorder (which has covered both ends of the weight spectrum) has always been obsessed with it. I will never be a size 8, I will never be able to fully embrace skinny jeans, but I will always be able to cram myself into an unforgiving wetsuit and spandex and can celebrate the fact that I shoveled (again!) and don’t feel like I want to die. Here’s to our tribe!

  15. says

    I totally agree with your message. I’ve found that it works best for me if I limit/remove those things that make me question/envy/lament things that run counter to what I’ve already figured out are important (to me). That’s why I don’t have a FB account any longer. That wasn’t a fitness/health/weight things, but I didn’t like how it made me feel (or how I let it make me fell). If people want to post how perfect their kids are (including GPAs!) and their political rants – that’s fine, but I can choose not to consume them. Apparently it’s important for them to share that, but I realized it’s important that I not consume that.

    It’s probably hard to avoid this sort of thing though (it’s a big show and you are a fitness blogger :) ) .

    I will say that the show doesn’t seem to ignore the eating disorder side of “fat” people — I’d say it addresses it straight on and wouldn’t exist if it didn’t believe that.

    Weight is important to me. I’ve been a parent for 20 years and finally got back to my pre-baby weight last year. I’ve bounced up a little and am working on getting that final 15 off. I know I’m healthier than I was for much of those 20 years, but I’m ok with acknowledging that the weight # is important to me too. I’ve learned that for me, if I don’t keep track of the number, it goes up (and up).

    If you want to try to spin this in a positive light, it’s good that people aren’t looking at “skinny” and simply praising it.

  16. Ann says

    The show should have ended with the triathlon. Rachel would have still won, and we would be celebrating her health, fitness, and strength. Instead, Biggest Loser rewarded the person who starved themselves the best. Ya-hoo!

  17. Jill says

    I get that the premise of the show is to lose the highest percentage of body fat in order to win a quarter of a million dollars. Maybe NBC should consider doing away with the prizes, offer the contestants a fair ‘salary’ while on the show and truly help these people get healthy…just for the sake of getting healthy. I know…pipe dream…no one would probably watch or want to participate. I agree…we should be focusing on disordered eating regardless of whether they are starving themselves or eating themselves to death.

  18. says

    A perfect response without being judgmental of what she is personally going though. Who knows where her head is at. I honestly don’t even know how tall she is to guess how much she, “should weigh” according to the unrealistic chart. Why is it so much more horrible that she is super skinny than her being overweight? We need to stop worrying about the number and worry more about being strong.

  19. says

    Thank you for writing this!!! I struggle everyday to just look at the progress I’ve mad with fitness and health and do be down on mysel because I’m still not to the goal I set for myself. All of this crap in our society with women and body image scares me as I raise a daughter. I never want her to hate her body like I have. I never want her to feel that sadness or disappointment. Thanks for being a voice for the everyday woman!!

  20. Laurie says

    Meredith- I wanted to press “like” after every other sentence! As a dietitian who works with teens and young adults with eating disorders, I loathe this show. Not only is it unhealthy to lose that much weight in such a short amount of time, but people are being praised left and right for it! I understand it can be inspirational for some, but I feel the show does more harm than good. Eating disorders occur in people of all shapes and sizes, in men/boys and women/girls of every race and socioeconomic background. LOVE “how to talk to your daughter about her body” and LOVE your message about celebrating our bodies for what they can do for us. I am hopeful that with the tons of people your blog and FB page reach each day and with programs like Girls on the Run, we can set a positive, exciting example for countless young girls (and can’t forget the boys). I could go on and on, but I’m at home today with kids because of snow and they’re needing some refereeing right now!!! Thanks so much for your amazing thoughts and ability to put them down on paper/computer!

  21. Em says

    “Holy crap. I wish it would all just stop. I work on it every. single. day.”
    THIS!!!!!!
    How much time I have wasted obsessing about what my body looks like. There are so many better uses of my mental energy. It must STOP….

  22. Leslie says

    Mere… is it me, or in the image of her before vs. after, did they photoshop her “old” image to be bigger? Or did she just manage to shrink a few inches (to include heels)? What gives? Are we all blind AND dumb now??

  23. EmLou says

    Wow, really? I don’t even watch the show and I think that is utterly ridiculous. You can’t win for losing, indeed. I’m not satisified with my body. My thighs giggle way too much, my stomach, I can’t even blame it on baby fat cause I’ve never even had a kid. But I try as you say, to start thinking of myself as baby athlete because damnit I am. Little by little, i’m reaching my goals.

    I read motativing meme today and one that stood out to me was “Be kind to yourself”. Because that the one thing that think women do a diservice to ourselves on a daily basis. We so easily rattle off all the things wrong with us rather than focus on single kind thing.

  24. CB says

    Well, according to the pic, the olympics are in two days. I always learn something everyday. Although way better stuff is happening in 92 days for me…

  25. kristjana says

    I really admire your blog and have enjoyed following it, being inspired by it and keeping up with your challenges through it. I have had a little nagging distaste after reading this post, though, I have to admit. I am a 40 year old mom of three boys 8, 5 & 3 (all via c-sections, with a scar and a mummy-tummy to prove it),a former chef, a runner and triathlete, and I am 100 pounds dripping wet.

    I was hurt by your comment about “tiny friends who would fall over after 20 miles on the bike…” Not only can I bench-press any one of my kids, but I have won and placed in my age group several times, and I wake my skinny butt up at 5am most days to get in a session on the trainer or in the pool before they wake up. I am a foodie who gets fresh milk delivered by the milk man and produce and meats from a local farm co-op. There’s no “starving myself” to look good, only sensible, healthy cooking, moderate exercise and teaching my kids to do the same.

    You wouldn’t believe the wicked comments I get from other women about my size, or the “must be nice” smirks when I’m dressed up or in a bathing suit at the pool. I’ve had so-called friends dare me to eat a cookie while they watch and other nasty little jabs when I’m out to eat. It stinks. But it’s who I am and don’t I deserve to be confident and proud of that without someone accusing me of being too thin, or assuming I have an eating disorder? I was 25 pounds heavier 20 years ago when I graduated college and worked for years to find a healthier lifestyle. Now I can run for hours, swim across a lake and peddle up jagged hills.

    Is the Biggest Loser girl too skinny now? Do any of us have a right to criticize her for what she looks like? God made us all different and beautiful. If we all looked the same, the world would be stale. Strong comes in many sizes. Right?

    • Swim Bike Mom says

      Not criticizing her size (or yours, for that matter) at all. My point being – everyone needs to NOT focus on size and instead, focus on athleticism, health and wellness. And I don’t doubt that you, as a self-proclaimed “100 pounds dripping wet” woman, have won and placed in your age group many times—-usually the tiny ones do!!! I see that more than someone MY size being successful at triathlon! My point being – I have NON-triathlete friends who are tiny and can’t do what I, 100 pounds MORE, CAN do… and they don’t want to either. So I take pride and find MY strength in my athleticism no matter my size…. and try not to worry about feeling FAT.

  26. Melissa says

    Thank you for what you wrote, I really enjoyed reading it. Like you, I don’t watch the show but heard about an “alarming”ly different winner for this season. I’m currently doing a weight loss challenge with friends and the prize is pennies next to what she stood to win. That being said, I’m super motivated right now! I’m logging calories, I’m trying to walk and/or do some type of exercise every day. I would be very disappointed in myself if I didn’t give it my all and just threw away the money I injected into the competition. If I want to loose weight and investing my own money and winning money can’t motivate me then what they hell will? So anyway that is what I tell myself. I hope she found her inner competitive spirit and embraced it. We all need motivation yet sadly many of us fail to find it. Reunions, weddings and vacations… at the end of the day I would love to just find and remain at a steady weight without yo-yoing and I think we would all sigh relief if we could all find that happy point! She found some of that magic, that motivation and she used it. Good for her! I wish someone would need to yell at me to eat a burger LOL! I just hope now that the competition is over she finds a healthy weight and doesn’t yo-yo.

  27. says

    The problem is we’re still talking about her body as if we have any right to. We (as the public) are still pointing out her flaws, assuming her mental health issues – her ‘probable’ disorders. That because she is too fat or too skinny then clearly there is something wrong with her. She is a woman in a body and it is her body to deal with. The fact that this is a reality television show gives the rest of us the feeling that we can have an opinion about her body – of course it does. I don’t know what the way is around that other than to turn off the tv. What I have long hoped for with that show is a therapist to be included who works with them SOLELY on body acceptance. sigh. I wish Rachel peace through this shit storm.

  28. Lisa says

    When my niece was about 14, she told her mom she hated being fat and wanted to see a doctor to get help. I love my sister’s response. “Do you think I am fat?” “No, mom I think you are pretty.” “It’s because I take care of myself, I bathe often and dress nicely. It’s not about being thin or fat. We don’t have the genes to be tiny. What we can do is try to be healthy. I already feed you healthy meals. Perhaps we could run together in the mornings to work on being physically fit, as well. The exercise won’t make you skinny but it wil make you feel better.” Five years later and these two still get up and run together.

  29. alica says

    The fact is that in our physical evolution as humans, people in the best position to survive and reproduce where the ones who could easily store fat so they wouldn’t starve in times of famine or long, cold winters. The ones who were “fat” survived, the thin ones not as well. So it’s no wonder that most of us tend to store fat easily. There are some naturally thin people out there but not as many. The difference now between the “olden days” and now is that now we don’t have to do much physical work at all now with machines and other people to do a lot of work for us. Less than 100 years ago everyone had to be more physically active to get it done. And there were not so many tech devices that were made to keep us disconnected from the physical world. And plenty of labor saving devices so we don’t have to labor. Not that all this progress is bad but if we want to be fit, it requires some conscious decisions to be active every day. So we should not hate ourselves for the genetics we have but remember that fitness doesn’t really have much to do with weight. What we should be fighting are all the forces conspiring to make us sedentary creatures.

  30. says

    Well-said, Meredith. I agree with you on most points, especially about learning to love our bodies and what they can do. I recently realized I love my soft curve of a belly–the result of having two beautiful babies.

    The thing that bothers me about Rachel (and I am addicted to that show, by the way) is that she was so beautiful in the last episode before the finale. She still had a little weight on her, but she did a fast triathlon and was just glowing. And as a swimmer, I know that most swimmers are NOT skinny–they can’t be. She looked like she could go out and kick some ass in the pool.

    So seeing her at the finale, I thought–well, I guess she is not swimming anymore. She looked sick. But then, as you said, it was a competition. Hell, I would drink nothing but water for 2 weeks to win $250k. I do not fault her for that in the least bit! I am giving her the benefit of the doubt, and not assuming an eating disorder.

    I just hope she ends up healthy in the end, and doesn’t squander away her life worrying about her weight. The girl has some athletic talent, which she should capitalize on.

  31. Katie says

    My problem is how frail she looked on stage. She half tripped up the stairs and could barely catch herself, she seemed confused while she was talking to others/being talked to, etc. It honestly terrified me- this is a girl that beasted a triathlon and now she’s evidently lost so much weight or something that she can’t catch herself when she falls, and we’re telling young girls that this kind of image is what they should be striving for?

  32. Nicole says

    Thank you for the post. I just rediscovered your blog and love your website.I can’t wait to dig back in to the recipes, ideas, and all of the feel good stuff that is on swim bike mom. I agree with everything you wrote here completely and your insight gives me hope that someday I won’t constantly obsess over how i look…and ill stop thinking everyone else is obsessing over how i look as well. xo

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *