The Biggest Loser: Is this safe?

As I have previously discussed on this blog, I am a TVaholic. I love me some down time after a long day of work and kid duties, where I veg in front of the boob tube watching some show I have previously DVR’d. And as I have also noted, sometimes my 6 year old son watches some of those shows with me. It is our together time. Should I be playing a board game or something with him to enrich his young mind? Probably. I do that on occasion. But mama is tired in the evenings, and if I can spend some time with my oldest while also killing off one of the megajillion shows I have queued in ye olde DVR, that is a score in my book. I usually limit the show we watch to some sort of reality competition type show that has some entertainment value, but without vulgarity or cussing. You probably won’t be surprised to hear this, but those types of shows are extremely hard to find. So yeah, Jersey Shore and Real Housewives are out. Thus far the approved shows that I also want to watch and are ok for him as well are Dancing with the Stars and the X Factor (that second one more for him than me, really).

However, during the last season of The Biggest Loser, at the end part where they are all skinny and in shape, he caught some of the episodes and was hooked. Figuring “how bad can this be, really?” I had no problem with him watching some of those shows with me while I was watching them. But now a new season is upon us. It is the beginning of the season where everyone is extremely large and flabby. We watched the first hour of the first show of this season together. And I think that might have been a huge mistake.

Now, if you have never seen this show, the first episode is basically weight loss boot camp. The trainers get these tubs o’ lard into the gym, which most have probably never seen the interior of before, and break their spirits with lots of yelling and forced extreme physical exertion. People pass out. There is lots of puking. Falling off of treadmills. Basically, it is like some sort of warzone in that place.

Work It!!

I apparently had forgotten how screamy and violent that first show can be. So, I am watching this with my young son, and realizing that this might not be the most appropriate show for him to be watching. Did I mention there is an old dude on it this year that looks like Santa? He is there with Mrs. Claus his wife, and they are the red team. Yeah, one week after Xmas. So, this dude passes out on the floor during his workout and has to be tended to by medical professionals, while Mrs. Claus his wife looks on worriedly. Damn. This show done killed Santa and I sat here allowing my son to watch this hot mess. Parent of the year right here!

Ho Ho Oh my back!!

My original thought on this was that the show actually teaches good values. The value of being physically fit versus being a big fat lazy schlub. The value of working out and training to improve yourself. The value of teamwork and striving for goals. Seems valid, right? Well, apparently that is when you get past the first couple of Imma-kill-you-with-fitness episodes.

The other issue is that I think he might be too young to really understand or even have to deal with the concept of “overweight” and “dieting.” You see, his father and I are both overweight. There is no getting around it. We have been ever since he has known us. We have pretty much been on some sort of diet our entire lives as well. For as long as I have had children, we have never really had a family meal. Maybe a couple on rare occasions. But, because the hubs and I are usually on some restrictive diet, and usually different ones at that, I make dinner for the kids only, then the hubs and I each make our own dinner after they are in bed. My son has never known it any other way, so it is not strange to him. He is used to mommy and daddy eating separately and different foods from him.

But recently, say in the last 6 months or so, I have gotten very lax on my diet. I have gained a good amount of weight. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would still be considered “skinny” compared to the Biggest Loser contestants (at the beginning, anyway), but I am by no means within an ideal weight. So, I have resolved to get back into it, back on the wagon, so to speak, and stop munching on the noodles and chicken nuggets and pizza and mac & cheese, etc. that I make for the kiddies, and instead stick to my own boring but more nutritious foods. Salads, lean proteins, more salads, NO NOODLES!! (Damn, I love me some pasta. Sigh).

Anyway, so I mentioned something about this last week, about how I was going to start trying to eat healthier and was going to stop eating all the crap I had been eating. My son heard me and asked what this meant. Offhandedly, I said that it meant mommy was gonna have to stop eating pizza and chicken nuggets, etc. that I make for their dinners. He looked confused. It wasn’t until later that I realized I inadvertently told him that the dinners I make for him every night are “unhealthy.” Sigh. Parenting fail.

Then, fast forward a couple days later and my son is watching a show where very huge people are killing themselves trying to get “healthy.” I’m really not trying to scar my son, I swear. It’s just natural talent is what it is.

The thing is, my kids are not overweight. While I do make a lot of pizza and chicken nuggets and TONS of noodles (what can I say? They take after their momma in their love of pasta), I also make chicken and fish and turkey burgers and roasted turkey, etc. And LOTS of fruits and veggies. I also completely limit their intake of sugar and salt and candy and junk food. My kids do not drink soda. The only time they have juice is for breakfast. They have never once had a Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets (that I know of. I would kill the hubs!). We don’t eat fast food, unless you count Chik-Fil-A, which I don’t because it’s real chicken, unlike whatever processed abomination comprises the McNugget. Basically, my kids are healthy-ish. (And I am in no way making a commentary on anyone else’s parenting skills if you do in fact feed your kids Mickey D’s.  I am just trying to make the point that I at least try to limit processed, unhealthy foods for my kids.  Mostly).

But, I fear, there will be a time where their heritage and genes will kick in, and they too will be unable to escape the overweight monster. I am doing my best as a parent to instill in them good eating habits, even if it is do as I say and serve you for dinner, and not as I do when I stuff my face, nom nom nom. But, I don’t want them to have to fear this yet, or even worry about health or weight or any of that at this young age. And by watching this show, which deals solely and specifically with all of that, coupled with the badly timed mention of the diet of yours truly, I feel like I might be starting my son down the path of no return.

So, I guess my question is this: By allowing him to watch this show with me (which I will continue watching but can watch after he goes to bed), am I just spending some quality time with my son or am I scarring him for life?  Weigh in!


By the way . . . Misty’s Laws now has it’s very own Facebook page!!  Very exciting, right?  Anyway, since I suffer from debilitatingly low self esteem, you would really make my day if you “liked” me.  Please????  Only if you really wanna, though.  No pressure or anything.  😀


29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leauxra
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 09:16:37

    I dunno. Mom and Dad let me watch HBO when I was five because they were sick of all that shit made for kids. Is that better or worse than reality TV? And I’m hardly scarred at all!!

    In seriousness, there is nothing wrong with TBL. Sure the beginning is bad, but it also teaches that even if you suck at something at the beginning, you’ll get better. I say keep on keepin’ on. Unless your son starts being a picky eater.


  2. Megan - Best of Fates
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 09:32:29

    Hmm… see, I never thought about it before, but now I can’t decide! ‘Cause you’re right, it’s definitely teaching a “fat is bad” message. Which, while health-wise is true, could be easily confused by children into thinking overweight people are bad.
    Yet I do so love Bob, so hard decision!


  3. Kelly
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 09:36:29

    Misty, I don’t think you’re scarring him. I think you can definitely now use it as a teaching moment, as in – this is why it is so important to eat fruits and veggies and drink milk, not soda, etc. Some of the drama in the show can get a little heated (Uh, did you SEE both Dolvett and Bob’s crazy eyes last night??) but that’s to be had in any reality show. No different than Simon blowing a gasket, in my opinion. We let Violet watch it with us. She’s 10, and still doesn’t quite “get it”, but trying to hammer in the “exercise is good and fun, and food doesn’t have to come out of a box” lesson is good for her, since she thinks pizza rolls are a food group.


  4. mark
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:20:54

    Love the little husky image – that’s awesome. I don’t do Facebook, like you don’t do twitter – sorry, Misty. As for scaring your son, I don’t think it should be a problem so long as you find some balance by watching some eating disorder shows too so he sees the dangers of anorexia and bulimia. Balance, I say.


  5. bschooled
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 11:47:55

    When it comes to scarring kids, I’m the last person who should be giving advice. The fact that I can’t stop laughing at the image of Santa passing out from exhaustion is proof of this.

    BUT, since I have this compulsive need to always give my two cents’ anyway, I think you have nothing to worry about. The parents who are constantly making “chubby” remarks, or narrowing their eyebrows when their child reaches out for that second piece of candy on Halloween are the ones in danger of ending up with teenagers who have food issues.

    Or, so I’ve heard, anyway.


  6. thoughtsappear
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 12:02:50

    I love that Husky pic! And you’re on Facebook now? Awesome! Can’t wait till I get home and can check it out!

    Soo…what was this post about? Oh yes….

    I think it’s ok for him to watch The Biggest Loser. Like you said, he’s eating fruits and veggies. Maybe explain to him how children’s metabolism is often different than adults?

    Sometimes Radley asks why I get two desserts through the day or extra candy. Kiefer says it’s because I paid for it, baked it, or because I’m an adult. I usually tell Radley if he eats a salad for lunch and dinner instead of burgers or whatever he’s having, he can have extra candy, too. He NEVER opts for the salad.


    • mistyslaws
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 14:08:25

      Well, what it sounds like to me is that you are actually a bad influence on those poor kids. Just sitting there eating all those desserts and candy in front of them while presumably they are choking down their brocolli? For shame, Thoughtsy. For shame!


  7. Britt
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 14:26:16

    Similar to some other opinions here, I think it’s okay that he’s watching it.
    While he may be a little too young to understand the concept of “weight”, it’s also not a terrible idea to expose him to the extreme side effects to laziness and overeating.
    I am, in no way, saying that obesity is solely caused by these two factors. I’ve struggled with weight my whole life, and find that show to be extremely eye opening. As long as your son doesn’t feel that he needs to worry about his image, then I think it’s safe!

    Besides, what kid doesn’t like watching Santa sweat? After all those “Be good or you’ll get coal!” threats, it’s a little redemption.


  8. lazysubculturalgirl
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 14:57:45

    Hmm, I think I come down on the side of “Don’t let your kids watch anything where adults yell dehumanizing things at other people.” Then again, I have major issues with The Biggest Loser. The way they have people jump into working out, pushing themselves, etc. is actually bad for them. Bad for their hearts, bad for their bodies, bad for their ability to KEEP THE WEIGHT OFF when they go back to their real life. Exercise and vegetables are lovely things that everyone should partake of, but punishment has yet to change anyone’s behavior permanently.

    More to the point, fat has nothing to do with health. If you exercise, eat fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, and some other healthy thing I forgot (get enough sleep?), then you will be as healthy as anyone. Fat, skinny, doesn’t matter. Numerous studies have proven this. We have the husky gene on one side of the family, and one of my kids is already built like a brick — a very solid, muscular brick so far but still. I try to be neutral about my attitudes towards fat because they pick up enough fat hate at school and through the media.

    OTOH, if the worst thing you do to your kid is let him watch The Biggest Loser, you’re already ahead of most of the parents I know. I wouldn’t stress overmuch unless he started becoming obsessive about it.


    • mistyslaws
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 14:16:57

      Yeah, the yelling isn’t my favorite. And the diet plan is definitely not the healthiest. I’m just concerned that he is going to see all this and equate it with either his parents being overweight or what you need to do to be “healthy.” Which it isn’t. While I enjoy watching the show, I’m just not sure it is appropriate to subject children to that insanity.


  9. Mandi E.
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 14:58:10

    First and foremost, thank you for being a parent that cares enough about their parental responsibilities to censor your kids viewing habits yourself instead of letting some overly pious, conservative harpy tell you what’s okay to watch on tv. You’re a dying breed and I love your dearly.

    Now, onto the really serious business… My parents never censored anything that I watched or read or listened to, as long as I wasn’t exposing my brother and sister to it. They knew I could handle it, but that it would not be appropriate for them. I think it’s one of those issues where you as the parent know whether your child is mature enough to handle it. A lot of it is communicating openly about what they’re seeing and how there is no such thing as “one size fits all” for anything in this world.


  10. Heather Rose
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 16:12:33

    That new PNC commercial says the formative years are birth to 5, so if he’s 6, you should totally be safe. Curse/swear/indoctrinate away, m’dear!

    But honestly, I wish my parents had been better about instilling healthy eating habits when I was younger. We did McDonalds probably almost once a week. I had a high metabolism back then, so I was never a fat kid, but when I got to college and wanted to lose a little weight, I didnt really know how to eat healthy, so I just stopped eating instead. Because eating disorders solve everything.

    So uhm… my completely inane, useless parenting advice from someone who has no grounds whatsoever to give parenting advice is that they’re gonna get fucked up somehow, so just do your best to steer them in the right direction while you can?


    • mistyslaws
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 14:22:02

      Wow. I didn’t realize I was already past the formative years! Woo-hoo. It’s party time!!

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure the no McDonalds thing will completely backfire on my ass when he’s a teenager and he can just go out and get his own food. He will probably shoot Big Macs like cocaine at that point.


  11. Kande
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 16:46:17

    I agree with lazysubculturegirl. My Mom was a health food nut when I was young, but neither my brother nor I were skinny. In particular I was heavier. Not fat, just not thin. My kids are the same – my joke is that I raise healthy peasant stock! As we were healthy enough as kids. My honest advice would be to eat dinner with them, I think it is important for you to role model how to eat. My kids watching me eat salad is what led them to trying it. They are more receptive to eating things they dont like because they see me eat things I dont like. They try new things when we have them set out a few times. And even if you sit with them, it just isn’t the same. There is no reason they can’t eat what you eat – you can modify it to suit your diet and them – one day a week my kids get a “picnic” dinner in front of the TV for fun. Other nights I may have a salad and them cut up veggies and dip. I know everyone is different and I don’t know you, but I swear I lost weight when I started to exercise 2-3 times per week and eat the way I feed my kids! I have two girls so am very conscientious about having them never see me on a restrictive diet but instead see me choosing healthy options. But on the other hand, I would also be concerned about being too restrictive about sweets – my moms no cookie rule made me crave them same with other processed foods – so when in university and after I didn’t regulate my eating of them as had no concept how, so gained weight. Of course some other factors there, but that was a big one. My kids are not denied dessert, we just don’t offer it. If they ask, we give them a sweet treat, if still hungry they choose a healthy snack. They just naturally dont ask for dessert. My eight year old was hungry after school today so made herself veggies, then a thin bagel with cream cheese, the cottage cheese, then a cookie then a kiwi. As for usual dinner fare, I don’t deny extra helpings of pasta etc., but they get it after eating the other food groups on their plate. Anyway. Just sharing what works for us! And no I dont think there is anything wrong with TBL, tho I talk of the contestants as going from unhealthy to healthy. No mention of weight nor fat.


    • mistyslaws
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 14:25:47

      Yeah, I have always had the goal of having family dinners, but I just can’t seem to make that happen right now. My kids eat salad as well, and it is because they have seen me and my hubs eat salads and have tired it. And my kids are more likely to ask for goldfish or fruitsnacks for a snack than a cookie or candy.


  12. Vesta Vayne
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 17:58:35

    Oh wow. That is a very, very tough one. I would say to watch the show without him, on the other hand, kids are exposed to so much that perhaps it is better for you to watch with him and answer any questions he might have.

    Kids and weight are tricky. The best you can do is teach them the right things to eat, and that indulging in moderation isn’t the end of the world. As other comments pointed out, thin doesn’t necessarily mean healthy!


  13. elizabeth- flourishinprogress
    Jan 11, 2012 @ 21:06:12

    I don’t think you’re scarring the kid at all! I find the show really inspirational. I can never get through an episode without crying my eyes out.

    I’m the unhealthiest I’ve been in a long time. I eat because it comforts me. I eat because I’m lonely. And frankly, I eat because it tastes damn good.

    Salads? grilled chicken? they make me want to cry. But I’m trying to get back on track too.


  14. jeane
    Jan 13, 2012 @ 10:01:44

    I don’t think that is a healthy show nor do I think it promotes a healthy lifestyle that is able to be maintained. I am not sure about watching it with your son but because you are with him you can at least answer any questions he might have. Plus, given most of the crap on tv it is hard to find anything that seems really good for kids. I think what is awesome about this situation is that this is your time with your son and that is always beautiful.


    • mistyslaws
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 14:33:19

      Thanks, Jeane! We don’t get a lot of time together, so it just happens that it’s tv watching time. Hence the attempts for appropriate shows to watch.


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