You may have heard the controversy over the Biggest Loser Finale this week. The beautiful and tenacious Rachel who weighed close to 300 pounds lost nearly 60% of her body weight in 5 and a half months, weighing in at 105 pounds to win the shows cash prize. Even the trainer’s jaws dropped upon first seeing her extreme weight loss. It was not long before the social media “I don’t know you, but I will personal assault you with a vicious tweet” #trending began. I honestly watched the finale with a broken heart.
“Culture baits us to the edge of moral disaster than chastises us when we cross certain lines.” (Andy Stanley)
The “overweight” Rachel said she felt hopeless, out of control, unworthy, a failure. The truth is that is how society viewed her as well. Rachel’s coping mechanism is food, which unfortunately results in her literally wearing the weight of the world on her body.
Your coping mechanism may not be food and it may or may not be as visible as obesity is; But you do have your go to unhealthy comfort. Is it drowning yourself in social media, alcohol, excessive exercise, gambling, gossip, TV, sex, I can keep going and I will eventually hit something you struggle maintaining a healthy relationship with.
So here is Rachel,
on public display,
deciding she is done,
and ready to get uncomfortable and do something about her unhealthy addiction.
Our culture is sales driven and the show Biggest Loser is made possible because it is entertaining enough to attract an audience advertisers are willing to “pay for”. Stuck in the middle is a LIFE, Rachel’s and the other contestants lives.
When Rachel was struggling with obesity she may have heard,
“Oh wow, you have really let yourself go” OR
“Rachel you were so healthy and beautiful, what happened?”
The weight of the comments would be overbearing and just perpetuate her already severely damaging self-talk.
When Rachel stood up and started to do something about it, we are on her side, cheering her on, encouraging her.
“You go girl, you are looking awesome!”
“You are an inspiration!”
“I can’t believe what progress you have made.”
Then Rachel finds herself at the finale; where it is obvious she gave it her all. During her Biggest Loser journey she had mustered up an “envious” amount of strength to do something about the pit she was in. Only to wake up in the same pit she found herself in 155 lbs ago!!
All over twitter you could find quotes like these:
#BLFinale becomes literally “The Hunger Games” with Rachel starving herself for 250K.
Now I want to be clear. YES, as a fitness professional I agree Rachel lost too much weight, too quickly. But just like us she will struggle with her weakness for the rest of her life. This was not the END of the story it was just a tiny part of her life we saw on TV.
As I watched the finale, my jaw dropped when she walk on stage and my heart sank with it. I knew what was coming. I knew it would be all over the news, social media and the morning radio talk shows. I knew that even though each and every one of us has an unhealthy relationship with something OR someone we would be quick to chastise someone who was doing their best to overcome their worst. The pressure of our culture told her she needed to change, then we cheered her on when she decided to give it her all, and then chastised her when we saw her “failure” win on TV for 5 minutes that night.
Now can I ask you to bring to mind the unhealthy relationships you are struggling with?
What do you need from me?
May I guess you need my unconditional love, you need me to believe in you, listen to you, get to know you. Most of all you need me to offer you the SAME space and grace I need. Space to LEARN how to flip the switch from “unhealthy” to “healthy” and GRACE to do it as many times as it takes.
As a Christian I am called to LOVE unconditionally. I am not able to pass judgement because I am not FREE of my “issues” ever, no matter how perfect or on top of things it may seem. The only words I should ever offer someone is kind words because I know if the self- talk that is in my head is in their head too that battle is already a difficult one.
Who do you need to extend GRACE and SPACE too? Or perhaps you need to believe you are worthy of receiving it.
Please keep going,
don’t give up
and remember to extended space and grace to the people around you.
Extended to people whether they are people you are close to and have a personal relationship with or someone you got to know a tiny bit once upon a time on a TV show.
“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24