Saturday, January 29, 2011

"HEAVY" On My Mind . . .and Television

I have taken the time to watch the first two episodes of the A&E show Heavy. It is a show where they take two obese people and bring them to treatment for 30 days then send them home with tools and a plan for weight loss over the next five months. Then they give you their six month results. There are no prizes. There is simply a chance for a longer, saner, healthier life. 

I liked the first episode. I could identify with the comment "No fat person wants to work with a personal trainer who have never been overweight a day in their life. I felt the woman trainer was, in fact, a tad condescending in her attitude. Of course, this could have easily been my own feeling of wanting to smack any skinny b**** who tries to tell me what I should be doing to loose weight. Those who have walked a mile in my skin I will gladly follow on the journey. If they have not had my experience I do not yet have the patience and grace to accept their advice. when it comes to weight loss and exercise. My attitude could be wrong. 

I liked that they did not leave the 'participants to fail at home. If there is failure to thrive in the home environment they must return to the treatment facility. If you are having other issues you can choose to return for more intense immersion into a lifestyle change. I like that in addition to personal trainers they give the participants therapy, education in how to shop, read labels, make better choices, CHANGE their lifestyles so they have a fighting chance of keeping the pounds off.

What I did not like:
In episode two a woman named Jessica begins the show weighing 289 lbs. When Jessica reaches a weight loss of 50 pounds she gets the medical approval to have the 'excess skin' removed from her stomach. WTF??? 

I am not a doctor but come on;  Jessica has barely begun her journey. Her body has had no time to respond to the weight loss. Jessica is still losing weight. She has not yet shown she can maintain her  weight loss in a healthy manner. She still has more than 75 pounds to lose. Why would they do cosmetic procedure on her at this point? Was it really in her best interests at this time? Was this a procedure the show paid for if it could be done on camera? Why not give her a chance for her brain to catch up to her body. The psychological effects of losing a significant amount of weight are great and there is a period of adjustment that no one who has not gone through it or studied it can begin to understand. 

If Jessica continues to lose weight her skin will sag and hang worse than after losing 50 pounds. he answer is not simply more surgery on the same area. Every time you have surgery on your skin they cut into the vascular system and lymphatic system. This makes it harder for the skin to heal the next time. If Jessica does not keep up her commitment to changing her lifestyle she will regain the weight and the smaller skin area will have to stretch thin to cover the larger area. Skin can breakdown and die from lack of adequate blood supply due to surgery, obesity and stretching. I just think the surgery should wait until she reached a maintenance period or at least had a few more months of change behind her. 

Jessica carried a lot of her weight in her abdomen. You can see on the show that her skin is not really loose yet, she is just starting to get that deflated look on her stomach. Jessica and the doctor said it was annoying and uncomfortable and interfered with her physical activity.  If she thinks the skin is annoying now she should see what it is like at 100 pounds of weight loss. I weighed almost 100 pounds more than Jessica's top weight and my baggy/saggy skin, while annoying, never caused me any problem in exercising. Even after losing over 200 lbs I can hide the extra in my middle fairly well under my clothes. 

Does this sound like bitter grapes? Perhaps. I would love to have my excess skin removed - I do not have the money for elective surgery and my insurance coverage does not cover cosmetic procedures. I have to wait and hope for a visit from the plastic surgery fairy or pray that our personal finances take a wide turn for the better. So until the producers contact me to be in a show about 're-fitting the skin you're in' I will be keeping the pounds off and the skin on and wishing the participants of Heavy every possible happiness and continued success on their journey.



Sandra Wilkes said...

I am so impressed with the progress you have made in losing weight and keeping it off. Congratulations! I don't really know what else to say except that you really have my respect and admiration. I'm sure you are an inspiration to many.

Pretty Pauline said...

Loose skin is one of my biggest fears! But I still want to get healthy. I think that one should wait at least a year after reaching goal before considering the surgery though.

Jane Cartelli said...

Pauline: I agree about waiting at least a year. In fact, I think 2 years is better because the body needs a lot of recovery time after extreme weight loss but our minds need even more time- even when it is done slowly and with excellent nutrition.
Mentally, I have adjusted to the skin now. If I can get it taken off it will be a bonus gift in my life. If not, I will wear my battle scars with honor. I have fought a good fight.


Jane Cartelli said...

Real Life in a Minute: Thank you for taking a moment post such as kind statement! I believe my success can only be mine to keep if I pass it on to others. If I can be helpful to someone else in their efforts then my journey has even more purpose.


Vickie said...

I saw that same episode and had the same reaction. I have the same reaction when WLS patients have this same surgery the minute they get near goal before they have maintained for any length of time. And to be honest, I have this same reaction that people have WLS surgery without MAJOR mental health kind of therapy in the first place.