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April 9, 2014

The shame game

9:33 am - Posted by Gregg

Jenny Craig darling Valerie Bertinelli has been in the news again lately — and not because her TV show Hot in Cleveland just began its new season. Instead, Ms. Bertinelli has been defending herself against what she calls “Fat shaming,” since certain members of the press (including the National Enquirer) have called her out on her recent weight gain after she so publicly dropped pounds and showed off her svelte bathing suit body in a series of television commercials and magazine covers a few years back.

Ms. Bertinelli recently appeared on CBS TV’s The Talk, where she told the show’s hosts that she hadn’t been able to workout after a foot injury in December. She then added, “I have gained a few pounds… It started to panic me. Then I thought, well, wait, a minute. This is my body. I’m almost 54. I broke my foot! My doctor told me to not get my heart rate up. But now I am back in the gym. We all need to give each other a break — especially women. Let’s leave each other alone.”

Shame certainly is an issue that all of us with a “dieter’s mentality” know well. Mainly because even if we’re not being called out on our own weight struggles by the National Enquirer, there’s usually just as vicious of a dialogue going on in our own heads. Shaming does need to stop — mostly from the inside-out. In fact, sometimes it’s the shaming of ourselves that can lead us to shaming others (whether publicly or privately).

I have a good friend here in Los Angeles who constantly bemoans the fact that she’s getting older and that she can tell people are degrading her because of her looks (even if she doesn’t know this for a fact). Often — during the same breath that she’s talking about how awful she feels she looks — she’ll then notice someone else nearby and offer an aside about how “fat/old looking/or whatever” that person is.

It eventually dawned on me that my friend is a victim of her own psyche. She’s hard on others and, therefore, assumes the rest of the world is being equally hard on her. What would happen, I wondered, if she started to find things about herself to appreciate? Would she then notice things in other people to appreciate rather than zero in on what she perceives to be their shortcomings?

I’m not signaling my friend out here. I, myself, have caught my brain belittling my size on numerous occasions (both before, during and after losing my excess weight). But as soon as I notice the negative, shaming voice in my head, I work to arrest it. Because I’m here to tell you that those negative thoughts did nothing to contribute to my successful weight loss.

On the contrary, it was building myself up and assuring myself I’m a supermodel that not only helped motivate me to succeed, but also helps me to keep the excess weight off — not to mention to love myself inside and out (no matter how tight my clothes might feel on occasion).

I now work to offer these same uplifting thoughts to everyone else in my life — even strangers. Because this kind of positive thinking (as opposed to shaming) is part of the success formula (both in regard to getting healthy as well as just being a person other people want to be around).

So let’s applaud Ms. Bertinelli for not only speaking out about fat shaming, but also owning her weight gain. I, myself, went up and down the scale a lot — even after taking off over 250 pounds of excess weight. And anyone that knows me will assure you I’m always battling 5 or so pounds. I’m human. Just like Ms. Bertinelli. Just like you.

Shame out. Self-love in.

Try it. You’ll like it. And you might even discover, as I did, that this love will start extending to everyone — and everything — around you. And rightly so.

(Someone cue the “feel good” music!)

Photo Source: The Talk

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10:28 am - Posted by Gregg

When I first caught a glimpse of the new commercial featuring Janet Jackson as the latest spokesperson for Nutrisystem, I must admit that I did a double take – thinking I might be watching “Saturday Night Live” instead of the morning news. Was this the same musical celebrity who has been just as famous for going up and down the scale as she is for her musical hits of the 80s and 90s? I stopped my DVR, rewound and watched the advertisement again.

You can check out the add for yourself here:

Let’s ignore the fact that it sounds like someone should have given Ms. Jackson some coffee so she would have sounded awake during the ad and focus on the product for a second. Personally, I have always found Nutrisystem commercials and print ads somewhat comical. Mainly because almost every single one contains the legal line of “”Results not typical. Individuals are remunerated.” Google ‘remunerated’ and you’ll the definition is: “to pay an equivalent for <their services were generously remunerated>”

When payment is involved, one has to wonder about the validity of a weight loss program – or, at the very least, the motivation behind the weight loss. And this is as true for celebrity endorsers as it is for so-called success stories featuring everyday people. I’m not knocking Nutrisystem or Janet Jackson specifically. But you have to question the validity of any diet program that uses a celebrity who’s somewhat notorious for yo-yo dieting (and, rumor has it, allegedly having surgeries to get her abs back into shape). Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty) even wrote a book with details about a recent weight loss (with an epilogue written by her personal nutritionist, David Allen).

To read Ms. Jackson’s interview about her dieting methods previous to Nutrisystem: Click Here

Yet now, less than a year after releasing her book, Ms. Jackson is promoting a totally different method of weight loss? This just goes to show you that these so called ‘testimonials’ might not be all they’re cracked up to be. After all, losing weight when you can employ personal nutritionists, chefs and trainers is a whole lot different than receiving a supply of seemingly freeze-dried diet food that’s delivered at monthly intervals in a cardboard box.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Ms. Jackson for being a yo-yo dieter or for trying all sorts of different diets. This makes her “my people” and makes me yearn to do a spin class with her (followed by an immediate jaunt to the nearest frozen yogurt place). I get it. Been there. Done that. And, in some cases, still doing it. I adore Ms. Jackson and feel for her in regard to her being a member of the “Darn, it’s hard to lose weight club.” But I’d feel better taking advice from her if she had kept the weight off for a number of years and was truly walking her talk.

Like Kirstie Alley (promoting her own Organic Liaison diet) and now even Mariah Carey (who, frankly, looks ridonkulous in her barely clad ads for Jenny Craig), I question Ms. Jackson’s sincerity in regard to endorsement vs. spokesperson-for-profits.

It’s reeks of taking advantage of one’s own community in order to make a buck. I don’t know Ms. Jackson personally. So I am trying not to judge her. But as someone who has battled the bulge for years and years (and still must stay very wary of it) and as someone who cares for the health of people with the same challenge, in this particular case, I question her authenticity.

Why the concern? Because these types of celebrity endorsements can lead to heartache for dieters, who believe the hype, try the diet and then wonder why it’s not working for them the same way it’s ‘working’ for a particular celebrity. Well, for starters, us regular folk don’t have a private chef, private trainer or an agent that’s taking a certain percentage of the enormous profits that celebrities are usually paid for lending a famous name to a product. That’s a totally different set of circumstances entirely. So no – it’s not the same as when you and I go on said diet plan.

I suppose this all boils down to the old adage of “Buyer beware.”

We live in a marketing driven society. And the diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year one. That means profits, folks. Profits sometimes made at the expense of people like us – the dieter who yearns to lose weight and feel great once and for all.

So, really, Ms. Jackson, what have you done for me – and the dieting community – lately?

How do you feel about Janet Jackson trumpeting Nutrisystem? Or Mariah Carey appearing half naked for Jenny Craig? Are you motivated? Amused? Left feeling ripped off? I’d love to hear what you think. So please, add to my pleasure principle and comment away…

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