Beginning a few weeks ago, I started to see tweets and comments about MTV’s new show “I Used to Be Fat.”  A few people said they liked the show, others hated it.  When asked my opinion, I kind of just shrugged because I’d never seen the show (I never give opinions on things without educating myself first).  Then, I set my DVR to record four episodes and slowly plowed through them.


Kara’s email to me perfectly summed up the quandary that a lot of people have about the show.  She wrote, “Recently I’ve caught a few episodes of "I Used to Be Fat" on MTV, and wondered what your thoughts were, particularly as someone who has one foot in the healthy living world and then one foot in the Operation Beautiful and tween/teen body image world. I have mixed thoughts — on one hand, I think it’s really inspiring to see these young kids work really hard and feel great about themselves after they’ve changed their bodies and their lives. On the other hand — it’s MTV — and I feel like there’s definitely an undertone of "I can’t be beautiful unless I’m thin/skinny" (both from the teens themselves and then obviously the whole network itself).”

Gabriella, 18, was featured in the pilot episode of MTV's I Used To Be Fat.(Source)

The premises of the show is very “The Biggest Loser.”  An overweight and sad teen (they are almost always dealing with emotional issues, too) is given the summer to lose a ridiculous amount of weight (usually 100 pounds) with the help of a personal trainer.  However, it’s not a competition – there are no prizes.  It’s just about the teen changing their life.  The show also deals with issues like emotional eating, parental responsibly, and other mental hang-ups that usually accompany teenagehood.


After watching several episodes, I can say that I do like the show… in general.  Sometimes, the show does put promote questionable messages, but we’ll talk about that after I list the things that I liked.


One thing I really like about I Used to Be Fat is the theme of self-motivation and taking personal responsibility.  From my experiences talking to people of all shapes and sizes, self-motivation is usually the biggest issue.  Everyone struggles with staying motivated, and I love that the show focuses on empowering the teens to be healthy and gain self-confidence. 


I also love the focus on mental health.  In particular, the episode about Dom (with the food-obsessed Italian family) draws a clear connection between him getting healthy and moving into adulthood and away from the smothering grip of his mother, who berates him and emotionally hijacks him at every turn.  The trainers talk a lot about building confidence in your own abilities and talking out issues with your friends or family.  I love that the show makes healthy living about more than just the number on the scale.

However…. the episode about Dom was the only one that I saw that talking about developing truly healthy eating habits, like cooking most of your own food.  The other episodes focused on getting rid of unprocessed foods (through the obligatory “let’s-go-through-your-pantry-and-toss-out-the-junk”) but also had undertones of “eat as little as possible,” which of course I don’t like.  Anytime you pressure someone to lose an immense amount of weight in a short period of time, you’re going to promote unhealthy eating habits and dangerous exercise habits as a by-product.  


I Use to Be Fat doesn’t clearly show the audience what the teen is eating and explain why.  Although everyone’s caloric needs are different, I think it would be cool to do a 5-minute segment during each show were the trainer really breaks it down for the teen and audience about how to eat healthily.  Seeing sample eating plans or post-workout snack ideas would provide the audience with concrete and HEALTHY tips they could apply to their own life.  I worry that teens might see too many negative eating examples (one girl on the show ate half a piece of baked fish at a restaurant and freaked out).


My biggest issue with the show is that it promotes workouts that are dangerous and unsafe.  Two of the teens I watched puked or nearly puked after their first workout.  I know it’s more dramatic to push the teen to the point of crying or puking during the first workout, but its also unnecessary and totally unhealthy.


These poor kids are already in bad shape, and I feel like MTV is just exploiting them or trying to ‘break them’ until they cry for the cameras.  Again – I feel like MTV is promoting an extreme style of living and not a lifestyle that can be maintained in the long run.  And I would love to see sample workouts or discussions about hydration or proper fueling so teens who are interested in getting in shape can apply the advice to their own life.  “Work out ‘til you puke” is bad advice!


And I’ll agree with the reader named Kara who suggested the format of the show promotes the thought process of “Once I’m skinny, I’ll be happy.”  Obesity is obviously a very emotionally trying issue for individuals, but I would LOVE to see more teens on the show who just want to lose weight for health reasons, not because they want a boyfriend / want to break free of their parents / want to be popular.  Of course, emotional motivations for wanting to lose weight can be healthy reasons.  But when they are compressed and simplified for a show, it comes off as “50 pounds from now, I’ll finally be happy.”  I do want to point out they had one girl on the show who was homecoming queen and loved high school, which was a nice balance from the previous contestants. 


All in all, I feel like I Used to Be Fat is one of the better weight-loss shows because it’s not a competition and focuses on real emotions.  I just wish it would show a more balanced approach to healthy living (but, of course, this might make for less interesting television).


Have you seen I Used to Be Fat?  What’s your opinion on the show?  How do you feel about weight-loss programs like The Biggest Loser? (I stopped watching TBL after one contestant claimed it encouraged her to develop anorexic behavior.)



  • Natalia - a side of simple January 23, 2011, 11:38 am

    This is actually the first I’ve ever heard of the show (great review by the way!) I’m really not a fan of MTV shows in general because I feel like they tend to show such low portrayals of teens. I don’t think any of their shows are really motivating or inspiring, but instead are just guilty pleasures with a “sucks for you!” attitude. MTV should start showing more balanced approaches to life in general and healthy living, like you mentioned!

  • Elyse January 23, 2011, 11:41 am

    I think the show is good for a few reasons.
    A) Most of these teenagers are obese and do need some serious help. I don’t think they’re all about being skinny/thin…I think they’re about being happy and healthy. As an obese teen I can tell you that I am extremely unhappy with myself most of the time.
    B) I’ve seen many episodes where the teen is cooking their own food and parents are trying to help them.
    C) I will agree with you that the girl with the half eaten fish that freaked out might be taking it a little too far.
    D) When you’re obese and doing a tough workout you will throw up almost everytime. I say it from experience I was working out regularly lost 20 pounds and did a workout that was harder but not too extreme & I barfed. No one was making me do it, but unfortunately it was my bodies reaction to it.

    I don’t want you to take any of my points in a bad/negative/trying to fight way because I LOVE your blog :)!!! I just know that as a 230 pound 19 year old that I could bring a different view to the table. I’ve been losing weight but people make horrible comments to me about what I eat (I’m trying to eat mostly unprocessed foods and workout more) but everyone seems to have their own opinion about what I should do. Do you have any advice on how to deal with them?

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 11:44 am

      I love reading your comment! You bring a perspective that I just cannot! And congrats for self-motivating yourself to get in shape… so awesome.

      Re: the food issue, I would just smile and say, “Thanks so much for your advice” and change the subject. Are people teasing you for being healthier or giving you bad advice?

      PS – I’m sorry you barf so easily! Have you tried varying what you eat beforehand?

      • Elyse January 23, 2011, 4:38 pm

        Re: The food issue. People just have opinions on what I should/shouldn’t do. For example, I work into my schedule a cheat meal every week where I enjoy what I eat (usually it is date night with the boyfriend & we are eating out). People feel the need to tell me that putting a cheat meal in is bad, I should have more cheat meals etc. Another comment I get often is that I am eating too little. Since when is eating between 1600-1800 calories a day too little? I am eating more (quantity wise) while eating healthy food than I did eating fatty, junk food. People are also afraid that by journaling my food that I am “obsessive”. I feel as if I am not obsessive but I am helping myself by learning proper serving sizes, the calories in different foods, the way they fuel me properly & the way they make me feel.

        Re: Tough workouts making me sick. I’ve varied what I have eating, little to nothing for an hour before workout, a small snack before a workout, etc. The only workouts that have made me throw-up are when I am pushing myself to go farther than I am comfortable with. I can’t always be comfortable working out, being uncomfortable is what keeps my body on it’s toes (calorie burning wise). I don’t push myself to the point of passing out or anything weird but I push myself when running (because it is hard for me) or during a workout that is tougher than I am used to. It is all a mental issue of “I CAN’T DO THIS!” when really I totally can but I am being a whiny baby.

        Thank you so much for the response!

        • Elyse January 23, 2011, 4:40 pm

          Oh & just to clear this up. I do not agree that losing 90 pounds in 90 days is healthy. The weight comes back on as soon as fast as you got it off. I have been aiming to lose 1-2 pounds per week. So I know my journey to my happy weight will take a year or more.

      • AJ @ Flowing to Fifty January 23, 2011, 4:40 pm

        Elyse and Caitlin –

        The nausea is caused by lactic acid in the bloodstream, which in turn is caused by pushing muscles beyond their normal load. When your body is unaccustomed to this kind of physical exertion, the response is dramatic. A fitter person’s body learns to use the lactic acid for fuel. For the rest of us, well, it’s pretty uncomfortable.

        Great discussion, Caitlin! I watch the show as well and have some likes and dislikes. I totally disliked the father who kept telling his daughter Mackenzie that she would never be loved unless she was thin! Arrrggghhh!!!!!

        • Elyse January 23, 2011, 4:42 pm

          Thanks for the science behind it! That is really interesting to know. I played softball for 14 years and my muscles & body were trained to use lactic acid for fuel but unfortunately the college life & food choices screwed that up!

    • sam April 18, 2014, 7:02 pm

      hi, i would just like to say, i read the review of the show by this blogger and thoroughly liked it, the only part i didn’t agree with at all was the out look on the workout. Throwing up from intense workouts is completely normal, and happens to everyone, its a good indicator that your have really pushed your self. Was annoyed at this, but then read your reply comment and just had to say well done, so much, keep going. I’m a personal trainer my self, and no a lot about training, weight loss, weight gain ect, and love the gym and nutrition. its not just my job but my absolute favorite thing to do, and its great to see someone in a very much passive/not at all aggressive(as these things sometimes are) way replay showing that the blogger may not be entirely right about certain things, for example throwing up after workouts as being a sign of a dangerous workout. It something that any real athletes will end up doing, i still do and i have a BMI of 9%. Arnold Schwarzenegger even comments that it is quite a common thing for a bodybuilder to throw up or to pass out during or after a workout, and indeed professional athletes when trained very very hard will not stop tell they drop! finally id like to say, dont worry about what anyone say about your diets, your staying away from processed foods, and that’s the mane thing, as far as a cheet day goes, i can tell you that it is 100% nessasery for ordinary people to keep a stringent diet up. if you dont enjoy one meal each week then you will quickly loose interest, Dwayne Johnson is known to have a HOLE cheat day were he says he eat a dozen crispy creams and as many burgers as he wants! So keep up the good work, dont listen to those nay sayers, and stick to one plan, find what you want to do and do it for a good 3 months to really see how it works for you. remember people who change there body’s like this aren’t one diets or work out fazes, its a lifestyle choice, your doing grate and dont let anyone put your down. keep up the work, and if you ever need any advice on anything I’m more than happy to give it, as i say I’m a personal trainer with about 6 years experience in this, so just feel free to ask 🙂

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence January 23, 2011, 11:42 am

    I personally think they lose weight way too quickly, as a result of the workouts and eating habits (which they don’t show enough of). The name of the show bothers me, too!

    • Dust Bunny April 12, 2012, 11:02 am

      Exactly. They also never tell you that losing weight is not usually a linear process. Weight goes up and down a couple of pounds (water retention, TOTM for women, etc.) normally, even for those of us who are not overweight. So, the kid weighs in and weighs the same, or a pound more than last week, and freaks. None of these weight-loss shows tell you that; they just have the contestants doubting themselves because they didn’t lose 50 pounds in three months, or whatever. Well, that’s a tall order, especially if you’re trying to do it in a healthy way! I think there’s far too much focus on rate of loss and not enough on process. I assume they discuss process more behind the scenes but they don’t show enough of it in the episodes.

  • Marie-Journey to Body Zen January 23, 2011, 11:45 am

    I’ve never seen this show but now I am very intrigued. I think it’s cool that they address binge eating as I struggled with this as a teen. I also like how you say they discuss emotional/mental health stuff because that is really important in a teen’s life and learning about how to cope with our emotions is a lifelong journey and it’s great to develop these skills as a teen!

  • ashley@quasichick January 23, 2011, 11:46 am

    I haven’t seen this show yet, but now you have me wondering. I am going to set it to DVR and I’ll be back with my 2 sense later 🙂 T

  • jen @ taste life January 23, 2011, 11:46 am

    I have only seen one episode of it so far, and I liked some things and didn’t like others. I liked that the trainer really showed the girl that she was the one who was standing in her own way – and he also showed her mom how she was really enabling the daughter to continue to be overweight. The girl learned to cook, learned to like foods other than fast food, and learned she was stronger than she thought. I did NOT like that she lost 90 pounds in 90 days! I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation for most people.

    I agree that it would be great if these shows talked more about the food and fueling for health. I don’t watch TBL anymore, either, because it drove me nuts that they would show people losing a ton of weight through crazy exercise but rarely talked about what they were eating. Eating is a huge part of weight loss, and it’s important for people to see examples of what healthy is – and it’s not working out all day eating 1200 calories.

  • Camille January 23, 2011, 11:46 am

    You know, I actually really like the show. My only issue with it is the same issue that I have with any other weight loss show which is that it promotes unhealthily fast weight loss. Aside from that, I really feel like they do a good job.
    I have seen two episodes, one with the boy from the Italian family and the other with a girl and the cool thing was that it didn’t just focus on the weight loss aspect. The girl was dealing with a lack of support from her Mom and essentially hearing her Mom tell her that being healthy shouldn’t be her first priority.
    I would definitely keep watching this show and I usually stop and watch it when I am flipping channels and it is on. Besides, any show that has my pizza and burger loving boyfriend saying, “Wow, that is incredible” and delaying watching an action movie so he can see what happens to these kids is fine by me!

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) January 23, 2011, 11:47 am

    I haven’t seen the show. I used to like the biggest loser, when it had more information about losing weight and being healthy. Now it is all about the shock factor and advertisements. I feel like they don’t give realistic information for a healthy lifestyle. I stopped watching it when they started constantly promoting chewing gun if you want a sweet treat. Really, that is the stupidest thing I have heard. Why not have an apple or banana…something healthy to eat instead of promoting sugar free gum make with chemicals? I think there is great information that needs to be shared, but I don’t like the workout till ya puke method.

    • Carrie @ TV and Dinners January 23, 2011, 4:41 pm

      I am constantly yelling “GUM IS NOT A SNACK!” at those ads during The Biggest Loser. They are maddening.

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt January 23, 2011, 11:48 am

    I haven’t seen the MTV show yet, but I do watch The Biggest Loser. One of my issues with that show is that they literally ban certain foods and refer to those foods as “bad”. I hate the concept of “good” vs “bad” foods and don’t believe that we should put limits on ourselves. When these people go out into the real world outside the BL ranch, they will need to learn how to handle temptation and eat the foods they like in moderation. Plus, how practical is it (or healthy) to teach people that they must work out 6-8 hrs a day? Overall, I am all for being healthy, but I am against some of the more extreme measures.

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 11:55 am

      YES!!! When TBL banned bananas, I was like, this is ridiculous.

      • Cyclist Kate January 23, 2011, 3:09 pm

        Where do you find the information re: the diet consumed on the ranch? The only mention of food I’ve seen is the product placements, and it just occurred to me that it’s pretty strange that there’s so little mention of food when the contestants are losing such huge amounts of weight.

        • Elyse January 23, 2011, 4:39 pm

          They banned bananas. That is a joke, I eat them every morning!

        • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 5:27 pm

          Didn’t TBL say that bananas were ‘too high calorie’? Or am I thinking of another weight loss show?

  • Katherine: Unemployed January 23, 2011, 11:52 am

    I used to be fat is so different than the biggest loser. I feel like so many tv shows now are about losing weight

  • Jessica January 23, 2011, 11:55 am

    I think the show does a good job of addressing some of the emotional issues and teaching the teens how to manage things on their own (teaching them to cook and encouraging them to start managing their own workouts). I know it’s easy to see a show like that and feel like they are focusing too much on how their life with be when they lose the weight, but in my experience they have a valid point. I myself was an obese teenager, and I lost almost 100 pounds my senior year of highschool. As much as it may suck, the world treats people completely differently when they are obese. They don’t have to be skinny, but losing weight and no longer being obese WILL completely change their life.

    • Valerie January 23, 2011, 12:35 pm

      I too was an obese teenager. My freshman year of college I lost about 40 pounds and there definitely IS a difference in how people treat you. It’s pretty unfortunate that it has to be that way, but it’s true. Then again, that was never my motivation for losing the weight, but I feel like for most of these kids it is.

      • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 12:45 pm

        That makes me sad… People should treat people the way they deserve due to their personality, not their appearance. I’m sorry. 🙁

        • Kiran January 23, 2011, 5:24 pm

          I don’t like negative peer pressure. People has got to learn loving you for what you are, not what they expect of you in terms of appearance. Sigh.

          • tom April 18, 2014, 7:23 pm

            I’m sorry, i just have to comment, people do treat obese people differently, because they are obese, because it a serious thing that is avoidable, through serious hard work, I’m not undermining that, but the truth is it is unhealthy and completely reflects upon who you are. people should be treated in accordance to there personality’s but your appearance and your weight to the extent of being obese is completely a reflection and large aspect of your personality. You cant deny that, the truth is obesity is a modern occurrence by all intents and purposes, and while the blame for this is not on the individuals who suffer from obesity, but with the modern climate, in eating and exercise habits, obesity is a self inflicted debilitating disease that affect everyone around you and is completely and utterly unnatural to the mastery of the human form. to quote the greatest mind possibly ever to have lived ‘No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training… what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable… For in everything that men do the body is useful; and in all uses of the body it is of great importance to be in as high a state of physical efficiency as possible. Why, even in the process of thinking, in which the use of the body seems to be reduced to a minimum, it is matter of common knowledge that grave mistakes may often be traced to bad health.’ – Socrates. The beauty and strength of which the body is capable…

  • Sam January 23, 2011, 11:55 am

    I watch the teen show because I can relate to it. I used to be an obese teenager myself; however, I do have to disagree on some points.

    1. Just because you are an obese teenager does not mean you throw up when you workout. I’ve been through many workouts and have never thrown up. Now if someone is pushing me to the extreme, of course I will. I agree that MTV does that for ratings
    2. I don’t think anyone should be working out 6 hours a day. I believe that is unhealthy and something that they cannot maintain the rest of their lives
    3. I think they are only setting them up for failure. The goal is for them to lose 90 or more pounds in 90 or so days. Sure they lose weight but what about after MTV is out of their lives. Most of the statistics show they will gain back some if not all of the weight
    4. The only thing I like about the show is when they get the whole family involved. I think most people need to understand and I believe if their is an obese teenager in the household it is the parents fault. Sorry just what I believe.

    • Jenni May 20, 2013, 11:35 am

      Re your third point, they always show a segment where the trainer asks the teen ‘So how much do you want to lose?’ – I’ve never seen anything which suggests that they have to lose at least 90 pounds or whatever. In fact some episodes I’ve seen has the trainer warning that their goal is going to be tough.

  • Kristina @ life as kristina January 23, 2011, 11:55 am

    Im a sucker and watch it…but same as what I tweeted to you-I’m not sure if I’m watching it for the right reasons! The concept behind it may be possitive but semi-unrealistic. Great review and much needed!

  • Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy January 23, 2011, 11:57 am

    I’ve watched the show and my biggest complaint is the amount of weight they are expected to lose in such a short amount of time. For some it was over a pound a day! It also mainly shows them working out, but like you said, doesn’t focus on making healthy eating a priority.

  • Lauren January 23, 2011, 11:58 am

    I’ve heard about it, and along with The Biggest Loser, I think the workouts are too extreme. I don’t know if these teens would want to continue working out when they’re done with their trainers if they have bad experiences and puke during them. I think it’s probably for the show – it may not be as good for the show if they just showed people walking or doing some light running, people may think that’s boring to watch. Showing healthy eating habits would be good to have in the show too. I have a problem with The Biggest Loser after seeing that they asked participants to train for a marathon in 4 weeks – that’s dangerous & probably would cause injuries.

  • Val @ Balancing Val January 23, 2011, 11:58 am

    One thing I didn’t like about some of the shows was that their PARENTS were the ones that basically drove the point in that they wouldnt be successful they way they were.

    One mom purposely bought junk food in the house just to see if the girl would eat it!!

    I think some of the family members need to be involved more in the support of their journeys.

    • Katie B | perkytoafault January 23, 2011, 12:19 pm

      That mom that “tested” her daughter with the junk food made me so mad!

      • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 12:42 pm

        Ugh me too!!!! WHO DOES THAT?

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) January 23, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I have mixed feelings about this show. You touched on the episode about the girl eating half of the fish. When I saw that, it made me flash back to my struggles with eating and made a red flag go up. While I believe the premise of the show is good, I’m just worried that maybe some restrictive eating habits could be formed as a result.

  • Chris January 23, 2011, 12:02 pm

    As a recovering anorexic and over exerciser, I try to avoid these shows as much as possible since I find them rather triggering. I avoid MTV in general like the plague because of the negative self talk and air brushed image promotions.

    I have to say that these types of shows are not as bad as the reality show that I saw about women getting plastic surgery before their weddings. That is just sick

  • Faith @ lovelyascharged January 23, 2011, 12:04 pm

    I actually haven’t seen it, but I think I’d like to. It sounds like a very interesting premise. Unfortunately, at that age, most of the motivation for weight loss is that in and of itself – not so much the health factor. That was the time that I began to develop my messed up eating habits, although a full-blown disorder didn’t emerge until college. At that point in my life, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about healthy – I just wanted to see the fat go away. I think as far as the show goes, that may be the jist of the children’s attitudes, but it would be awesome to see the professionals leading the show step up and make it more about whole body health.

  • Natalia@ The Health Script January 23, 2011, 12:04 pm

    I used to think The Biggest Loser was so inspiring! Not anymore! They really don’t show everything that happens on that show, like how half your day is spent at the gym and the lower than ideal daily calorie intake the participants are forced to abide by. For people on the show the only concern they have is losing weight- they have no jobs, no fast food restaurants to tempt them, etc. But the problem is that people at home try to do exactly what the participants on the show are doing, which is not only extremely unsafe but also gets them discouraged when their results don’t match up to the contestants.

  • Jamie @ Inspired Mess January 23, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Awesome review, Caitlin! I do watch this show. As somebody who is overweight and battling the bulge myself, I find it inspiring. I think about it after watching and find myself making better choices and wanting to work out.

    I do agree that there should be more about nutrition and eating and definitely think there should be more parental involvement. Those parents are overweight themselves and not doing anything about it (at least on the show) and just telling their kids they need to lose weight. The last one I watched was the dad who wanted his daughter to lose weight before she left for college. Kids feel bad enough and don’t need their parents telling them they need to lose weight before being able to have a good time at college. What happened to unconditional love and encouragement or doing it together?
    Just my two cents. But overall, I like the show and any weight loss story inspiring and motivating.
    Great review and comments above!

  • Heather January 23, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I’m biased in that I’ve lost a lot of weight, 280 pounds, and I did it on my own without a TV show, so I’m pretty torn on “I used to be fat”. I’ve watched a few episodes, and while I don’t think it’s as extreme as The Biggest Loser, which I don’t watch, it’s still not what I’d call a healthy weight loss show. It is on MTV after all, and they are all about the shock and drama. I talked to an MTV producer in 2009 about being on TrueLife, but because I didn’t have lots of drama I wasn’t picked. It was for the episode “I’m uncomfortable with my new body”, and after watching the episode when it came on I’m glad I wasn’t picked. I just think that combining something serious like losing lots of weight and changing your life with a TV show doesn’t add up to a good thing.

  • Mrs. Muffins January 23, 2011, 12:05 pm

    Interesting… I actually haven’t watched ANY of MTV’s programming in years. Then again, I don’t watch a lot of TV, period. With that said, just hearing the title, I don’t like it because of the word ‘fat’. It seems like society, not just teens, is so quick to label someone as ‘fat’ rather than unhealthy or unfit. I’ve suffered from eating disorders for years and ‘fat’ is the term I obsessed over for years. Never did I think of myself as healthy or unhealthy or in shape or out of shape. I was fat. Having some body fat is healthy though and it’s taken me a long time to learn accept that. Eating fat, in moderation is not a bad thing. When we go around using the term ‘fat’ in such a negative way it makes it seem like fat is everything we should avoid but in reality, we need a little bit of it! And being ‘healthy’ and ‘fit’ means eating fat sometimes and having a little bit of fat on your body.

    • Laura January 24, 2011, 7:37 pm

      “I don’t like it because of the word ‘fat’. It seems like society, not just teens, is so quick to label someone as ‘fat’ rather than unhealthy or unfit.” Exactly. I just finished reading The Obesity Myth and it was startling to find out how much of the “obesity epidemic” is just based on society’s fear of fat. Studies have shown that someone with a BMI of 30 has no more significant health issues than someone with a BMI of 25, and that a person with a BMI of 30 eats right and exercises tends to be longer lived than someone with a BMI of 18.5 (unless they have a pattern of yo yo dieting, that’s where most of the “health issues associated with obesity” actually come from). And considering that people yo yo diet sometimes when they’re trying to attain/sustain a weight too small for them–well, it’s a bad situation. At least the kids in this show have been taught healthier behaviors (overall) that they weren’t practicing before, but it makes me sad that the focus is the fat. I was a fat teenager and so unhappy about it, but I think if I had had a healthy self-esteem it would have made more difference than a few pants sizes.

  • Zo January 23, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I used to watch the Biggest Loser, but feel the contestants weight loss is an unrealistic model between their access to trainers, the time they spend working on themselves, and the rapid weight loss. I haven’t seen the MTV show, but I was an overweight teenager (I was 50 pounds overweight). I remember how hard that was (like Elyse [#2] I got plenty of comments and ). My own experience with weight loss and its maintenance [my teen years were twenty years ago!]is that it’s a continual process that really does involve seeing patterns and making changes. I hope the teens on the show come away with that.

    • Zo January 23, 2011, 12:09 pm

      Oops. I meant to say “plenty of comments and judging looks”

  • sarah (the SHU box) January 23, 2011, 12:10 pm

    i’ve seen one episode, and i think your assessment is spot-on. what i don’t understand is why NONE of these weight loss shows ever focuses on lifestyle change and losing weight the truly healthy way. of course, it’s SLOWER, so less dramatic . . . but why couldn’t they film it bit by bit over a period of a year or more, sort of like shape mag’s weight loss diary?

  • Kristen January 23, 2011, 12:12 pm

    I have watched a few episodes of this show, and almost feel the same way as you do. I used to LOVE Biggest Loser, but stopped watching because it became more about the game than about learning to live a healthy lifestyle. Which I guess is why I do like I Used To Be Fat. I do agree that they should really show HOW they are learning to eat well, since most of the battle with obesity is poor nutrition. But, with the “working out to the point of puking” you brought up, most of these teens have not worked out in a very long time if ever. When you push your body past it’s normal limits, you will puke. I have cross country/track runners who are still in decent shape but the first day of practice will puke because they’re just not used to working that hard. Guaranteed, I don’t agree that the trainers should push them necessarily to that point, but it is difficult not to since they are in such poor shape. (And I’ll step off my soap box now…)

    Great post Caitlin!

  • Elizabeth @ The Sweet Life January 23, 2011, 12:14 pm

    In general, at the risk of sounding like my mother, I think most/all of MTV’s programming is overly-sexualized and encourages either destructive behaviors or dangerous lifestyles. While, at 30, I think I can watch trash on TV without being influenced in unhealthy ways, I’m really not sure that is true and I am DEFINITELY sure that teenage girls can’t watch Snookie get drunk and girls chasing weight loss and teenagers having sex without being influenced themselves. I think it is sad, dangerous, and doesn’t bode well for the future of our girls! Okay, off my soap box.

  • Anne @thefitbridesmaid January 23, 2011, 12:16 pm

    I have been watching TBL for a while. However, I was very annoyed the other night and turned it off. One contestant was berating another contestant for “only losing 17 pounds in two weeks”. I could not take that! When I do watch it, I take it all with a grain of salt and know that it is NOT healthy to lose 50 lbs or even 10 lbs in week. I don’t think that they talk about that enough on the show, and it sets up viewers with unrealistic expectations.

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? January 23, 2011, 12:18 pm

    I’ve seen a couple episodes. I had to turn off the last one I watched because it was just too upsetting. The girl was super pretty and had no self esteem at al and I just wanted to give her a hug. But after the third or fourth time I heard her dad tell her she could only get a man if she was thin, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
    The trainer seemed great and was saying its about confidence not weight, but the dad made me too angry.

  • Liz January 23, 2011, 12:19 pm

    I overall liked the show, but like you, I had concerns about a few things. I do not like the “exploitation” aspect. However, I have totally noticed this in real life! I joined a gym several years ago and you could have 2 free personal trainer appointments. Now, I was in “ok shape.” Not the best, not the worst. My trainer paraded me through the gym making me do a billion squats and lunges… to the point where I literally could not walk the next day… and couldn’t work out for the next 3-4 days. Is that really the best way to get someone to START exercising? To me, that is just making it a deterrent.

    I also think there needs to be some kind of emotional support in the journey, too. So that the other issues will be resolved, too.

    I wish they would not limit it to a summer. I mean… the healthy way to lose is slow and steady. So I would be more impressed with the show if it followed someone for a full year instead of just summer vacation. They need to learn how to maintain with the school schedule, anyway!

  • Allison @ Happy Tales January 23, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Huh, i have never seen this show… but after reading your review I definitely want to check it out. I truly hope that people who watch the show and are obese themseles are not afraid to work out because of the show showcasing teens working out until they puked. I’d hate for that to “scare-off” people from taking that first initial step. I also think that there seems to be a ton of emotional issues that need to be addressed. And you are right, I wish people realized losing weight is not all about being skinny, it’s about being healthy on the inside first. The aesthetic looks just fall into place as the inside grows healthier.

  • Katie B | perkytoafault January 23, 2011, 12:22 pm

    You mentioned that you thought the show had undertones of “eat as little as possible,” and I just thought that I should point out that, in the one of two episodes I have seen, the MTV-provided coach actually chastised the girl for not following the eating plan by eating too little. He pointed out that she needed to have energy (the right kind) in order to work out.

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 12:43 pm

      Oh awesome. I don’t think I saw this part, so I am so happy to know they included that positive message!!!

  • Bronwyn Coyne January 23, 2011, 12:23 pm

    I have never seen this show, and to be completely honest, this is the first time I’ve heard of it as well. It sounds interesting at least. I would probably have mixed feelings about this show. Honestly, the trainer in your clip above makes it sound really good, sort of like a couple shows up here in Canada that I watch (X-weighted, is amazing as it follows people over the course of six to twelve months and makes them face their emotional demons) but if it’s too much like Biggest loser… I don’t think I could like it anymore.

  • Hillary January 23, 2011, 12:27 pm

    What about the new show on A&E Heavy? What do you think of it?

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 12:43 pm

      I haven’t seen it. Do you like it?

      • Hillary January 23, 2011, 3:59 pm

        I only just saw the last half of the show today. It is along the same lines as “I Used to be fat” but with adults. I would have to watch a whole episode before I could say how I feel

        • LindseyAnn January 24, 2011, 9:46 am

          I did see the entire episode, and I’m kind of on the fence about it.
          They start off with one month on a fitness style ranch, working with trainers who eliminate distractions and monitor their diets. I do like the trainers–they are SO positive and SO supportive of the trainees, and it seems like they work them at a realistic level.
          Then, after one month, the trainees go home and have to begin figuring out how to handle their healthier lives. They weigh in once a month with the original trainers (who stop in from time to time) and a new trainer at a local gym that the show provides them. If they aren’t making adequate progress, they go back to the ranch for a bit to figure out what went wrong. This goes on for 6 months total, when they have a final weigh in and measurement.
          What I liked is that it seemed the participants lost a more realistic amount of weight (meaning they didn’t go from morbid obesity to fitness model in 6 months), and they analyzed their measurements as well as what the scale said, so you see that even if they didn’t lose a crazy amount of weight on the scale, there are some pretty spectacular changes going on with their bodies in terms of fitness.
          I think I’ll have to watch another episode or 2, but so far I am liking this one so much more than TBL. (I can’t lie, I still watch that as a guilty pleasure. It’s like my version of the Jersey Shore.)

        • Stacey January 24, 2011, 9:09 pm

          I really like Heavy. The trainers seem to really care about the obese people they are helping. There is no prize other than getting healthy and they try to teach them skills for how to deal when they get home. They spend time at a weight loss “camp,” then they go home and try to continue their regiments there. Then, if they relapse they come back to the center to re-train and figure out what went wrong. I’m looking forward to seeing the new episode tonight.

  • courtney @ the granola chronicles January 23, 2011, 12:31 pm

    I haven’t seen it, though I am interested now!

  • Gabby (Quest for Delicious) January 23, 2011, 12:33 pm

    I like the show overall.
    One thing that bothered me though was the episode with the blonde girl Makenzie. With her story, marriage was extremely important in her family and all her brothers and sisters were married. At one point her dad said something like, “I want Makenzie to find the right guy and in order for her to do that, she has to fit the image. Thin and shapely is what guys want.” It’s sad because I think if you’re gonna change yourself, you should do it for you, not to gain attention from people who previously wouldn’t even think about giving you the time of day. Also, not all guys necessarily even want the thin look…that’s just what has become society’s idea of an ideal image.

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 12:44 pm

      Yea…. Crazy Dad who thought the most important part of his daughter’s life was getting married. Insane. Creating so many issues.

      • Jamie @ A Healthy J.D. January 23, 2011, 2:14 pm

        This episode sickened me beyond belief. What’s worse is her father was incredibly hypocritical with his incessant complaining about the lack of ice cream in the house. My mother used to tell me I wouldn’t find a boy to love me until I lost weight and I still have extreme body issues to this day because of her words (and I’m married!)I really hope that her father watches the program and sees how toxic he is to his daughter’s physical AND mental health

        • Laura January 24, 2011, 7:41 pm

          My Mom asked me if I was gay when I was in high school. Because I must not want a boyfriend if I was fat, right? Sigh.

        • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 8:07 pm

          UGH Laura – That is horrible.

  • Emily January 23, 2011, 12:33 pm

    I do love watching Biggest Loser, I admit I’m addicted. I try to not look too much into the crazy “behind the scenes habits” and look at it from a mental health and healing perspective. As a grad student in a mental health counseling program, I am interested in seeing what gets people to a place where they are so unhealthy and how it relates to their mental health and inner struggles. Jillian is in NO WAY a great counselor, but she understand that working through the inner struggles is a major part of breaking thorugh the barriers of weight loss. I don’t like the idea of the MTV version because they are just teens and there is so much more that needs to be done than forcing them to loose tons of weight in one summer. It makes me sad that there isn’t a healthier and more holistic alternative withe the messages of Operation Beautiful to help get overweight teens to a better place.

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair January 23, 2011, 12:37 pm

    Never heard of this show but thanks for the review!

    I HATE the Biggest Loser and think it’s absolutely ridiculous!!!

    A new Canadian show that is out now is Village on a Diet ( and it’s about an entire Canadian Village trying to lose 2,000 pounds collectively – and then it focuses in on 9 or 10 of the people trying to lose weight.

    An interesting perspective from me is that I used to work in the village of Taylor (the village being profiled in the show) and actually know a few people on the show. When you know people on reality TV and know what a community is like you can really see how things are edited to make reality TV more dramatic. BUT I do find this show a lot more tolerating than the Biggest Loser as the changes the residents are making are more long-term!

  • Krista @ Journey to a Healthy Berg January 23, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I’ve been watching the show, and as someone who was obese all throughout high school just like those kids are, I like seeing them make a change now to get their life back in order. However, I have been on my weight loss journey for about 2 years now and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that making dramatic changes to your eating and exercise regimens all at once only sets you up for failure. I gradually started exercising and slowly started making changes to my eating. After dropping 110 lbs, my focus has finally shifted from eating low calorie foods to lose weight to eating HEALTHY foods to BE healthy. Going back to the show, I think that the fact that they lose such a large amount of weight in such a short period of time is going to make it difficult to keep it off, similarly to the Biggest Loser, which I also watch every week. I also know from experience that trying to lose weight for reasons other than “for yourself” or “to get healthy” also sets you up for failure. Using the boyfriend thing or the popular thing as motivation only lasts so long, and when it’s gone you have nothing to keep you going. Regardless, I still like the concepts behind the show and love watching people turn their lives around for the better.

  • Amy* January 23, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote about this! I was curious to hear your thoughts. I agree that from what I’ve seen of this show and The Biggest Loser, they are just so extreme. It’s shouldn’t be about just shedding the weight, but developing healthy habits that you can sustain for the rest of your life. Great post, Caitlin!*

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 23, 2011, 12:44 pm

    There are things I like about this show, and things I don’t. Obviously, they lose wayyyy too much weight in a short amount of time, which isn’t healthy or conducive for maintenance. I think people should definitely set goals, but the girl last week only reached half her goal- which was a huge loss, but she was disappointed because it was ‘only’ fifty pounds.

    Also, I think the name is horrible!

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 12:46 pm

      I saw that episode and I felt so bad for her! She lost 50 pounds in 3 months – that’s amazing. And she wasn’t even excited.

  • Molly January 23, 2011, 12:46 pm

    I think it’s always dangerous when the show doesn’t demonstrate all that’s going on in the background. Then viewers think that the individuals portrayed exercise intensively every single day and only eat certain amounts. Especially with the biggest loser – it is a pretty extreme method of weight loss that may not be sustainable for an average person without all the support received behind the scenes during the show.

  • Maren January 23, 2011, 12:51 pm

    I agree with most of your comments. I’m a high school basketball coach and was a college athlete. I don’t think the puking after the first workout is a negative. We have girls that usually get sick during our first week of tryouts because they’re bodies aren’t used to being pushed. We do not push our girls too hard. Looking at our training, our first week is actually the easiest. The girls just get sick because its so foreign.

    I’ve found that nerves also play a key role. I think the teens shown on I Used to be Fat aren’t used to any fitness, and have very high levels of adrenaline. They’re working out for the first time, with a really fit trainer. They’re embarrassed to go to the gym and they know they are on TV. The throwing up is probably from a combination of all these things. Not because the trainer pushes them way too hard.

    Personally I really enjoyed the show. I think obesity is a huge issue today and I don’t have a problem with the huge goal because in most of the episodes the teens don’t actually hit the goal. There is no negative for not reaching the goal. I was really impressed with the girl who went to beauty school. She wanted to lose 100 pounds in the summer and by the time she left for school had only lost 40-some pounds. She left for school and continued working out/living healthy and lost the rest of the weight on her own. I’ve really liked this message. I don’t get the MTV pushing the need to be skinny message.

  • Ashley January 23, 2011, 12:52 pm

    I’m mixd on weight loss tv. ON the one hand I think it’s great that they are showing people in real life that they can be healthy, and talks about emotions and motivation, I also feel like this might support eating disorders, and I feel like they are exploiting contestants. I remember a roommate of mine a few years ago tell me that she liked working out to the biggest loser dvds because “working out with fat people, made her feel better about herself.”

  • Julie January 23, 2011, 12:52 pm

    About not showing what they eat, I don’t think the show is about weight loss per se, but mostly about the teens lives and how they want to change and better their self esteem.
    It’s inspiring…kind of in the same light as Intervention. They don’t show what they go through in detox, but it might help someone make the first steps towards recovery after seeing the love and support that families show leading up to the intervention.

  • chandra January 23, 2011, 12:55 pm

    I don’t completely hate I Used to Be Fat compared to other weight-loss shows, but at the same time I still find it sending bad messages. One of the things I hate most about Biggest Loser and these shows is that it isn’t really REALITY – in real life people can’t workout for 6-8 hours a day. They have work, family, etc… and losing 8-15 pounds a week is not REALISTIC for the majority of people. Then when someone on the show loses “only 2-3 pounds” one week, they make it seem like a failure. 2-3 pounds in a week is GOOD and HEALTHY, but it sends a message to people that it isn’t good enough. Like the episode you mentioned in a comment above (I just saw it yesterday!), the girl lost 50 pounds over the summer and wasn’t excited. What?! It took me 7 months to lose 30 pounds and I was thrilled. It takes a lot of work and change to lose weight, and it doesn’t happen overnight. While I think they can be inspiring in some ways, overall I think these shows give off unrealistic and somewhat unhealthy expectations of weight-loss.

  • Jolene ( January 23, 2011, 1:01 pm

    I have never seen that show, but I do love the Biggest Loser (except how they drag things out, and do ridiculous product shots). The Biggest Loser is inspiring, not just when it comes to losing weight, but to be a kinder, better person. They also have had many episodes where they have told the contestants that they didn’t lose weight because they were not eating enough!! I think that they lose weight in a healthy way on that show.

  • Lesley January 23, 2011, 1:02 pm

    I have to say that on the whole I strongly dislike these kinds of shows. To be fair, I have never seen this MTV one, but after trying to give BL and Heavy a chance I just can’t get behind it. *steps on podium* I think it’s extremely dangerous to try and lose weight that fast. It is highly likely you will gain the weight back without the rigidity of the show to support you when it’s all said and done. It is also promoting a narrow view of health. I believe strongly in HAES. Healthy at every size. I don’t like this idea that promotes that thinness is the only healthy. You can drastically make over your lifestyle as an overweight person (I speak from experience here) and though you likely will lose some weight, you may not necessarily become thin in the process. I know plenty of thin people with health problems (smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes) and overweight people without them. Plus, a lot of people on these shows exhibit symptoms of compulsive or binge eating. That is a serious eating disorder. It sends a terrible message that 1- all overweight people eat like this and 2- it can be fixed by diet and exercise, when a lot of these people need additional counseling. And like you stated, it sends the message that thin = happy & overweight = miserable, which is just not true. Happiness is a state of mind that can be achieved or lost no matter what you look like. *steps off podium* 🙂

  • Lauren January 23, 2011, 1:06 pm

    GREAT review Caitlin! I’ve seen a few episodes here and there but not enough to make my full opinion yet. I appreciate your honesty and unbiased review of this show.

  • LauraJayne January 23, 2011, 1:09 pm

    I’ve been watching the show too, and probably will continue to – I’m a sucked for reality shows. However, I struggle with any show that advocates a “quick fix” which I think losing 99 pounds in 99 days is. It scares me that anyone watching the show would think that they should be able to lose that much weight, and either get discouraged when they don’t, or develop disordered eating habits. It took me five years to lose 120 pounds, and there were still times where my eating habits were definitely unhealthy. As a society, I think we like to see the “reveal’s” at the end of the show – and I do too – but a healthy weight is about a healthy life, not a summer where you change your habits.
    We live in a society where appearance is so important – and that is reality – but I wish we could see a show about teens or adults who changed their lives, one step at a time, and developed a healthy lifestyle that they could maintain. There could still be the big “reveal” but it could be after a year or two had passed – not three months.

    Great review – and I didn’t know about the TBL contestant who said she show encouraged anorexic behavior – I would love to read about that!

  • Gill (snaxandthecity) January 23, 2011, 1:10 pm

    interesting. we don’t get the show in the UK but I’ve seen TBL and similar. I think they’re ridiculous. In general they under feed the contestants and over-exercise them. It’s not sustainable or healthy. Obesity is generally about emotional issues rather than food issues (as are most eating disorders) so low calories + exercise is not the answer. I think it’s irresponsible, but then a show just about eating normally wouldn’t exactly set ratings rocketing…

  • Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun January 23, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I haven’t even heard of the show before. Definitely sounds interesting and Im sure I would agree with all of your points. On a whole I am all for anything that helps people find better health.

  • Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher January 23, 2011, 1:28 pm

    100 POUNDS IN A SUMMER?!!!!!! DEAR GOD. I have that amount of weight to lose and it might take me one to two years. Or maybe even more!! Who knows. It’s troubling to see shows on television where people just wanna get the weight off as if disordered eating or other issues didn’t get them to such a point in the first place. It’s so much more important to work on those issues. Weight-loss and weight maintenance are only a byproduct of healthy living I’ve learnt. That’s why I regained the 40 pounds I lost last year and why so most people struggle to keep the weight off once they’ve lost it.

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 4:53 pm

      Go you for your weight loss and determination!!

  • Carolyn @ lovinlosing January 23, 2011, 1:30 pm

    Great review! I had a lot of the same thoughts about it. I felt the weight loss was too rapid and unrealistic and the workouts too long and hard. I don’t like hearing people say “I can’t eat that” because it shows they have the wrong mindset. If you approach the weight loss as a lifestyle change, then you can have whatever you want in moderation. You can’t expect to never have pizza/fries/burgers EVER again. I did like that the one girls was clearly popular and seemed to be doing it more for herself. I was worried about the amount of food they were eating until I heard another girl say she was having a hard time eating AS MUCH as she was supposed to. Clearly the trainers have given them a meal plan to account for the calories they are burning.

    My opinion is that it’s a good motivator but like the Biggest Loser it promotes unrealistic expectation.

  • Lee January 23, 2011, 1:35 pm

    I think it’s an okay. I like the premise of it. I started college being about 40 pounds overweight and I think that if I had started at a healthy weight, I would have had much more confidence when it came to meeting new people. So I do think they have a point there.

    One girl did mention that she was working out 6 hours a day. I don’t know if that was an exaggeration, but if it’s not, that’s not a healthy way to lose weight. However, the same girl went to college and came back 50 lbs lighter. I thought that showed that the show does teach them how to deal with weight loss in the real world, which, imo, the Biggest Loser does not.

    • Lee January 23, 2011, 1:35 pm

      I meant okay show.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine January 23, 2011, 1:36 pm

    I think you really hit the nail on the head- it’s a good show in theory, but they don’t do as good of a job as they could at explaining things. Fat or skinny, you still have problems…the way they manifest themselves might change, but you still have to deal with the underlying issues. I saw one episode where one girl was excited to go clothes shopping with her new figure, then got there and realized she still couldn’t fit into miniskirts and skin tight dresses and was so upset. It was heartbreaking, because she really did look amazing!!

  • Kristina @ spabettie January 23, 2011, 1:41 pm

    I have not seen this show, but I agree with you about these shows in general – I have said for a long time that TBL should do more to show the details of the daily diets, and more details about the workouts (although I fear the reason they do not is because both are VERY extreme – 800 – 1000 calories in a day paired with 6-8 hours of workouts). The fact that a single digit weight loss is negative infuriates me too, but that is because of the nature of TBL – it is a game, and someone losing only 9 lbs could go home, with people that weigh 500+ lbs losing twice that in a week.

    I like the new show Heavy. It focuses on two people in an episode, there is no chance of being “kicked out” or sent home. It has a one on one focus, and they go home to continue their new habits after… 30 days I think? One person failed when he went home, so they brought him back to help him again. I only wish this show was more available (it’s on cable) to a wider audience, because it is a much healthier approach than TBL. My hope is that more shows will go this route instead of the more sensationalistic one, which is better for contestants and viewers alike.

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 23, 2011, 1:42 pm

    I’ve seen tidbits of the show here and there – and I kind of was turned off by it. I think it’s great they want to lose weight, but really hope others know that when you’re “skinny” you won’t necessarilybe happy.

  • Kaitlin January 23, 2011, 1:57 pm

    I think this show is one of the better ones out there when it comes to weight loss because it shows weight loss, exercise, and eating as a part of a balanced life, as opposed to TBL and it’s unrealistic circumstances. I’m currently writing my Master’s thesis on this topic so I watch a lot of TBL, I Used to Be Fat, and Heavy (a new show on A&E). I’ve only seen 2 episodes of I Used to Be Fat, but from what I’ve seen a mental health evaluation by a professional is lacking. The latest episode involved a father-daughter relationship that I found particularly troubling; the father kept encouraging his daughter to lose weight in order to “find a man and have babies.” The saddest part was that she was completely buying into this extremely limited world view, that she had to be skinny in order to find someone to love her! Granted, that changed at the end of the episode after she went to college, but still. As someone who is in the process of losing weight (40 lbs lost in the past year), it’s an extremely difficult change that brings up a lot of mental issues and I wish that these reality TV shows would start showing that the participants get the help they need in that respect. I think a lot of people get discouraged by how mentally difficult significant weight loss is (you find out who your real support system is, dealing with your own problems) and it’s easy to just give up because “I’m not cut out for this, no one else has this problem.”

  • Kara January 23, 2011, 2:00 pm

    I’ve seen the show, but only because I watch any trash that MTV puts out (Jersey Shore included). I think it’s a dangerous show because it promotes the “If I was thinner, I’d be happier and the world would be full of fluffy bunnies and rainbows” mentality that can fuel eating disorders. But most TV shows promote that mentality, so…..

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 4:57 pm

      Love this: “I’ve seen the show, but only because I watch any trash that MTV puts out (Jersey Shore included)”

      Because me too!!

  • Amanda January 23, 2011, 2:07 pm

    I can’t watch MTV! (ewwww!) So I can’t really say anything about the show. But for those who watch it…. maybe it spurs them on to healthier lives.

  • Lacey @ Lake Life January 23, 2011, 2:18 pm

    I’ve never seen the show but I know the whole “exercise til you puke” idea from The Biggest Loser. I always change the channel when it gets to that part because, how can you feel good about exercising if it makes you vomit?

  • Lacey @ Lake Life January 23, 2011, 2:18 pm

    I’ve never seen the show but I know the whole “exercise til you puke” idea from The Biggest Loser. I always change the channel when it gets to that part because, how can you feel good about exercising if it makes you vomit?

  • mari January 23, 2011, 2:20 pm

    No offense, but I think it’s sort of a waste of time to debate whether or not any program on MTV has value. Disorder shows have become wildly popular and MTV is just jumping on the bandwagon. I’m sure it absolutely does promotes unsafe behavior – just like everything else on MTV. And that probably makes me sound like an old lady, but there you go.

  • Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa January 23, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Personally, I have seen every episode and I really like “I used to be fat”. I love how they talk about the dynamics between teens and families when their changing their diet, growing up, moving out, and asserting themselves. I think its also important to remember that “I used to be fat” is an off shoot of the “true life” series which, in my opinion, is why the tone of the show is more ‘documentary’ like rather than instructional. Yes, they are intervening with a coach, but in my opinion the show distinct from BL which (while about weight loss) is still a contest with a cash prize.

    They do have short promos before the commercial break that direct viewers to the website for “trainer tips”.

    As for the reasons why the teens lose weight, its complicated when people lose weight because “50 lbs from now I’ll be popular/hot/happier” whatever, but I think its an accurate representation of some teens motivations for losing weight.

  • Ana January 23, 2011, 2:32 pm

    I HATE the biggest loser. I feel like the show promotes such an unhealthy, unsustainable and downright dangerous approach to health and fitness. The competition format is what really gets me, it’s like, why does weight loss have to be a competition. There is a great Canadian show called ex-weighted that focuses on individuals who lose weight over a six month period, and I think it shows a much more realistic, not to mention healthier approach to weight loss.
    I think that as far MTV shows go, IUBF promotes a fairly positive message; I just wish that weight loss wasn’t viewed as a solution to life’s problems.

  • Sana January 23, 2011, 2:43 pm

    My issues with the biggest loser and all these weight loss shows are how unrealistic they are. Not everyone can drop their loves and workout for hours with a trainer.

  • abbi January 23, 2011, 3:11 pm

    I think the show promotes a fairly positive message. I was overweight all throughout high school and college so can completely relate. Although there are often other issues, for me, losing the weight was a big step in confidence in moving my life in the right direction.

    • Ellie@fitforthesoul January 23, 2011, 3:20 pm

      Hi Abbi! thanks for sharing this! I do understand that the healthier and ‘fitter’ we are, the more we can do and build up that confidence. IE: being able to participate in extra activities. And I know that these things work differently for diff. individuals–glad it was a positive outcome for you. 🙂 Have a blessed dayyy

  • Ellie@fitforthesoul January 23, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Great post Caitlin! I don’t watch TV really so I had no idea it was getting this extreme. Although I actually love the feeling where I can’t hold myself up anymore after a workout, it shouldn’t be done all the time. Sometimes it has to be light and moderate. I agree that it’s especially unhealthy for people who are just trying to move towards leading a healthy life. I sure hope that these precious teens won’t be more psychologically harmed through this b/c they feel that now they have to live up to a certain unrealistic standard. This is just my opinion, and I’m sure many people in this situation may beg to differ.

  • Southern Sober Girl Runs January 23, 2011, 3:18 pm

    My problem with the show is exploiting children who are dealing with not just an unhealthy body but with disordered eating. While they may lose weight and gain self-esteem, putting them in such a public forum could be harmful long term. I hope this is all being coupled with individual and group therapy.

  • Angie January 23, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I just wrote about this on my blog a couple days ago this episode was awesome I’m so happy she was able to overcome her obesity and strengthen both her body and mindset!

  • D January 23, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I’ve seen a couple of episodes, but my thoughts on it are basically what I feel about any other weight loss show…

    1) I think you have to ask the question – will this inspire more people than it discourages? I think the answer is yes, and I also think that’s the case for the biggest loser. I don’t think anyone is going to watch TBL and feel LESS motivated to take care of their health, and I don’t think an overweight teenager would watch this on MTV and think “gosh, why can’t they just want to lose weight for health, not superficial reasons?”

    2) Speaking of health vs. superficiality — they are teenagers! Of course they are motivated to be “skinny” and whatever. And I think as long as there is some healthy influence, then it’s fine. Most teens are NOT going to be motivated by discussing heart disease and diabetes and whether or not red meat is bad for you. They want to fit in with their friends, be able to go shopping and feel good, and feel attractive to the opposite sex. I don’t see anything wrong with this – so I don’t think the show is disordered or bad in that way, I think it’s realistic and at least gets people moving.

    3) A lot of people have the critique that the weight loss is “too fast” and the workouts are “too intense”. This might be true if it were involving a moderately overweight person, but these are obese kids – it IS intense. And their bodies don’t WANT that weight on them. They aren’t being forced to lose weight too fast, they are being pushed to exercise and eat right and, when you are that heavy, the weight will drop off faster than the normal person. So it might seem extreme, but it’s really doing a HUGE service to their bodies to get the weight off. And workouts will be intense, no way around that. I think that the trainers (like on TBL) know what peoples limits are and aren’t going to put them in danger, but they are opening the contestants eyes to “OMG, I need to change something”. If they just took them through an easy workout that was “appropriate” for their weight, then a) the contestant might not feel like they need to do a lot of work or have a lot to improve on and b) aren’t going to see results. I think it’s very motivating to have a couple of gut-wrenching workouts, and that’s true for anyone. It’s like when you go to a new yoga or fitness class for the first time and think “holy S%&^, maybe I shouldn’t have slacked off”. You know? It’s really motivating and makes you realize that you’ve been coasting.

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 5:01 pm

      I agree with you D on all points, actually. Well said.

      You should start a blog!

      • D January 23, 2011, 5:33 pm

        Hehe I’ve wanted to for like, three years now, but I think I’m destined to be a reader and enthusiastic commenter 🙂 Never say never though, right?!

    • Brittney January 23, 2011, 7:20 pm

      I have to say that I definitely agree with you, D, especially with your second point. I think it applies to even those who aren’t teens, too, and I don’t really think that’s a bad thing as long as you approach weight loss in a healthy way and know when to stop losing weight.

      I also agree that shows like I Used To Be Fat and The Biggest Loser are more likely to encourage more than discourage in taking action in getting healthy. I know for myself, watching I Used To Be Fat gave me the motivation I needed to start losing the few pounds I’ve gained over the past few months that I had previously been putting off.

  • Sarah for Real January 23, 2011, 3:41 pm

    I don’t watch anything on MTV and I don’t watch TBL. These shows bring up old icky feelings in me that are contrary to my current balanced, healthy lifestyle of real food, and working out to be strong and have fun.

    I am not sold on the idea of MTV offering tips on getting higher self-esteem. I don’t think self-esteem is something that can be given to a child. It’s something that comes from within, and not from looking good, but by doing good things, for themselves and their community.

  • Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks January 23, 2011, 3:43 pm

    I have mixed feelings about weight loss shows. Part of me really likes watching The Biggest Loser. I know that it isn’t “real life”. You should never aim to lose that much weight and seeing these poor contestants upset because they lost ONLY 8 pounds that week is just gross to me. I also despise the product placement aspects as well as the fact that it’s a game. It trivializes the health problems and in my opinion exploits the overweight contestants.

    On the other hand, I like that it shows that it is possible to lose weight simply through diet and exercise…and that anyone can do it. I just wish it were a more balanced.

    As for “I used to be Fat”, I’ve seen two episodes. It is EXTREMELY difficult for me to watch shows about overweight children. I was fat for my entire childhood and being a fat kid is HARD. I had ZERO self esteem and thought I didn’t deserve to be treated well.

    What I like is that someone is helping these kids. That is what I needed more than anything. I needed someone to believe in me, to tell me that I could achieve the goal of becoming a healthy weight and to teach me how. I lived in a house where my mom bought fast food as much as 3 times a day and took me on daily trips to 7-11 for ice cream and candy. My whole family is fat, and I had no idea how to not be. I wish someone had taught me what healthy food was and explained that diets aren’t about starving yourself.

    Also, having that help with exercise would have been amazing. I so desperately wanted to be active as a kid, but everyone was too busy. Too busy to watch me out on the street (I lived in a city, so I needed supervision), so I never learned to ride a bike. Too busy to take me to karate lessons when I begged for them when I was 6. Then when I got to middle school and had gym, I was humiliated time and time again because I couldn’t do things. There was no one teaching me about learning to run with intervals of running and walking. They just said run a mile, and when I couldn’t, the other kids laughed and I got an F.

    I do agree that it is total crap to make these kids lose so much weight in such a short amount of time and the extreme nature of the program could potentially be dangerous to a kid trying it at home. Emotionally, and possibly physically.

    I am glad that someone is helping them though…even if it is just for ratings.

    • Baking 'n' Books January 23, 2011, 3:58 pm

      Wow – thank you for sharing your experience! It’s crazy what is happening really with kids and parents and schools – and so many vantage points…

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 5:01 pm

      This comment was epic.

      • Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks January 23, 2011, 6:16 pm

        I am rather long winded, I agree. 😉

        In all seriousness, now that I’ve lost most of the weight and gained some self confidence, it’s hard for me to look back. All of that time wasted. So many things that I didn’t even make an attempt at because I figured either no one would like me, or I wasn’t capable or that my opinions weren’t important enough. It’s just so sad, and that’s what I see in those kids on the show.

        It’s also why I love Operation Beautiful so much. If only I had understood that I was worth something, regardless of being fat or skinny, maybe I wouldn’t have missed so much. It’s a topic that I somehow really want to work with in my career. I don’t know how, yet, but I don’t want other kids to go through that.

  • Crystal January 23, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I think the show is really motivating, but waaaay too unrealistic. These teens are exercising like SIX hours a day. Also, I would really like them to feature more about healthy eating. I remember watching one episode, and the girl said something about drinking her shake…and I wasn’t sure if she was using it as a meal replacement or not.

    You should watch this other new show called Heavy on A&E. It is about people weighing 300+…they send them to this camp for a month, and then the rest of the six months they have to face reality at home. It is MUCH more realistic..although their weight tends to come off really fast due to the extreme amount of weight already on them. It comes on Monday nights.

  • Baking 'n' Books January 23, 2011, 3:56 pm

    I haven’t seen the show, so I can’t really comment. But I appreciate your review and the pros and cons.

    I think your last sentence sums it up perfectly actually (with regards to these types of shows in general).

  • kirsten January 23, 2011, 3:59 pm

    great post Caitlin! I completely agree with your opinions on the show. I like it and will probably continue to watch it but I can see the flaws in it.

  • Tiffany January 23, 2011, 4:06 pm

    As a person who has struggle with being FAT her entire life, I feel the need to chime in here. How many of you that are commenting about everything in a negative way have truly been fat/obese? I’m not talking about needing to lose 10-15 vanity pounds. I’m talking about having so much body fat that you on the verge of health problems? It doesn’t sound like many have. It really upsets me when the fit, thin people in society still find ways to negatively speak about the overweight population, even if its not meant that way. When you are tipping the scales at well over 200lbs, it IS perfectly healthy and expected to lose a large amount of weight in a fairly short amount of time when you go from a higher caloric intake and sedentary lifestyle, to a moderate diet and actually moving. Its a nice sentiment to think that people should accept themselves and learn to love themselves the way they are, but lets face it. There is nothing to love about being unhealthy and obese. Its almost a mockery to me, personally, to see all of these fit and thin girls suggesting this to people that live with the public torment of obesity. We are treated differently. We are mocked and get “the stare” when we finally work up the courage to hit the gym. We are ridiculed when we go out to eat because somehow, society thinks we are undeserving of eating food, regardless of if we choose healthy food or not. Being obese (again, not “overweight” by a few vanity pounds) means you are less worthy of things in society, be it jobs, a relationship, etc. When the outside matches the inside, life does work in your favor a bit more. Getting off my oversized soap box now 😉 I love this show and I find it motivating and inspirational to see these vulnerable people like myself working their asses off and pushing themselves like never before.

    • D January 23, 2011, 4:50 pm

      What a great comment!

      • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 5:03 pm

        I agree, great comment. Thanks for sharing your soap box! 🙂

    • Courtney January 23, 2011, 5:03 pm

      I have to agree. I know that Biggest Loser also gets a lot of ridicule on healthy living blogs but I never see any mention how the contestants with diabetes are now off there medication because the disease has been reversed or how so many of the contestants dedicate theirs lives to healthy living off of the show by becoming a personal training or leading fitness classes. I have seen a lot of people mention that fast weight loss is not maintainable which I believe can be proved wrong when you look at the contestants. Almost none of them gain the weight back, there are a few but not many. As someone who was obese and has lost the weight I have to say that I find the shows extremely motivating because I know just how hard it is to lose the weight and make the lifestyle change. I don’t feel like a lot of healthy people who have never had a weight problem realize how hard it is mentally and physically.

    • katherine January 23, 2011, 5:18 pm

      I love this comment. I think its important to have these convos and its great that Caitlin hosts them but I think its important to showcase the perspective of someone who is living or has lived the experiance thats being discussed. Id love to see a review of the show from someone like you, or multi people like you on the blog!

      • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 5:24 pm

        I completely agree with you Katherine! I want to read more! I love it when people feel comfortable enough to share their unique experiences. I can only speak from my point of view, but I love learning the way other people see things, too.

    • Lesley January 23, 2011, 6:46 pm

      Hi Tiffany,

      I just wanted to reply to this, because I am one of those girls that commented that I am not a fan of these shows and I am way more than 15 lbs overweight. I feel strongly about everything you have just said. It is very hard to be obese, but I disagree that there is nothing to love about being obese. I was a heavy child and since then I have lived in both worlds. Thin vs obese. At one point in high school I was 120lbs (I am 5’5″) and in one point in my twenties I was 305 lbs. Neither was achieved by being healthy. I over-dieted to get down to my lowest weight and was miserable. I had complete disregard for my health to get to my highest and just ate whatever I wanted, whenever I felt like eating, and became pre-diabetic and started having knee problems…and was miserable. Since 2008, I started walking, then running, then swimming. I’ve spent a ton of time and energy teaching myself how to eat healthy without dieting. I no longer have knee problems. I no longer am pre-diabetic, but I am still obese. I lost about 75lbs, and then I just stopped losing weight. I haven’t lost or gained a lb in a year. I almost gave up at one point, and that was when I had my light bulb moment. Change doesn’t happen overnight and the weight isn’t the point. Does not meeting my goal weight matter more than all the good I’ve done for my health? Thinness doesn’t solve anything to me now. People found new reasons not to like me in high school when I was thin. I didn’t automatically feel any better about myself because I fit in a 4. And if my only goal was to be thin I would have deemed myself a failure months ago, and I can’t live like that. I hate these shows because they cater to a mold mentality of being. I know personally that you can be a fat, healthy, confident person who loves themselves, and this image of all obesity as a shameful place to be vacated as soon as possible deeply offends me. I mean, yes, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to lose more weight, but it just doesn’t mean what it used to for me.

      Also, in regards to the public torment of obesity. Although I have been harassed (boys shouting fat as I’m exercising. really, that’s all you’ve got?) I don’t feel like that’s part of my normal experience. I strongly hope it’s not a part of yours, but I encourage you to hold your head high when it is.

      • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 6:55 pm

        Lesley, Thank you so much for your comments. They were so well-said and it made this whole discussion better.

    • Laura January 24, 2011, 7:55 pm

      It’s not healthy or necessarily expected to lose a large amount of weight quickly just because you weigh a lot. I know people who have had major digestive imbalances doing this, or had to have their gallbladders removed because they lost so much fat so quickly. And even if you do lose it quickly without this happening to you, people tend to gain it back. I’ve been 100 pounds overweight for most of my life (more or less depending on what I’d been doing and whether or not is was sustainable), and now I’m concentrating on healthy behaviors and losing the slow, steady healthy way. I started Weight Watchers a few months ago and I love that heavier people get more food so they lose weight a normal, sustained pace that gives their bodies a chance to adjust to what’s happening. I hear you about overweight people are sometimes treated, and it totally sucks, but I’ve also noticed that the more self-confident I’ve become the less I’m treated that way. Hang in there :).

      • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 8:08 pm

        Laura, thanks for this comment!!! Good luck in your journey to healthy, too 🙂

      • Tiffany January 24, 2011, 8:17 pm

        I’ve actually been working closely with a weight loss research clinic at my state’s research and learning hospital. For the last 6 months, I have been part of a program analyzing weight loss in obese patients (according to both BMI and body fat analysis). I have been part of a study on a particular system of weight loss that is intended to re-set the metabolism. It has been a VLCD (very low calorie diet…as in, 500) along with daily injections of a hormone that allows my body to release its fat stores at a faster rate. One pound per day was my average in the first 2 months, then tapering to 4-5lbs per week ever since (note, after the first 2 months, I was gradually weaned into a healthy eating plan where you basically avoid processed junk…everything else is fair game). This is the longest I have maintained weight loss and continued losing after going “back” to eating like a normal person. According to my physicians, the only time rapid weight loss can become a health issue is if 1. it is not being supervised and 2. the person fails to drink enough water and 3. is not supplementing their diet plan with vitamins, etc. I hate this accepted notion that everyone should only lose a standard 1-2lbs per week because otherwise they are destined to gain it all back or kill themselves. Weight loss is not a one size fits all thing. I also believe that if a person is going to fail at losing weight, they are going to regardless of how fast they lost the weight to begin with. I personally have been motivated more than ever to keep the weight off after the intense program (and thus, intense results). I no longer have high blood pressure, I’m no longer teetering on diabetes, and I feel better than I have in a long time.

        I have self confidence, but society does treat us differently from our thinner counterparts. I’m a “speak my mind” kinda person, so whenever a comment is made towards me I will call that person out and make them look like fool ;).

        Lastly, I really do suggest that all obese people truly wanting to lose the weight for good have their basal metabolic rate tested. I dieted for over a year, exercising 4 days per week and consuming healthy foods and eating 1200-400 calories per day. I lost 18 lbs in that time frame. Turns out, my basal metabolic rate was less than 800 calories. Once I corrected this, the weight came off much easier.

        • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 8:37 pm

          Thank you for sharing this unique perspective! You are right… there is no one size, fits all approach to… anything, really! I have a family member who lost weight via gastric bypass and I cannot argue that it didn’t save her life.

        • Laura January 24, 2011, 8:37 pm

          That sounds pretty extreme to me (and in all honesty, potentially dangerous :(), but I’m sure you’ve done your research on both the program and the credentials of these Drs., so more power to you if that’s what helps you be your healthiest self. I know that wouldn’t work for me (I don’t do well being hungry or feeling deprived, also I don’t think that would be something I could continue to do over the long haul), but you’re right, weight loss isn’t one size fits all. And I’m glad you stick up for yourself…good luck :).

        • Lesley January 25, 2011, 10:24 am

          “I no longer have high blood pressure, I’m no longer teetering on diabetes, and I feel better than I have in a long time.”

          That’s awesome!! And I second Laura’s comment that I’m glad you speak up when someone is being rude to you. I know I couldn’t go about losing weight the way you are, but it sounds like you’ve found something that works for you and that’s what’s important. This thread has made me think a lot, and I’ve realized I need to be more open minded about how people chose to improve their health. I don’t think the methods on those shows are for everyone, but that doesn’t inherently make them wrong. I’ve always felt very strongly that gastric bypass is dangerous, but as Caitlin said above, it does save some people’s lives. I’m also trying to remind myself how much some people have to put up with. Since I, on the whole, don’t feel like people treat me poorly due to my weight, I sometimes forget that is not the reality for a lot of people…even though it should be. Best wishes, Tiffany. And thank you Caitlin, for providing a forum where we can all converse.

  • M January 23, 2011, 4:07 pm

    I used to be fat and the biggest loser are both produced by the same production company 3 ball productions. I dont know if that changes anybody’s views on the show it self.

  • Maddie (Healthy Maddie) January 23, 2011, 4:10 pm

    Great post! I have not seen the show but now you have me interested in it.

  • Lizz @ Leading the Good Life January 23, 2011, 4:12 pm

    My hope for this type of show is that they actually teach the audience something useful…which is also where they seem to fall short. I like seeing people work hard, surprise themselves, and accomplish goals, but I think the bigger picture gets lost. How did they get there? What did they eat? Do you really need a personal trainer to get fit? Is it reasonable to expect to lose 10 lbs in one week? I know each person is different, but I wish they would provide real advice and helpful tips to the viewers at home thinking, “Man, I wish I could do that. I want to be on that show!”

  • Tracy @ Commit To Fit January 23, 2011, 4:29 pm

    I have never heard of this show, but I am certainly going to seek it out now and watch a few episodes. Thanks for sharing.

  • Shannon @ Freshman Yr of Life January 23, 2011, 4:48 pm

    I really like the show. I totally agree with you that giving a meal plan or post work out snacks would help for the audience.

    As far as “working till you puke.” I have a slightly different opinion.

    I agree that MTV is trying to increase the audience by pushing these kids till they vomit and I’m not saying that it’s healthy and that everyone should do this.

    However, as a former college athlete, we were pushed to the that point. To that point of total exhaustion that results in vomiting. I think those trainers do that partially to give these kids a wake up call. I have vomited 3x from an intense work out. All of the times I was dead of out shape and was accompanied by my coaches. It sucked so bad. But at the end of the day I could say wow, I really am capable of pushing myself that hard. For me it was the Conference Championships that made it worth it. For the kids, it’s loving themselves and over coming the mental side of it.

    I really enjoyed reading your review and glad, as most people say, that your blog allows for the free exchange of ideas.

  • Hannah January 23, 2011, 5:17 pm

    I think the concept of this show is great, I just feel as though MTV could have gone about it in a more informative way. I do think it is a good way to reach teens on a channel that is popular for that age group; shows like Biggest Loser aren’t generally watched by the younger public. I definitely agree that they should include tips for viewers who want to change their life too. However, I just found out that online at they have a few videos called “trainer tips” and “nutrition tips” (although not well advertised and very short). They also have a few good clips where the participants give an update–I think the most recent girl Mackenzie really learned alot; she has to love herself before she can open up, and that confidence and health are really the most important things.

    Thanks for the great conversation starter!

  • Parita@innershakti January 23, 2011, 5:21 pm

    Honestly, the first thing that turns me off is the name of the show – “I used to be FAT.” It’s interesting that you wrote about this today because I was just thinking about all the pressure young teens face. I remember being a slightly heavy teenager but never feeling overweight or “fat.” Nowadays, “fat” talk is embedded into everything. Personally, I find it disgusting that the focus is always on losing weight and being skinny, when it should really be on adopting healthy behaviors and focusing on the inside first. A strong self-esteem comes from a healthy lifestyle filled with healthy behaviors and thoughts. A better name, in my opinion, would be “How I became healthy.” But that wouldn’t bring in a large viewership. Hopefully one day we will get there! Thanks for blogging about this!

    • Caitlin January 23, 2011, 5:25 pm

      Ughh Fat Talk! It’s everywhere!

  • Lili January 23, 2011, 5:28 pm

    I have watched a few episodes so far and I do like the show a lot. It is great to see that they are able to eat healthy and engage in physical exercise. It is a lot of exercise, yes (did they mention 6h/day in the show?) but obviously, that’s what the show is about. Hopefully, after the show, the teens will stick w/ exercising and eating healthy (everything in moderation of course) and become a balanced individual.
    One thing that I noticed in the show is that: they do not mention about losing weight to be HEALTHY. The last episode i watched (this past week), the dad was worried that the girl would never find a BF or get married because she was fat. I felt like someone needed to mention the health issue too…not sure if they do mention in other episodes, but again, I only watched a few times, and none of these episodes made reference to lose weight in order to be healthy …they only focused on being skinny.

  • Ashley @ Thefitacademic January 23, 2011, 6:16 pm

    I’ve only seen a couple shows. I agree with your opinion. My biggest dislike is actually the NAME of the show! “I used to be fat” seems harsh and unnecessary. Of course it’s attention-grabbing & I’m sure that’s what they wanted, but I think it’s dangerous when we start labeling people that way.

  • Natalie January 23, 2011, 6:17 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with your review. I liked the show and I didn’t like the show for those same reasons. I definitely think with some improvement this could be a really great show. My problem with it is 1st, the focus on the kids/parents wanting the kids to get skinny so they can date. That can’t be emotionally healthy. My 2nd problem was the allocation between time spent showcasing the workout and time spent explaining the diet. Healthy eating is more than half the battle, but maybe like two minutes an episode is spent on what the kids eat to change their lifestyle. My 3rd problem was the focus on the grueling workout. I know theses kids are losing weight in 99 days, but it actually promotes a terrible cycle if the workouts are so grueling that the kids will never do them again, or cant do them on their own. I wish they had made an example of showing how the kids can do everyday exercises (like walking, light jogging, spinning, yoga, bike riding) that they could do for every day for the rest of their life. Exercise should be fun. Healthy eating should be fun too. I know they want to make it extreme like biggest loser, but the “grueling” aspect makes it seem to the greater public that weight loss has to be this herculean effort. It doesn’t. It must be gradual in order to maintain and be healthy for the rest of your life.

  • monicanelsonfitness January 23, 2011, 6:26 pm

    fantastic points by everyone! well done and great discussion.

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin January 23, 2011, 6:34 pm

    I’ve never seen this show, but I think I’ll check it out now! One thing I have against the show, even without having seen it, is the goal to lose a huge amount of weight in a short period of time using extreme means. 100 lbs in one summer seems like too much to lose in a healthy way!

  • Leanne {The Bugs' Mama} January 23, 2011, 7:03 pm

    I have to weigh in on the “vomiting issue.” My husband, as well as his siblings having always been known to vomit after a workout. It hasn’t mattered whether they were in great shape or not so great shape. They just seem to be a little more sensitive than others. I think that, while you can definitely push yourself to the point of vomiting, some are more prone that others and it is not always an issue of going to far with your workout.

  • Amber K January 23, 2011, 7:06 pm

    I feel the same way about as I do the Biggest Loser. It is inspiring at times, and it really ticks me off at others. I hate it when they push people so hard that they puke. What a way to say “exercise sucks and it only counts if you are really in pain!” I’d much rather see a show where people lose the pounds reasonably and safely by making lasting changes. You know like SparkPeople the show 😉

  • Lisa January 23, 2011, 8:30 pm

    I never knew anything about the show until I saw it yesterday at the gym. The girl on it was 273 pounds, 18 years old and wanted to lose 100 pounds over the summer break before she left for college because she wanted to date.

    Um what? That was SUCH a turn off. I think the show is awful and teaching disorder thinking. The girl on the episode I saw was miserable, she hated working out, and she was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I guarantee she will gain back everything she lost in that summer. She wasn’t doing it in a healthy way.

  • Cat January 23, 2011, 8:54 pm

    Puking after a vigorous workout isn’t that strange. It doesn’t even mean you’re out of shape or in it. I’ve never had it happen, but have seen it happen to others doing the exact same workout I was doing and trust me, it wasn’t an irresponsibly difficult workout.

  • lisa January 23, 2011, 9:28 pm

    Caitlin I think your review of the show hits the nail on the head. I agree that the one of the hugest roadblocks many people face is lack of self-motivation and taking personal responsibility.

  • Darcy @ She Sings at the Table January 23, 2011, 9:43 pm

    I really agree with you in your concern about how shows like this might promote the “I’ll be happy once I’m skinny” mindset. I used to think like that ALL the time. I put off doing things, buying cute clothes, etc, becaues I was always telling myself I’d be at least 5 pounds lighter by the time next month rolled around.

    I read all kinds of weight-loss magazines articles and things like that, and always scoffed at the “you have to love yourself the way you are before you can change” tips. But within the last year, something clicked and this suddenly made sense to me. I think it came with starting to workout, running my first half marathon, and being proud of what my body could DO rather than criticizing it for how it looked. And, whaddya know, once I stopped being so uptight and appreciating my body for what it was, it started changing for the better. My health and fitness is still a work in progress, but I know I’m on the right track and I’m happy NOW, not five pounds from now 🙂

    Sorry to ramble…but that point you made really resonated with me. Thanks for a great review of the show!

  • Sophia @ Raven Waves January 23, 2011, 10:11 pm

    I’ve seen a couple episodes, and while I think it’s great that they’re trying to help the teens lose weight, eat healthier and feel better about themselves, I agree that sometimes they go too far. Throwing up is BAD! But I guess that’s the kind of entertainment that sells.

  • Jen January 23, 2011, 11:13 pm

    I know it’s been mentioned a few times, but it’s actually not dangerous to puke after a workout. Most of these people have been sedentary and even something moderate might make them throw up. I am a very active athlete and have puked a few times when my running coach had us doing hill sprints or track workouts the first weeks back in training.

  • Callie @ Callieflower Kitchen January 24, 2011, 9:43 am

    I actually just watched all of the episodes of this online last week! I really liked everything about the show, except that the weight loss goals the kids were setting seemed pretty lofty, even though their summers seemed to be about 4 months long. In one of the episodes they were aiming for a 5-lb loss each week, which I think is unrealistic and unhealthy to maintain for such a long period of time. I understand that weight might come off more quickly at the beginning if you’re obese, but I don’t think health professionals should be encouraging that kind of loss. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Not that weight loss shold ever be a race anyway 🙂

  • Carpensm @ A Life Without Ice Cream January 24, 2011, 9:47 am

    Thanks for the review, I hadn’t heard of that show but it looks like something that would have its good and bad points. Interesting that they’re using such a young group too.

    There’s a show on Slice called X-weighted (I think its Canadian) where they work eith either an individual or a family to lose weight. The ones with families are always interesting because they show how the eating habits are being passed down and the different effects and reasons between children, teens and adults. They also promote very healthy eating and fitness and don’t do the extreme training that you see on the Biggest Loser and those type shows. I’ve also seen a few shows where the person didn’t really lose much weight at all because they weren’t sticking to the plan.

    It seems that weight loss shows are everywhere these days! As someone who’s lost a lot of weight (80 lbs over 2 years of healthy eating) I like watching them to see the struggles people are going through because they’re often similar to my own however I find it very very upsetting when I see a show that is promoting a less healthy approach and might lead to disordered eating.

    Thanks for an honest review!!

  • twiseman January 24, 2011, 9:51 am

    my favorite weight loss show is the last 10 pounds cause they actually show an examples of a days worth of meals, and they say eat as much fruit / veggies as you want, they usually try to put a healthier version of your favorite food in, like a girl on the show loved muffins, but she always got big gigantic ones full of lard and sugar, and the girl food coach gave her a recipe for one with yogurt and other healthy stuff in it.
    i watched all the episodes of i use to be fat, on the mtv website, and i like it, but not alot. i like that they are trying to help teens fight obesity by showing that being healthy is being happy, but i don’t like how they like to put the teens into overdrive the first work out, they should ease into it, they could seriously hurt themselves by doing that, i also didn’t like how one of the girls had a meeting with her bestfriends and they were like “we never see you anymore” and the girl on the show was like “yea I’ve been exercising” giving up friends for health is not healthy, everyone needs a friend to talk to, and putting your friends in exile because you want to lose 90 lbs is not cool.

    i watch alot of weight loss shows for meal ideas sense ive been trying to lose 50 lbs over the last 2 years, i started running in the fall and lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks, i was ecstatic, then it got cold and i hate cold, i cant afford a gym membership and i have nothing to train with at home, so this summer i plan on doing something like “i use to be fat” only no so crazy.
    i also plan on inviting friends on my work outs. cause friends make running so much better.

    sorry for the long comment.

  • Maria January 24, 2011, 10:57 am

    I really like the show! My friend and I watch it together every week and we both pointed out that we wish there was more of a nutrition focus in the show. It is great seeing all the exercise and emotional issues but I think it would be helpful to point out HOW to eat etc.

    A new show just started on A&E last Monday night at 10pm called “Heavy” which is somewhat similar only with adults. I’m not sure what I think of it yet, but similarly I wish there was more of a nutrition component. Hopefully the next show out will contain this vital aspect of healthy living!

  • Hillary January 24, 2011, 1:20 pm

    I think it’s so funny that you put up this post the same day that I wrote a journal entry on the same topic. I went on a bit of an MTV binge this weekend, and they seemed to ONLY be playing I Used to be Fat and Made episodes that focused on losing weight. Seeing all of those shows on a loop brought up some really strong feelings for me. I, like a lot of people who have already posted, was very overweight for most of my childhood/adolescence (I’m 5’2 and at my heaviest, I weighed 172 pounds).

    The first thing that struck me was how much I genuinely liked the overall message of the show. Yes, a lot of the kids wanted to lose weight for vanity reasons, but nearly all (if not all) of them also mentioned that they knew they were beyond the point of unhealthy, and that they needed to make LIFE changes. Not just that, but they committed to those life changes (at least for the 90 days we were allowed to see. Who knows where they are now?)

    I also liked that they showed that losing weight, especially when you are that overweight, is HARD. It’s hard physically, emotionally, and psychologically. I put off losing weight for what seemed like forever (I lost about 45 pounds my junior year of college and have kept it off for the last five years), mainly because it was just so hard. It took so much effort, and it forced me to take a good, long look at how I was living my life and what would happen if I didn’t make lasting choices and changes. IUTBF obviously puts those tough moments in the spotlight because they make good TV, but at least they put them out there. It lets kids know that they, too, can change their eating habits, make time for exercise, and see results IF THEY STICK WITH IT!

    What I didn’t like about the show is exactly what you’ve already pointed out: I hated watching these kids inevitably break down during their first workout. It actually made ME feel sick. However, when I thought about it, I realized how real that is in a lot of ways, too. When you are not used to vigorous exercise, you are going to feel pain. Hell, I AM used to exercise, and I still feel pain during a vigorous workout. The difference is that I’ve come to expect (and enjoy!) that pain because it means I am effectively changing my body. I obviously don’t mean that I am vomiting after every work out, and I also think that these kids were often reacting more emotionally than physically to what they were being pushed to do. It didn’t necessarily bother me to watch them be pushed so hard, but it took me back to how uncomfortable those first workouts were for me. On the upside, it was great to watch, at the end of the 90 days, how some of the kids LOOKED FORWARD to their workouts! And were accomplishing things they couldn’t come close to tackling at the beginning. That’s progress, and that’s positive.

    While I liked the personal responsibility they put on these kids (they are 18, after all), I would have liked to see where the kids are after 180 days, or 365 days, and without their personal trainers. Like you and a lot of others have already mentioned, 100 lbs in 90 days isn’t necessarily the healthiest way to go about losing weight (I lost my 45 lbs over the course of a year—slow but steady), and I fear that too many kids will think that, if they “only” lose 4-6 lbs a month, they will never succeed at their goal. Not all weight loss needs to be fast and furious. In fact, sometimes I think losing at a slower weight can be a benefit—you have more time to adjust to the changes in your lifestyle AND your body.

    Overall, I still have very mixed feelings about the show. Thanks for sparking conversation on such a hot topic!

  • Heather January 24, 2011, 1:37 pm

    working out until you puke – i know it’s “unhealthy” and “bad” – but do we have a source of research on this? Why is it unhealthy? Is vommitting in itself unhealthy? Why/why not?

    • Heather January 24, 2011, 1:38 pm

      furthermore, is that how you spell vommitting?

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 2:32 pm

      I think it’s vomiting 🙂

      Many peeps have argued that it’s not necessarily unhealthy but I don’t know… to me it doesn’t sound very fun, in the very least.

  • Lauren @ Running Examiner January 24, 2011, 3:55 pm

    I know I’m joining this discussion a little late, but I just wanted to weigh in (no pun intended, of course!) on “I Used to Be Fat.” I watched one episode the other night for the express purpose of figuring out how I feel about the show. I have to say, I am not a fan. While the show itself has some positive, empowering messages, I believe the whole premise is exploitative. I think the same thing about “The Biggest Loser,” too, and the myriad other shows that posit a person’s weight to be her/his defining feature. It just places way too much emphasis on the external, and that, in my mind, perpetuates “fat talk,” constructing appearance to be the most important aspect of a person’s identity.

    Also, I just think that the focus on “heavy/ skinny,” “depressed/happy,” and all the other impossibly simplistic binaries is misleading at best, and dangerous at worst. Heavy does not necessarily equal sad and unhealthy, just as skinny does not necessarily equal happy or healthy. Thinking in these terms is reductive, and not really helpful to any group of people. Healthiness and happiness are subjective things, to an extent — there is no “one size fits all.”

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post, Caitlin!
    (Totally rambled a bit here, but I was a Women’s Studies minor in college, and I hold these sort of issues close to my heart!)

  • elaine! January 24, 2011, 6:52 pm

    The one episode that I saw, I thought was pretty good. Two things really struck me. One was when the trainer came to the girl’s home and grilled her about her diet, and it turned out she was eating too little. The trainer basically said, if you eat too little, you’re sabotaging yourself just as much as if you were eating too much. You have to eat the right amount. So it wasn’t directly promoting undereating (though obviously there’s some crazy caloric restriction going on when someone loses a pound a day for three months). The other thing that I liked was that it wasn’t about the scale for the girl as much as being able to shop at normal boutiques. When you’re a teenager, sometimes you just want to be normal, and it seemed like her weight loss (and toughening up, quitting whining, etc.) allowed her to finally enjoy what she considered a “normal” teenage experience.

    I’d like to see follow-ups on all the participants after a year. Losing a lot of weight is impressive, but what I really admire are folks who can maintain that loss.

  • Ali @ Ali Runs January 25, 2011, 10:11 am

    I’m a little late to the party, but I just wanted to quickly add that high schoolers on my sports teams when I was in high school (the track team in particular), used to puke all the time after the first few workouts. It’s just because they were very out of shape, I don’t find that to be necessarily a bad thing. I don’t know…I have never personally puked after working out. But I know a lot of people that have.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat January 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

    I agree with your review of this show. I have watched a few episodes and think it is both good and bad. I quit watching The Biggest Loser a few years ago when it became more about product placement, people stabbing each other in the back and people crying about “only” losing 10 lbs a week. Holy unrealistic expectations!

  • JK January 30, 2011, 4:53 pm

    I debated back and forth on whether or not I wanted to comment here, but in the end I decided I needed to. I read HTP every day, but I’m usually just a lurker. This is probably going to be another “epic” comment so please just bear with me.

    I have had a distorted body image my entire life. As an adult, I’ve come to realize that part of the reason is because my mother had a weight problem growing up and was so scared that I was going to have one that she guarded me right into having one. Without going into too much detial, she was extremely restrictive around food and there were definite food rules and “good” and “bad” foods. There were also a lot of “diet” foods in the house and not a big focus on real foods. She often made comments like “are you sure you want to eat that” etc. while never saying anything to my brother. I never learned how to eat a healthy diet. I never learned to look at food as fuel or the “everything in moderation” attitude. Instead food was the enemy. To my mom, there was nothing worse than being fat.

    I was teased mercilessly as a child for a myriad of things, even before I was overweight. Kids often choose a scapegoat and for some reason that was me. I also went through puberty early and was teased about that. This also messed with my perception of myself. They were all telling me I was fat all day at school, it must be true.

    I was a size 12 in middle school. I’m 5’7″. I thought I was enormous. Most of my friends could fit into a size 2 or 4. What I didn’t realize at the time was the difference in people’s body frames. I look back at pictures of myself growing up and see a healthy, very average weight child/tween. It blows my mind. If only someone had told me that I was normal, that I looked just fine! If only someone had nurtured me and my self-esteem.

    Some negative things happened in my life after that and because of my bad relationship with food I started to binge eat throughout high school and college. I was a 16/18 through most of high school and got up to 250+ after college and remain there. One of the other commentors here said how HARD it is to grow up overweight and I could not agree more. I would equate it to living in a personal hell. Kids in high school mostly only care about looks and being popular. If you’re overweight, you are at best invisible.

    I’m still very overweight as I write this, but what I have gained since then is the knowledge and the freedom that comes from knowing that I am a worthy person at ANY weight. I am not saying that I don’t want to lose weight. I do, and I am taking the steps toward educating myself and try to work towards it every day. However, today I can say I deserve to be happy even though I’m overweight. I can say (most days) that I am beautiful even though I am overweight. I can be proud of all my accomplishments and in no way feel that they are dimished because I am heavy. My weight is one facet of who I am and I refuse to let it define me. I will get to the weight I want to be at, but in the mean time I am going to live and enjoy my life! I refuse to postpone joy.

    And this brings me to my comment about “I Used to Be Fat”. I simply cannot watch this show or TBL. Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks put it well when she said it is just too painful. But also, to me, they promote the attitude of “there is nothing worse than being fat, and you are only worth something when you are thin”. Of course, there are health reasons to lose weight and I support and embrace those. But, these teens need to be given the message that they are enough at any weight. They are more than the number on the scale.

    This is one reason I LOVE Operation Beautiful so much. I only wish it had been around when I was growing up. (I’m 27 now). There is a self-esteem epidemic in this country, especially with young girls. Television programming like this only feeds into the problem. I often wonder how my life would have been different if I was given different messages as a young girl. I just hope one day I can pass positive messages on to other young girls.

    Thanks for allowing me to share my story/two cents and for giving us a forum where we can discuss these issues.

    • Caitlin January 30, 2011, 5:03 pm

      <3 thank you so much for delurking to write this beautiful and heartfelt comment. Each word really resonated with me. I am so happy that you realize how truly amazing and special you are now… I just wanted to give you an e-hug!

  • April February 7, 2011, 1:36 pm

    I LOVE this show…It has inspired me to try harder to watch what i eat and also excercise.I would just like to know the diet they actually are doing on the show.I always drink lots of water and cut out my colas and bread when i do diet and yes it does help to keep the weight off.I eat salads and eggs and chicken.I would like to get the recipes for all the diet food they eat and wld like to know what shake they are drinking.The show is great just wld like to know a little more information on how long to work out and the diet recipes anyone know any of these questions?

    • Caitlin February 7, 2011, 2:23 pm

      I think it varies from person to person! I am glad you are inspired 🙂

  • Pupa86 May 11, 2011, 12:51 pm


  • bill jensen July 16, 2011, 2:14 pm

    This may sound like I am trying to get back at the show, but I am not. Last week they let me go because they said that I didnt have her burn enough calories. They wanted her to work out six days a week, at 4000 calories per workout. I would work with her four days, and the other trainer would work with her the other days. There are three kids from the Chicago area doing the show this season, and the other two kids have injuries to the extext that they had to see a dr. Mine was motivated and healthy, no injuries. I tried to tell the other trainer, and producer that I wasnt going to run her in the ground, and they went to another gym. I am really worried about the long term effects on these kids. I do want to say this is not revenge, I am just worried about these extreme programs. Bill Jensen

  • lib September 22, 2011, 5:17 pm

    when you’re overweight and never work out except for basic walking, then your body WILL react like that! i’m someone who used to be overweight and i would easily get heat stroke and feel like puking cuz my body was not used to it. in order to break out of that you need to keep working out! and honestly what is the big deal with wanting to be skinny in order to be happy? that’s pretty much the main issue when it comes to being overweight and depressed about life. cause of how people treat you! from experience i could never go outside without some b!tch or douchebag judging me for my appearance. i and many overweight people want to live NORMAL lives, without people spitting in our direction. if you’ve never been overweight you have NO right to judge how that person feels. when you walk in THEIR shoes, you’ll find out it IS about ‘once im thin i’ll be happy’. cause you won’t have people bully you and also you’ll have self confidence. you’ll no longer have a hard time finding basic clothing at your favorite store, or have people give you rude looks and laugh at you when you walk into a food court.

  • trish October 23, 2011, 2:32 pm

    I wish these shows would be more about what to eat. We see them exercised to death, but we need to learn more about the dieting aspect. I personally want to see shows on food and different diets and ways to control that part of our lifes. I’ve been saying this for years. Where’s the food plans???

  • Nora November 13, 2011, 10:20 am

    I absolutley love the show, I Used To Be Fat…I personally believe that it is quite uplifting and motvating as they encourage many young teenagers with the concept of losing weight. Losing Weight has been portrayed as enjoyable as it helps you overcome many struggles and difficlties benefitting you in terms of changing physically, mentally and emotionally. This show promotes Weight loss and has quite a positive impact on the audience. I Used To Be Fat alsom promotes self-esteem. Personally, I quite enjoy the show.

  • Tenasha Moss December 10, 2011, 8:42 pm

    hello my name is tenasha but some people calls me tea. i am 180plds an i wanna get down to 120 or 130, can u please help me get down to that sixe. im a 20yr old mom an i think i steal should look good please help me

  • Tenasha Moss December 10, 2011, 8:45 pm

    hello my name is tenasha but some people calls me tea. i am 180plds an i wanna get down to 120 or 130, can u please help me get down to that size. i’m a 20yr old mom an i think i steal should look good please help me

  • Brian January 22, 2012, 11:05 am

    Terrible review Caitlin, sorry. I agree with your point about showing more what the trainer is giving them as a meal plan and the importnace of water when doing a program like this but it is annoying that you attempt to undermine the positives of the show when you say that it stands as an argument that your only happy if your skinny. You have belittled the health issues associated with being overweight in the interest of protecting ‘feelings’ which only serve to paralyze those people at their current weight. There has to be a ‘tipping point’.

  • Saran Dunmore January 31, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Hello!! I just saw this, a little late, I know. 🙂 I’m a trainer on the show and I LOVE IT! If I thought it was a horrible show or one that promoted unhealthy habits, I wouldn’t be a part of it. I am Dom’s trainer in Chicago and I also trained another kid named Sammy; in fact, I’m the trainer in the clip featured above! With each of my kids, I focus on self-empowerment, I motivate and inspire them to find their power and I teach them healthier ways to approach food and exercise. This show for me, is all about getting the kids healthy emotionally and mentally…the physical is just a by-product of the others. Sure, all the kids have emotional issues, who wouldn’t? Weighing over 300lbs at 18 didn’t happen just because the kid doesn’t eat healthy or exercise. They are, in most cases, dealing with a multitude of issues. It’s my job to uncover that. and I do. The beauty of this show is the kids sign up for it, they want to make a change. That’s where I come in!

    The kids are all monitored by a physician, and their workouts are tough, but not unsafe. In fact, Dominick puked during our first workout. So what. This isn’t me being mean (if you’ve seen the show, you’ll know I’m far from that) but so what he threw up. This kid was moving HIS BODY WEIGHT. (we did these exercises, jumping jacks, stationary lunges, plank, bodyweight squats, squat thrusts…and then…yes, you guessed it. The trash can!!!) That was his FIRST time in a gym. His body was screaming at him to get fit and get rid of the toxins that were holding him back!

    After that first puking session, he didn’t throw up again. Instead, we pushed harder, he got stronger and ultimately WE won!! He lost 86lbs and today, he has a great relationship with exercise, food and his mom/family!!! He’s standing up for himself, making great choices and taking control of his life!!! Season 2 is coming soon!!!! You HAVE to watch!!! Thanks for the article!

    Saran Dunmore 😉

  • Michelle May 31, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I love this show, find it very motivating and like that they seem to approach weight loss with these teens as a whole lifestyle change rather than a temporary diet. I also love that they usually try to help the kids out with a whole range of emotional problems and that they show that becoming healthy when you are obese is not an easy thing, but that it takes a lot of effort and hard work and that you above all have to persevere. A lot of these kids experience setbacks and plateaus, some of it because they were cheating, sometimes because of outside forces and sometimes just because, which is all realistic.
    I agree with the reviewer that it would be nice to have a bit more focus on healthy eating in the form of more time spent on meal plans, snacks, food choices, etc, but that really is my only “problem” with the show, although I am sure that the kids themselves get plenty of diet advice from their coaches, especially as from all the episodes that I’ve seen all but one continued losing weight after they parted ways with their coach. I also don’t think it promoted unhealthy weight loss like many are saying, sure all the kids want to lose a massive amount of weight in a short amount of time, but I think that is normal, they are kids, and kids generally have unrealistic goals (hell a lot of grown-ups I know can set themselves some seriously unrealistic goals) , but most don’t reach that goal in the 3 months (I think I’ve seen about 8, 9 or 10 episodes and so far only 1 teen reached his goal, surpassed it actually by about 25 lbs, it was the boy who was a surfer) and many still haven’t gotten down to their goal weight when they catch up with them a couple of months later. And their trainer doesn’t focus on the fact that they didn’t reach their goal, they focus on the fact that they lost weight, learned how to be healthier, got into a good routine, etc etc. And I think that the fact that most of them continue to lose weight afterwards is a good sign that they were taught well, I think a true test will be a catch up show with a bunch of them a year on.
    I’d also like to add my two cents wrt the puking issue – so what? If they were being pushed till they puked with every workout I would have a problem with it, but so far only a few have puked and only during the first workout and I think it was always the kids that had never done any kind of sports routinely. A few kids were a bit more athletically inclined in the past and if I’ve remembered it correctly, none of them puked. I really don’t think puking during a workout is such a big deal if it happens once or twice, I would personally only be worried if it happened regularly as then you’re doing something wrong. I think in this case it was due to the kids leading extremely sedentary lifestyles and this being the first time in their young lives that they were being pushed physically, which is a huge shock to the system. It also serves as a tool for the trainer to see how far this kid can be pushed. It’s not a tool that always needs to be utilised, but if it happens anyway, it can be used as a measure. Plus I think it can be a mental tool too (for the kid and viewers), kind of like, I was pushed, puked my guts out, it hurt, was really hard, but I survived, persevered and became much healthier.
    Having said that, pushing yourself to the point of puking is not necessary, nor is it healthy, but I don’t think it’s the big deal that you are making it out to be, but I understand that some impressional teens/kids out there might get the wrong idea from seeing that on the show, especially as a kid doing that to themselves at home is not being medically screened and monitored like the kids on this show are being.

  • Charlie October 11, 2012, 2:42 pm

    I don’t like the title, “I used to be fat.” To me, it rubs me the wrong way. A better title would be, “How I lost the weight!” or something more positive.
    I do like how they get to the emotional heart of the matter. I, too, feel more specifics as in what did they eat each day, or have them keep an online log we can view, showing their intake. Keep in mind this is a photo op for the trainer, who thinks being on tv will get him or her many more clients so they are probably playing up to the camera in their own way-maybe training the people harder than they normally would. I wonder how much of it is their genuine concern for the overweight person and how much it is for their own vanity. All in all, I do enjoy it. I also enjoy the fact that they do follow ups; and seeing the people implement their own workouts into their lives sans trainer.

  • zaira February 6, 2014, 2:30 pm

    necesito ayuda

  • Rachel August 29, 2014, 2:46 am

    I love the show. The trainers push the teens hard and educate them on how to eat. Where necessary, they arranged for other health professionals to help them (pyschologists, for example). None of the teens have ended up ‘skinny’, some didn’t even hit their goal weight but they are well on their way to being active, healthy adults. Being overweight leads to unnecessary and entirely preventable health issues. If losing weight is what it takes for them to avoid that, feel healthy in mind and body and therefore be happier than they were before, I am all for it.

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point