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Monday, June 2, 2008

The Joy Fit Club

I'm a news junkie, and an avid MSNBC.com reader. Every Monday, the Today Show (whose website is part of MSNBC's) inducts a new member to the Joy Fit Club. If you haven't seen this before (either watching the Today Show or online), it is "run" by Joy Bauer, who wrote Joy Bauer's Food Cures. The idea behind her "Joy Fit Club" plan is simple: she wants to promote weight loss through basic nutrition and fitness methods, and uses a large emphasis on positive attitude. That is the part that Today Show viewers, and other fans, take part in, and apparently lots of people do it. On Mondays, she features a new "member" who has lost at least 100 lbs by any diet--not necessarily her plan, and actually I have seen few members who used her plan--as long as there is no surgery involved. Here's what the Today Show's website says:

"Twice a month, TODAY will induct new members into nutritionist Joy's Bauer's Fit Club. These are determined people who have lost and kept off a significant amount of weight -- 100 pounds or more. Read their inspiring and motivating stories of how they lost the weight the good old-fashioned way, through diet, exercise and no surgery."

I look forward to reading about the latest member inducted every week. I love a good before & after story as much as anyone else. But some things about this "club" have always rubbed me wrong.

First, this program really touts losing weight "the good old-fashioned way." No surgery. The intent, outwardly, isn't to say that surgery is wrong, per se, but I think they want it to inspire people to try weight loss "the good old-fashioned way" before jumping to surgery. Unfortunately, they don't really mention this much. They do mention frequently when an inductee lost weight as a "last-ditch effort" right before having surgery, or to qualify for surgery, but then changed their minds and did it "themselves".

I think it's great that people can lose massive amounts of weight through diet and exercise. Fact is, most of us who have WLS actually HAVE lost massive amounts of weight before. That brings me to the second thing that bugs me: there is no focus on keeping it off, which is the hardest part. The club members supposedly have "lost weight and kept it off", but the clips I see on their website rarely, if ever, mention when the goal was achieved, how long they have been at goal, and how they maintain. Am I wrong, or is that the answer that obese people are really looking for here? We all know how to lose weight. But keeping it off is the hardest part, and this "plan" has no focus on that. To me, it's just setting people up for the inevitable regain--all the weight loss, plus an extra 10-20%, is the norm, because the body tries to compensate for the next time this famine occurs with some extra insurance.

Also, Joy Bauer takes a lot of credit for these peoples' successes. But as I mentioned before, most of the 100+ club members lost their weight through some other diet--the most frequent ones I see are NutriSystem, Weight Watchers, and South Beach, but I've also seen Atkins, Jenny Craig, etc. on the list. But not the Joy Fit Club weight loss plan. Yet she implies on the TV segments that she has helped these people lose weight, even though they only "join the club" AFTER they've lost weight.

It just rubs me the wrong way. She implies that having WLS isn't "natural weight loss" or "good old-fashioned work", and that the "good" way to do it is D&E. I think she could do a lot more good if she (A) focused more on maintenance, and (B) talked about how people who have had WLS can benefit from these methods too. Be a little more inclusive. Or at least make it clear that she's trying to provide inspiration and options for people who already don't want to have WLS. Perpetuating the negative attitude that there is something wrong with that choice only hurts people more. It's not a choice for everyone, but for many people it is ABSOLUTELY the right choice. And lumping all the procedures together into one big, bad "surgery" ball is also misleading. I can personally relate to a lot of these weight loss stories, having had lap band surgery--the methods for weight loss are exactly the same, but I have assistance with appetite control, and to some extent with portion control. In that sense, it's not the same, but it's not that different either, and the band is very different from a lot of the other things that they make sound so scary (which themselves are ALSO the right choice for some people).

I wanted to put today's video in here, but Blogger wouldn't accept the embedded video. So, here's the link. In it, "Kathy" says that she started NutriSystem in August of 2006 and it took about 11 months to lose 140 lbs. So she has been maintaining for less than a year--which is great, but I'm not sure it qualifies as "keeping it off" just yet. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Here's the MSNBC feature as well.

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