MTV is exploring the impact of yo-yo dieting

MTV is reportedly doing a show focused on yo-yo dieting and on the challenges of trying to maintain weight loss. A producer with the network contacted me recently seeking help with an episode they are filming. The producer with True Life, a reality show on the network, told me that the episode is intended to be a show about the world of someone caught in a battle with his or her weight. True Life doesn’t want to depict extremes or eating disorders in this episode. They want to show the day-to-day world of someone trying to successfully change their weight.

Interestingly (and true to life I think), the producers were finding that people are less willing to share their battles to maintain weight loss after they have lost the weight then they are to share their current weight loss attempts.

This makes sense to me. Losing weight is hard. Making permanent weight changes is even harder–and yet that reality is often under-emphasized or not talked about at all in weight loss plans and programs.

Change experts recognized that learning to maintain new behaviors and life changes is a separate and very important part of the change process. If a weight loss plan doesn’t address that part of change–and do a really good job–then the odds of keeping weight off decrease dramatically. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize how important this maintenance stage is and most people don’t address it as a distinct phase in the weight loss process. When the weight starts to come back on, we don’t tend to think, “Oh, I must need more tools, more help, or something else to help me really solidify the changes I’ve made and master this maintenance phase.” No, what often happens when the weight starts to come back on is that we blame ourselves and feel like we failed (again).

Shame and guilt frequently accompany weight regain, making us less likely to seek the help or tools that might get us out of the shame trap and back on the path we want to be on. It’s an incredibly painful place to be and I can understand why people would be reluctant to share their vulnerability on national television.

I have no idea what the True Life episode will be like once it is filmed, but I hope they do a good job and I hope they talk about this shame trap and its potential pitfalls. Because once we know about the trap, and once we know that it’s not just us that feels that way, it’s a lot harder to get isolated and trapped in it.

Take good care,


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