Monday, February 02, 2009

Improve your Body Image with Insults and Meal Replacement Bars?

Writing this blog has led to my inclusion in the press release launches of diet, weight and for some reason beauty related products.

Mostly they're ridiculous and honestly I question the wisdom of the folks who include me in their diet-centric mailings - did they ever bother to actually read my blog?

Anyhow, last week I received this press release. The headline read,

"Yikes! 1 of 3 Canadian Women Battling Body Image"
and I admit it did what a good headline ought to - it had me reading the next line.

I assumed of course it would be somehow related to a means to cultivate a healthier body image, or perhaps pointing me to a commentary on fat-ism.


Instead I got this line,
"The mirror doesn’t lie. From muffin tops to thunder thighs, from junk in the trunk to flabby arms, Canadian women say they don’t like what they see."
So Canadian women - to improve your body image look for "problem areas" in the mirror, eat meal replacement bars and take nutritional and workout advice from Nadeen Boman - someone whose career has been built on berating womens' bodies and providing them with ridiculous, non-sustainable, workouts and diets.

Gee, I wonder why Canadian women battle body image issues? Could it be that press releases like this one and grotesque TV shows such as Nadeen Boman's Slice Networked Bulging Brides and The Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp contribute to the development of unhealthy body images in Canadian women?

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  1. Anonymous5:53 am


    I watched a couple of episodes of "The Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp" and "Bulging Brides"*, to see what they were like; got so tired of seeing 145-lb, 5'7" women being told to lose weight (and placed on 1500 calories/day diets!) that I stopped watching the programs (thought that would be cheaper than putting my foot through the TV). A wag of the finger to Slice (and Nutribar)! VP

    * The name alone is insulting. And notice that there is no such program as "Bulging Grooms"...

    Wow, nothing like a rant at 5:50 a.m.!!!

  2. I've seen both those shows. They are disgraceful, to say the least, and embarrassing to admit that they are Canadian. The exercise and nutrition programs that they place these women on are completely unsustainable in the long run.

    The sad part is, it is not even about health. It's about getting these women into a smaller "target" outfit. The women on the show would feel much better about themselves if they found clothes that fit and flattered their figures.

    And as an aside, anybody (even the hosts) would look bulging in an outfit 2 sizes too small. Common sense.

  3. Bulginb Brides is horribly offensive. The only episode I saw was of a 5'4 bride who weighted 135lbs at the beginning of the show, and it was her goal to lose 12 lbs for her wedding. The host of the show was verbally abusing her and talking to her like she was 335lbs.

  4. Wow! Your comments are surprising, and maybe it's just that you're misinformed, so I'll try and clear a few things up.

    Tommy and I never insult the recruits. Although we may be direct in helping them realize just how unhealthy some of their habits are, it is never a personal attack. It's a fact that seeing visuals of what you eat helps to conceptualize these habits and impact your view on reality given this new information. Extreme illustrations (Morphing, Aisle of Shame, etc.) are necessary as we only have a few weeks to educate the recruits and encourage a guilt free, self care attitude.

    Making a change to your diet, exercise or any part of your daily routine is challenging for most people. In efforts to make enough of an impact that a change in mindset takes place, we need to first get out of the comfort zone. Getting your mind to believe you are A, doing the right thing by changing, and B, are going to succeed and be able to stick with the change, requires a bit of shock therapy :) Once the decision is made to adopt healthier behaviours (eating right and exercising regularly) reaching the goal is a given. We need to make sure recruits get to this point.

    A big part of making changes and sticking with a plan, fitness or nutrition, is ensuring the plan works with your lifestyle. In order to succeed on a change plan, it's essential to consistently follow the plan. Given that nearly 50% of Canadian women skip meals, it only makes sense to provide a healthier alternative. Surviving solely on meal replacements as a source of energy is clearly not the answer but if it's a choice between skipping a meal, hitting the vending machine, or opting for a Nutribar (packed with vitamins, minerals and a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats as mandated by Health Canada), then the winner is obviously the meal replacement.

    Just because some of the recruits aren't grossly overweight doesn't mean they shouldn't have an opportunity to improve on their fitness and nutrition behaviours. The women that follow the fitness and nutrition plans are fitter and healthier at the end and it's sad that their self improvement and personal success is seen as a negative to some people.

    The survey was meant to gather information on women's current attitudes around food and body image. With this information it's possible to recommend solutions to major issues as identified by the women themselves who are struggling. We didn't create the results, they're a culmination of the data compiled. Our aim is to provide help and assistance.

    We DO NOT take a short term approach. Although it may seem that way due to the 4-6 week time frames, the exercise and eating habits are in fact sustainable over the long term. The knowledge imparted upon recruits give them the control and power to integrate healthier habits into their lifestyle.

    Hopefully this sheds a new light on things and allows for a more positive perspective. If you have any constructive feedback on how to make the shows better please pass it along. We're always looking for new ways to help people in their journey towards improved health and wellness.

    Best regards,

    Nadeen Boman

  5. The only way you could improve the show so that I would enjoy watching it, would be if you taught women to love themselves the way they are, as long as they are not at risk for heart disease or diabetes.

    You said it your self that the women on the show are not grossly overweight. Yet your show is build on the premise that not being "grossly overweight" is still unacceptable. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable.

    And that's probably why Canadian women have such poor body images. And trust me, from the psychology research being done at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, it's a lot more than 1 in 3 who have body image problems. Alot more like 3 in 4.

  6. Anonymous11:37 am

    I am very surprised by the comments left here. I am American and DVR both shows so I can watch on my treadmill. I am a former fitness model and cancer survivor/testimonial speaker. The nutritional information presented by Nadine is sound and mirrors what I talk about during my presentations on cancer. In America, researchis showing that over 40% of cancers are caused by diet and thus are preventable.

    If Canada is anything like America, then the obseity problem is growing out of control and putting a strain on healthcare. Most large corporates here have incorporated some type of wellness program to help combat the problem.

    The ony thing I would change is add a psychologist to help with the emotional aspects of overeating.

    I say come to America Nadine and Tommy. We would love to have you get us into shape. We could probably pay you more and you would get more side deals as a result...Think Biggest Loser (videos, drinks, scales, clothing, books)

  7. Tough it out5:22 pm

    I say don't watch the show if you're too sensitive. "Loving yourself for who you are and how you look" is often used by many as an excuse. Tough love - I love it! Why do we have to sugarcoat everything we do/say? Say it the way it needs to be said, as harsh as it may seem - people who know they need to change, will use this as motivation. People who don't know how to take accountability, will keep using it as an excuse. People are here to help you (in different ways) and it is up to you to actually want to help yourself. Do it because you need to be healthy for yourself and/or your family - not because "society" tells you how to look a certain way. Stop blaming "society" - stop blaming period - and take accountability for your actions! More power to Nadeen and Tommy for continuing to inspire us!

  8. Ontario Chick3:13 pm

    DId you know that in Australia the government has put calorie restrictions on fast food restaurants' products? No restaurant is allowed to Market unhealthy foods, and they can't be above a certian calorie range. Since ppl sue these corporations for making N.Americans obese, perhaps it is feasible to healthcare, to ppl who can't make healthier choices either b/c of finances, location, lack of will, etc to help make better choices for the people. Maybe the government should control obese corporations and force them to trim their waistlines. Australia's fattest person is probably wearing a size large or x-large, not 4x, 5x, xxxxxxxxxxx.

  9. Okay...

    Anonymous said... "(I) got so tired of seeing 145-lb, 5'7" women being told to lose weight (and placed on 1500 calories/day diets!) that I stopped watching the programs"

    A daily intake of 1500 calories is not "!" worthy, it is healthy and reasonable, especially for someone looking to slim down. Generally, women should not consume any less than 1,200 calories per day, and men should not consume less than 1,500 calories per day.

    Palidor said... "The exercise and nutrition programs that they place these women on are completely unsustainable in the long run. The sad part is, it is not even about health. It's about getting these women into a smaller "target" outfit. The women on the show would feel much better about themselves if they found clothes that fit and flattered their figures."

    The meal plans ARE sustainable and healthy. Eating smaller, balanced meals throughout the day ups our metabolism and so you burn more energy in a sedentary state. The choice of foods will help sustain the body for longer, will give the body a steady amount of energy throughout the day as opposed to the bad foods that the body burns right up and which leaves us feeling unsatisfied.

    Excersise produces endorfins which make us feel happy and completing challenging activities gives a nice sense of accomplishment (ie: a confidence boost). Without a doubt, the women leave the show feeling great about themselves inside and out! A good shopping trip is NOT comparable to improving health, mood and confidence.

    Modern Girl said... "You said it your self that the women on the show are not grossly overweight. Yet your show is build on the premise that not being "grossly overweight" is still unacceptable. Anything less than perfect is unacceptable."

    No it's true these women are not grossly overweight but their eating habits are bad enough, along with the lack of physical activity, that it wouldn't be long before the habits catch up with them. Not only does the show help in the area I mentioned above (ie: health, mood, confidence) it also educates. Healthy choices are not easy at the best of times but with a little help these women are given the tools to begin a healthier lifestyle which is something with which everyone, overweight or not, should be concerned.

    Nadeen, keep up the great work! You are making a positive impact on the world, whether or not they all realize it.

  10. Nadeen and Tommy Fan6:05 pm

    I gotta defend both these shows, regarding the "just getting into an outfit."

    For the Brides show, all of the candidates have gained weight after they bought their dream dress. They need to lose the weight in a quick but healthy way or spend thousands on a new dress.

    For last 10 lbs, it's all a small amount of weight, and I've never seen them take a person on for whom a 10 lb weight loss would be unhealthy (no target outfits of size 0)

    Nobody is being told they need to lose weight, they are being supported in their desire to drop a few and make positive, life long lifestyle changes.

  11. I watch both shows and I do wish to see more of a discussion of the health issues associated with the unhealthy lifestyles we see on the show and less of an emphasis on the aesthetic aspects (though unfortunately the aesthetics are the only thing that will motivate some people to make changes to their diet and exercise, and even though this is not the best reason, it gets them started on a path to healthier living...the hope is that they will come to see the value in taking care of themselves).

    I do believe the meal plans are healthy and sustainable; I have seen meal plans that range from 1500 calories/day to 1800 calories/day, which is certainly enough to meet your nutritional requirements and enjoy your food. I have noticed that these meal plans adhere to the guidelines set out in the Canada Food Guide (though it sometimes falls short in the milk and alternatives category). The meals shown use a variety of meats (I would be interested in seeing a vegetarian plan), along with flavourful and healthy sides and seasonings. I am a sugar addict and have recently made changes to my diet and exercise: I follow a very similar plan and have found that with time my sugar cravings are so much less intense and I have so much more energy. I am actually eating a greater quantity of food than I did previously, and my mood has really improved.

    I would like to respond to the assertion that "they are not at risk for heart disease or diabetes." Actually, given the prevalence of both diseases in this country and the poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles of the participants, I would say that they are at risk. You do not have to be grossly overweight to be at risk for these conditions: in fact, waist circumference may be the best indicator (women's waists' should not exceed 35 inches) due to the damaging effects of visceral fat on the body. The excess sugar and fat in some of their diets constitute a risk factor. They may have the appearance of being healthy because they are slim, but that abdominal fat is doing the same nasty things to their bodies as they are in the bodies of those who would be considered "grossly overweight." Some of those in the latter category may have less abdominal fat than the slim ones and therefore may be less likely to suffer from heart disease and/or diabetes. I would like to see this point emphasized on the show, but i have seen Nadeen and Tommy touch on the health aspects.

    I also think the bars (which I believe are the Kashi granola bars that I eat) are a good idea when you don't have time to prepare much food...they also make great substitutes for chocolate bars.

    I think the ways in which women's bodies are scrutinized, dissected and controlled in this country is deeply problematic, and I do hope this is addressed in future episodes. I think the addition of a psychologist is a really good suggestion.

    So while I do find fault with the image-oriented angle of the show, I think the nutritional info is quite sound. I don't think I could sustain an exercise plan like that, but I do appreciate the use of inexpensive equipment like Swiss and medicine balls. I also think the hosts are nice and demonstrate a genuine concern for the participants.