I’m continually amazed and perturbed by the shows on television these days (said like a crotchety old lady, complete with wagging finger). We have free cable in our apartment, and so some evenings we inevitably end up surfing through the channels and stumbling across some gem or another. (I use the term ‘gem’ loosely. Very much so.)
One show I haven’t quite made my mind up about yet is the Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp on everybody’s favourite network, Slice. For those of you who have not seen the show, the basic premise is this: A woman (and yes, it is invariably a woman, at least from the episodes I’ve seen) has a family/high school/some other type of reunion to attend in 4 to 6 weeks and wants to show up to it looking dazzling, which of course means looking thin. Luckily, a fitness trainer and a nutritional guide surprise her one day and promise to get her whipped into shape in no time! The only catches: 1. she has to sweat off those ‘last 10 pounds’ in a gruelling bootcamp program (on national TV, no less), and 2. she has to suffer the humiliation of having all of her naughty eating habits broadcasted to the world when the nutritionist takes her down her personal Hall of Shame.
Before embarking on the exciting boot camp portion of the program, the nutritional consultant gets the woman to keep a one week diet diary. Using the information that comes out of this record, the nutritionist does some fancy math and voila!, she sets up an elaborate (and usually very depressing) Hall of Shame that provides the woman with a poignant visual display of how many pounds/calories she will add to her ass if her horrible eating habits keep up.
In one episode, the woman in question loved to bake herself chocolate chip cookies. Well, imagine her shock and horror when she came into her kitchen one evening and the nutritional consultant had enough ingredients there to bake 3 whole months’ worth of cookies! A GIGANTIC, INDUSTRIAL-SIZED BOWL! 10kg of flour! About the same amount of sugar! Entire bricks (yes, plural) of butter! Dozens of eggs! A 4L pail overflowing with chocolate chips! And then the nutritionist counted up all the calories… and made a point of telling the woman exactly where all those calories were ending up…
There was also one woman who liked to snack on wine and cheese. Her Hall of Shame consisted of VATS AND VATS of empty calories red wine! And a small (6L?) Rubbermaid tub of sliced cheese (which, the nutritionist pointed out, could total up to 29 EXTRA POUNDS OF ASS at the end of one year!) It was pretty gross. Not to mention mortifying for the poor woman.
Anyway, getting back to the riveting program, after the public display of ridicule in the Hall of Shame, the nutritionist goes through the woman’s kitchen cupboards and tosses out anything that is too processed or otherwise suspect. In many cases, this means that the woman is left with nothing more than a clove of garlic and perhaps, if she’s lucky, some Realemon at the end of the ordeal. (But at least she’d be nearly halfway to a somewhat decent hummus!) I imagine that the purging-of-the-cupboards portion of the show can also be mildly humiliating, if the ‘mildness’ I refer to is akin to the ‘mildness’ of a habanero pepper. Seriously– it would be like letting a stranger rifle through an underwear drawer! Or a secret diary! If thou values thy life, dear nutritional consultant, thou shalt not trespass into the kitchen cupboards of an unsuspecting woman! (Or at least into my kitchen cupboards– my food indulgence secrets are kept between me and Bernard Callebaut myself!)
Finally, FINALLY, after the spirit of the woman has been crushed and beaten down by the fierceness of the nutritionist, she is allowed to proceed with the ‘fun’ business of the weigh-in, measurements, and actual bootcamp portion of the show. Yikes. This show, at least for the women who star in it, is not for the faint of heart. Or for the weak of morale.
Of course, after 4 or so weeks of intense bootcamp training, portion control, and no more Czech fattening food, the woman does a final weigh in and slips into a cute little outfit. Huzzah for her! By then, she has inevitably lost 10 pounds, so she tearfully thanks the trainer and the nutritionist for making her into a better looking person. Roll credits. Aw…
Being the skeptic that I sometimes am, I figure that the producers of the show do some pretty intense screening beforehand to ensure that the results at the end of the 30 minute program are always the same. Do they ever have a woman who only loses 1.5 pounds, despite the month of doing non-stop burpies on the sandy beach, one-on-one with her personal trainer? Does any woman on the show ever eat nothing but celery sticks and a palm-sized portion of lean chicken each night, but to no avail when she gets to the scale? I highly doubt it. My thoughts are that the producers select women who clearly do not exercise much and/or eat horrific amounts of processed/fried/high fat/high calorie/high sugar foods and/or who ultimately have a lot more than 10 pounds to lose to be on the show. Either that, or the scale lies. Perhaps it’s set to 10lbs lighter than the starting weight by default, no matter how many pounds were actually lost during the filming of the show. It certainly makes one wonder, doesn’t it?
Would I be able to lose 10 pounds in 4 weeks, if I were the next contestant on the Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp? Would the nutritional consultant set me up my own personal Hall of Shame, saying:
“Dana, look at this large bowl of Red Star nutritional yeast! Tsk, tsk! Do you know how many calories that equals on your ass?!” (Ed. note: I don’t actually, but would be curious to know.)
“Dana, you really have to examine the amount of dulse and turmeric you’re putting in your stirfries. You could stuff a whole pillowcase with the dulse you’re eating in only a few short months. That’s not good!”
“Beans and legumes! TOO MUCH FIBER!! Ditto for brown rice and steamed kale. You should be eating way less fiber in your diet.”
(An aside: I’m sure the nutritionist would have plenty to say about my portion sizes, which are monstrous, and she might also take issue with my love of butter and buttery spreads. Or with the spoonfuls of almond butter I eat almost every day– plain!!, but that’s another story for another day. I don’t have a perfect diet, by any stretch, but judging by the episodes of the show I’ve watched, I’d definitely have a lot less food to throw away when the kitchen cupboards were ransacked.)
But back to my point, would the personal trainer and nutritionist on the show actually be able to take a woman like me, who exercises regularly (now) and who already follows a moderately successful eating plan, and to still help me lose 10 whole pounds (over 5% of my current body weight) in 4 short weeks? Or does the success of the show depend on it featuring women who start out eat entire cheesecakes (AND BROWNIES! ON THE SAME PLATE!!) for dinner? I’d be curious to see…