Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To Daris from Oklahoma: I get you

I admit it: I watch "The Biggest Loser."

In fact, since I've moved in with Joe (and thus had to send back my DVR to DirecTV even though I totally bought it two years ago but that's another story) "The Biggest Loser" is the only show I watch any more.

I heart it in a lot of ways.

First, I don't like how contrived the ad placements are. And I'm not a big fan of all of the drama at times. BUT most of the time, their struggles are SO real that I get moved to tears.

You may have noticed during my "award frenzy" the last few days that I favored blogs where the authors are trying to figure out WHY they gained the weight or why it's so hard to take off. I'm sure that I favor these blogs for two reasons 1)that's what I focus on so I really appreciate blogs that do the same and 2) I'm focusing on it because I'm still trying to figure out my "why." If I can read someone else's struggles, sometimes that leads me to my own ah-ha moments. Maybe that's why I like the show so much - it shows REAL people's struggles with control issues, with emotional scars that have kept them overweight, and with unhealthy attitudes towards food. Sometimes I sit watching them and have my own ah-ha moment.

The thing is, as public as this blog is, I can't imagine having my name, my hometown, my face, my fat, and my weight completely public on national TV. Sure, they know what they're signing up for AND there is that small thing of a $250,000 prize. BUT I still think that them being on the show would be hard.

Last week? I totally lost it.

In case you don't watch the show, the last four contestants had to go home for a certain amount of time. After those weeks at home, they had to come back to "The Ranch" (aka the place that they all work out and live at for months) and weigh in one final time. The contestants that lost the most were automatically allowed to go to the next round. The contestants that hadn't lost as much (% body weight) as the others had to plead for America's vote to keep them on the show. The one that gets the most votes gets to come back and compete for the big prize along with the other two that were safe.

All of the contestants have always lost weight at home (apparently even in past seasons). Except one.

Daris from Oklahoma is a young guy - college age. He seems sweet, likable, and a bit introverted. On the show, when he weighed in for the first time (before going to "The Ranch"), he told his hometown that he would make them proud.

He did well - he made it to the final four. He became the runner of the group and finished a marathon in 4 hours.

And yet, when faced with the struggles of being at home, he decided to eat at night. Late at night - we're talking 1 or 2 am. He'd work all day and then cave at night.

The result? He GAINED 2 pounds.

He was crushed. At first, he tried to lie and say it was due to marathon training. But then he came "clean" and said that it was because he ate too much at night. He'd eat bowl after bowl of cereal, countless snacks, and other food.

The part that broke my heart was at the end when he's pleading for America to vote for him but he's crying...because (and this is my inferring here) he doesn't feel like he deserves the chance that he is told by producers to beg for.

And that's when I lost it. I'm sitting on the couch CRYING and trying not to make any noise in our house. I didn't want Joe to come over and ask what was wrong. Because he wouldn't get it.

Joe, at 150 pounds, doesn't understand why anyone would stuff themselves so full of food to numb the voices and the pressure outside his head. He doesn't understand being so dedicated during the day and then "blowing it" at night. He doesn't understand the cathartic feeling of bingeing. He doesn't understand the concept of sneaking food. He doesn't know that overeating is the best way to hurt yourself in some ways. It feels good and absolutely horrible at the same time - it's something I can't explain to someone else who is sane about food. He doesn't understand that addiction.

Maybe you don't either.

So last week as I'm watching Daris cry - pleading for America to give him another chance - I'm sitting on the couch crying silently, clutching my chest because my heart hurts watching that kind of pain manifest itself on someone else's face. My food and my eating is SO very private...even on my blog when I talk about it, most of you guys will never or have never met me. I can be honest and raw. I can admit things and then go back to hiding behind my moniker.

But Daris couldn't.

I don't know what to do to make it better for him, but OH how I want to. Even if I don't know my way out of this overeating dilemma just yet, I want him to get out. I want him to be free of the horrible feelings that overeating creates. I don't want to see another person struggle like I saw him struggle.

Tonight is the finale. And just due to the weight that other contestants still had to lose, I would be willing to bet that Daris won't win.

So, I don't know how to make it better. I don't know how to protect him from the countless interviews and reporters (no doubt anorexically thin) that will ask him about his struggle and what he was thinking about during his tearful plea. I don't want him to relive that moment. I don't want any more shame about that moment to be heaped on top of it. I don't want him to have to try to explain himself in a rational way about something that is so irrational. Eating food until you feel like you will burst doesn't make rational sense. So I don't want him to have to divulge all of his mental crap to allow for some reporter to get a 30 second sound bite.

I can't protect him from all of the millions of people who watch this show and think it's funny or pathetic that this guy can't get his act together. I can't stop people from thinking that he won't stop eating because he's lazy. I feel helpless because I can't make people understand something that I don't even understand.

I want to hug him. I want to have him over for dinner. I want to set him up with my friends. I want to babysit his kids. I want to help take care of him. I want to tell him that life doesn't have to be like this. Screw the reporters and naysayers. He can get through this.

I'm not a dummy.

I know that my want to take care of him and protect him mostly has to do with the fact that I can see so much of me in him. I keep the part of me that is like him SO closely guarded that having him put it all out there leaves me feeling exposed and raw. His behaviors are what I have done to feel loved, protected, and valuable. To have someone else attack that or poke at it just because they can, because it will make good news, or because it makes them feel better about themselves is like seeing someone set fire to a puppy. It's unimaginable and causes me great pain to even think about.

It's torture.

Since I can't take care of him and I know that my reaction to his struggle is ME projecting my feelings on him, I'm going to do the only thing I can do.

In lieu of my 3 pound gain from this past week -which, just like Daris', is deserved- I'm going to try to take care of myself more this week. When faced with the option of overeating to the point of pain (which strangely feels good), I'm going to tell myself to put down the food and sleep, get a hug, call a friend, punch a punching bag, go for a run, or do ANYTHING that will actually soothe what is going on with me.

Daris: I get you. And since I can't help take care of you, I'm going to promise to try to take care of me.

In a strange way, I don't want to let you down.

And lest you think it's lost on me, the fact that I'm reacting so strongly to his plight is going to be something that I discuss in detail with my therapist. It's awakened something inside me. My hope is that through exploring this with my therapist, I will get at least some of the answers of why I struggle so much with letting go of the behaviors that keep me overweight.


Katy said...

I couldn't have said it better myself. That's why these blogs provide so much support. Not because of the silly comments we get, but because underneath it all, most of us understand what Daris is going through on a gut- base level. It's such a dark place that really can't be described to anyone who hasn't had the feelings. My heart broke for Daris too. It just shows that you can lose the weight, but you've got to get rid of that demon inside your head. Or at least quiet the deamon to managable levels. Great Post Ms. Pants

Rebecca Jo said...

OH MY GOSH - I'm ready to tear up AGAIN reading this... I LOVE Daris & my heart broke for him too. And you are EXACTLY right - if you've never been there, you dont get it. My husband would say the same thing about not understanding - at his 145 lbs, 6 foot self...(& literally eats a dozen donuts EVERY night)..

I feel so bad for ALL the contestant after the show - like Eric... its so easy to fall back into old ways & habits... I'm counting down till tonight!

Jams said...

You are so very eloquent. I had those same thoughts about Daris. I wish he had reached out and asked for help when he was struggling at home. I understand why he didn't/couldn't though. I've been there. And I know what it's like not being able to explain that to someone.

I have a love-hate relationship with Biggest Loser. I hate that they have such large losses and that so many people are in it mainly for the money. I wish there was a way to make it less about the monetary prize and more about the prize of regaining their lives back.

I love that it shows people exercising and changing their lives though. I mean, if Mike, at 526 pounds can exercise... what excuse do I have to not? That's my question.

Great post... I'm looking forward to seeing tonight's finale.

Lily Fluffbottom said...

I never got into the biggest loser, because I'm not really a fan of reality television. But I get what you're saying and I agree that they are all very brave people, and if losing the weight were the easiest thing in the world, then why would anyone still be fat? Because the feelings of (insert proper feeling here) don't just go away. I wish him and you luck!

Waisting Time said...

I just came by from Lesia's blog and all I can say is ... wow. What a powerful post. I watched that show and actually blogged about BL earlier this week but this was so much more than I could ever have said about it. So moving. So heartfelt. So beautifully written.

That said, I am one of those bloggers trying to figure out the "why." I wrote a lot, not to long ago, about questioning my overeating and wondering if there had to be some big cosmic reason behind it. Or could it simply be years of bad habits and boredom. I don't have an answer and I don't know if there is one for me.

Coincidentally, today I talked about weight in the public eye too. Specifically, gaining back what had been lost. Like Oprah and Kirstie Alley and seemingly some past BL contestants. How much harder that would be.

Can't wait to read more:)

TinaM said...

Very Well put.
I wrote about him in my blog after watching the show last Tuesday. Like you, I saw so much of myself in him... I am hoping that a lot of people did and voted for him. I love Koli too, but I SOOO want Daris to get a chance. I have hope that he will.

He is human just like us... and deserves a better life even if he messed up- Just like we do!

Laura said...

Dude. I totally understand the addiction. Totally get it.

Flabby McGee said...

Hey, thanks for coming by! I Love your name too - in fact, I play video games and I named a toon Dr. Psycho Happy Pants. Yeah, I'm weird like that. But I love funky names that make we want to come by a blog and yours is deff one of them!! I see you've lost 55 pounds, very awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post, other pants!
I've only watched that show a few times over the years 9 I hate reality TV also)and it breaks my heart every time.
Yes, I'm happy for their successes. However to watch them put on display like cattle, on a pseudo cattle scale, no less, examined and judged like beauty pageant contestants (not a fan of those, either), having their biggest (no pun intended) weakness watched and speculated upon...ugh.
And they're all me. Even the dickhead guys and bitchy drama queen girls. We all have the same food issues.

Dani @ WRW said...

I get Daris, too.

As far as your comment on my blog today regarding The Biggest Loser for wii, I can't really give a detailed review at the moment. I've only played it twice but I've since made a commitment to utilize it daily so I should be able to get back to you on that soon. =)

I do sweat when I use it, etc. That being said, I unfortunately have developed that "if it's not at a gym or track or involves a machine it's not real exercise" mentality and I hate it. I couldn't depend on the game alone for my workouts.

Anyway ... I'll let you know! Keep up the great work!

Becca said...

I watch the biggest loser, but missed last weeks show. I get what you're saying, and it's true - it's so hard to watch the show and realize that you know exactly what that person is thinking. You know exactly why they are eating the way they are, why they have done what they have done.. and feel the same way they do from time to time.

I think that everyone relates to food differently, some hate it and eat only b/c they have to.. others go by cravings, or urges.. emotional or otherwise. I dunno, I get it.. I struggle with my own eating problems. Constantly having to relearn, and remind myself why it is I'm doing, what I'm doing.

After reading your post though, I wonder if you are concerned enough about yourself? You have so much sympathy and concern for Daris. You expressed your need to fix his problems, to better his situation.. but you can't. You can't do that for him at all, but you can most certainly do it for yourself. We all sell ourselves short, and do not treat ourselves as wonderfully as we would treat a stranger.. so I hope that when you read your post.. you apply all that you felt to yourself, first.

Sam said...

You are no dummy! Thank you for this amazingly strong post!

Abi said...

My heart just ached for him last week, and I totally related to him (and, oh by the way, EVERYTHING in your post). I was so happy that he was in the top 3 tonight, looking happy and healthy. Gave me hope.

liz said...

Thank you for saying exactly what I was thinking. It broke my heart. Then there is Jullian calling him a liar... Any way thanks.

Hilary said...

I've really never perused why I am overweight.
Maybe i need to.
I have only watched snippets of that show.
Maybe I need to watch that too. :)

Kellie said...

AMAZING!! I love this post!!

I have spent a lot of time realizing, rationalizing and coming to understand why I gain weight instead of maintain it.

I totally cried with Daris when he gained 2 pounds. You have to figure, on the ranch they are in isolation so that they can focus 100% of their attention on their weight loss.

I don't know that the ranch really prepares the contestants for dealing with things on the outside. Daris used food as his pacifier because he hasn't learned any different. And I have a feeling that exercise couldn't be his new pacifier in that instance because he was trained to use it for a different purpose... to win.

POWERFUL stuff. I am SO glad I found your blog way back when! :)



Lyn said...

I missed this post earlier but omg, I am glad I read it now. You totally articulated how it is to be this way. To be hurting and having pleasure all at once. I haven't binged in several months, but this post brought it all back to me just how it felt. I hope you AND DARIS can find total freedom from those feelings and I absolutely pray that I will be able to hang on to the 'recovered' feeling I have now (I feel like I could slip and fall and be right back where I was, but I truly hope I don't).