December 23, 2005
The New Year is just around the corner, which inevitably leads to thoughts of resolutions and fresh starts. I never used to make New Year's resolutions, but have started to over the past few years. I know that most New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside towards the end of January, so instead of setting an unrealistic goal, I think of a resolution as an opportunity to state my intention for what I want in my life.
Since I work from home, it's easy to indulge my tendency to be somewhat of a hermit. I know I need to make the effort to connect with other people, but I find that days and weeks go by without seeing or talking to friends and acquaintances. I've been thinking about the coming year, and decided to make a resolution to take a more proactive approach in connecting with other people. My intention is to get together with a friend at least once a month, and to reach out to a friend or acquaintance - either by phone or email - twice a month. I know that doesn't sound terribly ambitious, but I believe that doing so will bring more joy to my life.
Speaking of opportunities to start over, I've been hooked on the daytime reality series, "Starting Over," for a couple of seasons now. If you're not familiar with "Starting Over," it's a syndicated show (where I live, it's on NBC) where six women from all walks of life come together to live in a house and work with life coaches and a psychologist to heal past wounds, to deal with difficult circumstances, and to...start over in their lives. Each woman has her own goal, and works with her life coach to decide upon the steps she needs to take in order to achieve that goal. The life coaches, Rhonda Britten and Iyanla Vanzant, design individual exercises to illustrate obstacles or issues that a woman has to overcome in order to reach her goal and her potential.
For example, a current housemate, Lisa, has a goal of becoming an adult. She's 41 years old, but has depended upon her parents to meet all of her financial needs. In her quest for independence, Lisa needs a backbone so she can stand up for herself. She was recently assigned an exercise to make a backbone out of spools strung together, and to label each spool with a quality needed in order to have a backbone. She used spools of one color for qualities she already possessed, and spools of another color for qualities she still needs to acquire.
It takes some women a few weeks to reach their goals, while it takes others a couple of months or more. Once a woman reaches her goal, she "graduates" from the Starting Over house, and a new housemate arrives.
At any given time, there's a woman in the house that has a weight-related goal. In the first season, there was a woman named PJ who wanted to lose weight. Last season, there was Sommer, who was dealing with the aftermath of weight loss surgery. This season there's Jill, whose goal it is to lose weight and remove chaos from her life.
It's always struck me that Rhonda and Iyanla, the life coaches, have an interesting attitude toward weight. In the first season of the show, Rhonda never questioned a weight loss goal. When Iyanla joined the show in the second season, there was somewhat of a shift. Iyanla is a plus-size woman, and at first she seemed to understand that a woman's weight doesn't define who she is, and that losing weight isn't the magic bullet that will make a woman lead a fulfilled life.
As time progressed, however, Iyanla seemed to move toward a belief that weight loss was a worthy goal. She's adamant about referring to it as "releasing weight" rather than "losing weight," but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.... She's Jill's life coach, and Iyanla dutifully sent Jill to Jenny Craig and 24-Hour Fitness. It turns out Jill has fibroid tumors, one of which may weigh 40 pounds. One doctor told Jill that she must schedule surgery within a month or it could be life threatening. Jill got a second opinion, and the doctor said that she should wait to have surgery until she lost 50 pounds and stopped smoking. So Jill still trots off to Jenny Craig every week, and since she can't perform the level of cardio training dictated by her 24-Hour Fitness program, a personal trainer from the franchise comes to the house to demonstrate exercises she can do to increase her flexibility.
My point? Starting Over is completely schizophrenic when it comes to weight. Jill has a potentially life-threatening tumor or tumors, yet she chooses to listen to the doctor who tells her to come back when she loses weight. And her life coach seems to think that's okay. I adore Iyanla, and I suspect that she believes women naturally come in all shapes and sizes, but can't come out and say it because it has the potential to alienate viewers. I believe that the intent of the show is to help women, and I find it both enlightening and entertaining. At the same time, I believe that they could help so many more women by taking a strong stand in favor of self-acceptance - regardless of body size.
Posted by conradb212 at December 23, 2005 04:15 PM