Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Losing It with Jillian

Losing It with Jillian debuted a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't get around to watching the debut episode until last night. I was curious how Jillian could inspire and instill necessary lessons with these families in just five days when it's a miraculous thing to do it in five months during The Biggest Loser.

In the first episode, she worked with the Mastropiestro family in Wilmington, Mass., one that was only weeks away from the daughter's wedding. They were also similar to many American families -- full of excuses why they couldn't exercise of lose weight. Well, you know Jillian. She doesn't like excuses and pretty much calls BS on them.

Jim, the dad, had gone through gastric bypass surgery, but he was still obese. He, and the rest of his family, pretty much ate until they went to bed at night.

Michelle, the daughter, had undergone the same surgery, and even though she was at a healthy weight, she hadn't dealt with the underlying issues that had made her overweight in the first place. She still felt like the fat girl inside and lived in fear that the previous overweight version of herself was going to return at any time.

Agnes, the mom, had gained and lost more than 100 pounds an amazing seven times! Her body fat percentage was a stunning 56 percent. When she and Jillian went for a walk to talk about why, a very old hurt came to the surface. She and her husband had lost a baby boy after only a month of life 22 years before. Jim had never been able to talk about the loss, and so Agnes had suffered and grieved alone for all those years. Jillian helped the family finally open up and talk about that loss. This part was hard to watch for me. Not only was it incredibly sad, but it hit home. My mother lost a boy, stillborn at 7 months, four years before I was born. I have never heard my dad talk about him, and to my knowledge he has never visited my brother's grave since my grandmother was buried beside him when I was 10. Like the Mastropietros, our family didn't talk about this or many other issues. But the thing is, when you don't talk about things that bother you, they fester like an untended wound. Like Jim said, "If you don't talk about things, it doesn't get easier."

Jillian, in true Jillian fashion, got the family exercising immediately. Within five minutes, Jim and Agnes were ready to quit. That's when Michelle and her brother, Michael, went off and yelled at their parents. When Agnes said she was trying to ride the bike, Jillian shot back that "trying is planning to fail." That's an interesting quote. Maybe I'll put it up somewhere I can see it. Maybe I'll put it next to the one by Yoda from Star Wars: "Do, or do not. There is no try."

Jillian was appropriately disgusted by the family's eating habits. Even though Michelle knew what she was cooking for her family (fried, greasy foods with not a green vegetable in sight) were bad for them, she did it anyway to make them happy. "I'm an enabler," she finally admitted.

If you're wondering if five days with Jillian made enough of a difference in the family's life, the answer is yes. Six weeks later, at Michelle's wedding, the family made an impressive showing. Jim had lost 48 pounds and 10 inches off his waist. Agnes had lost 34 pounds and looked lovely in her mother-of-the-bride dress, something she'd worried about six weeks before. Michael had lost 25 pounds. Michelle, who didn't need to lose weight, looked radiant and seemed happier than she had when she'd broken down in tears in the gym while talking to Jillian about the fat girl inside her that haunted her.

I didn't record the second episode last week, but I plan to watch it online soon and will start regularly recording the new episodes tonight. If anyone wants to watch, it's on at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central.

Has anyone watched the show yet? If so, what did you think?

7 comments:

Keri Mikulski on June 15, 2010 at 8:26 AM said...

I like that - 'trying is planning to fail'.. That's so true.

Jillian scares me. :) She reminds me of a coach I want had.. Truly amazing. :)

Elise Hayes on June 15, 2010 at 8:30 AM said...

Hi Trish,

I wonder whether they're going to do long-term follow-ups on the families that Jillian works with. This family had a clear goal to work with after Jillian left--the wedding in 6 weeks--which would have been a strong motivator to keep going with the exercise and dieting. The real question for me is where the family will be one year later.

I'll admit I'm worried about this show--that the 5-day timeline isn't giving the families what they really need (a long-term intervention to help make fundamental, long-lasting changes in their lives).

It sounds like the show *didn't* feel exploitative to you, Trish--that it felt like even the short time working with Jillian was a boon to the family. It will be interesting to see if the next few episodes manage to keep up that sense of positive intervention.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 15, 2010 at 8:57 AM said...

Keri, I know, Jillian is intense. I have a feeling that the first time she yelled at me I'd break down in tears. I can't stand to have someone yell at me.

Elise, it would be great if they do support for these families even after the show is over and do long-term follow-up. I just don't know what the plan is. I'm hoping that lots more goes on that we don't see. Sometimes, people just need a jump start, an outside person to come in who has no tie to the family and thus doesn't have to worry about hurting someone's feelings by telling the truth, and I'm hoping this is what this show is providing. Plus, if nothing else, I think it's good that the show is keeping fitness on people's minds in between seasons of The Biggest Loser. Not sure how it's faring in the ratings. Maybe Michelle can tell us when she has a chance.

Sally Kilpatrick on June 15, 2010 at 1:15 PM said...

Jillian frightens me too, but, hey, I'm third in line for "Master your Metabolism" at the library. I'm looking forward to experiencing Jillian long distance.

Like Elise says, I wonder how long-term the results will be with only 5 days. I've been to unknown over a year's worth of good work in just a couple of months. (Which would suggest some deep-seated issues that will have to wait until I have the $ for Weight Watchers, I suppose)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on June 15, 2010 at 2:38 PM said...

Sally, Jillian from a distance does sound safer, doesn't it? :) Hope you like Master Your Metabolism.

Michelle Butler on June 16, 2010 at 10:14 PM said...

Thanks for the recap and review, Trish! I haven't watched this show and really enjoyed reading about it.

I do sometimes think it is SO hard to deal with emotions - particularly negative ones. (Again, I'm going to shout out for Lerner's books Dance with Intimacy or Dance with Anger. Lots of helpful stuff there.) I often feel like that's one of my main lessons this past year or two, and I'm nowhere near as good at it as I'd like to be.

I'll look into the ratings. I think it was moved from 10:00 to 8:00, but I can't remember for sure.

Michelle Butler on June 23, 2010 at 10:02 AM said...

Ratings Info:

NBC started out weak care of Losing it With Jillian at a fourth-place 2.8/ 5 at 8 p.m. But summer favorite America's Got Talent perked up to a time period winning 7.3/12 in the overnights from 9-11 p.m., with the half-hour breakdown as follows:

America's Got Talent (NBC)
9:00 p.m.: 6.7/11 (#1)
9:30 p.m.: 7.3/11 (#1)
10:00 p.m.: 7.6/12 (#1)
10:30 p.m.: 7.6/13 (#1)

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