My Reality Show Pitch
Weight loss shows are a hit. Modern society’s insatiable voyeuristic appetite drives millions of viewers to tune in and watch the profoundly overweight, devoid of hope or motivation, endure overly intensive physical and emotional struggles to win a race to the lowest number on the scale. Special diets, celebrity personal trainers, hours of daily rigors, and spectacle-worthy competitions are performed daily under the watchful eye of medical physicians and most importantly, reality show executives. A message of hope is intertwined in these daily tribulations that reads, “If you are overweight and you have access to a personal trainer, psychologist, dietician, gym, equipment and are able to exercise for hours every day for the possibility of a considerable cash prize, you too can turn your life around.”
As complex as the process is depicted in our modern society, maintaining a healthy weight used to be an extension of our existence. Our automated interaction with the world around us has significantly interfered with this relationship. We are now an inactive population in which minorities of individuals sometimes exercise for a pre-determined amount of time. Instead of a reality show displaying how complex the process of weight management is, what if we were to actually highlight how “simple” it can be? No diets, trainers, organized exercise, or psychologists…just humans interacting with their environment the way they were designed to. We can call it, “The Farm.”
Participants would be given a bare plot of land. The only professional assistance would be from a farmer experienced in the daily survival skills needed in the early 19th century. They would be given enough rations to survive for a week or so as they get things going. Unlike the show “Survivor,” they could be put in an extremely resource rich area that is more than capable of naturally providing everything needed for survival. The participants could eat whatever they wanted in whatever portions they chose as long as they grew it or killed it. They would not participate in any organized exercise.
Participants would, however be responsible for everything from building a shelter, planting and harvesting crops, caring for and butchering livestock, and other tasks related to daily survival. There would be no electricity or plumbing, only fire for heat and light and a clean water source nearby. They would be allowed basic sundries such as cloths, baking supplies (sugar, flour, baking soda, etc.) that could be obtained from a “store” two miles from their residence. No refrigeration would be available. Want butter? Eat it! You will of course need to milk the cow and churn it first. Is it the “carbs” that have caused the meteoric weight gain? In “The Farm,” you can eat all of the “carbs” you want. You’ll want to make sure, however, you effectively plant, nurture, and harvest a crop that allows for your preferred volume of consumption. Want pie after dinner? It’s encouraged as a reward after an arduous week! You’ll want to get started early however, as you’ll need to gather the berries, go to the store for sugar and flower, get eggs from the hens, roll the crust, heat the oven, etc. That would be in addition to the other food and domestic responsibilities required for survival.
What do you think would be the outcome of such a “simple” program? Imagine if every food intake was the result of a significant energy output. Imagine if there actually was a limit to the food available. What if movement wasn’t neglected or confined to relatively infrequent short bouts? What if technology didn’t interfere with man’s affinity to rise and sleep with the sun? In the above portrayed environment, how would you expect people’s “energy levels” to be? How about “motivation?” If they continued to live by those means, could they “keep the weight off?” I can’t say exactly what the outcome would be because I’ve never seen a modern show like this. Thousands of years of history give me a pretty good idea, however.
Humans are at their best when they do what humans are supposed to. From an anthropological standpoint, excessive weight gain is actually complicated. Weight loss is not. When it comes to weight loss, simplify to succeed. We don’t live on the frontier any more, but if we can embrace the notion of naturally interacting with our environment physically (walking instead of short car rides, moving throughout the day, opting for manual instead of automated tasks, re-evaluating our food supply and concurrent intake, etc.) we can return the balance of energy intake and output. In essence, returning to the “human” way of life. If anyone has Mark Burnett’s phone number, I want a meeting.
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Brett Klika, Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10 is an international speaker, educator, author, and motivator with 17 years experience in the realm of training and coaching. Through writing, speaking, and various other forms of media, Brett educates and inspires trainers and clients all over the world to optimize their lives through wellness. For constantly updated resources for personal trainers, visit www.brettklika.com !