Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Different Perspectives

I've occasionally watched parts of the Biggest Loser, but never saw the first show of the season until this year.

When Jillian screamed and swore at the heaviest women this season, trying to get her to do the required exercise, I was appalled! Not being familiar with the show, I wasn't sure if that was Jillian's normal motivation method, or if she was being especially cruel to this extremely obese woman. That kind of treatment would never motivate me.

My 15-year-old son, who has played sports for the majority of his life, turned to me and said something similar to: What's the big deal. She's being yelled at. If you're an athlete, you get yelled at.

I had an "aha" moment.

I assume the majority of contestants on this show are not athletes and have never been athletic. They probably have no idea what it is like to push themselves to the limit physically or to have people successfully push them. Maybe this is why they end up on the show.

When I had the opportunity to interview Matt Hoover, a previous Biggest Loser winner, he said the easiest part of the entire experience was on the ranch. In high school and college he was a very accomplished athlete. He played sports his entire life and even wrestled at the college level for Iowa. He knew what it was like to push himself to the limit and was probably used to having coaches push him -- or yell at him -- to reach his goals.

After thinking about this for a while, I look back on that moment in the first episode with Jillian yelling and I wonder if there was any other way that she could have motivated that woman to keep going. There is a reason the contestant is over 400 lbs, and maybe part of it is that no one has ever found the right way to get her to really push herself. Maybe no one ever cared enough to really yell at her. Maybe it has been way too easy for her to quit her entire life.

I'm not sure I agree with Jillian's methods, but to be successful in her profession she has to figure out what it takes to motivate many different types of people. The same method is not going to work on everyone she encounters. And it is obvious that talking nice and begging are not going to work.

Jillian is there with the contestants and I'm not. I think I'll keep watching to see how her methods adapt and change with their successes.


Nyle said...

I agree with your son. When you are an athlete you do get yelled at. I know that if my coach was soft I would not achieve all that I have. It is because he is tough and does yell at me and run behind me telling me to push my arms, lengthen my stride and keep shoulders down ... because he does this I am mentally tougher and can take that with me and use it myself when times get tough in a race.

Not everyone can motivate themselves to push to that level. It often takes another to invoke that reaction.

To anyone probably does sound harsh and very mean. But they should also take a moment and think...what could I achieve if I was more motivated or pushed beyond my comfort zone.

Cindi said...

I wonder how my life would be different if I had played sports as a kid. Though I was not especially athletic, I was asked to join our local swim team, but was too afraid to try.

If I had learned how to push myself way back then, I can only imagine how much mentally tougher I'd be today!

I may not have Jillian to push me, but I do have some great walking club members who help and I am working on my mental "game."

Cindi said...

I forgot to mention that it is way too easy to quit a hard workout when you don't have someone looking over your shoulder. It's something I'm still working on and I am getting better, tougher and faster! (Maybe Larry could be my Jillian...)

Nyle said...

trust me...when I go out on my is way to easy to throw in the towel make an excuse and go home. But ... when you have someone with you or someone that you have to send you times to, its a whole different story.

I dont know if you keep track of your past races...but I can bet if you look back your times have improved heaps.

Last year I was struggling to walk at 6.30 pace ... now I avg 5.55