Drop Dead Diva Asks – Weight Loss, Is It Just About Willpower?

The tide may be changing in how we view weight loss and willpower.  Is it just about putting down the donuts and hitting the gym?  In a recent N.Y. Times article Tara Parker Pope looks at a new Lifetime series about an overweight, overworked attorney.

In “Drop Dead Diva,” on Lifetime, a heavenly mix-up leaves Deb, a vapid but good-hearted size zero model, trapped in the overweight body of Jane, an intelligent, hard-working lawyer played by Brooke Elliott. (Think “Heaven Can Wait” meets “Ally McBeal” and “Legally Blonde.”)……

While Deb spent her days working out and obsessing about the size of her knees, Jane discovers that long hours at the office drain her of the desire and energy to exercise.”

Sound familiar?  While “reality” weight loss programs focus on screaming trainers and crying contestants, for most of us life is not nearly that dramatic.   The average Joe or Jane may just be hoping to squeeze in 30 minutes at the gym and fix a healthy dinner for the family, not drop 100 lbs on national television.

New research shows that metabolic differences may play a large role in why it is more difficult for some of us to lose weight and keep it off.  A chemical and hormonal imbalance in the brain may increase cravings making foods high in fat and sugar more difficult to resist.

“I have grave concerns about how many of these television shows stigmatize overweight people by making them a spectacle,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. “They suggest that if you only try hard enough you can be thin. A far better message is that it’s hard to lose weight and that it’s not just willpower and personal responsibility, but that both biology and the environment are players.”

The show’s creator, Josh Berman, said he wanted the series to make a statement about diet, weight and beauty.  He based Jane’s character on his grandmother Deb, a short plump woman “who carried herself like a supermodel”.

What I love about this show is the more realistic view of the struggles that many of us face (and it features the always funny Margaret Cho).  If losing weight were as easy as eating a salad there would be no Carl’s Jr Double Burger (weighing in at a whopping 1520 calories, basically your entire daily allotment).  I am all for personal responsibility and the road to a healthier lifestyle must begin with our individual decision to make a permanent lifestyle change.  However I appreciate the honest look at dieting that Drop Dead Diva Depicts.  As Mr Berman says “I feel there are enough shows that make people feel bad about themselves. If you want to lose weight, fine. Just don’t hate yourself if you’re larger than average.”

Well put.

Have you struggled with weight loss?  If so let me know what obstacles you have faced and what has worked for you in the past.

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