How to survive televised fat camp…

 

This is not a charity for fat people.

Whilst it would be lovely to think that a bunch of folks would pour a tonne of money and resources into creating interesting and thoughtful content from making you healthier, it just doesn’t work like that. This show exists to make money (and that’s ok).

Commercial television makes money from advertising, which is determined by audience. Audience is determined by what people watch. Sadly, it seems that larger audiences are attracted by ‘ shock’, sensationalism and emotional brutality than a nice calm ride towards a healthier you. You’re competing against other shows remember. This is not a charity or therapy, its television – remember that.

Think of yourself as a prized racehorse, creating story lines, winning races and offering up your personal stories for content that will engage the audience. When the show stops, you’re the horse that came last (who no longer is profitable) and there are new horses to buy. It’s legally their responsibility to prevent you from coming to any great harm whilst you’re on the show. Once you’re no longer an ‘employee’ – it isn’t. They aren’t the devil, however they are a business. If you understand this and take care of yourself from the get go you’ll be better off in the long run. At the end of the day, the only person responsible for you is you.

What you say, is not always what you’ll say… Who you are, isn’t who you are.

Scary isn’t it? That dirty big contract you signed. Did you note the bit where they can take what you say out of context if they like? The bit where they can play your response to one question and cut it to respond to another? Yeah didn’t think so. Understand that by agreeing to participate you’re surrendering control.

This isn’t to say don’t do it, but just understand what you’re in for. There are heroes and villains in every story, protagonists and antagonists; it’s the basic rules of drama (again, see point 1, this is what it is – the quicker you make peace with this the better). No one is all good or all bad, but with a genre like this it’s easier to remove some complexities regarding character, so if you have a particularly strong moment, positive or negative (even if it’s the only one you have) it will form the base of your ‘character’. So unless you’re ‘acting’ all of the time (which a lot of people successfully do) you’re likely to only have partial control over how you’re portrayed. Know it, make your peace with it and pray to the gods that they cast you as hero.

You will lose perspective and much faster than you think.

Part of what makes up how we interact in our world is the information we receive, our ability to express ourselves independently, our free will and our support networks. You are about to place yourself in a situation where you at times will not choose what you wear, who you speak to, what you eat or drink, what information you receive and what support networks you have access to. You will regress in independence and in doing so, will lose perspective and change the way you think.

By removing access to the outside world, the tiny world inside the compound will become your entire universe and in so, small actions, tiny in the context of your normal life will become magnified. You will, effectively cease to understand your place in a much bigger world. It will feel real, it will feel important, and it really isn’t (in the grand scheme of things). Your behaviours in reaction to this (now magnified) mini world will be different than those you’d normally display. The game will start to feel real. It’s not.

Health may cease to be your motivation

You may get to a place where you forget why you applied for the show in the first place. On day one your sole motivation may be to be healthier and happier, however as the game progresses you may become lost and start doing things that are in fact not really not healthy in order to hit a certain number, a certain size or stay in the house. Don’t beat yourself up over it but know the time may come where you’re sitting in a sauna sobbing, carb starved and crazy all for a number on a scale. Seems crazy huh? Yup, it is. Doesn’t mean you won’t do it. Scary thing? You’ll do it to yourself. Oh and if you start to lose hair, or your nails break, don’t be alarmed. It’s just your body assuming you’re really unwell (rapid weight loss) and getting rid of stuff it really doesn’t need to take care of your organs. You’re not dying, but your body thinks it is. It may take several years for your hair to return to its previous thickness or for your metabolism to function normally.

You will go a little nuts

Let’s face it, there’s a chance you already were a little. Making the decision to take such a personal time in your life and share it with the world, doesn’t suggest we’re the most balanced bunch. The ones of us who acknowledge this and thus continue to work on it are the ones who survive.

You may feel unbalanced, both in the short-term, because of the aforementioned lack of perspective, but also because (I’m going to make an assumption) you’re dramatically controlling your carb intake. The brain is the one part of your body that cannot convert fats into the sugars it needs to function, thus if you cease to consume any carbs (which contestants previously have done) you’re going to lose your shit. Other factors like dehydration, stress and hormone swings will make it all the harder (yes ladies, expect your cycle to go into meltdown as well).

There’s a significant chance you’ve already experienced depression in your life (it’s a sad assumption, but depression and compulsive eating are familiar friends) if so, be aware that this doesn’t just ‘go away’ when you lose weight and can in fact peak due to either the high stress environment or a post show come down.

It’s only the beginning, not the end.

This is a hard one to break to you. What you experience during the show is not the hardest part. Coming home, re-assimilating into your world, keeping the weight off, dealing with pre-existing conditions, excess skin, discovering how to clothe an unfamilar body and finding a balance between old you and new you, is the killer. Think of pre-loser you as a jumper with a few loose threads, you’re aware that there is some stuff to work on and that you’re looking a little shabby. You want some help to repair and make it looking good as new (over the years you’ve missed a few stitches and are a bit of a mess). You start a process where the vulnerabilities you’ve knitted so carefully are slowly unpicked (in public) to discover those stitches you’ve dropped. By the end of the show your jumper has been slowly unwoven and your vulnerabilities are bare, they’ve helped you see where you went wrong, but you’re left standing there with a ball of wool and absolutely no idea how to knit it back into something wearable. This is your job, it’s hard, but it’s the truth. Only you decide what you want to wear.

You may replace compulsive behaviours with equally compulsive behaviours.

You may or may not have been a compulsive eater when entering the show. Chances are pretty high tho’ that you didn’t have the best relationship with food. Food addiction or misuse is an absolute bastard. It’s the one addiction you simply can’t go cold turkey on, or you know, death. It’s a form of self-harm and that tendency doesn’t just go the fuck away.

So be aware that it’s very easy to trade one addiction for another and it’s very easy for the devil to change its dress. i.e. to go from compulsive consumption of calories to compulsive control of calories, or to become addicted to drugs (because you want to party but not gain the weight that booze brings) or addicted to compulsive casual sex (because it gives you the same high). Skinny jeans really aren’t worth a vomit covered hand, talking your high, depressed friend off a roof or potentially exposing yourself to a series of STDs. Do not replace one form of self harm with another, it’s far too easy to do.

You might be a boring jerk for a while.

This gets worse the longer you’re in the house, however for some (like me) it kicks in pretty quickly. You’ve just spent a period of time where every day (for some it’s the first time) someone is asking your opinion, your thoughts on every menial thing in your day. Which means, when you come home, it’s shock not to be interviewed. “Why doesn’t anyone want to know what I thought when I work up and had coffee?” BECAUSE IT’S BORING. When you’re assimilated back into the real world no one gives a flying shit and nor should they. It’s hard because effectively you’ve been focussed on a single thing for a significant period of time. During that time other folks have been doing a BUNCH of stuff, you have one thing to talk about and well, it’s only good for conversation for a while. Throw yourself back into other interests quick smart and try to remember this experience is NOT the most interesting that will ever happen to you.

Your relationships may go haywire

When you dramatically change the person on the outside, you will without meaning to, change or at least examine the person you were on the inside too. There will be some friends who are unable to cope when you no longer fit into a certain role, when the opposite sex looks at you differently or when you have more attention than you did previously. These are the folks that will try to take you back to where you previously were, encourage you to have that extra drink or meal you didn’t need or subtly put you down and back in the place that made them feel ok with themselves. It will break your heart, but these people were never your friends. They probably used your previous unhappiness to make themselves feel better.

Do NOT confuse those people with your true friends who are a little shocked at an inevitable period of narcissism and re-adjustment you’re about to go through (yup, you may be an unbearable jerk for a while). Good news is, those folks will wait you out, know that you’re just having a second ‘teenage-dom’ and will return to them presently. Be aware that you might be a bit of an ass for a while and that it will affect your relationships. You have a new toy to play with and for some of you it will be the first time you’ve had attention to this scale. Partners may feel insecure, don’t forget them, they stuck with you prior to this experience so don’t forget to stick by them now (give them the extra TLC they might need right now). You may feel for a period of time that the only people who understand you are other contestants, that will pass as you re-assimilate back into society and your previous social networks, but will take some time. Be kind to yourself.

Welcome to D Grade.

Welcome to D Grade, population several thousand. You are the bottom of the ‘celebrity’ food chain. IF you are treated differently, it won’t be for long. It’s an awkward mix of strangers ‘knowing your shit’ (and looking in your shopping trolley) and not knowing very much about you at all (but assuming they do). Understand that you do not deserve special treatment. There may be some perks for a while, enjoy them, but don’t get used to them or you’ll be gutted when they dry up. Ignore the internet. Remember that trolls are people who choose sitting at a computer screen to being outside and having the sunshine on their face. Reconnect with your family, re-discover interests and understand that future dates will always have something come up in their google searches. You’ll be encouraged to get an agent. You don’t need one if you have the confidence to represent yourself. ALWAYS ask for image and copy approval when dealing with magazines and don’t do stuff for free. ‘New and temporary’ celebrities are like lambs to the slaughter, be careful and when in doubt ask a previous contestant for help. We really don’t mind and would rather help you that see another unflattering photo that makes you cry published in a piece of trash for less money than you’re worth.

Predators

It disgusts me to have to include this but… beware of predators. Not everyone who be-friends you is going to have their heart in the right place. Even more goes for those who approach you romantically or sexually. Fresh off the show you’re a pulsating light of vulnerability with a touch of arrogance high on a new life. This is like you’ve been sprayed with jerk attraction spray (for both guys and girls). People will think they know you because they have seen intimate moments, they will know enough to manipulate and flatter. Most will be harmless opportunists; however there will be some who are dangerous or who you may find have made the same approach to many others in your same situation. Be careful and if in doubt, again run it past previous contestants, there is a list of serial offenders who re-appear every season.

 

With that. Good luck my loves. It’s sort of worth it.

Sheridan

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Comment

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  1. that was compelling reading shezbot

    Like

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