Monday, February 4, 2008

Biggest Loser in the workplace

So, a group of coworkers are having a challenge. Who can lose the biggest percentage of body weight in six weeks. Winner (or "loser") gets the pot o' money.

Needless to say, I have major issues with this whole thing.

Aside from the fact that hearing about people losing weight (or trying to lose weight) is as difficult for me as a recovering heroin addict sitting around watching friends shoot up, I have major issues with people competing to change their outsides.

Of all the problems in our world, it annoys me to see people focus on a physical attribute. Think about it this way - has anyone heard of a tanning contest? Who ever gets the darkest tan wins? Or has anyone heard of a whitest smile contest? Or the longest hair challenge? (Who will cave first and chop their hair???)

No. Of course not.

So why the focus on weight???

We know why. Our society's obsessions.

I'd like to see a different kind of challenge. How about "the biggest giver" where volunteering is rewarded?

But a contest like that wouldn't even get off the ground. Not in the United States of America. Not in 2008.

Does that mean that change can't happen?

Absolutely not. Every change starts with one person. Just one person with an idea who talks to one person at a time.

So how will I change the world today?

First, I'm taking care of myself by working hard to make sure that I get the nutrients that my body needs to function (and not letting the constant chatter of losing weight throw me off balance.)

And I'll continue to focus on using my voice (not my body) to express my thoughts and feelings. So while my eating disorder screams at me to show these numb-nuts the dangers of focusing on body size and weight, I will ask them not to talk about discuss the challenge in my presence and I will tell them why. I will keep opening up, keep talking about my struggles to anyone who'll listen.

I will lead by example to the best of my ability.


Charlynn said...

I absolutely HATE these stupid workplace "health challenges." My workplace has been doing them on and off for the last year or so - they drive me insane because the organizers make it look and feel like some exclusive club, and if you don't join in, what's wrong with YOU? What's wrong with the damn "challenge" is that it may very well kill me if I partake! This is something nobody at work understands. I even went so far as to take this up with the head of HR, but to no avail. She totally buys into the "obesity epidemic," and her reply was essentially that people must learn to make better choices for themselves. Ohhhhkaaaaay....while that is not deniable - we all have a few bad habits we could get rid of, food-related or otherwise - how is a corporate solution the answer to everyone's "problems"?

I'll step off the soapbox now. :P I'm so sorry you'll be dealing with one of these stupid things.

disordered girl said...

I love your idea of "volunteer challenges." Why don't workplaces come up with things like that instead of this? You are pretty amazing for focusing on something meaningful instead.

Majestic Ape said...

They are doing a biggest loser challenge at the school where I teach. Its blowing my mind as well for the same reasons. My mother teaches here, and is the source of most of my food/body issues. She talks ad nauseum about the contest and her body. It melts my brain. But I just smile and think happy things and tune them out...."blah blah blah" they say...all day.

You are awesome.

love, Amalia

Melissa said...

You could start up a like yourself/body challenge, where you challenge everyone to think of one positive thing about their self or their body a day and write about it and put it in a box or something? I just think sometimes it is good to flip these challenge things around. I agree with you that the weight loss/ health challenges in that way can be detrimental.

Anonymous said...

Biggest Loser in the workplace is geared towards those folks who want a healtheir lifestyle. It's not necessarily about losing weight, although a lot of people do want to lose weight, the ultimate end result of the program is a healthier person both inside and out. It's also a great way for people to motivate eachother to make healthier choices about what they eat, exercise and to build up self esteem. Not everyone has the willpower to go it alone, so this is a way for people to motivate eachother to reach their goals. Biggest Loser challenges are specifically for those who have identified a healthier lifestyle as their goal. If you don't want to participate, then don't!

We also have volunteer drives that are not company driven, they are driven by the employees. What a pessimistic thing to say that volunteer challenges wouldn't get off the ground in our country. Give people in America some credit. In 2005, 28.8 percent of adults aged 18 or over volunteered, spending a median of 50 hours helping others. (Source: Independent Sector).

The best way to send a message is to set an example and stop complaining in cyberworld...