Do you ever watch MTV’s True Life? It’s a documentary series that covers different topics that people are experiencing in their lives. I like documentaries in general, and I’ve added this one to my list. It’s funny because these are true reality shows, unlike the shows that are called reality shows.

Last week during one of my treadmill workouts they had on the episode I’m On A Diet, which peaked my interest. At first it didn’t seem all that unusual: it was about 2 young women and a young man. Amber was crash dieting to lose weight (approx. 15 lbs) in a very unhealthy way for an upcoming beauty pageant, and Kelly, who started out at approximately 255 pounds, had the goal of losing 50 pounds in 2 months. With the help of a personal trainer and nutritionist, she completely changed her lifestyle; she took the healthy route. 😉

Kelly was eating clean the way that I do: lean proteins, lots of fruits, vegetables, plain water, no sodas or junk food, cooking her own meals, and eating small meals throughout the day. She ended up losing 30 pounds in 4 weeks, and overall lost 38.5 pounds in 7 weeks with a goal of losing another 15 pounds; she was doing an awesome job, although I would use spices and herbs to prepare chicken breast instead of boiling it plain like her trainer did.

Amber, the beauty pageant contestant was losing weight in the unhealthiest of ways by crash dieting, which even though I know people do this it still surprises me. You can eat so much darned food in small meals throughout the day like Kelly (and me!) and not only lose weight, but feel awesome.

She was advised by one of her coaches 2 months before the pageant to eat healthy, small meals 5 times a day and she did start out with a little bit of healthy eating, but she had a habit of waiting until the last week or two before the pageant and crash dieting. She wanted to win the swimsuit competition but she didn’t; one of her coaches said that no one ever wins swimsuit by crash dieting, and that she would have done much better if she had taken the healthy route.

Even though she didn’t win in swimsuit, she won the overall pageant after which she immediately went out to eat to get the greasiest, icky cheeseburger possible. The follow up on her said that she regained weight and was going to crash diet again before her next competition. I thought this was just crazy, and it was too bad that her mother wasn’t setting a healthy example for her. She wouldn’t listen to her coaches but she wasn’t getting any healthy coaching from her mom, which may have helped.

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So those were their stories, but the one that was most interesting was Cory’s. He was a college student and wrestler and was completely focused on “cutting” weight. Cory had to weigh in before each wrestling meet, and had to “make weight” officially so that he could wrestle in his weight class. OK, so this doesn’t sound all that bad, but what you end up learning about are the obsessions that Cory has with the scale and cutting weight.

In order to cut weight, Cory was practically starving himself as well as putting himself through exercise routines while wearing layers of clothing to sweat profusely. He weighed in naked in the gym and if his weight wasn’t what he expected, he would try to urinate to see if the scale would go down so that he could qualify to wrestle. Cory’s whole family was focused on what he ate and how much he ate, so they were all centered around him and his eating habits.

What was interesting to me was that while I was watching the show I saw that I had a double standard: Cory’s actions were unhealthy (he didn’t eat much and was solely focused on his weight), but still I didn’t think of them as being as bad as I would have if he had been a female, at least at this point that’s what I thought. Next however, when Cory revealed that a few years prior he had been binging and purging in order to “cut weight”, then I thought, “hey, this guy has an eating disorder!”

Up to that point I didn’t look at him as having a major problem, and it turned out that his family sent him to an eating disorder clinic when he was bulimic (binging and purging). Really, the other 2 gals on the show didn’t treat food in a healthy way either, but that was clear. It’s just that when it came to Cory, I first thought that he was just really into wrestling and sports, but if he had been a female ballerina and acted the same way, I would have immediately thought “eating disorder”.

What about you – do you tend to think that only women and girls have eating disorders and unhealthy body images? Do you think that there are more men today who are having the same issues, perhaps because of the growing media coverage that now includes male models, not just female? Do you ever think of men being in the categories of anorexia or bulimia?

MTV’s True Life, I’m On A Diet – Eating Disorders & Double Standards