Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The "Real" in Mama Junes Reality TV

You know...I was never a fan of Honey Boo Boo and her mother....Mama June. I like a little class with my tv and try as I might, I could never find any in that show. Now they are back or Mama June primarily is in a show called From Not to Hot. For those of you who have never viewed this new reality show endeavor, Mama June is on a journey to lose weight and look amazing for her ex, Sugar Bears wedding.

Now please don't judge me for watching this low brow reality show, but I simply can't help myself. I am somewhat addicted to any show that talks about and shows true weight loss in individuals. Yes, I know you are saying to yourself...."But Lisa, this is 'reality' tv. How true can this be?" Well, you are right. For some of this show, the non-reality of it is glaringly obvious such as when June starts losing a lot of weight a little too quickly and has to wear an obvious fat suit to film some sections of the show. That being said though, the weight loss is real and even more so......her struggle with weight loss is very real.

Mama June tipped the scales at somewhere around 350 lbs when filming started. The premise of the story goes that June found out her ex was getting remarried in 10 months and he had invited her to the wedding, so she decided she wanted to show the bride up and go to the wedding with a whole new look. Of course reality tv saw $$$$$ and made it their mission to make as much money off June, her weight loss and her dysfunctional brood as they could.

Without giving away all the stimulating drama and plot points of the series, I will give you the condensed version. June had gastric sleeve surgery. The series gave her a personal trainer and her daughters bought her a size 4 dress so that she had a goal to achieve in 40 weeks. Again.....reality tv heaven. For me, it was like a train wreck. I knew I shouldn't watch, but darned if I didn't get sucked in. To my credit though, I DVR the show so that I can fast forward through some of the more ridiculousness of the show.... and some weeks that is a good portion of it, however.....the show is a pretty accurate portrayal of the difficulty involved with losing a large amount of weight and this is why I guess it holds my interest.

A gastric sleeve is one of the more extreme ways that someone who is unhealthily over weight can turn to for weight loss. Because it is a surgery it holds some degree of danger from anesthetic to the possibility of infection, blood clots and all the other potentially dangerous side effects of anyone post surgery. Once the surgery is over, there is of course the recovery from the surgery and because your stomach has basically been shrunk, there is a period of time where you are only allowed liquids and then you work yourself up to small portions of food.

A gastric sleeve can help a person literally drop 100-200 lbs in a relatively short period of time, but it is not a miracle worker in itself. The person undergoing the surgery has to be dedicated to losing the weight and keeping it off and also has to be resigned to the fact that for the rest of their lives they will never be able to eat as they did before the surgery without risk of damaging the sleeve or themselves. In other words, if you are going into something as drastic as gastric sleeve surgery, you better be all in on this being a permanent lifestyle change and you better also be losing for the right reasons. Needless to say, showing the bride up at your exes wedding is not in my opinion, a good reason.

June of course drops the weight initially quite quickly and with this large amount of weight loss come some of the less pleasant side effects of losing this much weight quickly. Everything sags and bags and flapping arms, excess stomach skin and sagging thighs are not only uncomfortable, but they can also get in the way of exercise and day to day living. They also have an affect on self image. It's great to be a size 4 but if the skin on your arms make you look like you have wings instead of arms.....that becomes a self image problem. Surgery then again becomes a necessity. The thing about skin removal surgery though, is that you basically have to be pretty near your goal weight before having it or else the surgery does no good.  So Junes story does not have an automatic happy ending. In fact, at times the story gets quite "real" and becomes something that most of us can easily identify with.

June does not like exercise and yet exercise is as important to her weight loss and overall health as eating right is. It is a real struggle for her to get with the exercise program....even with a very animated and professional trainer. The struggle is even more difficult when it becomes obvious that June went into the whole weight loss, surgery, etc. thinking that her weight would come off much more easily and with a lot less work on her part, than is actually required. Eventually though, even June figures out that exercise is a key factor in her new lifestyle and gets on board to some degree.

Another glaringly evident theme in the show is that Junes two daughters who live with her are anything but supportive. Alonna (Honey Boo Boo) and Lauryn (Pumpkin) are used to a diet of sugar, fast food and comfort food and obviously supporting their moms weight loss by cutting out the unhealthy foods or even cutting back is not in their game plan as they eat cheeseburgers and ice cream in front of June. This is something that many of us can relate to as often our families are only supportive if it doesn't affect them.

Weight loss is challenging for the toughest of people as it is overcoming an addiction. A food addiction. Anyone knows you wouldn't smoke meth in front of a drug addict or drink alcohol in front of an alcoholic but people don't think twice about eating a piece of cake or downing a cheeseburger with everything on it in front someone trying to lose weight. Junes daughters not only eat all the things she can't have in front of her, but it is quite obvious at times that the two girls who seem to have weight issues of their own, aren't truly accepting of their moms new size or attempt at a healthier lifestyle. In fact there are definitely times that the two seem to be almost sabotaging their mom's efforts. Again....a lot of us can relate. If those around us see us changing for the better and they aren't, it somehow becomes a threat to them and their way of life, so they load on the sabotage. I think this is when reality tv crosses over into real life for some of us.

So I am not sure how far into the season we are with Mama June. I know in the last episode she had given into her old habits and she has become quite proficient at hiding cookies, candies and other forms of unhealthy and fattening contraband much to her trainers shock and dismay. This "bad" behavior had been instrumental in causing her to gain some of her weight back. Fortunately her gain wasn't enough to keep her from getting the first of her two skin surgeries (a skin removal and tummy tuck on her stomach and a breast lift/enhancement). Her excitement over her knew boobs and flat stomach was somewhat squelched though at the realization that beauty sometimes hurts and these surgeries were starting to be much more painful and life restricting than she had originally signed on for.

Will Mama June get her arms and neck done or will she give up the whole surgery idea? Will she continue  to hide food and sneak eat and allow her family to continue sabotaging her? Or..... will she start to realize that her weight loss is more than just a moment of revenge at her exes wedding?

Bottom line is that many of us who carry extra pounds, whether it is 20 lbs or 200 lbs have all kinds of reasons for wanting to lose weight. The fact is though, that if we don't lose for the right reasons and learn a little about ourselves as we go, the weight will never stay off and we will fail ourselves over and over again. Losing for the right reasons (love of ourselves, our health and our desire to live a full healthy and happy life) is the only thing that will get us through those moments when our family and friends aren't as supportive as they should be or when we are contemplating doing our own self-sabotage.

So yeah, I am still not a fan of Mama June or reality tv as a whole but what can I say.....I'm invested! 

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