This just in: Reality TV can be a great motivational tool


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Seems like there IS a good reason to watch reality TV. A survey from the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters found that half of Americans believe weight-loss-themed reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” has a positive impact on the country’s obesity problem by being a source of inspiration. Among the 15% of respondents who regularly watch weight-loss-themed television programs, 57% said the shows have influenced their eating habits. Forty-eight percent said their exercise habits had been influenced.

How awesome is that? Finally, a network reality show motivating people to be healthy, not get wasted in a pool of their own vomit (cough, “Jersey Shore”).

The 12th season of “The Biggest Loser” just started and this Sweatidor has become misty-eyed AND super motivated watching the contestants working their hardest, and literally fight for their lives, under the watchful eye of fitness trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, and this season’s new trainers, Anna Kournikova and Dolvett Quince. This show does so much good for the contestants: they train for at least four hours a day, every workout is approved by doctors, and they receive guidance by a dietician and nutritionist.

It really is a great source of inspiration, but keep in mind that is should only serve as a source of inspiration. Rapid weight loss is not safe — especially when you are not under medical supervision — and can lead to medical problems, including gallstones, malnutrition, and dehydration.

Here are some more findings from the study:


  • Among the respondents, those ages 35 years and younger watched weight loss-themed programming more often than their counterparts (20%). Of those, 71% said they changed their eating habits and 73% said they altered their exercise regimens;
  • This 35-and-younger age group also was most likely to believe in the positive impact of weight loss TV on the country’s health (59%);
  • Seventy-two percent of morbidly obese respondents who regularly watch weight-loss-themed TV said the shows influenced their eating habits. Of those, 73% said their exercise habits were influenced by the shows.


“As we’ve seen in effective health-and-wellness programs, witnessing the success of others increases engagement. Prime-time television shows have a unique power to get millions of viewers involved — particularly, as the survey shows, those with the greatest need,” said Raymond Fabius, MD, chief medical officer of the healthcare business of Thomson Reuters in a release.

Find your source of motivation
NBC knows how much “The Biggest Loser” influences people, and they are cashing in. They offer a bunch of health- and fitness-related tools on their website, including membership to the Biggest Loser Club (an interactive nutrition and exercise program that creates customized meal plans and daily exercise activities), DVDs, books, apparel, even 10-oz. containers of protein powder. While there’s nothing wrong with cashing in on a successful TV show, if you are looking for FREE sources available for keeping your spirits up and motivation high as you work toward your fitness goals — and you ran out of “The Biggest Loser” episodes on your DVR — check out a few choice Internet picks from the Sweatidor:


  • If you want free fitness motivational tools, check out SparkPeople.com. They offer fitness plans and workouts, a calorie counter, meal plans, informative articles and a large community to keep you on track — all for FREE. For awesome, healthy recipes from Spark members, go to sparkrecipes.com.
  • Type in the word “motivation” on LiveStrong.com and you’ll get plenty of advice and tips on keeping your mind focused.
  • Check out Psychology Today’s motivation page. Great insight on setting and achieving goals and self-control from the experts!


When you completed your workout for the day here are some other weight-loss-themed shows to get addicted to: MTV’s “I Used to be Fat,” A&E’s “Heavy,” NBC’s “Losing It With Jillian,” and VH1’s “Celebrity Fit Club.”


Tell us: What motivates you to be fit? Comment below.