Why Lose Weight for Love left me feeling cold

Is splitting up from your partner the key to a healthier lifestyle? Erm, no, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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It won’t come as a surprise to many of us that people put on weight in relationships. It’s all that time spent laying in meadows gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes (by which I mean sprawling on the sofa, shovelling takeaway into our mouths while watching reruns of the Big Bang Theory and calling it Date Night.)

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In fact, 60% of us pile on the pounds when we’re in a comfortable relationship, and the subjects of BBC1 documentary Lose Weight for Love are far from the exception. Last week’s guinea pigs Phil and Becky collectively accrued 13 stone in fat since securing their loved-up status.

It all needed to be shed (and some) for Becky to be healthy and for Phil, who was 24 stone and had bypassed his gastric bypass, to be “out of the danger zone.” So began a diet and exercise regime, as well as 10 weeks of separation.

That’s the gimmick of Lose Weight for Love. Splitting people up so they break bad habits and shed pounds. It’s a concept which could be dubbed as ‘faddy’ as the silly diets Phil and Becky fail at week after week.

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Professor Tanya Byron, Professor Paul Dolan and Rick Shakes-Braithwaite are on hand with science, nutrition and psychology and that’s where this show shines. The couple were presented with upsetting facts about their ailing health and given therapeutic support, brain training and a helpful ear. Part of Becky’s problem was a lack of confidence in herself, something which rightly needed to be addressed if her life changes were going to stick. Phil needed to know his extended family would help him from relapsing once again.

They were also given tailored goals – with the help of her sister, Becky ran a half-marathon, something she never believed she could achieve – as well as personalised nutritional plans. This is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.

But those messages are hidden under the pretence that breaking up your relationship, however temporarily, is the key to a healthier lifestyle.

It’s a risky gamble. Phil and Becky have three children at home. Lose Weight For Love put this family on the line and, whether for science or as a TV gimmick, that left me feeling cold.

Because what can the average overweight adult realistically and practically learn from this show? That changing your lifestyle requires thought, planning, organisation, achievable goals, an awful lot of effort AND the encouragement of your loved ones. Yes.

You don’t need me to tell you that breaking up your family to drop a few dress sizes is impractical and unhelpful advice. So shouldn’t we be teaching families to be healthier together, rather than apart?

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Lose Weight for Love continues on Wednesdays at 8:00pm on BBC1