I Love Michigan: Ann Arbor

I can’t help it. This post and those that follow are going to read like a script for those Pure Michigan ads. However, I don’t need a script. All I have to say is off-the-cuff, from the heart and Pure Michigan.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of a date day with my husband. We stole away to Ann Arbor for the afternoon and then to his brother’s house later that evening.

Why Ann Arbor? It wasn’t for MTV’s casting call for the Real World at Scorekeepers. But, isn’t it great that filmmakers think Ann Arbor is a great city? It has urban appeal, a great mix of people, and the University of Michigan campus.

Anyway, why Ann Arbor? The bargain book shelves and tables at Borders’ flagship store on Liberty. Great people watching from Amer’s big plate-glass window. Nickel’s Arcade and the University of Michigan are beautiful even under a gray, cold March sky. March Madness at Buffalo Wild Wings on State Street.

Plus, Ann Arbor has a permanent signature on our relationship. My husband and I spent nearly one year of our dating lives there. Our first date was on the patio at Good Time Charley’s. Then there were Saturday afternoons goofing off at Pinball Pete’s, Middle Earth and The Little Brown Jug; a Valentine dinner at Palio’s; autumn strolls through the Arboretum; and haunted hayrides at Wiard’s.

One more very special connection to Ann Arbor is family. I am proud and boastful to mention a number of relatives live there or nearby. Rest assured, my husband, children and I will be spending many more fabulous Saturdays re-visiting and creating memories in this fabulous urban landscape.

Reality Check

Up until September, I was an avid viewer of The Biggest Loser. My interest sparked when contestants from Southeastern Michigan celebrated tremendous successes on the show. The Biggest Loser does extend a powerful, positive message: anyone can make lasting positive lifestyle changes given the right environment, support and resources. Also, the celebrity personal trainers, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper, appear to have a proven track records. Their exercise DVDs have been among my best fitness aids because they have helped me realize visible, lasting results.

With that being said, I also think the show encourages at-home viewers to develop unrealistic fitness and weight management expectations. For example, most of us do not have the luxury of leaving professional, parental, marital, social, and household responsibilities to focus exclusively on weight and fitness management for extended periods of time. Next, devoting all wakeful hours to exercise is not a consistent reality and it is unhealthy. Finally, it is unnerving to watch the weigh-ins at the end of each episode. With self-esteem hanging out for all to see, each contestant steps onto the scale for the moment of triumph or defeat. Smiles deflate, shoulders slump and words of disappointment come forth when losses don’t match expectations. I can relate to this. There have been objectives — some too grandiose — I have set for myself. Along the way, I encountered challenges and experienced frustration that zapped my confidence. But, I think contestants should be encouraged to stand proud for all pounds lost. A loss is a loss. Plus, it’s unrealistic for at-home viewers to expect losses comparable to what they see on The Biggest Loser.