Last night Valerie Bertinelli was all over the television networks asking women to be kinder towards other women who gain back lost weight.

A broken foot was her excuse for the gain and the inability to get to the gym. I’m not buying it. If she couldn’t get to the gym and she gained weight as a result she was spending an awful lot of time at the gym! I’m inclined to think that while her activity level was reduced she might have started to default into old eating patterns. That isn’t uncommon and it definitely puts back the lost weight!

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Here is a list of Celebrities who Lost and Gained
1. Oprah
2. Tommy Lasorda
3. Mike Ditka
4. Kirstie Alley
5. Valerie Bertinelli
6. Carnie Wilson



Here is a list of celebrities who Lost and it (all, mostly or more) Stayed Lost
1. Ricki Lake
2. Larry the Cable Guy
3. Nicole Richie
4. Al Roker
5. Randy Jackson
6. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York

Here is a list of Celebrity Spokespeople Currently at Goal
1. Jennifer Hudson
2. Jessica Simpson
3. Marie Osmond

Why do we care what celebrities weigh? Why should a celebrity spokesperson be more or less inspirational than anybody else who manages to lose weight? Why should I have empathy for a celebrity spokesperson who got paid a lot of money to lose weight by a diet company, parades around in her bikini in their commercials, sells her “story” to countless magazines, writes a book about her life and her weight loss journey and what’s she’s learned about weight management? Why would I sympathize because she regains her weight and goes on TV asking for kindness instead of judgement? She why should she be held to a different standard than “common folk” who lose and gain back?

Well, I do have empathy because losing and gaining is a horrible feeling. I should know; I’ve done it countless times* Getting paid for weight loss could be fun, I suppose, and motivating too but I don’t think it’s a guarantee weight will remain off. Getting lots of positive attention and making even more money for losing weight has to be pretty good too. Gaining it back feels bad, as I already acknowledged, but when a celebrity makes a lot of money by losing weight and can’t manage to keep it off, I have empathy and, I admit, some anger!

Yup, anger! I’m angry because so many people think that celebrities lives are better than theirs. They think that celebrities have weight loss advantages the rest of us don’t have. True, most of us don’t have chefs preparing our meals and we don’t have personal trainers, and we don’t have the sort of job that frees us up for spending six hours working on our bodies and weight-related goals, We don’t have stylists to make sure we look our best every time we step out of our homes and we sure don’t have the paparazzi chasing us. If a celebrity with all her money and advantages can’t lose weight and keep it off, how can we expect those of us who have none of those advantages and many more obstacles manage to lose weight, much less maintain the loss?

NEWSFLASH! There are a lot of people right here in Maine whose lives are not easy. There are people who work hard for a living, juggle family and work, and who make modest salaries. They do their own cooking for themselves and their families and don’t have memberships to gyms, much less have access to a personal trainer. These people are losing weight and they’re keeping it off. They don’t get on covers of magazines and nobody knocks on their door asking if they’d like to earn millions of dollars by publicly endorsing a weight loss company.

These are the real weight-management heroes who deserve the magazine covers and stories. They are the people who could tell us that “regular people of regular means without any special help or incentives can lose weight and go onto live their life without gaining most or more of the lost weight.

Here is my message to Valerie Bertinelli who wants to end the “public shame of weight gain”

I agree, Val, nobody should be publicly shamed for gaining weight. We seem to overlook much bigger character flaws. We seem to be understanding of the people who ruin their lives and the lives of others with their addictions but we shame people for gaining weight. We ask, “how could she let herself go like that?” I don’t like that our weight is anybody’s concern but our own, but Valerie, really… You thought you could lose weight, get paid for it, flaunt your loss at every opportunity, get paid some more, write books about how you learned to beat your weight issues and when you gained weight you didn’t expect to get a lot of negative reactions? You are upset because you are made to feel shame because you didn’t stay at goal? I think you brought the “shame” onto yourself. Maybe if you kept your weight loss a private matter your weight gain would as well, be your private matter.

* I’m happy to say I have stopped cycling and mostly keep off the weight I lost more than 20 years ago. It isn’t about deprivation or avoiding this food and only eating that food. It’s about balance, moderation, monitoring calories is (tracking my food) and calories out (tracking my activity which increased about two years ago with the birth of a fussy and very beloved grandson!)

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.