Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Biggest Loser - Meh, No Thanks

This is probably not going to be the most popular of my blog entries, but everything isn't always going to get rave reviews from my readers. It may come as a shock but, I have mixed feelings about NBC's show, The Biggest Loser. I do see the positives, I do. I know contestants are losing weight, eating healthier, etc. That's great! They are battling emotional problems which drive them to seek comfort in food and I'm thrilled they are tackling those - great! But (and it's a pretty big but - pun intended) I find more negatives to the show than positives which have forced me to "unsubscribe" on my DVR schedule.

So what could possibly be negative in a television show that is promoting lifestyle changes for the morbidly obese? 

I think it sets unreasonable expectations for those battling a weight issue without the luxury of going to a ranch and having someone prepare all your foods and force you to work out.  People don't understand that a gang buster week with a 5lb weight loss is HUGE!  Losing 2lbs is FANTASTIC! The losses of 10lbs, 12lbs, 15lbs per week are not only unrealistic but also UNHEALTHY!  That rate of weight loss causes extreme stress to the heart and other organ systems. If the goal is to be healthy, while their diet may be better and they are dropping pounds - the rapid weight loss IS NOT.

Our society is geared towards instant gratification. If we want something, for the most part we can instantly get it. That's how many of us ended up having 50, 100, 200 or in my case 230lbs to lose. However, weight loss is not instant. Part of this journey is learning patience, celebrating a 0.2lb weight loss on a week that you thought was a really great week, building habits that will last the long haul - that is hardly the message sent by The Biggest Loser.

Additionally, the promotion of these high intensity workouts is dangerous, as we have seen in a few episodes when some of the contestants have had to seek medical attention. While there is a warning prior to watching the show that one should seek the advice of a doctor before attempting any of the workouts; it's still a promotion of high intensity workouts for those that may not have the good health to endure such a routine. I prefer the message of "just get moving."  Even a half hour walk a day makes a HUGE difference. Shoot, when I started six months ago I had to push it to make it just 15 minutes on my treadmill!  Now I can go for an hour, jogging, and feel good after!

I also cringe when I hear belittling on the television show. It seems to only feed into the exploitation of people that are very sick, battling an illness that is an addiction. I realize the show is for entertainment purposes, the people that signed up knew what they were getting into and they must have ratings to continue to get sponsors. However, I could have a little less negative speak, a little less degradation and a little more "reality." It is "reality" TV, right?  I'm able to lose my weight without having someone yelling in my ear, making a boot camp sergeant look like a lamb. I'm able to give myself doses of reality without completing tearing myself down.  Of course, that wouldn't make good TV entertainment.

I understand the popularity. I love the celebrations at the end when they flash the before and after photos. It's amazing to see what people look like after they've lost the equivalent of a whole person in body weight! I'm just not sure promoting rapid weight loss is the way to go for long term good health and I don't like the mind game that goes along with it. I just hope that most that are watching don't feel demotivated because they aren't seeing extreme losses, putting in hours at the gym or occasionally splurge for that ice cream sundae.

The Biggest Loser promotes a sprint - I'll stick to my walk, thank you. :)


  1. I agree with everything you said. It is difficult to achieve and maintain the kind of weight loss they promote on the show. Not to mention doing it without the benefit of having the trainers and chefs with you. I do like their DVD workouts though. I highly recommend them. -Laura Harless

  2. Thank you so very much for posting your feelings on the Biggest Loser. I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. Reading your post reaffirms to me that losing 1 to 2 pounds a week is a success. I keep wanting to see instant weight loss and I need to keep reminding my self that I'm doing okay. I truly appreciate your blogging. I just jumped back onto eating healthy and journalling my meals. Reading your blogs shows me that I'm not the only one going through these struggles.
    Thanks, Catherine Knapke