If you have paid any attention to the news and social media over the last few weeks, I’m sure you have seen and read the frenzy over the latest season finale of The Biggest Loser. The season 15 winner dropped 155 pounds which equals an astonishing 59.62% of her body weight! Social media blew up with people screaming about the winner being anorexic, not healthy and disgusting. Although I agree that it appears as though she is too thin, I have another problem with the show that is affecting the millions of people who watch the show…not just the one who has lost too much weight.
Each week millions of people tune in to see the “spectacle” of these obese people losing weight. They watch the contestants get yelled at, do exercises that are (in my opinion) inappropriate and then stand on the gigantic scale to see how much weight they lost. They watch these overweight people tell their (often) pathetic sad stories about how they became obese and then watch as they are “broken down” in order to be built back up. The contestants themselves are motivated to lose weight because they have come to think that this is their “last chance” to actually lose weight AND the cash prize at the end.
Really. There is so much wrong about this show…I just don’t know where to start.
First, there is the constant message media is sending us and our children about NEEDING to be a certain size. We talk openly about airbrushing of people in magazine shoots, runway models and their too low BMI and the need to utilize realistic size models in advertising. We then go sit around a tv watching overweight people win money for achieving the smallest size in 14 weeks…what? How does that make any sense? Are we being hypocrites to our own opinions?
Secondly, and this is a big one for me, is the expectation of the general public that losing 10-15 pounds in a week is “normal”. This season’s winner lost an average of 11 pounds each WEEK over the 14 weeks the show was being filmed. I can’t tell you how many people are ‘disappointed’ when they learn they have ONLY lost 2 pounds per week. Really? We live in a society that wants a quick fix for everything…no matter the price. But being unhappy with a reasonable weight loss of 2 pounds is ridiculous.
Third, the contestants are judged on weight loss not fat loss. Body weight is comprised mostly of bones, organs, muscle and water. When these people are losing pounds, they are losing weigh from loss of body weight not necessarily fat. In essence, they are penalized for gaining muscle and rewarded for losing muscle.
Lastly, the trainers on the show are a misrepresentation of most personal trainers. Imagine that you are 100 pounds or more overweight and you are thinking about getting a personal trainer to help you start your weight loss journey. As you are flicking through the channels at night, you come across a fit looking person screaming in the face of a very overweight contestant. Do you really think for one minute that is a motivating scene for someone who is afraid to take the first step in improving their health? Hell no. The trainer’s behaviors on this show portray personal trainers as mean, unforgiving, unrelenting monsters who use force and intimidation to “motivate” their clients. I, for one, do not fit that description. I never will. Does that mean my style of training works for everyone? Absolutely not. I do believe it works for a lot of people afraid to take the first step on their journey to a healthier life.
In closing, as I step off my soapbox, The Biggest Loser isn’t all bad. It shows the general public that…
- getting off their couch and doing something is a step in the right direction
- having a small dose of competition is healthy
- weight loss is hard work, no matter if you are losing 0.5 pounds or 20 pounds each week
- having a system to keep yourself accountable is a major player in the success of any program
Unfortunately, the uneducated public might not gather these take away points and just focus on the glamorized “reality” TV show.