Years ago, before I became a Health Coach, I watched Biggest Loser on a regular basis.
I would sit down and watch all two hours every single week.
I thought about it very differently then than I do now.
Back then, I was in the midst of my own diet drama: eating very little (all low-fat or no fat foods) and running (or elliptical-ing)for at least an hour a day. Back then, The Biggest Loser was just an example of what someone could do with willpower, discipline and determination.
It seemed perfectly realistic.
As I came out of my diet haze, I also came to see that The Biggest Loser isn’t an accurate (or healthy) depiction of weight loss (or health gain).
The Biggest Loser is NOT reality TV.
The Biggest Loser is a game show.
People racing to lose as much weight as possible in a set amount of time for a huge monetary prize.
That’s the game.
It’s not a lifestyle change.
It’s not even a healthy model for realistic weight loss.
It’s a game.
A game where whoever loses the most weight wins– no matter what the state of their health is at the finale.
I still watch The Biggest Loser from time to time.
It’s a bad habit.
I mostly watch to see how Bob Harper secretly plugs Rogue.
I DVR’ed this past season’s finale. Well, I watched half of it, because there was nothing else on, and then DVR’ed the last hour before the finalists came out.
The next day, I got an email from a friend with a link to an article on Jezebel about the look of shock on Bob and Jillian’s faces when they saw the winner.
Of course, I immediately sat down and watched the rest of the finale…and I too was totally shocked.
Rachel had been one of my favorite contestants.
Because she was a former athlete who, through the show, was (seemingly) inspired to get back to her athletic self.
At makeover week she looked great! Strong and healthy– she actually seemed to be glowing. The photo above is of the three finalists in the last episode before the finale, which (I think) takes place a month or so later.
After seeing Rachel in this last episode, I literally gasped when she burst through her picture.
Her face was drawn.
Her arms had lost all of their muscle.
She looked fragile.
She looked dull.
She had lost her glow.
Along with (it seems) all of her strength.
It made me really sad.
I wished she had stopped playing the game after makeover week.
Rachel ended up weighing in at 105 pounds.
She’s my height.
As an athletically built person, I can’t even imagine weighing that much.
I know that everyone’s different, and that weight is NOT a good indicator of health or even a good way to evaluate your body.
I also know that at one point toward the end of the show, Dr. H (the show’s doctor) told Rachel that she had 20% body fat, which is representative of a leaner, athletic frame.
20% body fat is, for most people, a healthy body fat.
I wished she had stopped playing the game then.
I wish they had ALL stopped playing the game. One of the other finalists even made a comment about how he wished he’d lost more weight (after losing over 100#)– solidifying that this game is all about weight loss and not about health.
I’m now fully aware that The Biggest Loser is a game.
Contestants play the game, but they’re playing the game with their REAL LIVES.
The pressure of winning might push them from one end of the disordered eating spectrum to the other.
It’s easier to go from one extreme to the other than one might think.
I wish that The Biggest Loser gauged their contestants progress by something other than their weight lost.
I wish it were about getting people healthy and teaching them tools for a new life instead of a race to lose weight.
What do you think? Do you watch The Biggest Loser? Did you watch the finale?