Okay, so I have never watched an entire episode. I can’t name any previous season winners or tell you what they’re doing these days (although gaining weight is probably a solid guess though…).
So why was I watching the Biggest Loser Season 2009 season opener this week? Well, I was noticing all of the Facebook status updates of my friends saying things like “Biggest Loser tonight CAN’T WAIT!” or “OMG! Biggest Loser this season is going to be the greatest EVER!”.
How could I NOT take a peek at this car crash?!
What did I see? Well morbidly obese people….duh. More importantly I was really quite shocked at what else I saw. I witnessed people being put through the ringer pushing sleds, doing plyometrics, climbing on Jacob’s ladder treadmills…..all this with people who would be hard pressed to make it up a flight of stairs.
On top of this I was, well, shocked to see trainers belittling, mocking, screaming at, and basically motherf#*king these people ad nauseum. Don’t get me wrong, anyone who has seen me with some of my athletic groups will often get a lesson in new and exciting vocabulary but this is apples and oranges folks. There is nothing wrong with hard work but after watching for 10 min. I could see through all the bullshit…..this is TV pure and simple.
Not much reality to it when the goal is to make the clients puke, cry, quit for ratings, period. People have been saying to me “well, Dos…this stuff is inspiring….it’s awesome to see people reach their goals and get their lives back”. At the cost of what though?! Psychological scarring, dangerous diet practices, unhealthy living?
Earlier this year Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. wrote an amazing insight into the psychology behind this Biggest Loser Phenomenon on the psychcentral.com blog. Not only did she talk about the reality of the impact of this type of training, environment etc. on the human psyche, we also gained insight into the dangerous diet and weight loss practices the contestants went through in order to win. This is from the season I winner Ryan Benson’s myspace page:
“What I now know is that the show was just a quick fix for me. …I wanted to win so bad that the last ten days before the final weigh-in I didn’t eat one piece of solid food! If you’ve heard of “The Master Cleanse” that’s what I did. Its basically drinking lemonade made with water, fresh squeezed lemon juice, pure maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. The rules of the show said we couldn’t use any weight-loss drugs, well I didn’t take any drugs, I just starved myself!
Twenty-four hours before the final weigh-in I stopped putting ANYTHING in my body, liquid or solid, then I started using some old high school wrestling tricks. I wore a rubber suit while jogging on the treadmill, and then spent a lot of time in the steam room. In the final 24 hours I probably dropped 10-13 lbs in just pure water weight. By the time of the final weigh-in I was peeing blood.
Was this healthy? Heck no! My wife wanted to kill me if I didn’t do it to myself first. But I was in a different place, I knew winning the show could put us in a better place financially and I was willing to do some crazy stuff. All this torture I put myself through has had no lasting effects on me (that I know of) and at the time it was sort of a fun adventure for me – but I am sure it reeked havoc on my system.
In the five days after the show was over I gained about 32 lbs. Not from eating, just from getting my system back to normal (mostly re-hydrating myself). So in five days I was back up to 240 – crazy!”
On Season III contestant Kai Hibbard …
She recently wrote on a blog that in the two weeks before the finale she severely dehydrated herself using asparagus (a diuretic), colonics and six-hour stretches of hopping in and out of a sauna. She lost 19 pounds, which as she joked, ‘rebounded to her rear end almost immediately.’
This is one of the most telling quotes from this blog post:
“If you give people enough money and put them into team environments, you can get them to do anything, even things that are painful and potentially harmful to their metabolisms. You can scream at them and walk on their legs and they will do it, even when you make them cry 14 times a day, they will do it. And you can trot out past winners and say, ‘Look, it works. See? It totally works.’”
Folks, this is NOT reality in any way, shape, or form!
“Aside from the harm the show brings its own contestants when they engage in drastic measures, The Biggest Loser can also shape viewers’ ideas about weight loss, perpetuating harmful myths and leading viewers to compare their results to the contestants’. In essence, The Biggest Loser shows that:
-Rapid weight-loss works
-If you aren’t dropping double-digits each week, you’re somehow failing
-The number on the scale is first and foremost
Eating well means depriving yourself (this resembles the crash diet mentality, something that isn’t realistic for your entire life)
-Willpower is the answer to weight loss”
“Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, director of nutrition for WebMD Health and the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, writes: “The Biggest Loser competition might indeed result in big losses, but it defies all the professional wisdom about safe and effective weight loss. That’s because the contestants are not addressing lifestyle behaviors and eating habits that they need to change permanently, not just during a nine-week race. This approach is similar to a fad diet, and we all know about them: You can lose weight on just about any diet, but when it’s over you gain the weight right back — unless you’ve changed your behaviors.” (see her article on Medicine Net). “
Okay for all of you who have been uplifted and inspired by the multiple seasons of NBC’s Biggest Loser I have a new show to pitch…..”The Biggest Gainer”. Yup, we take 20 anorexics and force feed the $hit out of them. We shove IV’s in their arms and Pull their mouths open then dietitians shove food down their throat. When they refuse, vomit, or cry about it the dietitians will mock, belittle, and motherf$%ck them. At the end of the season we will have ‘fixed’ one of them and got them back to a ‘normal weight’ by all means possible. What do you think folks? Think people will dig this? Well? Well??? I thought so…..Sigh.