The Good and The Bad of The Biggest Loser

32 Comments

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When I first started on this weight loss journey, I gained a lot of inspiration from fellow weight loss bloggers — real life stories of people struggling to take control of their lives. On some of these blogs, the show “The Biggest Loser” would come up about being such a huge motivator to these bloggers. Once I realized the show was on Netflix, I decided to check out past episodes. I was totally captivated by how these people worked so hard to change their lives. Their progress from week to week was totally mind blowing. I could definitely see how easy it is to get caught up in the show’s environment and become empowered. After watching the first five seasons in a month, my desire to keep watching the show diminished. Why? Because there wasn’t enough to take to the show to apply to my own life. My brain was thinking I could be those people. I could lose 10 pounds in a week! But I couldn’t do that because I would have to exercise ALL the time. All the time. That’s their full time job on the show is to work their butt off to lose as much weight as possible in a week. And I know the body can withstand it but the body cannot keep up that kind of action for the rest of their lives. People get burnt out and a lot of the people who leave the show cannot keep all the weight off such as Season One Winner, Ryan Benson who started the show at 330 pounds and today is almost back to the same weight. When you have a show designed for pure competition with a money incentive, Health does not become the main objective.

I know the trainers really do care about their contestants. I have definitely seen the understanding and they would not have such successful careers if they did not get long term results. Also, I have no idea how the show has changed in the past few seasons because like I said earlier, my desire to watch it dropped. It just was not realistic enough for me. But I get it, who is going to watch a show where each person drops a pound or two a week, lives normal lives with going to work and school, caring for their children, spending a whole episode talking about how to budget healthy foods when money is tight? Not enough people. Not enough people to make a difference. But that is what America needs. America needs someone to sit down with them, figure out how to make healthy food and exercise fit into their lives, and show them that it can be done. I know I will look and feel better once I lose weight and that was a huge motivation to make the change, but it is a huge struggle to make that transition.

I am not going to lie, eating healthy can sometimes be a little bit more costly than just buying a lot of processed foods, but I am fuller longer and definitely eat a lot less than when I was eating bad food. The first initial shock of a grocery bill may send you to tears but you may realize that you don’t actually need as much as you think you do. 

I love that the show shines light on the problems of obesity but when I see people commenting on how much weight a person should be losing (“OMG, why are some of those heavy people only losing 2 pounds in a week?! They have so much to lose!”) it makes me upset. Yes, I know that is what they are there to do but our bodies were not made to shed that weight so fast and then keep it off. When they do spotlights on previous people on the show, a lot of them have rebounded. Most of them are not as drastic as Season One winner and Season Three winner, but an additional 20 – 30 pounds does put a strain on the body. I am sure they also have to work much harder to keep it off than a normal person who took a very slow time to get the weight off. I know if I am not entirely committed, my body does not rebound as fast as I thought. In a month of not concentrating or exercising, my weight just fluctuated like a normal healthy body should.

I am not saying “Do Not Watch the Show” but I do want people to not be discouraged when they are not dropping the pounds like their fellow contestants. I don’t want you to get upset at a person for only losing a pound or two. Losing weight is hard and a pound or two is considered healthy in “real life.” There is nothing wrong with losing just that pound. Keep being motivated! Keep striving! Each step you take towards health is a step in the right direction. 

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32 thoughts on “The Good and The Bad of The Biggest Loser

  1. That economics thing we talked about last night applies to food, as well! If you go cheap, you’re probably going to pay for it more than once (whether buy more or pay for it on your butt).

  2. As you must have know I used to watch the show a lot and Found it motivating but then I stopped because I was kind of fed up with it. I was letting myself down because I wasn’t loosing any weight or not as much as they did. I was also training like a maniac too so I was gaining muscles but of course i wasn’t shedding any weight because my body was in shock. The reality is different they get to train everyday and have coaches that help them everyday. Reality is very different, you cannot train the whole day and you don’t have a coach with you everyday just like you said. You just have to suck it up and doing on your own and that is the only way you can really loose weight forever. Awesome post :)x

    • Thanks! It was definitely frustrating to see all these people lose a lot of weight, or seeing them bust their butts but end up having numbers that are too low…and just having them being dismissed. I just feel like that makes the wrong impression about weight loss. It isn’t just about the number every week. It is about making food choices that reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases.

  3. Love you’re comments and I agree but also disagree 🙂
    I still love the show. It keeps me motivated still just because some days I think oh I’m too sore to work out or whatever excuse it is and I watch it and see these people who have WAY more weight that I have to lose doing all sorts of workouts, so that part helps me get my butt in gear still.
    I follow a ton of the old contestants as well (twitter, instagram whatever lol) and the ones I follow have all continued to keep up the healthy lifestyle that they learned via the show. for example Oliva Ward biggest loser winner cycle 11 (pretty sure it was 11!) She is crazy into crossfit and always tweeting stuff that is inspiring. Another plus for watching the show I guess.
    This season they’ve added Children to they mix, but they’ve done it in a way where the kids aren’t on main campus and don’t weigh in on TV-THANK GOD for that how horrible would it be to put kids with low self esteem through that. So I’m def watching to see how the kids do this season!

    I 100% agree that people watching need to know the contestants are working out as a full time job and that it’s not reasonable for anyone to lose 10+ pounds a week.

    • I agree it is definitely motivating to seeing people have results, but I feel like the show puts too much emphasis on the results. Like no one cares about the person who cut out dessert completely and had a completely clean week and unfortunately those numbers don’t always show up on the scales. And I am just afraid of the message that is broadcasting to people who don’t do the research and know absolutely nothing about nutrition.

  4. I agree with you on a lot of points. I think that the biggest loser is such a hit because Americans are obsessed with this “magic bullet” mentality that there will be some magic trick where they can wake up overnight and have lost tons of weight. But that doesn’t exist; it’s little by little, one day at a time. The show also places a huge emphasis on enormous amounts of exercise, which is hard to maintain with a full time job, rather than on healthy eating.

    I get bothered by the idea that healthy food is more expensive than packaged food. If you buy a lot of fresh fruit out of season then that is very true, but I only buy frozen fruit in the winter and I try to stick to seasonal vegetables…my weekly grocery bill for my fiance and me is about $60 a week (thirty per person), which considering we don’t eat out very much is very reasonable I think. There really should be more information on how to eat healthily on a budget.

    • That’s the big worry for a lot of Americans, though. They think healthy food is too expensive. What I think they mean by this, though, is in America we are taught that time is money and they think healthy food takes a lot longer to prepare than just cruising through the McDonald’s drive thru. My meals definitely come out to be about 3 – 4 dollars per person which is totally comparable to picking up some meals at the local fast food.

    • Definitely not. It’s really exhausting! But the body gets trained to burn calories at a certain rate, it’s really hard for once that show is over, for some contestants to find that rhythm again and balance it with life.

  5. Good advice and true point. The Biggest Loser is not realistic at all for anyone to think they can be dropping weight like those people. They spend so much of the day working out, too! I love watching them lose the weight, but it is always sad to see how so many of them gain it back. They aren’t being given the tools they need to maintain the weight loss.

    • It is definitely fine if people are willing to do the research and plan out a healthy diet but only be inspired by the show, but there are people out there that think if they just put their mind to it, they can have the same astounding results. Then when first week weigh in rolls around and they don’t, they get discouraged. They may not stop right away but they won’t learn patterns that really stick, because the show is more about results than changing your life.

  6. I have issues with the show but also love the show. When i was weighing in at 260lbs i went to a doctor and she told me i was obese which was actually a shock to me! I asked her what i could do to lose the weight and was asked if i ever watched the biggest loser i replied no because at the time i had never seen it. She said go watch that and do what they do. Ok so i went home and looked it up on the internet. Now that i have lost 80 lbs in 2 years i have major issues with the fact that the doctor told me that. Firstly that she gave me the expectation that i should be losing that much and secondly she should have just told me to get moving and change my diet to non processed foods and more vegetables. I take the show with a grain of salt now and think how unrealistic most of the time. i have hit plateaus lasting months and didnt understand why they could get past them in a week. The thing is, none of these people lose the last 30-40 lbs on the ranch so they never show how to lose the most important weight which bothers me. when someone has over 100 lbs to lose the first 60-70 are easy. I think people need to be educated more in this country on health especially in school where school lunches frankly i would never touch and never let my child touch. it starts at a young age and that is the only thing this season that i am very impressed by is how they are going about teaching the children its about being active and not having sweets around you all the time. I wish i had that when i was a child. maybe this will spark something so less kids grow up like i did

    • Yeah your doctor definitely should not have prescribed you to watch the show because that is not a good basis to nutrition and developing a healthy relationship with food. =D I do love the show is motivating to people who can take the show at face value and not try to compare their own lives to it. Yes, you won’t die if you run a 5K if you have been properly trained for it. But if you are extremely overweight and push yourself too hard without trainers and doctors, you can severely hurt yourself.

      I would love a show that is more educational and realistic. People get awarded for each healthy change they make instead of how much weight they lose in a ridiculous short time.

  7. Amazing post! It is great that the show talks about the problem of obesity, but short-term results for the sake of the show ratings outweigh long-term health results for the participants. They are taught and coached how to shed weight quickly but they are not taught how to keep it off for life.

    • Yup, and they are teaching that to the world. Since the show started, obesity rates in America have still been increasing because I know some people who want to get inspired see how unrealistic it is for them and get discouraged. =/

  8. One of the contestants from a few years ago is my neighbor. She has kept the weight off, in fact losing a few more pounds since the end of the show. She has been an inspiration to me. Not because she was on the show and lost all the weight but because she put herself out there for the world to see and because she has maintained the healthy lofe style and kept active and kept the weight off.

    She is the exception sad to say. We all know how easy it is to slip back to bad habits and gain it back.

    I agree that the artificial environment of the TV show does not really give anything that can transfer to the real world for us.

    • That is soooo awesome that you know one of the contestants! And I am sure she is a huge inspiration! Have you asked her about her relationship with food? Or if she knows how other people from the show feel about food? I know some of the contestants come to fear food because they see that as the reason they are overweight without ever establishing the fact that food is fuel for your body and nothing more. =D

      • I have not had the opportunity to chat with her about how she approaches things or about the show. I see her come and go and she has stopped a time or two to compliment me on my weight loss.

        She now travels all over the country to give talks on weight loss, self improvement and so forth. She ha grown in to a lovely young woman. I remember buying Girl Scout cookies from her…..

  9. You definitely need to watch the show with the right perspective. I watch it because I enjoy the personal stories and journeys of the contestants and watching them do things that I wonder if I can do. The reason I started running was because I watched 400lb man on the show run a 5K without stopping to walk. At the time I couldn’t even run down the block without getting winded and I thought to myself, “If he can do it, so can you!” Signed up for my first 5K the next day, and now I have 4 half marathons under my belt!

    I am glad that you laid the reality out on the table for those that have been discouraged by the show. Everyone finds inspiration in their own way. This show is not for everyone. But I totally would LOVE to watch a weight loss show in which the contestants lived their normal lives and only dropped 1-2lbs a week. If you find one, let me know!

    • I am definitely not denying the motivation factor of the show! It does have that going for you. =D But it just doesn’t have the knowledge to give every American a decent basis on a long lasting weight loss plan. And a lot of 400lb people who watch the show and do get motivation lose steam fast because they don’t know how to work up to that 5K and are frankly too lazy to do the research.

  10. Those people worked super hard to lose all that weight, but something that disturbed me is how haggard some of their faces had gotten. It could just be normal aging but if you exercise too much it will produce inflammation and make you look more wrinkled. Again, I do applaud their efforts, but admit it part of losing weight is to look better, and you kinda do yourself a disservice looks-wise if you give yourself cardio face.

    • I definitely saw that in their faces too! Especially at the finale. They just did not seem that great. And I know some people have admitted to hardly eating anything leading up to that big day. =( It’s that money motivation. It drives people to be unhealthy on the other spectrum. It’s unhealthy to be overweight, but it is also unhealthy to withhold calories.

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