The Biggest Loser is the…. Smallest Winner

Do you watch The Biggest Loser?  

I don’t watch the show. Here’s why:

1) I don’t have much time to watch TV, so if I’m going to watch something, simply put, The Biggest Loser doesn’t make my short list.
2) The extreme weight loss methods employed make me twitchy.
3) I watched an episode during which the losers of a physical challenge were forced to eat unhealthy foods like donuts and chocolate fudge cake, which *infuriated me* and in my mind completely discredited any good they might otherwise do.

But trust me, I know enough about the show to have an opinion. 

And here’s the thing….  yes, it’s about weight loss, but first and foremost, IT’S A GAME.

It’s reality TV. And reality TV isn’t good unless it’s dramatic and out of the ordinary and shocking and pulls you, the viewer, onto an emotional roller coaster.

Therefore, from a health & wellness standpoint? The show gets a failing grade.
From a TV ratings standpoint? A+ all the way.

I happened to catch last night’s finale, only because my husband was channel surfing while I was working at my desk nearby, and when we noticed they were revealing this season’s winner, we tuned in. I haven’t watched a single moment of this season’s show until last night. I know nothing of the contestants’ experiences.

And by now you must know the interwebs are a’buzz about the winner, Rachel Frederickson of Los Angeles, who is a mere 24 years old, and who lost 59.62% of her body weight.

59.62 gahdamn percent of her body weight, people.

When the show started, she weighed 260 pounds. She lost a whopping 155 pounds, ending at 105.

105 lbs. I haven’t weighed 105 lbs since 1986.

And now? People everywhere are freaking-the-eff-OUT about it.
“She’s too skinny.”
“She lost too much weight!”
“She looks sickly.”
“She’s gaunt and unhealthy-looking.”

But here’s the thing….  THAT’S THE POINT. That’s the whole point of the show. To WIN. To lose the most, whatever it takes.

Those who beat themselves silly for a week and only lose a few pounds are in tears on that week’s episode, with their trainers shaking their heads, and other contestants acting supportive but probably secretly pleased as their opponents’ failure to lose staggering amounts of weight each week get them one step closer to winning.

It’s effed up.

So if you want to consider it from an entertainment viewpoint, that’s one thing. And don’t get me wrong, those people work their butts off – literally – week after week, and I admire the commitment, stamina, and blood sweat and tears put forth. But it’s not a realistic representation of healthy weight loss.

And it’s not meant to be.
It’s meant to get ratings.
Don’t be fooled.

In fact, contestants go to extremes beyond exercising upwards of 6 hours a day to win. They utilize steam rooms, rubber suits, and severe food *and water* restriction to drop as much weight as they can before weigh-ins, especially the final one.

Season One winner, Ryan Benson, described such extreme tactics on his myspace blog:

“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. It’s basically drinking lemonade made with water, lemon juice, 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.”

My bottom line: It’s your business what you watch, it’s not for me to judge who watches it, who goes on the show and for what reasons, and I’m not going to tell you what to think.

But my opinion? Take from it inspiration and motivation, but do not see it as education.

What do YOU think?

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