23 March 2010

The biggest loser...

OK, I admit it...I've really poo-poo'd "The Biggest Loser" for a long time.

But, then again, I generally poo-poo reality TV...

I'm generally not a fan of reality TV because I find so many of the shows to be down right mean-spirited (with one or two notable exceptions..."Project Runway" & "What Not to Wear") and I usually avoid them, but tonight I'm flipping through the channels and I land on TBL.

I'm not quite sure what makes me stay, but I get sucked in.

All of the contestants in tonight's episode have been sent home from "The Ranch" for a week to give them an opportunity to spend time with the families that they've been missing for two months. And also - of course- to see how they'll do back in Reality Land.

Will their old bad eating/self-destructive behaviors rear their ugly heads?

During their "vacations" the contestants are all expected to eat well and to exercise. The TBL producers also - of course- throw them The Curveball.

Isn't there just always a hidden curveball or a catch in these reality shows?


The Curveball = a challenge to race on stationary bicycles 26.2 miles with the winner taking home $10,000.

BUT - here's the catch - each contestant is also offered A Temptation...the opportunity to each eat mini-cupcakes (each cupcake has 100 calories) and with each cupcake eaten add 5 minutes to a competitor's race time thereby improving their own chances of winning (and, of course, also derailing their good eating habits for a day...)

Of the nine contestants, only 4 actually give in to The Temptation.

As someone who is currently attempting to lose a good amount of weight, I found the addition of The Temptation to be pretty mean-spirited on the part of the show's producers/directors.

(But who the hell am I to say what makes good TV?)

Still, it's quite impressive to note that more than half of the contestants opt to not give in. And of the four who give in - one woman when asked if the cupcakes are good replies, "No, they' re disgusting" and the other (three after eating between 6 and a dozen cupcakes) indicate that they feel ill.

While I am moderately offended by that part of the show, I do want to see these folks ride a marathon length bike race so I continue to watch.

Not one of the competitors drops out and the entire group give it their sweaty, eyes closed, teeth-gritting 157% effort. Many of them burst into tears at the end of the race. Thrilled to have finished with their friends and families cheering them on.

I have to admit that it's pretty inspiring.

The weight loss is also phenomenal...most of the men have lost up to and beyond 100 pounds in 10 weeks. Many of the women between 60 and 100 pounds in the same time period.

This weight loss is real. It's powerful stuff to watch. The weigh-ins are ultra dramatic with contestants fist pumping, whooping, grinning like crazy and sometimes shedding tears of joy at the weekly double-digit losses.

But I had to wonder as the show came to a close this evening:
  • Is it really healthy losing all that weight so quickly?
  • Will these people be able to maintain their weight loss when they head back to the reality of their lives and they're not working out 4 hours a day?
  • Will they, like so many other people who struggle with weight gain & loss simply gain back everything and then some once they no longer have the support of the trainers?
My current weight loss is 15 pounds - lost in about the same amount of time that most of these folks have shed their incredible 60-100 pounds. While a small part of me is experiencing just a bit of green-with-envy jealousy over those big weight loss numbers, the other part of me realizes that I'm probably doing weight loss in a way that is much more realistic, sustainable and healthy.

If I continue at my 1-2 pound per week loss I will likely lose somewhere in the 35-45 pound range by the end of this year. And I'll probably head into next year hoping to lose a bit more than that. As much as I would love to take it all off and get to that ever elusive goal weight/size quickly...I know that slow and steady wins the race.

I may check in on TBL again next week to see yet more marvelous and amazing weight loss. Who knows, maybe there will be a third reality TV show added to my list of must watch television...

But for now - off to bed with dreams of the treadmill dancing in my head. 5:30 a.m. is going to roll around awfully early.

Wish me luck.


  1. Weight lost so rapidly (6 to 10 pounds a WEEK!) is almost surely regained entirely. It's can also be unhealthy. I have a relative who had bariatric surgery, and it still took her at least 8-12 months to lose all the weight (about 130 pounds). And she ended up with a complication that left her deathly ill. Rapid weight loss is risky! Better to go your pace.

  2. I don't watch Biggest Loser because I don't like reality TV and this one seems particularly exploitive but no, the show is not safe: