I am a fan of the Biggest Loser. But, I wouldn’t consider myself your typical fan. I love it for many reasons while on the other hand it frustrates me for many reasons. At my highest weight I applied for the show twice. Once through the mail with a friend and then a second time during a casting call at the KSL Triad Center here in Salt Lake City.
The casting call was an interesting experience. I stood in line for nearly six hours with a friend and strangers waiting for a 2-3 minute group interview. Needless to say, I didn’t get further than the casting call. I did get a nifty KSL Weather calendar for my problems and a pep talk from Biggest Loser finalist Heather Hansen from season three. It was a fun little adventure to say the least.
I will be the first one to admit that Biggest Loser was one of the motivations that started to get me to lose weight. I started watching the show while in college and haven’t missed an episode during the past five or six years. I love the stories, I love the drama, I love the suspense, I love the motivation, I love the makeovers and of course I love the outcomes. It’s really good TV.
Therein lies the issue. It’s really good TV.
After finding the motivation, willpower and drive for my own transformation, I really started seeing the Biggest Loser in a different light. The first glaring difference between real life and the show was in weight-loss you don’t typically lose 15-20lbs. during a week, it’s much slower. You also don’t get to focus 24/7 on your fitness. Over time I also learned that you don’t need that either to be successful. You really just need the drive, knowledge and resources. Being on the Biggest Loser Ranch isn’t your only bet to weight-loss.
The one aspect about the show that I’ve really grown to love and appreciate more was the drama and issue each contestant seems to overcome each season. Whether it was self-confidence issues, abuse, an accident, a tragic death or … whatever … I love each story equally, because I learned in my own journey that it isn’t about the weight at all. It’s about becoming a better more stronger person through whatever has kept you back. That’s why I love seeing the sweat, tears and meltdowns. I’ve been there, I get that. Sure it’s a bit dramatized for TV, but really those moments are essential for growth.
But, I have more issues with the things you don’t see. I don’t feel like the show properly addresses food and the contestant’s relationship with it. In the early season they demonized foods like pizza, ice cream, candy, cake, etc. with “temptations.” You don’t see them much any more, but it always irked me because those foods have a time and place in any diet. Sure, you don’t want to eat them every day or every week for that matter, but there’s a reason why the 80/20 diet is effective.
There are many other things you won’t see the show address or show. Life on the ranch, from what I’ve read, is much different than what you see on TV. From the time the contestants get with the trainers to what their every day diet really is. I do have a problem with that, because for people not knowing where to begin on their own journey it gives them a false perception of reality. You don’t workout out all day long, you don’t lose 15-20lbs. a week and you don’t just eat Jennie-O turkey lettuce wraps. People tend to forget that this is a game show with a $250,000 prize at stake.
That’s why when Rachel Frederickson won the 15th season (15th! It’s been around for almost 10 years now! Wow!) of the Biggest Loser losing 155lbs. and weighing in at 105lbs. I wasn’t too shocked. I was shocked at how she did this over about a seven month period, but I couldn’t really blame her, because it’s a competition. That’s why it bugged me that social media was so negative and judgmental of her results. Sure, she was on the lower BMI scale, sure she was a bit intense with her workout routine (she even admitted that she probably went a bit too far) and sure she caused concern from nutritionists.
I don’t think Rachel realistically expects to maintain this certain weight and frame. She is an athlete and I have no doubt she’ll gain weight. Not necessarily fat, but muscle and bulk. And, whatever her next goals are, I hope she reaches them. I have no doubt that she’ll inspire many other people with the tenacity and strength she showed throughout the season. That’s what carried her throughout the show and to the results that she attained. You can really tell that she has gotten her life back and I couldn’t be happier for her.
But, I wouldn’t be pointing the finger at Rachel. I think the show needs to be scrutinized and evaluated if there is concern about what kind of message this is sending to overweight people, women and even younger girls. The show doesn’t give the whole picture and I don’t think it’s honest with itself. I feel like the show is stuck in a mold in how it tells the contestant’s stories. Sure, it’s less game showy with less negative people, but it’s essentially the same thing. You have your challenges, you have the scale, you have the tears and the corny in-show commercials. But, there’s more to their stories and I want to see that. I think America wants to see that as well?
I hope that the Biggest Loser takes the time to reevaluate the show after the public outcry to this past season. It’s not just Rachel’s results, but as I listed some above, America needs to see a fuller picture. It’s time.