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The Biggest Loser


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Anyone else LOATHE this show and how it depicts weight loss? My God, I don't even know where to start. I'm currently (Australian series) watching a trainer bully a man who is vomiting for sitting down and collecting himself in the middle of a training session. Not to mention that it's a cruel thing to do to people- when they leave the show and no longer have time or opportunity to burn 20,000 calories a day, what happens then?

The worst thing, though, is that the contestants are encouraged to feel like garbage because of their weight... the conversations with their hosts and trainers goad them into admitting/claiming that they're worthless because they're overweight, that they'll never find/keep a partner or have healthy children or get/keep friends, job, etc, because of their weight. And they're then encouraged to put their entire self esteem on their ability to lose it. I want to lose weight- most of us here on the site do- but surely hating yourself is the wrong motivation for it. Seriously, I can't remember the last time a show has made me so angry. Those poor contestants. :(

EDIT: The vomiting contestant was told that if he lost his place in the Biggest Loser house he was never going to lose weight and was destined for an early grave. Not surprisingly, he burst into tears, was more or less forced to go over to the punching bag, and now looks like he's about to pass out.

EDIT AGAIN: And a female contestant is showing signs of an ED by going on uncontrollable binges. Why they're allowing her suffering to be aired as entertainment I don't know. She's currently having a crying meltdown of epic proportions because she gained 900g this week after said binging.

37 Replies (last)

I don't know about the Australian serious, but the American one doesn't do that, from what I have witnessed. I find it encouraging and life changing. The trainers dig deep to help find the causes of the weight loss to fix inner problems that are manifesting in their unhealthy lifestyles. They encourage and motivate, sometimes the are hard on them... but it always pays off in the long run.

They keep the weight off because they 'learn' how to eat healthy. I'm sure its much more difficult given they don't have the accountability and encouragement they do at the ranch - not to mention the time and 100% devotion to eating an exercising right. They get tools that last a lifetime for healthy choices.

Actually, many of the biggest losers in The us have gained their weight back. Not surprising when they are eating like 900 calls per day and exercising nonstop. They have to get dramatic results , but their methods damage the contestants metabolisms IMHO.
Original Post by libsterdc:

Actually, many of the biggest losers in The us have gained their weight back. Not surprising when they are eating like 900 calls per day and exercising nonstop. They have to get dramatic results , but their methods damage the contestants metabolisms IMHO.

They did some statistics and they actually manage to keep it off better than a random group of people who do it by themselves.

The idea of metabolism being permanently damaged is actually a myth. There are people who lived in North Korea, with very low calorie diets and even starvation, and by escaping to the south they do not become obese. They do have a period where they gain more weight than they want to, but if they adress their hunger cues they do not become even overweight.

Original Post by mrssummersmith:

I don't know about the Australian serious, but the American one doesn't do that, from what I have witnessed. I find it encouraging and life changing. The trainers dig deep to help find the causes of the weight loss to fix inner problems that are manifesting in their unhealthy lifestyles. They encourage and motivate, sometimes the are hard on them... but it always pays off in the long run.

They keep the weight off because they 'learn' how to eat healthy. I'm sure its much more difficult given they don't have the accountability and encouragement they do at the ranch - not to mention the time and 100% devotion to eating an exercising right. They get tools that last a lifetime for healthy choices.

I agree. The US show is very positive and the trainers try to build people's self esteem back up by finding out what there problem was in the first place, and then addressing it.

I watched 20 minutes once and I shut it off after I saw a 300 pound man crying because they switched his trainer.

If I want that crap, I'll watch lifetime......Cool

Lots of people watch it so there must be some appeal on some level. If Summer and OGR endorse it, it can't be all bad.

Biggest Loser (US) had been showing for a few years before I began watching, but once I did I became inspired:  I wanted to watch my weight melt away the way it did on TV.  Sadly, I was taken in by the less-than-healthy rate at which these people lost, so I grew frustrated & self-flagellating when I couldn't do the same.  I failed to consider that they are on a ranch 24/7, with trainers, a nutritionist, etc.

I still watch it and draw inspiration from the healthy parts, but it is a little extreme at times.  It is also becoming an experience in product placement:  Similar to Dr. Oz, it is verging on becoming an infomercial. 

Last week they had contestants from last year return & judge a cooking contest.  Too much was made of one contestant who used mayonnaise (!!!) in her dish.  It has become important to me not to think of foods as bad or off-limits.  The issue is in how I use them.  I can't remember the last time I used mayo, but when I use it again it will be counted as part of my daily calorie allotment.  I'm tired of chastizing myself for being human.  Food isn't the enemy.

murrill, very well put!

I liked a few seasons, and I disliked a few seasons. Anna Kournikova was a joke. The "drama" and the "cliques" are stupid (don't you just absolutely hate Conda?), the product placements are silly, especially since the trainers themselves don't want anything to do with Subway and so on.

But I love the changes these people undergo, their togetherness (like a few seasons back when they let one guy win the car, etc), how they become a new person physically and emotionally.

I agree that the mayo thing was silly. Especially when low-fat usually means more sugar and more sodium. Might as well call sugary candy low-fat and Butter Low-sugar when you're at it. (thanks Lou)

Original Post by murrill:


Last week they had contestants from last year return & judge a cooking contest.  Too much was made of one contestant who used mayonnaise (!!!) in her dish.  It has become important to me not to think of foods as bad or off-limits.  The issue is in how I use them.  I can't remember the last time I used mayo, but when I use it again it will be counted as part of my daily calorie allotment.  I'm tired of chastizing myself for being human.  Food isn't the enemy.

I know exactly what you are talking about. I was like "are you serious?" full fat mayonnaise and the guy doesn't even stand a chance? I was so frustrated with that.

My overall experience on the show however allowed me to look over it. but honestly, I was a super angry with this intolerance and realization that foods in moderation should not be chastised.

Not to mention there is absolutely nothing wrong with home-made (or home made grade) mayo. It is a perfectly healthy food, in reasonable amounts. You NEED 30% of your daily calories to come from fat. If you've ever tried to respect that you realise just how much fat you need. And 30% is rather a minimum.

But I can see why they overreacted. When you are a food addict, you think you kind of have to go waaay on the safe side so you don't slide back into your usual habits. I do hope they maintain this strictness only for the adjustment period, and they eventually eat a more normal diet, which includes healthy fats.

I will agree that it can possibly set us up to think we can loose at drastic rates. BUT I don't think its unhealthy to loose at the rates they do. Fist of all, those people are not small. They are usually even really tall. I think when you watch it you have to understand that they get an opportunity to focus entirely on weight-loss. It is a TV show and should not be expected to accomplish the same results in the same amount of time at home.

I know at first when i started my journey I wanted to same type of results. I quickly realized that I'm only 5'3 not 6" and not even close to the 250-350 lbs most of the contestants start at.

At first they loose large percentages, but towards the end the percentages come down around 1%... I base my weight loss less on 1-2 pounds a week and more on 1%. Everyone is a different height, bone structure - etc. I think the 1-2 pounds a week is bull crap for a 300 lb person.

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4744336_biggest- loser-diet-work.html

 

Their calculations (multiply weight by 7) are really bad, IMHO.  1,400 calories for a 200 pound person?  I weigh169 and my BMR is 1500 per day.  Meaning if I lie in bed all day and do nothing I burn 1500 calories.  They are forcing people to eat BELOW their BMR, and then they don't get to eat more to fuel their exercise.  Terribly unhealthy.  They end up burning off EVERYTHING they ate.  no wonder their weight loss slows down towards the end of the show.

Original Post by libsterdc:

Their calculations (multiply weight by 7) are really bad, IMHO.  1,400 calories for a 200 pound person?  I weigh169 and my BMR is 1500 per day.  Meaning if I lie in bed all day and do nothing I burn 1500 calories.  They are forcing people to eat BELOW their BMR, and then they don't get to eat more to fuel their exercise.  Terribly unhealthy.  They end up burning off EVERYTHING they ate.  no wonder their weight loss slows down towards the end of the show.

I just find it hard to believe that its more unhealthy than the risks of being overweight. That's just my opinion though. I am going to research eating below your BMR, I've been hearing that term a lot recently around here. Any good articles?

Original Post by kevinatthebrook:

I watched 20 minutes once and I shut it off after I saw a 300 pound man crying because they switched his trainer.

If I want that crap, I'll watch lifetime......Cool

Lots of people watch it so there must be some appeal on some level. If Summer and OGR endorse it, it can't be all bad.

For the little bit of TV that I watch, I am pretty good at just ignoring the parts that bug other people (the arguing and crying, mostly).  Watching a persons mental attitude change, for the better, over a couple of months can be pretty interesting, but you'd have to be following the show to get that aspect out of it. I watch a recorded version, so don't have to watch commercials, and can FF if need be.

 

Original Post by mrssummersmith:

Original Post by libsterdc:

Their calculations (multiply weight by 7) are really bad, IMHO.  1,400 calories for a 200 pound person?  I weigh169 and my BMR is 1500 per day.  Meaning if I lie in bed all day and do nothing I burn 1500 calories.  They are forcing people to eat BELOW their BMR, and then they don't get to eat more to fuel their exercise.  Terribly unhealthy.  They end up burning off EVERYTHING they ate.  no wonder their weight loss slows down towards the end of the show.

I just find it hard to believe that its more unhealthy than the risks of being overweight. That's just my opinion though. I am going to research eating below your BMR, I've been hearing that term a lot recently around here. Any good articles?

Here's a very good study showing basically that people who restricted less ended up with better metabolisms than those on a lower calorie diet:   

http://www.ajcn.org/content/57/2/127.full.pdf  "[the] results show that moderate restriction may offer a more desierable treatment for obese patients for a number of reasons."  It goes on to state that moderate restriction doesn't cause the body to go into as severe an "adaptive response" when it comes to the effect on the metabolism, allowing "obese patients to continue to lose weight over a longer period of time without reaching a plateau and also to allow for a relatively easier long-term maintenance of the reduced body weight."

 There's a comprehensive list here: http://www.apinchofhealth.com/resources/lowca rb/VLCD-Research.html

 

Original Post by mrssummersmith:

I don't know about the Australian serious, but the American one doesn't do that, from what I have witnessed. I find it encouraging and life changing.

???  The OP pretty much described the American series.

I just recently watched 11 seasons of it on netflix.   The incident with puking, happened several times on the US series.

A few of the contestants have done interviews after being on the show.  Here's one from Kai:

http://www.bodylovewellness.com/2010/06/09/ka i-hibbard-biggest-loser-finalist-part-1-of-3/

 

One of the most awful things is, viewers are lead to believe the contestants are weighed in once a week; every 7 days.  And people see them dropping 12+ pounds.   So, people watching the show would try this.  eeep.  Kai explained that "weeks" on the show were not 7 days.  Some were 14 days, some were 5.

Original Post by landislee:

Original Post by mrssummersmith:

I don't know about the Australian serious, but the American one doesn't do that, from what I have witnessed. I find it encouraging and life changing.

???  The OP pretty much described the American series.

I just recently watched 11 seasons of it on netflix.   The incident with puking, happened several times on the US series.

A few of the contestants have done interviews after being on the show.  Here's one from Kai:

http://www.bodylovewellness.com/2010/06/09/ka i-hibbard-biggest-loser-finalist-part-1-of-3/

 

One of the most awful things is, viewers are lead to believe the contestants are weighed in once a week; every 7 days.  And people see them dropping 12+ pounds.   So, people watching the show would try this.  eeep.  Kai explained that "weeks" on the show were not 7 days.  Some were 14 days, some were 5.

Wow, this is terrible!!!

Excuse the total ignorance, but isn't it really dangerous for really overweight people to cut calories down to what they should have been eating before they got fat (like 1500?) because their bodies cant function on the normal amount anymore? I thought that induced heart failure! Cause when they do normal activities it requires way more energy- it's like a 'normal' (sorry, you know what i mean) person walking down the street.. Carrying 150lbs of grocery shopping- lots more cals needed right?

How can a widespread tv show advocate life threatening methods of weight loss? It's like... Eastenders brand dropping dangerous diet pills into all the characters plot lines so they're all miraculously thin by the next episode cause they screwed what the bottle said and took them all in one go! D: how is that not against a law? :/

I'm carrying an extra almost 150lbs and I'm eating 1500-1700 and I haven't dropped dead yet. :P

I burn about 2200 cals a day. Overweight people don't burn that much more.

In the link I posted above, there were several studies describing the risks of very low calorie diets like those practiced by TBL.  You could argue that 1400 calories isn't THAT low, but if they're exercising 3 hours per day, then yes, it is that low when you factor in the exercise:

"Several case reports and small studies of patients receiving starvation diets have reported hypotension and sudden cardiac death." 

I'm surprised no one has died yet, but then again they medically screen the candidates and probably rule out those with heart conditions.

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