The ‘shocking’ outcome of The Biggest Loser is not all that shocking

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Photo courtesy of NBC.

I will come right out and say it: I am not a fan of “The Biggest Loser.”  I have not watched the show in years, and the few times I have watched the show I’ve found it disturbing and upsetting. I hated the way the contestants were paraded out in their underwear to stand on huge scales.  I hated the way the trainers screamed in the contestants’ faces.  I hated the way exercise was recast as something approaching a medieval instrument of torture instead of something that can be enjoyable and even pleasurable.  I hated that someone could be reduced to tears for “only” losing four pounds in a week.  I hated the whole fucking thing.  So I don’t watch it.  I don’t enjoy watching people be humiliated for the sake of entertainment, even if – especially if – it’s under the guise of inspiration.  Inspiration is all around us. There’s no need to make people suffer unnecessarily to find it.

The unhealthy practices portrayed on the show have been discussed in-depth in a few places, so I’ll just link you here and here and here and here.  Basically, the show emphasizes weight loss to the exclusion of all else, contestants engage in some incredibly unhealthy practices to obtain the kinds of shocking weight loss that will keep them in the game, and the kind of weight loss they model – crash dieting and the like – is not only incredibly unhealthy, but it’s also not even an effective way to lose weight.  A reasonable expectation when trying to lose weight is to do so gradually, perhaps a half-pound, maybe a pound a week. Losing fifteen pounds a week may happen at first, but it’s not sustainable, especially if that weight loss comes about as a result of Master Cleanses, dehydration and workout sessions lasting four to six hours a day.

This is why I refuse to get on board with the #wowmuchinspiration wagon, because that shit is not inspirational.  It is DANGEROUS.  These are the tricks of eating disorders dressed up with dramatic music and lighting and turned into mass entertainment.

So the fact that The Biggest Loser has been promoting what basically amounts to glossy eating disorders for fifteen cycles now means I was completely unsurprised by the outcry surrounding the latest winner.  Rachel Fredericksen won the latest cycle when she lost 155 pounds.  Her starting weight was 260 pounds, she weighed in at 105 pounds.  That means she lost nearly 60% of her body weight.  And she did this over the span of a handful of months!

After the reveal last night, people took to social media – including The Biggest Loser’s Facebook page – to express their dismay and concern.  A lot of people are talking about how she looks anorexic, and I’ll admit that she’s quite thin. I try not to make judgments about health based on what someone’s body looks like, so I’m not going to go there.  But what I will say is that it is not surprising to see that this has finally happened.  Fredericksen took the game to its logical outcome.  She played the game and she played it hard, and in doing so, she laid bare the show’s messed-up, disordered premises for all the world to see.

Maybe it was easier to ignore when the final contestants were bigger, because we as a society have a hard time understanding that heavier people can and do have eating disorders.  Maybe everyone was okay with it because the implicit understanding surrounding a lot of weight loss talk in our society is that if you are fat, you should be willing to do whatever it takes to not be fat anymore.  You should be willing to cut out part of your stomach and have your fat sucked out of your body and take pills that turn into balloons in your stomach so you won’t eat as much and have patches sewed on your tongue so you can’t eat in the first place.  Maybe what it took was someone getting to a weight that made people think of Karen Carpenter to go, “Hey, wait a minute…”

I don’t think anyone should be shocked by this. Be saddened, sure, but don’t be shocked.  This was bound to happen.  I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.


248 responses to “The ‘shocking’ outcome of The Biggest Loser is not all that shocking

  1. Perfection. I have always felt the same way about the biggest loser. It doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle or sustainable practices that participants can bring home with them. Honestly, who has time to exercise four hours a day? I agree with you, we’ve got to start looking at weight loss from a different, healthier perspective.

  2. I despair. Honestly. I’ve never watched it but am shocked by your explanation. How does this get on tv? How does nobody think “hang on…” Anything promoting eating disorders seems not to be a concern in the face of the all consuming war on obesity. And as you say – this won’t even help with that. It seems people think “well, tes, eds are bad, but so is obesity and at least they’re skinny”. This has made me genuinely sad.

  3. Excellent post. I’ve never watched this show but have certainly heard about the controversies here and there.

  4. I watched it when visiting friends with a TV. Horrible show. Kicking people off a show for not losing enough weight? What the hell? And people wonder why Rachel’s so skinny? Just when someone trying to lose weight and get healthier needs support ’cause they’d plateaued or whatever, they get rid of them. What are people learning from this? Thank goodness I don’t have a TV anymore.

    • Actually the first few seasons they didn’t kick off who lost the least amount of weight. The contestants voted off who lost the most because they no longer needed to be there. The people that go on this show are at their last leg. If it works, even for a little while sometimes it is worth it.

      • I’m not going to judge the contestants, though If I was on my last leg weight-wise, seeking the help of a supportive doctor/nutritionist/therapist would be a better idea than applying to be on a reality show. I’ve been on my last leg in regards to mental illness, as in suicidal. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of the contestants of this show felt that way at times. One’s physical and emotional/mental health are of upmost importance. To choose a reality show over a team of trusted professionals who will help you deal with issues as serious as that, and help you find a long-term support system, well…to each his or her own.

  5. To me the program is about humiliation, hate and punishment of fat people sold in a way that the audience can pretend it is about health. I can’t watch it. It feels like watching a crime being committed and then clapping for the victims suffering!
    I do feel very badly for the backlash that this particular woman will have to live through.

    • Not only is the show built on the humiliation and abuse of the contestants, it’s enabled a new form of fat hate and abuse of fat people in everyday life, because people now believe that the dangerous and disordered behavior on the show is legitimate and attainable by any fat person and it just “proves” to them that anyone who’s still fat just isn’t trying hard enough. It reinforces already existing stereotypes about laziness and gives yet another avenue for attack. Thanks so much, NBC!

    • Your comment immediately made me think of “The Hunger Games.” We parade a bunch of people in a dome and then cheer on the torture. We, as an audience, are just adding to whatever underlying issues there may be by encouraging this. So sad!

  6. I’ve never been a fan of the show, and I think it appeared on my TV once during season 1 for about 5 minutes. The underwear, humiliation, and circus like atmosphere was a quick turn off. I wonder who watches this show? I’m willing to bet the main viewers are not health and fitness enthusiasts but instead people who need to feel better about themselves by seeing another human being in despair. Whether they’d admit or not is another story.
    Great post!

  7. oooh god, I’m so glad you wrote this. I happened to catch a few minutes of the finale and it disgusted me so much that I couldn’t watch it. The whole premise is just so fuc*ed up, And the thing that’s interesting to me is that in the early days of the show I used to love it. I saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. To me this shows that I’ve come a long way in my health education journey, but this perspective shift also makes me think that the vast majority of the general public probably sees nothing wrong with what they’re doing on the show, and this being the case the show is reinforcing these behaviors as positive behaviors for much of society. Can you say socially irresponsible??!
    Although I will respectfully disagree about your statement about dressed up eating disorders… disordered eating behaviors? Absolutely. These people are starving themselves. But to me the eating “disorder” is the mental component that goes along with the behavior. Someone can have an eating disorder and eat “normally” and someone can go through the act of starving themselves for the sake of winning whatever the prize pot is these days and not necessarily have a disorder. And yeah, the two are closely related because disordered behaviors often lead to disordered thinking. This clarification is probably just splitting hairs with terminology, but I felt it was an important clarification to make.
    Ok, getting to my point… what REALLY gets me angry is this idea, which seems to be endorsed everywhere, on the biggest loser, in fitness magazines, popular diet approaches, even by some well educated fitness professionals, that we should be eating 1200 calories a day. UM HELLO! THAT IS INSANE! THIS IS NOT OK! I think this very notion is a huge contributor to issues people have with their weight, and although I’m shooting from the hip here I think it’s safe to say that this notion can cause eating disorders. It did for me at least… for years I thought I was “supposed” to eat 2000 calories a day or less, so I tried to do that and all it did was lead me into an endless deprive binge cycle. I’m sure I’m not the only one. We NEED to stop starving ourselves. We need to stop spreading this misinformation. Sigh… EndRant.

    • I am so glad you made the point about disordered eating vs. eating disorders. I should know better than to conflate the two and I am happy that you made that point.

      The 1200-calorie-a-day nonsense makes me ragestroke, and I see it allllll the time. Sometimes the diet plan will be a little more generous and say you can eat 1400 calories. It’s madness!

      • 1200 calories a day would be insane if you eat more than that, however not everyone does. My doctor has put me on 1200 calories a day, but that is because I was only eating one meal a day and maybe a snack. I wasn’t starving myself, I just wasn’t hungry. Because I need to lose weight, for medical reasons, that was actually making it impossible for me to do it. I have to force myself to eat that many calories a day, broken up into 6 small meals/snacks a day, and I am slowly losing weight. I have spent most of my adult life not understanding how I could be as heavy as I am when I barely eat, not realizing that because I was barely eating, my body was storing everything. As I am reading about what happened on TBL, I remember a doctor telling me once that 50lbs a year was a realistic goal and even that is hard to do. I find 155lbs in a few months is unbelievable, if you were going about it the right way, impossible even. If you are doing the right thing (ie: dieting safely and exercising), there is no way you would lose that kind of weight in such a short time. This whole thing disgusts me. And it makes me sad for this woman because she will most likely put most (if not all) of that weight back on, unless she continues the “wrong” way, which will land her in the hospital eventually (if it doesn’t kill her). Awful message to send to our young people!!

      • I think that your situation is different because you were being instructed to do so by your doctor, who I imagine was monitoring your health to make sure everything was okay. I’m more talking about the regular fitness media – magazines and books and the like – that seem to have established 1200 as the magic number of calories for weight loss.

        I wish you luck in your efforts, and I hope you achieve your goals!

      • Thank you! I started at 252 and am down to 234. Not huge, but since I am limited in what exercise I can do, I am happy with it. My goal is 150-160, which is a safe weight for my height. I just keep on truckin, that’s all I can do! 🙂

    • While I’m totally for fitness and nutrition education and the promotion of healthy habits, which you clearly endorse, I can’t agree with your statement that that eating below 2000 calories isn’t okay. Your calorie consumption isn’t about the number. It’s about balancing the calories you burn with the calories you intake (or consuming less than you burn if trying to lose weight). While an adult shouldn’t dip below 1200 calories a day, 1200 calories happens to be my personal baseline. I’m 5’2″ and 105 lbs and my body simply doesn’t require as many calories as some people’s to function at the level I need it to. if I played sports everyday, I would probably need at least 1600 calories a day.

      TLDR: Everyone needs a different amount of calories based on their own body structure and daily physical activity levels.

      • I didn’t mean to imply that everyone should eat over 2000 calories a day. In fact, that is exactly the point, everyone is different and no prescribed number is going to be right for everyone. In fact, it will be wrong for almost everyone. The issue isn’t the calorie numbers, it’s that society promotes a deprivation diet as a go to for fat loss, and it’s really not the most effective way to lose fat. Deprivation diets lead to damaged metabolisms, which lead to even more difficulty losing fat.

        For you, 1200 calories a day might be perfectly healthy, but for someone else it might be a sign of a damaged metabolism due to chronic dieting or over training or something else. I am far from an expert on this topic, but Leigh Peele’s “Starve mode” is a great resource.

  8. I have always hated the Biggest Loser and the unrealistic message it sends to people trying to lose weight. Years ago when I was doing personal training, I lost count of the number of clients I would train who thought losing 10lbs was a normal thing. I had one client who watched the Biggest Loser and and thought her weight loss was going to be as rapid. She came into the studio in tears because she wasn’t losing enough weight fast enough and was frustrated that she hadn’t lost 20-30lbs in the first month of training. We had a long heart to heart talk about this and I had to explain to her that what she saw on TV was not realistic nor was it healthy. I explained to her that losing weight takes time but it can be done and it can be done in a healthy way. I also told her to stop obsessing over the numbers on the scale.

    In the end, she gave up because change wasn’t happening fast enough like it does on the Biggest Loser. It was a sad and frustrating day for me when she told me that. I suspect I’m not the only one out there who has had to have conversations with people like this because of this stupid show.

  9. The show is a great inspiration to all extremely over weight people. If these people remained at their morbid obese weight they’d just end up with DM and passing on and a needlessly young age of the most preventable Thing ever.

    • I’m not going to dispute the “it’s a great inspiration” statement, because that’s not quantifiable, but there has been A TON of research done that shows that this show is not helpful for weight loss efforts. It does not model sustainable weight loss habits, it doesn’t even work for the contestants (most of whom have gained back a lot of the weight), and as Lindsay commented above, it sets unrealistic expectations for people who are trying to lose weight.

      If you want to help people lose weight, then the best thing you can do for them is keep them far, far away from this show. This show is TOXIC.

      Seriously, do not defend this show to me because I am not having it. Not on my blog.

      • I do not have an opinion of the show as I don’t watch it but I’m extremely disappointed with your comment. It is YOUR opinion that the show is toxic. And yes, it is your blog, and you should be able to say whatever you like. However, to dismiss someone who has a different opinion from you is to stifle a healthy discussion and makes you an arrogant and narrow-minded person.

    • I don’t think it is inspiring, unless the extremely overweight people are able to leave there jobs and making working out and eating with trainers be there full time job for several months. They don’t even work when they are on the show. Must of us cannot devote our lives to losing weight, nor do we have the resources to do so. Let’s be inspired by true stories of realistic and healthy weight loss.

      • I agree. Even putting aside the health and fitness “advice” itself, very few people have these kind of privileges, and so any lessons learned cease to be relevant as soon as they leave the weight loss ranch.

    • I was an extremely overweight person. I did not/ do not find the show inspiring at all (though I like one of the yoga fitness videos from the show). It was a redo of every crash diet and exercise program I’d ever done, where I had attained significant results that I could not sustain in my daily life. Most morbidly obese people will tell you that dropping a large amount of weight is not the challenge- sustaining the weight loss is. The reality is that only 3% of morbidly obese people who lose dramatic amounts of weight through non-surgical means have sustained that loss at 5 years, and that even people with weight loss surgeries have only 65-85% sustained 5 year weight loss success. Obesity may be preventable, but it’s not easily preventable. It’s a complex mental and physical health problem that is not solved by simply reducing calories and increasing exercise for relatively short periods of time. The show sells the notion that the race is over when the weight is lost. No, the race begins when the weight is lost and it is a lifelong marathon that those of us who have struggled with morbid obesity have to run. I’m down 109 pounds from my highest weight, over 80 of that maintained for a 5 year period (I had to relose some of it). I’m stll not at my ideal weight, which has been adjusted downward by a recent doctor. I exercise an hour a day 6-7 days a week and have for years. I work with a trainer periodically. I had a weight loss surgery. I work with a nutritionist and a bariatric surgeon. I follow all the rules and I’m still about 50 pounds from goal, though we’ve got me moving back down again. Real life weight loss success is 1-2 pounds a week. It’s losing body fat while maintaining muscle. It focuses on ensuring potassium and iron levels are sufficient to run your body. In other words, it’s not dramatic enough for a tv show, but it is sustainable.

  10. This is why I really prefer to watch Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (now more commonly known as Extreme Weight Loss) with Chris Powell because he takes a year teaching and guiding them through good sustainable weight loss habits that completely change their lives for the better. He also gives them the necessary tools to not only keep off the weight, but also WANT to do so. His messages are encouraging and he helps the people work with some of the inner demons that led them into a certain body state in the first place.

    • I haven’t watched this show but the fact that the guy takes a year to work with the participants on sustainable habits already makes it head and shoulders above TBL.

    • I agree. My personal favorite episode was about a man who was so concerned with losing weight that he was starving himself and over-exercising. The guy discovered this and basically told him he wouldn’t allow him to continue if he kept starving himself. The man said he’d stop, but then he started it again later, and the guy was almost kicked off the show, did some serious talking to stay on, and after that (and talking to a doctor who checked his blood levels and everything to ensure he did do what he promised), he straightened up. He didn’t lose weight as fast, but he lost it in a healthier manner.

      • Jeez, how completely sensible and not at all whacked out. Maybe I should check this show out. It might rinse out the bad taste I have from my few exposures to TBL.

  11. Wow… I’m in total DISAGREEMENT with the entire article and all of the comments so far. These people are reclaiming their lives and overcoming their extremely unhealthy lifestyles which got them to the biggest loser in the first place. They are being taught proper nutrition and physical fitness and forming new healthy habits. They not only lose a lot of weight, but many times, they overcome the emotional baggage which played a major role in their starting weight to begin with. It’s pretty apparent to me that those of you who are commenting negatively haven’t watched much of this show because if you did, you’d praise the trainers for what they do, and you’d support the contestant’s that, win or lose the show, end up a winner in the end.

    • “These people are reclaiming their lives and overcoming their extremely unhealthy lifestyles which got them to the biggest loser in the first place. They are being taught proper nutrition and physical fitness and forming new healthy habits.”

      You have got to be kidding me. Working out four to six hours a day is proper physical fitness? Are you serious?

      You are aware that a large number of the contestants on this show gain the weight back, right?

      • Athletes can work out more than four to six hours a day. Is that improper fitness once your body is used to doing it? I don’t think so. What we don’t see on this show is the huge team of doctors, trainers, and other staff whose whole job it is to keep them safe and healthy. A whole lot of thought went into the safety of the weight loss. Perhaps you should read Dr. H’s thoughts before he went onto the show and how he came up with their plan for safe weight loss.

        Also, a large number of people not on TV regain weight that they lose. I lost 60 pounds on Weight Watchers, and gained back 50. Is WW unsafe?

      • Sure, elite athletes can work out that much. The rest of us? We’ve got jobs and families. And some of us have bodies that can’t accommodate that, which is not a bad thing. Four to six hours a day of exercise is not necessary to be healthy.

        And you also said that “once your body is used to doing it” – the point is that the contestants’ bodies are NOT used to doing it. But hey, great TV, amirite?

      • I am always conflicted when I read articles and blogs like this. I am an athlete. I have a full-time desk job and a family. My wife is not an athlete – she works out and eats right and also has a full-time job. We have each been the same weight since we became adults (“becoming an adult” is up for discussion according to her). I realized years ago that I get angry at unhealthy people because I know how awesome it is to be healthy. I can’t fathom why their health is not a priority? Don’t they want to do everything they can to see their sons and daughters grow up? To be self-sufficient as long as possible? I’m angry because I can’t do it for them. I read comments like the line above: “Must of us cannot devote our lives to losing weight”. But you can devote your life to gaining it? (and I’m not saying that thin always = healthy…but fat or obese definitely is not) Being healthy SHOULD be your life. Again, if your children are your life…then the best thing you can do is be there for them. I have had people tell me I inspire them. One of the comments above said that there are lots of places to find inspiration. We apparently are unfamiliar with the definition of the word. in order to be inspired you have to act. And based on the epidemic in this country, very few people are truly ‘inspired’. On the flip-side, as an athlete, there is no arguing that the tactics on the show are extreme…but it’s both a reality show and a contest. So, are we going to let this be our next excuse as to why we can’t become healthy? Because we now associate losing weight with being unhealthy? I got news: these contestants were doing 10 times the damage to their bodies as obese people than anything they did on this show. I was impressed with Tumi last night; she looked great with 54% of her body weight gone, and said that her secret at home was that she started running – not that she was starving herself. Let’s find the good and use that to ‘inspire’ us rather than finding the bad to defeat us. Everybody here seems to be experts on how to ‘do it the wrong way’ so I challenge you to show me how to ‘do it the right way’.

      • I would suggest that it’s not really a productive thing to get angry about the lives of other people, particularly when they fail to meet your standards. I also love to be healthy and active, but instead of getting angry and/or preachy about it, I just do my thing and I write this blog and if other people are inspired to act because of the things I do and write, then I let them know I’m there to support them and offer some resources. That’s it. Not only do I see no benefit in approaching this from a place of anger, I don’t really feel like it’s my place to do so. And yeah, I agree with your point that the word “inspiration” has been overused to the point of almost being meaningless. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (BTW you are quoting me.)

        Regarding your point about another commenter’s comment: you make a lot of assumptions about her life, particularly with the comment that she’s “devoting her life to gaining it.” I think that’s really unfair. No one owes us their health, you know? A person isn’t obligated to live their lives according to the way you or I think a life should be lived. And to frame difficulty losing weight – which is something a lot of people in this country struggle with, and it’s not because they don’t care or for lack of trying – as “devoting her life to gaining it”…I think that is a really unfair way to look at this.

      • Thanks for responding to my comment, Caitlin. My intent was not to point specifically at the person who said that ‘she’ doesn’t have time to spend her life losing weight. It was meant to be more of a generalization pointing to the vast number of people who do in fact spend their entire lives becoming unhealthy. It was a bit unfair but the sad reality is that we are also a society of people who ‘tiptoe’ around our problems. We will never solve them unless we face them and admit them. I’m no better. My mother is fat. There is no other way to say it…but I don’t say it. Not to her. I want to help her – and I nudge her every chance I get. We spare people’s feelings in spite of the greater good.

        As for my getting angry, well…if other people’s health did not affect me that would be easier but since it affects my health care costs, my comfort at concerts and on airplanes. Have you been to Disney World lately? My wife and I love to go. It is now nearly impossible to navigate the sea of ‘scooters’. Sure, a small handful of people truly need these – but the lion’s share do not. As a society, we are facilitating.

        One last thing I see some irony in is the statement you made back to me: “No one owes us their health, you know? A person isn’t obligated to live their lives according to the way you or I think a life should be lived.” And yet that was the basis of the entire post and the entire discussion. One person doing what it took to win a lot of money – something that she put a premium on. Oddly, many people here seem to be angry that a person is doing something so unhealthy (sound familiar?). Why is it that we didn’t see Jillian make a face or a comment the first time she saw Rachel? Why isn’t everyone angry at the way ALL the contestants looked when they got to the ranch? Where is the shock and outrage that someone is on 15 different medications and sleeping with a machine hooked up to them? It’s their body. they can do what they want with it. Unless that means getting really thin…

      • You know, I actually don’t like the “this affects my health costs” argument all that much. We all do a lot of things that put ourselves at risk of needing medical care. I mean, if we are going to go down this path, why are we not talking about the effect of cars and car-related accidents on health care costs? Or pollution? Or guns, for crying out loud. I feel like obesity gets a disproportionate amount of attention because people feel like it’s this simple problem that can be solved by berating individuals, when it’s not that simple.

        Again, I have found it to be far more effective to just live my life openly and with joy, and to be supportive of anyone who chooses to take steps toward embracing a more active, healthier lifestyle. I do not nudge anyone, not unless they’ve asked me to. And the thing is that I think my way of doing things actually works, because I know a ton of people who have told me that they’ve been inspired to take up some kind of physical activity through my example. There’s a way to motivate people positively and a way to do it negatively, and I’m finding through my own personal experience that positive motivation seems to work a hell of a lot better than shaming people and being a jerk about it.

        For what it’s worth, I tried to make it very clear throughout my post that I was not criticizing Fredericksen. I made it clear that I thought all she was doing was playing the game. My ire is saved entirely for the people who put on the show. You might be conflating me with what other people have said, but I want to make it very clear that my criticism of this situation is aimed entirely at the show’s producers.

      • I would love to respond to Body by Emmy down below, but I can’t….
        The difference is that athletes don’t typically restrict their calories like on TBL. They consume large amounts of high-quality food for energy. TBL is doing it specifically to create an energy deficit.
        Emmy, the fact that your profession is getting people fit but you don’t understand this simple basic distinction is worrying to say the least

      • Excellent point. I try to imagine trying to cut calories while training for my recent marathon and all I can imagine is what a disaster all of my training would have been.

    • I love your comments Michelle and a big fan of the show. As a researcher that has worked with obese participants, this show teaches the participants what they need to do to sustain the weight they have lost. They are monitored by a physician, followed by a nutritionist. They are not being starved. They are learning to eat the proper amount of calories to lose weight. It took them years to get to where they are. They have made a conscious decision to go on the show and lose weight. The negative comments are folks opinions and that’s how they feel. No one knows what’s its like to walk in someone’s shoes and carry the burden of all of this weight for years which will eventually harm them..If the show did not show results, it would be off the air. I do however feel that the winner of this season lost too much. The show will have to evaluate on how to proceed with caution.

    • i agree, Michelle. The people who are criticizing all said they don’t watch the show. Maybe if they did, they would learn that the contestants are not starved or dehydrated. They are taught by a nutritionist how to eat right, and to eat enough calories for the exercise they are doing. Of course it’s extreme, or it wouldn’t be on TV. Of course they gain (SOME) weight back because they are no longer in a controlled environment. These people signed up for this. What it teaches the couch potatoes who watch is that it is exercise and diet that will help you lose weight, not pills and fad diets. I have attended many of the finales, talked to past contestants, and no one is sorry they did it. Most still look great. Most have turned their lives around. I wish I had that kind of help.

    • Have you ever read the interview with Kai Hibbard about what they contestants are put through? There is no healthy anything there.

      If they were concerned about peoples’ health, they would teach them long-term sustainable methods. Exercising 4 to 6 hours a day is not sustainable for a regular person who isn’t a professional athlete and even pros don’t exercise that much in the off-season. It’s well-known that people don’t eat or drink much prior to the finale so they can show a bigger weight loss. That isn’t about health–it’s about money.

    • First off, they not losing their weight in a healthy way. While there are nutritionists and trainers there, the methods for extreme weight loss are drastically different and should not be attempted at all, but especially not if there are not professionals there. They do not learn long term good health practices. They are taught unhealthy, drastic weight loss practices. And because they are not taught long term healthy practices, most gain back the weight they loss if not more so, and all they have to show for it is additional wear and tear on their organs.

  12. “A reasonable expectation when trying to lose weight is to do so gradually, perhaps a half-pound, maybe a pound a week.” Ah! But that doesn’t make good television, now does it?

  13. Ya know what…..If the woman is happy that she lost ALOT of weight an is happy of her success, who are any of u to judge someone on how they choose to loose weight??? I watch the show and She worked her ASS OFF…and she was never yelled at…the couch she had was there to keep her moving an told her NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER BACK DOWN! For u all to say “I Never Watch It and to sit on here and judge this woman who let me tell ya is Very Happy of her Success on loosing the amount of weight she lost…..Shame on you!! Atleast she did something about her weight, some of you that are probably judging this woman are probably over weight ur self. We are not suppost to be cutting people down….we are suppost to be picking them back up. & this is what is wrong with the world today….& I know ya’ll are going to be jumping my ass for saying what I am saying…Guess what….I Don’t Care, cuz non of ya’ll know me & im living a Happy Life with my Man & my kids…and I use to be a Heavy Set Girl from a Size 12 an now Im in a Size 2 & I have 5 kids. So I want to tell Rachel: Way To Go Girl!!!!! So Proud Of YOU!!!!

    • Oh good lord. Did you even read my post? I don’t think you even did.

      And really, the “ur just jellus” card? Get the fuck out of here with that.

      • Caitlin. You are obviously not a real journalist nor do you seem to have cared at all about objectiveness while writing this. Every person that has the opposite opinion is berated by you. I personally love the show. I think it is motivating. I also echo a few of the comments already made by people in your comments section that morbid obesity would kill them much quicker than being thin. So many people drop their diabetes, etc just by losing the weight. It’s worth it.

      • Neil. My point – which I have made repeatedly throughout the comments and will not be making again – is that anyone who actually cares about helping people get healthy should be appalled by this show, because it portrays weight loss in ways that are unsustainable and realistic for the sake of entertaining the audience (aka you). And yes, I’m getting frustrated because I am dealing with the fandom hordes who a) did not read the post and b) think this show can do no wrong, and this is happening while I am actually supposed to be working.

        BTW I had no intention of being objective when writing this. I mean, come on. It’s a blog.

      • Then don’t resort to name calling and belittling when you are confronted with the opposite opinion of yours. Your follow up comments to most of the opposition seems to be childish. Hard to have any interest in your opinion when that happens.

      • Are you serious? This is very rich coming from a man whose first response to this is to bash me as a journalist, which is something that has NOTHING to do with my work on this blog.

        I’ll tell you what. You go set up a blog, and you write a post that draws a lot of controversy, and when someone who disagrees with you calls you a scumbag and a bitch and tells you that you are a jealous hater in a comment that betrays that they didn’t even read your post, you come back here and let me know how you handled that. Until then, I am not interested in your criticism or your lack of interest or whatever else it is you think I should care about, okay?

  14. They actually don’t promote starving yourself on the show – they are under really strict guidelines and do restrict calories/ track everything, but they aren’t going below minimum recommended guidelines. To give an idea that can be 1,200 min for ladies and 1,500 for men – depending on your height, that could well be your basal rate – it is for me.

    The bad parts typically happen when the contestants go home and then get the stress/ pressure of the game. I preferred their approach in the first year of the show – they did your weight loss in pounds change but also took into account your fat loss. So you couldn’t just lose muscle and be a skeleton and win – if you didn’t lose as much but where a rock then you’d have a great shot at winning too. I think that would help get it back on track.

    • Whether or not they promote starving yourself is debatable. Even if they say they don’t, they set up a culture that promotes it. Additionally, this show, much like society at large, absolutely fails to take into account that most people that are morbidly obese are not that way because of what they do, but because they got a crappy hand in the genetics department. Even more so, many of those who have battled obesity their entire lives have metabolic conditions that make sustained weight loss impossible. As a society, we need to stop the stereotype that all fat people are lazy and gluttonous.

  15. I can only hope that the next challenge for the biggest loser the trainers will have ground rules for each player what can be their safest weight lost and they will be disqualified for a dangerous weight lost. I believe in the biggest loser challenges. We all know overweight is dangerous to our health but so is being underweight.

  16. Reblogged this on Hope Prevails and commented:
    I hate The Biggest Loser and in my health journey I have come to realize that the show is not good inspiration for weight loss. :/

  17. I don’t think it is inspiring, unless the extremely overweight people are able to leave there jobs and making working out and eating with trainers be there full time job for several months. They don’t even work when they are on the show. Must of us cannot devote our lives to losing weight, nor do we have the resources to do so. Let’s be inspired by true stories of realistic and healthy weight loss.

  18. You’re an idiot. You lost me when I realized that you couldn’t write a blog with out cursing in the first paragraph. Shows me your lack of intelligence and your poor use of grammar. God gave us free will, its an amazing thing. If you don’t like something you simply walk away, stop watching it, or put it down. All this unnecessary mumbo jumbo is just that. Unnecessary! Who cares what you think. I surely don’t. If all that you describe motivates and helps them live healthier lives. Then I say right on! Do what you do! Your self righteous shenanigans are nothing short of boring! I shall exercise my “FREE WILL” , and dismiss your lunacy ramblings!

    • You must have missed the part where I said “I don’t watch the show,” but I suppose my use the f-word (*gasp! pearl clutch!*) just obliterated your delicate sensibilities, didn’t it? It’s a miracle you were able to compose yourself enough to scroll down and leave a comment for me so I can know just how much you don’t care about what I think.

      • I’m stealing “Lunacy Ramblings” as the title of my next post; followed by “Clutching All Of The Pearls.”

        Also, one true thing? Is that the uglier elements of popular and diet/fitness culture – such as TBL – have a way of infecting the culture even if we don’t, personally, expose ourselves to them. Like secondhand smoke, sort of, but disguised as harmless entertainment.

      • Agreed. We are not isolated in little bubbles where we can be insulated from the rest of the world just by keeping the TV off or closing our eyes. Attitudes and social mores are contagious, even when we think we’ve done a great job of sealing ourselves off.

      • If you don’t watch the show, then why do you have any expertise to comment on it in the first place? Ha. You’re such a joker.

      • I just heard Matt Stone say on this week’s Evil Sugar Radio podcast that when someone doesn’t like what he’s saying because he’s threatening their world view, they attack his swearing, his grammar, and accuse him of having the writing skills of a 4th grader. And there you go. 🙂

  19. Ah! I just finished a post on this that will be up on Friday 🙂 Love your take on it, and I have a lot of the same thoughts — I really find the show much more sad than inspirational, especially this time around (although I don’t watch it, I am familiar with some past winners). The nature of the show is just horrible, and I honestly can’t believe it’s been on the air for so long — and has such a loyal following!

  20. A) these people already have an addiction to food. Food addiction vs exercise addition? Which is better?

    B) It is medically supervised and they are on a strict nutritional food plan (not diet). They also learn what and when to eat.

    C). IT IS A REALITY SHOW. Like a train wreck or a car accident people won’t stop watching.

  21. I lost probably close to 60% of my weight after gastric bypass. I looked horrible and I had to deal with all kinds of dietary issues involving anemia, jacked up electrolytes, etc but I have agree. I don’t like watching this show because it literally gives me an anxiety attack. However, I am sure all of these people have seen biggest loser before and knew what they were signing on for. And lets hope that they are really and truly being monitored by real physicians like the disclaimer claims you will be (I thought about trying out for BL and while in line they hand you a packet to read and sign…I read it and stepped out of line and left).

  22. I bet she could compete. She was an athlete before the show. They do not starve themselves. They eat healthy. They only actually see the trainers an hour or two a day. They teach them sustainable practices. The idea is get the weight off to the point where working out is doable and then convert to a maintenance plan. Most people will never go from 400 to 150. 2 lbs at a time. Sure we can’t all go live on a ranch . And this is not a “handful of months”. It’s nine months. 72 lbs would be what is advised for the general public for that period (2lbs a week). The show is about losing weight. I am a generally healthy individual but my BMI is obese. I have ridden a 100 mile bike ride and run a half marathon and play soccer this way. So I’m relatively healthy but fat. Fat is not comfortable or fun and I will not ride the healthy train forever. I weigh 215 but it is a slippery slope to 400. So yes, do what it takes. Everyone’s knows we cannot live at a ranch. However, healthy eating (contrary to your belief that is not starving) and exercise are required. And they address the mental aspects of weight gain. Often a kick in the butt and reality check is what is needed. Have you ever participated in parenting? Competitive sports? Educating? A kick in the butt is often necessary. In your face doesn’t always work for everyone but they choose to be there. And are willing to do this particular “whatever it takes” There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. A lot of medical involvement, therapy etc. “whatever it takes” happens everyday in every capacity you can imagine and that’s ok and expected. But telling the truth about being overweight and doing whatever it takes to change that isn’t? I am a trainer and a nurse. I’d rather see this than what I see everyday. Rachel will adjust. My 400 lb patient will most likely be way more at risk.

    • I totally agree!! I am 5′ 4″ and weigh between 113 and 116 depending on the time of the month. I believe that people’s perception of now she looks now is blighted by the before-pics of her and her now-thin self standing side by side. She was huge!!….there is no other word to describe it…and now that she is thin, that before image of her just makes her look that much smaller.

  23. I have a couple of thoughts regarding the whole notion behind the show, but the one that sticks out of my mind the most is- who can check out of their life for that kind of time to lose weight? Don’t know about anyone else- but hoping I win the money so I can pay all the bills I wasn’t paying while hanging out at the ranch isn’t the greatest plan. No- you have to have a plan that can work no matter where you are and who you are with, otherwise, it will fail. Can someone pass me that popcorn?

  24. This isn’t healthy. She lost most of her muscle probably and may gain some or all of back. I know, I am an example. 11 years ago I joined Weight Watchers originally at 147 pounds. I made it to goal in less than 20 weeks. I got as low as 121 pounds at 5’5″. To make a long story short, I am now 186 pounds and trying to put on the brakes. I am about ready to try again, my goal is now 140 and lose it in a healthy way. And most importantly, learn how to maintain, something I failed at.

  25. This is very, very well put, thank you for being a voice of reason on this matter. I stopped watching that show years ago when I read and saw that after a few years or in some cases months after they leave the show, they gain back about 15 to 20 pounds.

    Good observation:
    “She played the game and she played it hard, and in doing so, she laid bare the show’s messed-up, disordered premises for all the world to see.”

  26. You are blasting a show that has had a lot of success helping people get healthy over ONE contestant that happen to take things to far (on her own btw). Biggest loser is an extreme weight loss show but they do NOT encourage crash dieting! If you would ever REALLY watch the show, you would know they are all about nutrition, healthy eating and having an active lifestyle. It is also a mental game too. Not only do these contestants go through the physical but the mental as well.

    I do agree that it is boot camp style but sometimes tough love is needed to get through to people. And they know what they are signing up for and can leave if they want. If you don’t like the show, fine! Don’t watch it! But just like the media, one bad thing happens in a long period of time and all the critics come out. Just my opinion.

    • This show is so much bigger than the handful of contestants on it. Is “Healthy Eating” going on a 3,500 calorie deficit per day for the sake of ratings?

      Is “Healthy Eating” using caffeine supplements and dehydration before weigh-ins for a grander spectacle for an audience of millions?

      Is “Healthy Weight Loss” exercising for 6 hours per day?

      Is “Healthy Weight Loss” going from doing no exercise to running a mile on a 400-pound frame?

      Perhaps these contestants are informed before the show of what it entails. But what about the audience? Are we given the warning beforehand that this is NOT what weight loss would look like for them?

      Is the audience told that exercise can be a joy, that movement is a natural part of the human condition that should add PLEASURE, not pain to our lives?

      Is the audience told that “only” losing 4 pounds a week is NOT a failure – that’s actually MORE than is recommended for sustainable weight loss?

      By the way, Bob Harper at least advocates crash dieting in his book, Jumpstart to Skinny.

      This show is absolutely crash dieting for the contestants on it. 3,500 calorie per day deficit is crash dieting, no question about it.

      This show is about more than the contestants. It’s about the messages being sent to the millions of people who watch it. What are they being taught and shown about what weight loss entails? Is it positive? Is it attainable? Is it realistic? I submit that it is not.

    • I agree. Another thing to consider is how tall Racheal is. She may be petite. She does seem thin, but next to her overweight self it really makes her look thin. The first time I saw this show, I thought they were mean by using “temptations”, but reality is that there are temptations everywhere. They discourage cutting calories very low. I have even heard trainers tell the contestants that they aren’t eating enough & help them find healthy snacks, find ways to make healthy food taste great & save time by planning meals & portioning up meals ahead of time. As for the trainers yelling, have you ever played sports? Been to a basketball game? Coaches yell. Sometimes that is what it takes to get a person’s attention. But they also hug the contestants, encourage them to face their fears, & cry with them. They develop relationships with the contestants. There have been a few contestants that took it too far & ones who regained the weight. Did it ever occur to anyone that some of these people don’t have real support at home, not just support in words, but in action. There is a difference. Sometimes family & friends say they will support you & then buy junk food or eat cheeseburgers in front of you. It is hard to stay string when surrounded with other people’s poor choices.

  27. I stopped watching The Biggest Loser several years ago. I hated the back stabbing, whether it was real or not. I was uncomfortable with the strenuous exercise demanded of people who had long been obese and sedentary. At least two people were taken to the hospital, and I’m surprised there weren’t more. I disliked the “contests” and the abbreviated clothing the overweight contestants were obligated to wear, a humiliation to them, certainly. I’ve always been repelled by “experts” who believe fat shaming is an effective way to get people to lose weight. If this were true, no one would be obese. They get plenty of negativity on the street, at school, at work, and in their families. The correct way involves plain common sense; proper nutrition, sustainable exercise, and the respect due to any other person.

    • Of course people would go to the hospital! They are overweight and could be dying. These people that go on the show have done so on their own and were by no means forced. Why I agree with your last sentence, if you had an out of control child and have done everything to help them be straight, would you send them to a bootcamp? And might I add probably against their will? Just sayin….

  28. This show was typically on the background while we were cleaning up after dinner and getting the baby to bed. We also had to run back into the living room to turn the channel when we realized they were going to start having a segment that included the wanky, self-obsessed trainers screaming in the contestants’ faces as though they were heading up teams of donkeys, or when one of the contestants, pushed to the point of a (largely physical) breakdown was having a come-to-mama epiphany about why they’d been hating themselves. It’s ALLLLLL for entertainment value, an overblown money-making machine, and it’s embarassing to watch people who are so desperate to fix themselves (or, in most cases, to be fixed… which, let’s face it, is what leaving your family/job/daily existence/the real world amounts to) subject themselves to such inhumane treatment in the name of crash weight-loss. Seriously, it’s like something out of a Ray Bradbury story. The worst part came recently when we had a touchy-feely segment highlighting how TBL partners with Box Tops for Education. Um, I -know- I am not the only person who freaked out over that- the makers of some of the most disgusting, processed, chemically non-food buying their way into public schools, thus ensuring that parents and their children continue their chemical dependence on junk foods, thus ensuring that shows like TBL never go outta style. So gross. I would argue that it’s only Free Will if you have all the facts about who has their hands in bringing you your nightly entertainment. Otherwise, you’re just being advertised to and tugged at by people who pay a lot of money to marketing departments and law firms to see what “inspires” you, aka keeps you “hooked.”

    A lot of us have weight to lose. Even the largest among us know it’s one foot in front of the other and being mindful about what you put in your mouth. Learn to do that with integrity, patiently, and while functioning in the Real World with real food and expectations so the habits can actually have a fighting chance at sticking even after you’ve reached your goals. Convenience and Now culture is what made us all fat in the first place. It’s likely not going to be the correct answer to the problem.

  29. Good luck to her. I hope things work out for her and all of the contestants, to put yourself through what they have takes courage for both the men and the women. I hope she manages to keep a healthy lifestyle and contiunues to reap the benefits of her hard work. I had to loose some weight myself in the last few years and its hard to make adjustments in your lifestyle sometimes its takes some thing big to make you wake up and take care of yourself. It likley that she’ll put on a little weight when she leaves as its hard to keep that intensity up, but if shes happy good luck to her. Everyones ideal weight is different so its an individual thing.

    I do think the undwear thing weigh in , on the biggest looser is degrading. There are better ways to demonstrate the progress they have made.

    I have two daughters and I’m trying to instill into them healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle , as a Dad I need to teach by example. I want my daughters to lead full and happy lives. My daughters do watch the show and have asked how do the people get so big. I tell them the truth , they didnt take care of the most fantastic thing you will ever own, your body.

  30. She almost looked anorexic and frail. When she tripped going up the stairs it made me wonder. I think she overdid it. probably starving herself to get that low to win the $ but will hopefully gain back her needed weight to be healthy. I hope while she was on this journey she learned how to eat nutritiously and how much exercise she needs to be part of her lifestyle. May she be a great example to others when she gets her weight back under control. Now she needs to gain weight to be healthy.

  31. I see nothing wrong with the show.. Realistically, people don’t thave the time or the the $$ to live on a ranch forever to learn about a healthier lifestyle, so yea working out hard and learning fast about healthier eating in a short amount of time is the way it is.
    Rachel had a mind set that she was in it for the $$ and for the win. She obviously didn’t learn anything more than going from one addictive behavior to another.. Her competitive spirit got the best of her, she’s not a winner in this case. Not to mention now she has to deal with all the social media crap that goes along with it.

  32. Your point is well taken and I agree with it, but your profanity in a place where you need to professional was unacceptable. It is not that I am above coloring the air blue once in a while, but never in a venue like this. You are an excellent writer and can make your point beautifully. You are educated and knowledgeable. Save the four letter words for the pool hall.

  33. Ummm…if the show is so bad then tell me how it has lasted so long. Why would any of the trainers endorse something that is unhealthy for the sake of ratings? They wouldn’t because their goal is to teach these people to obtain a healthy lifestyle. If it is sooo offending that they scream and yell those people into working the weight off then why haven’t ANY of the contestants ever said anything? About any of it? Because they’re happy to have their life back, some are coming off the borderline of diabetes, some have better control over it; some inspire their families to lose weight as well while away on the ranch. When you see the updates on people that have been voted off most have maintained their weight loss and continue to “fight” for the at home prize. None have ever looked sick or unhealthy and I am not saying that Rachel is either one but to bash the show because 1 contestant out of numerous seasons has caused an uproar because of the final number or look is ridiculous, to each their own, she lost the weight & won the show..get over it. I am obviously no health nut but at the same time I have watched this show season after season and I see no reason to believe that what they’re doing is wrong. Once the contestants go home it is in his/her hands.

    • The same reason people watch shows like Honey Boo Boo, Jersey Shore, and the Bachelor. It makes people feel better about themselves to see the humiliation of others.

  34. I will be one of the few people on here that are going to 100% disagree with your rant. Which is basically all this is! Very few people need to consume 2000 calories! That’s a general consensus made up by product companies so there’s a uniformed report on the back of each box when it comes to caloric intake and your daily value!!!!!! These people are changing their lives and they’re doing it becuase they WANT to. No one is forcing them to be on the show. They chose the lifestyle change. It may not be the healthies way to go about things, but yes….. they are changing their lives in a hurry then maintaining it! To say that this is parading them around in their underwear… I do this at my own gym as well as at my house. Who in the hell weighs themselves with clothes on? Come on!!! Do you?? And if you answer yes to that question, you KNOW you take off a few lbs for your clothes.

    Stop being so damn judgemental on these people who are actually trying to change themselves. 90% of our nation is overweight and obese. I commend these people to get into this show and CHANGE THEIR LIVES!!!!!! To show their children, grand children, etc that a healthy lifestyle is WONDERFUL! I have children and try and show them healthy eating habits all the time!!! Every chance I can. I am 5’9 and weigh 130 lbs. I chose this lifestyle becuase Idon’t want to die before my children get married or have kids of their own. I respectfully disagree with your appracoh to this and to be completely honest, I think it’s kind of rude that you’re making people who want to change their lives feel like it’s a bad thing!!!!

    • If you want to find an excuse… you’re going to find it. People just need to stop making excuses and stop being lazy. That’s all it is! There’s NO reason people can’t find 30 minutes three times a week to get MOVING!!!!! I’m just saying… I’m not saying everyone is fat and lazy. I’m just saying, everyone seems to find excuses about WHY they can’t lose weight!!! Some people have issues that they can’t, but most aren’t legit!!!! TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THE RIGHT WAY TO LIVE!!!!! Let them live long happy healthy lives!!!

      • Jes, If you had a drug addiction, would you be able to stop on your own? Maybe you could BUT not everyone is going to be able to beat an addiction without help. And face it, this is an addiction! But not everyone is strong like you sound you are. So, they look for help. If asking for help makes them weak, well then my friend I feel you aren’t a compassionate person.

    • Thank you! I thought I might be the only one to disagree with this. No matter what the approach these people chose THIS SHOW to make a lifestyle change and honestly I find it bad that we will only say a 105lb woman looks sick or unhealthy when he or she is not a celebrity but models/actresses walk around this way and we idolize them!

      • The winner is 105 pounds and 5’4″. That puts her BMI at 18 which a doctor would tell her is underweight and potentially dangerous. The Biggest Loser threatened to sue several of their past contestants when they spoke out about how they starved themselves frequently or forced themselves to throw up and were encouraged by producers to do so. The first winner went into kidney failure and was pissing blood in the days before the finale. Is that healthy too?

      • No, no doctor would tell her that she’s underweight and potentially in danger. I’ll put aside for a moment the fact that both “border areas” of the healthy zone on the BMI chart are generally ignored, and instead point out that the medical issues associated with being underweight don’t emerge unless someone is significantly underweight (think off the standard BMI chart.) Whereas the medical issues associated with being overweight begin emerging in the middle of the “overweight” zone and skyrocket in the “obese” zone.

        When someone is suffering from brittle bones, hair loss, fatigue or chronic bacterial infections, then it’s possible that their problems are being caused by being malnourished. Essentially what I’m saying, is that if you had to choose one “border zone” or another, you’d be better off, medically speaking, in the “underweight” zone.

  35. Pingback: Not-Reviews and Links « Blair MacGregor·

  36. Do you think people go on this show not knowing what their getting into? As a large person I know that sometimes you really need a huge kick in the butt and somebody to tell you its time to lose weight. Being overweight is not healthy, and its not normal. But it IS OK! I don’t judge based on weight. These people wait in line for hours to be on the show and they know what its going to be like. You’re supposed to feel bad for those that get kicked off but they always say the same thing. “This is not the end for me.”. I think the show has 2 goals, to help very heavy people to lose weight and to provide entertainment. That’s what youre watching TV for! saw a show for a hotdog eating contest you wouldn’t complain about their “promotion of an unhealthy life style.”. You would just watch and laugh! If you’ve never been big than I’m sorry but.your opinion is mute, you don’t understand. I think its great that this lady lost all the weight. She looks beautiful! She did before too! I need help losing weight too, and I’ll do it however the hell I want. And nobody had a right to tell me otherwise!

  37. I believe in getting healthy; fit; losing what nbrkngs you down. But the loss should be gradual. The process should be engaging and encouraging. I did watch a few episodes this season and I do think that she had the competitive gene from the start and wanted to win no matter what. She too will see as she grows. She’s young and she will reflect. I hope.

  38. If you want to see a weightloss show with more realistic targets that is also looking at both too heavy and too skinny people
    Check out the British Show Supersize vs Superskinny.
    I like the idea of how they work on this, losing weight in a realistic way, admittedly after a few days of confrontational ideas .. and looking at both undernourished, underweigh and overweight people.
    Though I do admit they could do more on exercising.

  39. First of all the contestants voluntarily submit themselves and agree to the terms set forth in the contract, also they learn healthy habits while there and how to integrate what they learn into their real lives, no normal ppl don’t work out 6 hours a day but that’s the show and weight loss is the game. I agree Rachel looked frail more than she appeared healthy,but no more or less than a size 0 model or celebrity. Only they can decide where they are comfortable. I currently weigh 230 lbs and want to get down to 120 lbs, I am 5′ 5″ and that is up to me, nobody else. If I don’t achieve that number, but am healthy and strong that will be good enough, I realize I’m not 22 anymore. I enjoy the show for the most part and wish everyone on it well.

  40. Totally agree–I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner. However, methinks NBC must have known there would be this backlash. Is it crazy to think that this was a calculated move? Did they, perhaps, give these contestants more time and/or less supervision so one could potentially get down to an underweight (BMI-wise) state, to drum up renewed interest in the show? It’s not positive interest, of course, but all publicity is good publicity in the eyes of some.

    Either way. Even the winning contestants who do not lose to this extreme still lose to an extreme. Sustainable, healthy weight loss takes time. Anti-Biggest-Loser, all the way.

    • I don’t think it’s crazy to think that at all. They are in the business of making money, and so any attention is good attention. It’s sick but it’s how things roll these days.

  41. I completely agree with your post. I stopped watching because not only is the weight-loss unrealistic and unhealthy but the product placement became unbearable.

    I think it is important to note that Rachel weighed 150 pounds at her last weigh-in before she went home. I don’t know how much time passed between then and last night. Frankly I can’t quite articulate why but it really troubles me that she lost 45 pounds.

    Perhaps it is the drastic nature of the loss. Perhaps it is because those 45 pounds are all “vanity pounds.” Maybe it is because it is bothersome to see someone rapidly swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m really not sure.

    I am sure that this has done nothing to make me interested in supporting the BL or watching the show again.

    • I did a bunch of reading and I don’t think anyone knows how much time passed, either. That’s one of the super sketch things about this show (and really, all “reality” Tv) – that time is compressed and stretched and edited and manipulated so that the viewer ultimately has no idea what actually happened, only the narrative the producers wished to convey. It’s why the only reality TV I ever watch anymore involves people using skills like makeup, fashion design, cooking, tattoos, etc. because while I might still be subject to manipulation, at least I’m getting to watch people who are awesome at something do those things.

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  43. The avid fans of this show will always defend it. I’m not entirely surprised by all the people praising her weightloss. Did she do whatever was needed to win some money? Duhh. This woman went in there knowing the game and played it well. She didn’t think or probably care that there are plenty of people out there who will take her as an inspiration, that will justify their sickness because they see it played out on tv. The same can be said of promoting an over weight person, but I haven’t seen a show yet give a load of cash to a person for gaining the most weight.
    People can praise her all they want or shame her all they want, I doubt that she cares because clearly she has shown she doesn’t. She’s laughing all the way to the bank, whatever impression she makes on some person or persons hardly matter to her.

    • I actually do feel kind of bad for her because I can’t imagine she expected her reveal to be greeted so poorly. I mean, yay for the money and all that, but it can’t be easy to be the subject of such public scrutiny. I wish nothing but the best for her, however that ends up manifesting itself.

    • Of course she did what it takes to win the money, that’s all the show is about. As a recovering person with eating disorders, I looked at her (my first time watching the show was that episode, will never watch it again), all I could say is “That’s not weight loss done right, that’s what I did for years!” I went from anorexic to binge eating, to bulimia and back to binge eating. I started a HEALTHY weight loss regiment that called for smaller portion sizes, and added more exercise, it took 6 months to lose 60 lbs but I’d rather take that time and do it right then go back to eating disorders to lose it quickly!

      • I don’t think she has a eating disorder, she just lost too much. Maybe she needs the money. She’ll gain some back I’m sure. Give her credit for what she did. Most of the others could still lose way more than what they did.

    • Wow do u really have nothing better to do than cut down people who have worked their tail end off to loose weight and get healthy?? This girl was such an inspiration to me and i am sure many other she did whatever it took to dominate!! Yes I agree she lost too much weight but this show is out their to inspire people not for people like you to cut it down! Yes clearly alot of people like myself have a full time job and family oh wait maybe i should say 50% of us work full time jobs and cant workout around the clock but it is helping people get their life back!! I can just picture what u look like probably overweight by 100 lbs and are to lazy to get your butt to the gym so u are jealous of these people who want a second chance at life and want their life back!! I am sure you watch professional sports and those athletes get tons of money for being talented really and your upset cause a person worked their butt off and turned their life around to get healthy!!! Go eat another doughnut!!!

      • Telling someone that “they’re just jealous” is a really fast way to show you have nothing of substance to say. Seriously, what is it with “you’re just jealous”? Go back to second grade with that bullshit.

  44. I don’t watch the show anymore, I find it infuriating. And yeah, I’ll come right out and say it, I’m a fatty mcfatterson. This show doesn’t piss me off because I’m lazy/jealous/embarrassed about my own self image- it pisses me off for the mere fact that people like me go out and try to immitate the process. They (I) starve themselves and do countless squats and before you know it, you (I) give up because it’s impossible. It’s unsustainable. And then you (I) end up feeling do incredibly hopeless and worthless and depressed because they can do it and I can’t.

    I stopped watching this shit because it’s bad for me. It’s not ok to base your self worth on what a television show is promoting that you can’t sustain!!

    Since August I’ve lost 65 lbs. Not too shabby and you know how I did it? Eating whole and healthy foods, reducing my intake, and exercising for 40 minutes 5 times a week. This is healthy. This is sustainable. Do I have a goal weight? Hell no. I’ll keep going for as long as my body will let me. Supposedly it takes 18 weeks to build a lasting routine… I’m well on my way.

    Be healthy. Good. But it’s completely counterproductive to kill yourself to be healthy…. (When you’re dead, that last celery stick doesn’t mean Jack.).

    Hey, one more thing- I loved the article and I hope people will see it for what it is- an attempt to bring awareness to healthfulness instead of promoting the ever popular shiny quick fix that our desperate need for instant gratification has trained and broken our society to be. The long path is nice… Too fast and you miss the journey.

    • Congratulations on the progress you’ve made toward achieving your goal! And I agree with you about the loveliness of the long path. Something I’ve come to learn in the process of becoming healthier and fitter is that all of the things I used to wrinkle my nose at – getting sweaty, running, eating vegetables – are now some of my greatest pleasures. I’m a big fan of enjoying the process and also allowing my tastes to evolve so I can experience and even enjoy new things.

  45. I was actually a volunteer with my running group at one of their races doing packet pick up. I’ve never watched the show, but they had a series of former contestants doing talks while I was handing out packets and it wasn’t completely terrible. The participant was talking about how healthy living was a lifestyle change, you commit to eating healthier food and exercising regularly so he wasn’t engaging in anything I would consider crazy talk.

    But the most interesting part, I found, were the participants. The 5k was filled with a lot of different body types, more so than the typical 5k I’ve been to, and it was also a lot more racially diverse. It was full of families who were doing this together and on top of that there were a lot of first timers who had never participated this kind of event before. I got the impression they were emboldened to participate because it was an atmosphere they felt comfortable in, a space where they felt welcome and that’s not easy for people who don’t fit the typical athletic body type mold.

    Again, I’ve never watched the show, but in this one instance I saw what appeared to be a very positive atmosphere.

    • You know, I’m really happy to hear that, so the show – or at least the people who do the races – get some props for that.

      I remember when Tara Costa did the Ironman in Kona and how impressed I was with her. I know she didn’t qualify and that she got in under the celebrity qualification, but still, she did really well on a very challenging course! Of course the irony is that the show sued her for gaining too much weight during the execution of her contractual post-show contractual obligations. I guess being capable of doing an Ironman isn’t fit enough for the show’s executives.

  46. I completely agree with what you have to say about the show. I am also so glad you didn’t enter into the whole debate about her body, and instead focused in on her practices and methods of achieving the weight loss. I think too many people focus on how someone looks rather than the deeper problem of the methods (shocking, I know).

    • Yeah, I didn’t want to be all “oh she’s so gross and scary!” I’m sure there are people out there who weigh 105 and stand 5’4″ and who are perfectly healthy. Plus, even if she’s not healthy, it’s not something I can tell just from looking at her. I do feel quite confident in saying, though, that TBL’s methods do way more harm than good.

  47. As an overweight person I have gone back and forth about The Biggest Loser in the past. I used to wish I could go on the show for a few months and lose massive amounts of weight. It is an incredibly frustrating process to take your time and lose weight the best way possible. It is not merely a physical process, it is emotional and spiritual as well. No one is saying to ship someone off to a farm for the next 30 years so they can lose 100+ lbs. Obviously that is just as unrealistic as the TBL program. Losing weight PERMANENTLY is a long process but it doesn’t (and definitely shouldn’t) become all you do or think about. The problem in the first place is an obsession with compulsively eating food. Programs like this may change your compulsion but the obsession remains with food.

    If it were easy to lose weight and keep it off it wouldn’t be such a problem in our country. We need healing not a band aid. I hope that people stop with these extreme shows because it is destroying these peoples chances and really recovering. I know they have nutritionists and trainers and are teaching people how to eat and exercize again. My question is, was that really the problem? In my opinion controlling what you eat and how you exercise barely scratches the surface of something much deeper. It’s time we realize that diets don’t solve anything, in fact they make it worse.

    • Thanks for your comment! I agree that diets don’t really seem to be the answer. I personally prefer to talk about these things in terms of a person’s habits (what kind of physical activity they do, what they eat), and leave questions of weight out of the conversation, as they ultimately seem to serve mostly as a distraction. I suspect that the fixation on weight happens because it’s so visible, and so people feel as though it serves as a good shorthand for health, unlike all of the other factors that go into a person’s health that may not be readily visible on first glance.

  48. Make friends with anyone that works on the show and you’ll get the full story of how many trips they wind up taking to the hospital for injuries, dehydration and other issues related to starving themselves. Rumor has it the guy who came in 3rd was in the hospital this weekend because he didn’t eat for 6 days. The guy who won the first season admitted to not eating and drinking for days before finale and going into kidney failure and pissing blood. Because, you know, it’s a game.

  49. Bravo!!!! Lovely post, you are so right in every way regarding this topic. Honestly, Jillian’s face when the winner appeared was really flooring…and telling. I’m not a fan of Jillian’s or anything but I do think the way she responded, if I’m interpreting it correctly, was on point.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I’m not sure if it was staged or not but her surprise seemed real to me. Someone else has commented that Fredericksen weighed 150 the last time she was on the show, so a drop of 45 pounds in a short period of time would probably be pretty shocking.

  50. I am not surprised at Rachael’s extreme weight loss. . Seriously, it is first and foremost a game! It is there for entertainment purposes. They get people to sign up for a chance to win $250,000.00!!! I mean really! What would you do for a “quarter of a million dollars”? Rachael has shown us what she would do. I am sure if we see her next season she will have gained a healthy weight. And my final thought, thankfully, the other contestants did not put their health at risk for the “final prize”. Should they stagger the total winnings for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd place finalists?

  51. I feel very qualified to reply o this blog. I am obese and I did watch this show but stopped this year after I began my own adventure. It always bothered me the way the trainers treated the contestants, especially Jillian. I and I could not believe that after a few weeks they actually sent people home after being the “loser” of not enough weight. Weight loss is very difficult. The show definitely did not motivate me in any way.
    Instead it was my own decision to seek medical care and find a good solid program. Thank goodness I did. I meet with nutritionists to develop healthy meal plans, I have exercises added ( 1 per week) at a pace I can handle. Now 40 pounds lighter ( over 7 months)I have started a walking program. Only 1/2 mile every other day but I know that will increase. I also feel I have the tools necessary to keep this weight off and live a healthy lifestyle. BTW: I am 64 years old and feel like I’m 40.
    I won’t watch this show again and I applaud your column you are spot on correct.

  52. I think that the show brings out why people gain so much as weight gain is often a symptom of deeper problems and the show forces the people to face and overcome them We do not see all what goes on at the place They teach them what to eat and how to cook them they are watched by a doctor who protects their condition Most of the people who went to the show maintain their weight loss

  53. Bless you, Caitlin. Loved your commentary, and love your aplomb at dealing with the influx of haterade. BTW… laughed my ass off at “not a real journalist”. 😉

  54. I agree that the winner is way too thin but let’s not forget, it was a contest to win $250k!!! I know that its a free country and you’re entitled to your opinion but I think some of your other comments, totally bashing the show, were in my opinion, completely out of line! The contestants on that show apply because many of them are living lives of utter despair, have serious and dangerous FAT levels that could cut their lives short! Which is better, to air on the side of a healthy weight or be morbidly obese?! These people have failed and failed with the so called 1 lb a week approach. People that size can get discouraged and between the exercise and diets that they help them with, for the first time in their lives they not only are able to lose weight but gain self esteem. You are entitled to your opinion and don’t have to watch the show but it has done more good than bad. I don’t like it either when the contestants are yelled at….but in all reality, these people would never exercise like that on their own. They whip them into shape…and some of them attain athlete status. Okay, thank you for hearing what I had to say! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go eat a donut! lol

    • Wait…so if I am entitled to my opinion, why are some of those opinions “out of line”? Because you disagree with them? I don’t think that’s very fair.

      You mention that people who are heavy get discouraged with the slow rate of progress, but why do you think that is? Is it because they’ve been told by the diet industry (including shows like this) that they should be losing ten pounds a week?

      I mention the slow-and-steady weight loss plan because it is the only one that ever seems to actually work for people in the long term, and if people struggle with that, it’s because weight loss is HARD. Our bodies don’t give up weight easily, and once that weight is on, it’s hard to get off. This is why, as I mentioned to a commenter above, I think people would be better off focusing on developing healthy habits of eating and exercising and focusing less on the scale. You can get healthy and still be heavy, and you can even get fitter, but if you are focused on the scale to the exclusion of all else, of course you are going to get discouraged. The paradigm is what’s wrong and it’s not working, so let’s change the way we look at this and stop making that number on the scale the be-all and end-all.

      • Caitlin,
        Thank you for your post. It is very true that the quick fixes do not work for sustained weight loss because there has been no behavioral modification. In order to lose weight and sustain that loss, different patterns must be established along with a a change of awareness as to *why* we are modifying in the first place. This is the very foundation of mindfulness; be aware of everything you are doing/ingesting and take accountability for it. That does not mean “never” doing or eating something, but looking at it to understand why it was important and then dissecting it to understand what aspect of ourselves needs more attention (physical, emotional, mental). Elimination/exclusion diets only lead to cravings that end up fueling the “yo-yo” rebound. If you want a cookie, eat a cookie, but eat it mindfully to really taste it with and throughout your body…and you may well find that a single cookie was very satisfying. For the record, I am a holistic personal trainer and yoga therapist and I have never watched an episode of this show, and that is my choice. Namaste!

    • “… but in all reality, these people would never exercise like that on their own.”

      “These people?” Really?

      Thanks for letting your prejudice air out on the line. 🙂

  55. My roommates in college used to watch this show and it gave me inspiration for about three days. “If they can do it so can I,” so I would diet and exercise and when I wasn’t losing 10+ lbs per week I would get frustrated and quit. I despise the stereotype that people with obesity are lazy or just don’t care. Trust me, I care a lot and I’m more active than 90% of my friends. For me, I just had unhealthy eating habits that I learned at a young age. Someone made a comment about people are just on their last leg and have no where else to turn. I disagree. I can honestly say I was on my last leg, as in I couldn’t walk to the back of a store without being in extreme pain from the stress on my back from my excessive weight. So I did what a responsible individual does, I contacted a dietian, which my health insurance pays for, and convinced my friends and colleagues to go to Zumba and water aerobics with me. Now I’m more educated on healthy eating habits and I’ve incorporated exercise naturally into my life in a fun and social way. Unfortunately, I still get disappointed when I lose 20lbs per month and not 20lbs per week, but I have to remind myself that I am not on TV and that I am being healthy.

  56. I think she looks good, and the only part of her that looks bony are her arms. Her legs and the rest of her look fine.

  57. I’ve never watched the Biggest Loser before. I’ve only seen the commercials but she looks really boney from this picture. I can’t believe it. It’s ridiculous!

  58. I didn’t make it through the article. When the writer shows no respect to readers by eliminating vulgarities from his/her piece, I tend to see the story as slanted and the writer as lacking a proper vocabulary.

  59. I didn’t make it through the article. When the writer shows no respect to readers by not eliminating vulgarities from his/her piece, I tend to see the story as slanted and the writer as lacking a proper vocabulary.

  60. In Rachel’s defense, I don’t think she gained 155 pounds only to be on the show and lose it again. She was fat and saw a chance to lose weight and make some money at it. She took that chance, she made the best of it. I’m fat and I know how hard it is to stay on a diet and lose weight so I am sure it was not easy for her. The way I see what happened was she lost a large amount of weight and felt good about it but wasn’t sure if it was enough to win because the other guys lost a lot as well. I think at the end before the finial she went all out to make sure she lost enough to win. And how can you blame her, she worked hard to get there, missed work/family/life just to get thin and try to win $250,000, once you’ve committed to that then you need to seal the deal. She won by 4% which is 15 pounds, so at 120 she would have tied. Her real problem is at 260 pounds she was too small to be on the show and win because the guys at 400 can lose 50% and still be above what most would consider a healthy weight. So to win she had to dip down into some low numbers. Now, everyone is assuming she is going to stay at this weight. I bet she is already 10 lbs heavier today. I think the real crime of the show would be that after the show they don’t stick around for these people and help them learn to keep the weight off. I would love to see a 15 season reunion and see how many stayed thin. If that number is greater than 10 people then the show is a success. IMHO.

  61. I can’t say I’m surprised either. ‘Reality’ TV and a reasonable, healthy view of life is never going to happen. People watch this stuff to see extreme things happen.

  62. I disagree. First of all, all the contestants are there on their own free will. Nobody is forcing them to be there. To say they’re being humiliated etc. is unfair. I’m sure everyone is free to leave if they feel a trainer is disrespectful. If you can’t find inspiration from the trainers being hard on the contestants, the contestants see the value.. That’s why they stay. Secondly, losing weight is hard, especially ‘gradually’. A program like this is an opportunity! To lose the weight under training and supervision. The program does have a disclaimer that all the work is medically supervised. A person on their own should probably not go that hardcore as that could be dangerous. At the end, biggest loser IS a show. There’s money to be won and people will play. As was seen, even to the point they look unhealthy. At the end of the day, it is their choice. I dont blame the program, for it promotes being healthy, not otherwise.

    • Can you let me know the name of your surveillance equipment representative? I’m pretty sure that even the NSA can’t authenticate what each fat and thin person is or is not stuffing their face with. You’re pretty impressive!

    • Wow, talk about being hateful. Not every person that is overweight got that way by stuffing their face. Some have medical reasons. Some, like me, got “fat” because we don’t eat enough. When we don’t eat enough, not only is it impossible to lose weight, we gain because our body stores everything. So technically, I got fat from UNDER eating. And you are an idiot.

      • That is definitely a real thing Amanda. When your body doesn’t get enough calories, it creates them out of thin air in order to store them in adipose tissue form. That’s why there were so many fat concentration camp survivors rescued at the end of WW2.

      • Actually, read this:

        And also talk to a lot of fitness models whose metabolisms crashed out on them after extended periods of restricting calories coupled with heavy volumes of cardio. They found themselves putting on a ton of weight, unable to take it off no matter what they did.

        Besides, what are you suggesting, that we should all strive to re-create the conditions of a concentration camp so no one ever gets fat? That’s pretty fucked up, dude.

      • Actually, read this:

        And also talk to anyone with a basic understand of biology, chemistry or physics. They’ve found that fat is an extremely efficient store of energy, and thus each pound of it represents a store of approximately 3,555 calories consumed in excess of the body’s maintenance requirements. By all means though, continue to assure people that a campfire will burn even hotter & brighter when you put less wood in it. I mean, it’s what they want to hear after all.

        I also see that you’re about as good at understanding analogies as you are biology, since I in no way suggested that people live the Auschwitz lifestyle. Instead I drew a pretty clear line of logic between starvation & weight loss. I’m fairly certain even you can see that, but chose to play dumb and twist it into a personal attack in an effort to score some easy emotional points.

      • Thanks for the link to the biology textbook. Very cute.

        I don’t think our points are incompatible. What I am saying, though, is that severe caloric deprivation has the effect of screwing with people’s metabolisms. I’m not trying to tell anyone what they want to hear. I’m just trying to promote a way of talking about weight loss that isn’t beating the 1200-calories-a-day drum into the ground and that is actually humane and realistic. Can we agree upon that? That encouraging people to enter a state of semi-starvation, while it might result in weight loss for people who have no other choices, is not an effective way for people to lose weight.

        And yeah, you’re right, my comment was a cheap shot, but so was yours.

      • What I think Jeff was saying is that what I said was a real thing, that you can become overweight by not eating enough. I don’t think he was implying that we should starve ourselves.

      • Absolutely Amanda. It follows the same basic paradigm we see elsewhere in life: The scores of people who grew rich from making too little money, the crops that become wildly bountiful during droughts and the companies that are enormously successful due to low sales.

      • First of all, my comment was not a cheap shot. It was a clear demonstration of the fallacious nature of Amanda’s claim. Take a look at the TV show Survivor Man, or talk to a few Ranger school graduates for a realistic viewpoint on the impact of undereating on the human body (hint: none of them gained weight.)

        I’m not advocating starvation, but I’m also not going to concede that 1200 calories a day is anywhere approaching starvation. I’m a tall, athletic male that usually consumes around 5,000 calories a day, but I’ve gone plenty of days on 1200 calories or fewer. In virtually all cases of obesity, the problem revolves around the individual’s unhealthy relationship with food (they eat compulsively, out of guilt, to fill holes in their lives, etc.) a dislike of discomfort (hunger, exercise,) and a lack of willpower\impulse control.

        While it may in fact be that the winner of “The Biggest Loser,” engaged in unhealthy practices (which no one can prove) in order to win the game, the vast majority of the anger directed her way really has nothing to do with that. Instead, it’s the same sort of jealous, crab basket mentality we saw directed towards Maria Kang. People don’t like seeing their excuses for failure dispelled in front of them. This couldn’t be more clear from the responses to this blog, many of which admit to failed attempts to emulate weight loss seen in others, followed by quickly quitting.

        If anything, “The Biggest Loser,” is proof that with the right motivation, anyone can lose enormous amounts of weight. For some people maybe that motivation is $250,000, or living to see their grandchildren. I spent a year trying to get a subordinate to lose weight through exercise multiple times a day and a reasonable diet. She was a single mother, who also supported her very sick mother. And despite all her hard work during the week, she’d come in Monday morning with tales of whiskey and fried chicken from the weekend. At the end of the year she was terminated because of her weight, leaving her sick mother without health insurance and her daughter without a source of income. She had been with the organization for 16 years. My point in relating this sad story is that some people simply can’t be motivated. They are fundamentally broken, and even when everything they care about in the world lies in jeopardy, they can’t self-discipline themselves into changing.

        But that’s not most people. Most people can change. However when you enable them with excuses and false flattery, you’re not really doing them any favors. How many people will read this blog and say, “Oh now I get it, it’s impossible\unhealthy,” and simply give up, as several responders have already admitted to? You might think me meanspirted and harsh, but the truth is that I care enough about peoples’ health to do more than coddle their feelings.

      • Actually, there is science behind the idea that not eating enough prevents weight loss, and causes minor weight gain in the form of fluid retention. Additionally, the vast majority of people with super morbid obesity, and in a BMI of greater than 50, have genetic metabolic conditions that make sustained weight loss impossible. Contrary to popular belief, that whole calories in, calories out idea is really flawed. Everyone’s resting metabolic rate is different, the way our bodies use energy varies individual to individual. The amount of insulin your body produces also effects how you store fat. This is why some people store mostly adipose fat, while others store mostly visceral fat. Trying to put everyone in the same box is one of the reasons we have most of the sociological issues we do.

      • Wow, and to think I was defending you. When I say “under eating” I am not referring to starvation. I’m not starving, I’m just not hungry. And you are talking out of your ass. When a person only eats one meal a day, their body stores it. Your body goes into what is called “starvation mode” because it knows you only eat that one thing a day, and it stores it. Now, try exercising with that. You won’t lose a pound, not one single pound. I am over weight, yet I have to FORCE myself to eat 1200 calories a day. I don’t eat junk food, I don’t sit on my ass and stuff my face all day. I don’t do fast food every day. I eat healthier than most people I know, I just don’t eat enough. Now that I am actually eating those 1200 calories a day, I am actually losing weight. People who assume that every overweight person got that way from overeating only make themselves look ridiculous. Just as every skinny person didn’t get that way by puking every time they eat, not every fat person is that way because they eat too much. People like you disgust me.

        Caitlin, I am sorry I tried to defend this ass to you, you were right.

      • Amanda, it sounds like you’re on a healthy diet. I wasn’t suggesting that people eat less than 1200 calories on a daily basis. However, you will, over time, lose tremendous amounts of weight if eating substantially less than your maintenance needs. “Starvation mode” isn’t a medical term. Your body needs calories to operate. They come from somewhere. I promise. Reference American WW2 starvation studies conducted here in the US, where doctors starved a group of men in order to determine the effects on their bodies, and to learn how to feed them again. This was done in an effort to be prepared for the liberation of the Nazi labor camps.

      • I don’t recall saying that starvation mode is a medical term, but since you brought that up, it is a term my doctor has used. Since you play at being smarter than the doctors I am seeing, I would like to call you out on something. You said that “you will, over time, lose tremendous amounts of weight if eating substantially less than your maintenance needs”. So I am not misunderstanding you, what you are saying is that if my body needs (and this is a hypothetical) 1200 calories a day, and I eat substantially less than that, that over time I will lose tremendous amount of weight? Assuming I understood that correctly, I guess I am the exception to that rule. Maybe you can explain why I have weighed exactly the same, give or take 5 pounds, for the last 11 years. The only time I have been limited in exercise is when I was immobile due to a broken leg, and recently. I have recently started eating more and exercising less and I am losing weight, 18 pounds in a few months. Not to say I am not exercising, just being careful with it. And not saying I am stuffing my face, just eating 1200 calories a day, whereas I was eating much less than that. There is absolutely nothing you can say to convince me that by only eating one a day and exercising, that I will lose “tremendous amounts of weight”, given I haven’t in the last 11 years. Nor have I gained any weight. If I continue living based on what you just said, I will be the weight I am now for the rest of my life, and that is unacceptable. My original response to the main post was to say that not all overweight people are overweight because they stuff their face, I am living proof of that. Instead of agreeing that all fat people don’t fit in the same box, you had to be a sarcastic ass and I won’t be wasting any more of my time with the bullshit you are trying to push.

    • “But..but..but science!” I realize science may seem like a mysterious Excalibur-esque super weapon wielded by those galant demi-gods known as STEM majors, but just using the word doesn’t make you right.

      Please explain to me how “not eating enough prevents weight loss.” I feel like I’ve pretty thoroughly covered the fact that this is the exact opposite of the truth in my previous posts. Yes, low calorie diets and intense exercise do lead to minor weight gain (up to several pounds) in the form of retained water. But hang on to your socks, I’m about to do some “science.” Low calorie diets & intense exercise are stressful on your body, depleting the sugar in your blood that your body relies on for cell glycolysis. In response your adrenal gland releases cortisol, which serves to create glucose from amino acids, lactate and similar compounds in the blood, while also helping metabolize stored fats and proteins. Since cortisol also acts as an antidiuretic, this simultaneously causes water retention. But rejoice! Because due to your body’s amazing ability to adapt one of two things will happen: 1) You will become accustomed to the level of exercise that you’re engaging in, reducing cortisol production commensurately with your body’s perceived stress level 2) You will, for whatever reason, have a less stressful time period in which cortisol levels drop and you have to urinate frequently despite average or below average levels of fluid consumption. That’s right, that water weight won’t be around forever. Only those with weak wills are discouraged by a week’s plateau in weight loss.

      Now on to your claim that “the vast majority of people with super morbid obesity, and in a BMI of greater than 50, have genetic metabolic conditions that make sustained weight loss impossible.” First off, if anyone believes this at face value, you have been brainwashed by the fat acceptance crowd. Geneticists have, to date, identified 12 loci that, if mutated, may result in weight gain due to missing pieces of the body’s metabolic machinery. The odds of a human being having even one of those mutated genes? Less than 5%. The BMI gain explained by each mutated loci present in an individual? Less than 1%. The percentage of the American population that is overweight? 69% Obese? 35.9%. “Super morbidly obese?” 5%.
      So to claim that the genes made you do it is specious at best. Every study ever conducted on the issue has come to roughly the same conclusion (though older studies attributed up to 5% of BMI increases to genetic predisposition.) But people unfamiliar with science or statistics read what they want to read and find excuses that don’t exist.

      As far as arguing “calories in, calories out,” I refer you to the law of conservation of mass, and remind you that energy has a mass. While each person has a different “maintenance” caloric intake, the ways that we metabolize food is by and large the same. The way our cells, tissues & muscles use energy are by and large the same.

      Your claim that insulin affects how you store fat is flat out wrong. It’s an outdated belief. Insulin is no longer looked at as a “fat storage hormone.” The only significant “fat storage hormone” is leptin (which, by the way, is involved in about half of the known genetic predispositions to obesity.) But there is a relationship between insulin and visceral fat: Visceral fat has, in the past 5 years, been increasingly linked to insulin resistance (and hopefully you know what that leads to.)

      I put everyone in the same box because we’re all the same species. We operate almost identically, from person to person, barring rare, small genetic differences. We didn’t have an obesity epidemic until the relatively recent future, which on it’s face makes any genetic arguments seem silly when addressing such widespread obesity. What we have is 1) Cheap, plentiful carbohydrates 2) Sedentary lifestyles with non-physical jobs 3) The attitude that tells everyone that they’re a super-special snowflake and that whatever they want to do is absolutely ok and the right thing to do, and anything negative that results from those actions isn’t their fault. This last one is the most devastating, as can be be observed by the fact that there are still fit, healthy people out there, triumphing over genetics, fast food & 9-5 desk jobs; it’s in their attitude. They don’t listen to people who tell them “they’re fine how they are,” and they don’t do it because it’s easy, or even because it’s fun. They do it because it makes them a stronger person through mental perseverance and physical hardship.

      I’ll leave you with a taste of the attitude that we, as a nation, used to have: “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” -JFK

      • Okay, dude, we get it. We are no match for your amazing intellect. No one else here knows as much as you. We are terrified of science, our dim little non-STEM brains overwhelmed by “facts” and “logic.” Point taken.

        You are free to continue to post walls of text in the comment section, but this will be my last response to you.

      • This is the internet equivalent of putting your fingers your ears and shouting to drown out what you don’t want to hear. Bonus points for putting quotes around the words facts and logic, as if they have transient meanings.

        I took the time to fairly thoroughly explain everything I said down to a reasonable level so that perhaps some people here wouldn’t abandon their quests to better themselves. If you diet and exercise, your body will respond in time. It’s not hopeless. It’s not impossible. Your genetics aren’t stopping you.

        Referring back to JFK’s moon speech, I’d remind you that 3 men burned to death in the Apollo 1 disaster, the first of the lunar landing programs. And yet time and again, more brave men climbed into similar capsules atop huge rockets and dared to try in the hopes of doing something that some people thought was impossible. They did it because it was hard. And there is a nobility, and sense of accomplishment in meeting a difficult challenge that will never be found in food, or placating expressions of acceptance from those who would prefer you not better yourself.

      • The only person brain washed is you. You are the one with outdated science. Show me anything legitimate from the last 5 years that says insulin plays no role in fat storage. Additionally you say that we are all the same yet you can’t explain why some people have higher levels of visceral fat while others store it as adipose. You are a fucking moron who probably buys into the whole conventional idea of nutrition. Ancel Keys fudged research throughout the Seven Countries Study to prove his hypothesis that saturated fat is bad for us. Our entire American diet is based on his studies. Ironically, since adopting his theories obesity and obesity related conditions have soared. And as to your genetic assumptions, there is a genetic condition that affects at least 10% of all women, potentially more as it is suspected that many cases go undiagnosed. It’s called polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is a metabolic condition that causes obesity, along with a slew of other health conditions. These women can NOT lose weight with conventional methods. So please go try and sell your shit elsewhere. The fact is, you are just a fat hater

      • I’d encourage you to read some of the published works of Dr. Stephan Guyenet, a leading obesity researcher at the University of Washington. If you don’t have access to medical and scientific journals, you could check out his blog, or simply google the phrase “insulin fat storage” and start reading.

        But to save you the time, I’ll just reiterate my earlier statements: The most significant fat storage hormone is leptin. A large amount of visceral fat causes insulin resistance (which for years caused scientists to mistakenly believe that high insulin levels = high fat; correlation does not equal causation.)

        Visceral fat (from the word viscera, referring to the soft internal organs of the abdominal and thoracic cavities) is a type of adipose tissue. It’s typically called belly fat, and as I said before, has a causal relationship with insulin resistance. I’m not sure what you mean when you imply that visceral fat is not adipose tissue.

        I’m also not confident in your assertion that I’m a fucking moron. So far I seem to have the modern, relevant science to back up all of my assertions, without resorting to name calling or ignoring anyone.

        Those who are interested in nutrition (and cellular microbiologists before them) realized some years ago that consuming fat does not make you fat. I’ve known people on high fat, high protein, low carb diets for at least a decade. I’m not sure why you’re accusing me of buying into “the whole conventional idea of nutrition,” when I’ve actually said very little about nutrition, aside from supporting the simple calories in, calories out notion.

        I can attempt to address your concerns about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but I’m not an endocrinologist. (Perhaps you are?) It is not decisively linked to genetics at this point. There does seem to be a hereditary linkage, but there are also many cases in which individuals are the only one in their blood line to be diagnosed with the disease. That could, of course, be a result of undiagnosed conditions, but until it’s associated with a particular loci in the human genome, it’s etiology will remain murky. So, that was basically a whole lot of what we don’t know. What we do know: All symptoms of the disease seem to be exacerbated in severity and frequency by obesity. It’s also linked with our old friend (from a couple paragraphs ago) insulin resistance! If you recall, it was the obesity which caused the insulin resistance, not the other way around. If you’ll reference this article:
        You’ll see that obesity is very likely pathenogenic to PCOS. That is to say, obesity contributes to or causes PCOS, not the other way around. And very interestingly, it does so by building insulin resistance. This results in high levels of insulin in the female reproductive organs, which causes the hyperandrogenism which is believed the lead to the formation of cysts and the resultant PCOS. What an interesting coincidence that this disease you brought up actually circled back around to the false claim made by Amy B that high insulin levels caused fat formation. I actually learned something new today, so thanks for sending me headlong into a pile of medical journals. It was a constructive use of a snowy day.

        I can imagine it’s heartbreaking for obese women to find themselves infertile. Their desire to blame genetics, or anything but themselves is likely the cause behind so many non-scientific websites claiming that PCOS causes obesity, instead of the inverse.

  63. I totally agree …I think that their methods are dangerous and definitely not a sustainable life style. Loosing the weight is good, But why not show Americans the right way.( I guess because theres no money in it) . I Believe in a sound exercise regimen and a primarily plant based diet. Shows like The Biggest Looser only presents a life style that is not a reality for the average person. So it sets one up to fail when they find they can’t achieve results such as the ones seen .

    • You hit it on the head – there isn’t a lot of money in encouraging people to try to eat whole foods and to move a little bit. There’s no room for an industry to grow around it, not the way it can when you promote books and pills and special bread and granola bars.

  64. LThere is losing weight and then there is too much weight loss,,she looks sickly and to get this way to win that big money,,,really ,,is it worth it,,,biggest loser i hope learned a lesson and puts new rules to have contestants monitored at home to finish up the show and on to win,,,I sure hope she can beat this issue and put a few pounds on now that she has all that money,,,,,


  66. I don’t typically get sucked into reality shows, but I must admit that as much as this one irritates me for a multitude of reasons (many noted in this piece), I am kind of addicted to it. Rachel seems to be the most extreme example (at least by appearance) of what all of the major contenders for the 250k prize over the years have gone through. When there’s that kind of prize at stake, unhealthy behaviors are a given, and I can’t think of anything other than scrapping the whole concept that can be done to keep that from happening while making the contest fair to all participants.

    Does Rachel appear to be underweight? Yes. Does that mean she will maintain the same habits that got her there? I doubt it. I don’t think for a second that the other two finalists did anything different than she did to earn a chance at that prize, and the simple fact that they had more room to spare at the bottom of their target weight range doesn’t automatically make their process more or less healthy than hers, yet she’s the target.

    I don’t like fat shaming or skinny shaming, and this show has generated plenty of both over the years. But it’s bread and circuses, and like any media we consume, we need to take it with a grain of salt.

    • Agreed. Skepticism is critical when dealing with something like this. I mean, feel your feelings about the show, but also be aware of how the show works to manipulate people’s feelings, and don’t be so swept up in your emotions about the show that you completely suspend all rational thought!

  67. Lots of people may not like this post but I actually like the show—it gives people who would have never been able to do an immersion to lose weight the opportunity to do so. Is it perfect? No—what is? Most of the biggest loser contestants do keep their weight off though. Just take the good from it and disregard what doesn’t work for you ignore. It motivates some people that watch as well. And they aren’t doing the master cleanse—they do eat

    • I actually got the part about the Master Cleanse from an article that referenced the contestants on the show, which said that some of them have used it as a means to lose weight quickly. I didn’t pull it out of nowhere. (The referenced link is in the post.)

  68. I never really watched the show, I may have seen an episode from the first season, probably not even a whole episode. What I don’t get is how are Bob and Jillian surprised, or anyone who watches the show. Don’t they get weighed Every week? Did she lose a ridiculous amount in the last week making it so shocking?

    • My understanding is that she lost 45 pounds between the end of the semifinal rounds and the reveal, so they probably weren’t expecting her to look as thin as she did. I don’t know how much time elapsed between the end of the semifinals and the reveal, though.

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  70. First she is bashed by America because she is “fat” now she is being bashed by raging feminists because she is too skinny…….Give the girl a break! Good for her. By saying that she is anorexic, you are doing exactly what you don’t want society to do to you by setting social created ideals of what a women’s body should look like.

    • Hi, did you even read the post? Specifically the part where I said I wasn’t going to add on to the criticism of her body? And the part where I said I don’t judge people’s health based on what they look like?

      If you are going to take the time to talk about how she is “being bashed by raging feminists because she is too skinny,” at least do us all the favor of making sure you are actually commenting on a blog where someone has done that.

      Reading comprehension – it is your friend.

  71. I’ve never watched the show. The commercials and hype were enough to concern me. As a trainer, I have always hated the “in your face” style of the trainers on the show. I am not surprised by any of this. What did anyone expect? The goal is to lose as much weight as possible in an extremely short period of time. Duh, that is going to lead to problems. The only shocker is that it hasn’t happened earlier.

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  73. I read the article….this girl is not too thin and if you listen to what the coaches tell the contestants, they are supposed to eat multiple healthy meals. When you have a lot of weight to lose you can lose multiple pounds in a week, which would be completely unrealistic for people like me being a healthy body weight. They are on a show, so they are competitive, it wouldn’t be surprising if some of them crash dieted, though this is not allowed or encouraged. They get a huge payout if they win and there will always be people who see the glory of first place and a large sum of money twinkling before their eyes as more important than temporarily thinking of their health and possible ill side effects. And what kind of pretentious bitch wrote this article?!? Watching fat people struggle when exercising is not embarrassing! Its that mentality in the first place that keep obese and out of shape people for entering a gym. Everyone starts somewhere and if you think someone else struggling at first is embarrassing i think you should take a long hard look at yourself. You’re a scumbag. At least these people have the balls to struggle and not only that, but to struggle in front of millions of people away from their families. Anyone who is taking the steps to get healthy is inspirational, far more than people writing hyper-critical pieces on a blog no one has heard of. This mentality has the same disgusting motive as the “fat people fail compilations”. These videos are hugely popular because the already outcasted “lepers” of our society are hurting themselves. What joy. These videos please people who are incredibly insure and want to make fun of others who are easy targets and these same people can openly be cruel because its socially acceptable. Is any other game show embarrassing? Hell no. The only reason why this one is singled out is because these people are overweight and honestly its disgusting. Human cruelty is disgusting. I pray for all of you to find some peace and light in your lives because damn you need it.

    • It’s amazing how you feel perfectly comfortable coming onto a person’s blog, posting a wall of text in which you call the author “a pretentious bitch” – which, by the way, do you even know what pretentious means? – and a “scumbag,” and then illustrate that you clearly either did not read or understand what I wrote.

      Good lord, if you and some of the other people who are commented on this blog are representative of The Biggest Loser fans, then I am more than happy to stay the hell away from this show.

      But hey, thanks for dropping by my blog “no one has ever heard of.”

  74. Thank you for the article.

    Before I started watching the show, I had all the same problems with The Biggest Loser — putting overweight people through embarrassing challenges and tympony drums banging while someone in his underwear climbs to a monster – sized scale, the focus on weight loss instead of health, voting people off the show for having one “bad” week no matter how their performance has been… the yelling never really bothered me for some strange reason, though the military makes me cringe.

    And then I started really watching the show. It had it’s merits. I found myself motivated to educate myself on health. I learned some helpful things from the show, I empathized with certain contestants. I guess the difference is, I can separate reality from reality tv. Jillian Michaels isn’t a “b*tch”; if a male trainer acted the same way, no one would bat an eyelash. Double standard. I recognize that the most deserving contestant never wins. I can tell when someone’s in it for the money or is trying to take it too far. I can allow the show to motivate me while seeing that it’s based on an unsustainable system, one of a hideously long contract and a hundred hoops to jump through — it’s a drastic sacrifice these people are making either to save their life or just to get on tv. People sell their souls to become CEO’s as well.

    My point is that I think there is some middle ground to be had here. A lesson to learn. I think there’s room now for educational tv about health where there wasn’t a market for it before the show. There were some positive changes made to the show this season, none of which will likely matter after this controversy. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe the show won’t live on and will be replaced by something less extreme. Maybe the trainers will continue to gain more control of the production (this season they obviously changed a number of things, like choosing contestants with considerably higher IQs than normal), and change the rules to allow muscle gain to count in the contestants favor, not against them. I don’t know. Right now I’m not shocked by this drama. Part of me thinks this is only going to help open a discourse that the country needs to have and maybe that’s why the show didn’t air the “at home” progress the final three were making (they often have in the past)? My guess is the producers knew exactly what was going to happen.

    Understandable they use the platform they created to send a message. Unforgivable that they have been doing it by putting people’s lives at risk. If there is truly a war on obesity, the producers of the show are war criminals. I can’t, though, let this whole controversy turn me against some of the positive things that have come out of The Biggest Loser. For people to get serious about health, there first needs to be a space in our lives where we are aware this country has a dysfunctional relationship to health, accepting that we all have some hard work to do (those who are healthy have to work hard to educate, just as those who aren’t have to work hard to learn) and ready for a huge culture shift. I don’t think we’re going to get there by chastising Rachel, or even the producers, but something in me doesn’t think we’d be as close to ready without the mass appeal of The Biggest Loser.

    Anyway, I don’t know why I was compelled to share my thoughts here. I’m glad I did, and I hope I haven’t offended anyone. Thanks again for the article.

    • Its merits*

      If there are other typos, it’s going to bug me, but I won’t leave a bunch of comments correcting myself! Sorry.

      • No worries about the typos, I get your point. I am glad you’ve been able to get a lot out of this show. I just disagree that this is the kind of health focused education needed and that this is the way to start a conversation about things. I think there are a lot of other ways to frame healthy lifestyles that don’t make it seem like you have to go live on a ranch and overhaul your entire existence to make it happen. You can start with small changes and work from there.

        And of course, I also dislike the way that this is entirely put on individuals, like obesity is entirely due to laziness and gluttony and whatever. I just refuse to believe that two-thirds of this country is morally defective. There are other structural issues going on – access to healthy food, jobs that suck up time and energy – than just “people like to eat too much pizza.” (Not saying that’s what you were saying, btw, but that’s definitely a mindset out there.)

    • This is a terrific response. I used to watch the show but I haven’t in several years. It seems to me, even outside of the overtraining I believe they’re forcing contestants to do, that there is too much fat-shaming in this show, too much telling contestants that they are worth less at their current weight than they would be if they weighed less. This is my biggest problem with this show. If there were to make changes–perhaps using muscle mass and body fat (in reasonable percentages) as the goal rather than percentage of body weight lost, quizzing contestants on what they’ve learned about nutrition, having separate male and female winners, and just encouraging people to become more fit rather than doing that AND tearing them down–it might be a less problematic show. It would probably also not be as exciting for people to watch, and they might lose some of their audience.

      • Thank you! I think that’s something that a lot of the defenders fail to grasp, which is that this is entertainment first and foremost, and that everything has been crafted to appeal in such a way that it draws in maximum eyeballs. I’ve learned from my experience working in the media that so-called inspirational media and programming is not actually what people want, even though they say that’s what they want. They want the suffering and the misery. The Biggest Loser has hit on a formula that lets its audience have it both ways, that lets them see suffering and misery while still feeling virtuous and “inspired” by it.

        I don’t know, I guess I never assume pure motives on the part of corporations who are trying to sell us a product. I wish more people approached things with the same level of skepticism.

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  76. Wow, where did all her skin go? We didn’t get this biggest loser in Australia but you are bang on that it is sad, but not shocking. The show is basically fat bashing. They make them show their stomachs at the start of the show but when they have moat the weight the shirts come out. Why? Because baggy skin is not attractive and only fat people can be grotesque, not skinny people…

    • The baggy skin issue is something I rarely see addressed in all of the conversation about major weight loss. I’ve seen a few essays recently that address it but I think it needs to be discussed even more than it has been, because I think it takes a lot of people by surprise.

  77. You have said essentially exactly how I feel about this show, this outcome, all of it. As a registered dietitian, it really upsets me that there is a fellow RD who works on this show and promotes this. But maybe it is just because I worked in the eating disorder industry and can see how disordered and messed up it all is…

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m not an expert by any means, just someone who has a really strong interest in these things, and it’s hard for me not to see just how damaging this all is. It doesn’t suddenly become healthy just because the person who is doing it is fat, you know?

      • Exactly. I saw another post about this that commented on the fact that some of the contestants go from one extreme of an eating disorder (binge eating, overeating, etc.) to another (restriction, bulimia, etc.). I cannot say one way or another whether or Rachel has an eating disorder, that she is anorexic or anything else, however the entire basis of the show IS disordered – I don’t care how you try to look at it! What is most frustrating is when they bring on experts or when the trainers themselves do the right thing by addressing the underlying issues, that it is NOT about food, but then they make it ALL about weight. Oh gosh I could go on forever… but thank you for your post and your comments.

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  79. I absolutely believe that she lost to much weight. I was shocked when she revealed herself. She was beautiful during the makeover episode, but she took it to the extreme after going home. I understand that there was money involved to win. I’m just hoping that now that she did win all the prize money that she will get back to a healthier body weight. A size 2 is just to small for someone that was a size 20 only a few mons ago. I’m not bashing her by any means, but I believe that the trainers facial expressions told it all!

    • Yeah, I don’t want to get on board the “is she too thin or not?” conversation train because it’s incidental to the point I was making in my post. Besides, it’s not my place to say.

  80. Yes she is very thin, you can see her muscle loss in her arms, but sometimes you can get so caught up in exercising that it becomes your life. You can go from 1 extreme to the other, she may a developed anorexia, it may be short lived, it may not. She has a new sense of control. To me that is what anorexia was/is the only thing in you life you can control your weight.She has learned control. Now, she needs to take control of her weight responsibly and may need to be taught how to do that. She needs the next step How to Become Healthy, She has gotten thin that was the first step. I am sure the Trainers and the show will be responsible and Help her if she needs it. It would be very horrible if they did’t Follow Through with her, knowing all to well that this can happen. It is their responsibility as human being and professionals in the field to do so. If that don’t, then they are not there for the people and not true to what they make themselves out to be, It may be more than they want to handle, but they need too.You never know, She (in her head) may of needed to loss enough weight were in a way she Wiped the Slate clean as they say of her Old Body and Self Image, now she can become who shes wants to be in her weight and looks. Hopefully, she will read all of everyone’s comments towards her sever weight loss with an open mind and understand that We care and understand what she is going through. It’s not about a Number that you weigh or the size of dress you can get into, any one can starve yourselves to DEATH it is YOUR HEALTH, can your body function properly under weight NO IT CAN NOT.Or she may of just wanted to win, hell $250,000.00 way not. SHE DID WIN, Congrats, Just be Healthy, isn’t getting healthy the whole reason to play the game..Being under weight is not attractive,Beautiful clothes only look as good as the foundation they are put on.They are not pretty hanging on a skeleton.sorry to have to say that but that is REALITY. Just Saying, Good Luck To You

  81. So I keep seeing all these posts about the Biggest Loser finale and the tiny anorexic looking girl that won it this year, and I just have to say something. It is a tv show, it is scripted, and it is no where close to reality. It should be no shocker that this girl looks malnourished and exhausted, because she is. In the real world, it is not only unhealthy but also fairly impossible to lose that much weight that quickly. These contestants do not work, they do not have families to care for, they have one job- lose weight. Even when they go home, most contestants do not return to work and they have family members help take care of their kids and other responsibilities, so that they can continue to train and lose weight. They eat the minimum amount of calories needed to survive and they workout for 4+ hours a day. Is it healthy? Absolutely not. But if you had a quarter million dollars being dangled in front of your face, wouldn’t you do it too? I would have 110% done everything possible to win that money and be able to take care of my family. Being someone that used to weigh enough to qualify to be on the Biggest Loser, I can tell you that losing weight and becoming healthy is absolutely possible, but it takes years. The contestants have about 6 months to lose what would take your average person a couple of years to lose. Money does crazy things to people, and hopefully this poor girl can realize that working out all day every day and barely eating is not a lifestyle, it is an unhealthy obsession.

  82. Some of these comments are hilarious. 24 hours ago I had no idea what was going on with the Biggest Loser, but it seems every blog I follow has now written a post about it. I skipped most of them but I read yours, because I knew it would be well written and wouldn’t skinny bash anyone. Great to read your opinion!

    • I wish I could go to a place where I didn’t know about this show, either. And thanks for the comment! The bashing of the actual contestant’s body is getting out of control and I wanted no part of it.

  83. This show makes me so uncomfortable; I get the feeling that the participants don’t get treated like human beings and more like things, maybe video game pixels.

  84. Ya, it’s so awful, that’s why it’s so popular?. Some of those ppl wouldn’t be alive ten more years if it weren’t for that show. Plus, you have no idea what is happening behind the scenes. Coaching, counseling, nutrition education, etc. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I’d tell you to shut up, but my mother raised me to be respectful.

    • We actually do have an idea of what happens behind the scenes because former contestants have said so. The critics of the show – and we are legion – are not just making this stuff up.

      If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I’d tell you to shut up, but my mother raised me to be respectful.

      Wow, you sure told me.

  85. Quote’Unhealthy practices to achieve weightloss’

    These people are so obese they are slowly dying you idiot

    It may not be the safest practice but these people have so much excess bodyfat they need to see dramatic results otherwise they return to excessive ‘unhealthy’ eating which in turn means they DIE young

    Your a moron

    • I’m going to choose to ignore the fact that you called me a moron and an idiot – seriously, you are a class act, my friend – and point out that if you were so concerned about these people’s health, you’d want to see them lose it in ways that are sustainable and healthy, rather than watching them put themselves through unsustainable and extreme measures for the sake of entertaining you.

      BTW a huge number of the contestants gain the weight back, so your argument – that they have to do this because of the dramatic results – is invalid.

  86. The outcome and the show is a disgrace. Imagine promoting unhealthy weight loss for the chance to win money and ratings. I can’t believe they let contestants lose this much weight. This girl lost 155 lbs in 4 1/2 months. Her eyes are bulging out, there is sagging skin all over her face. I didn’t think she looked healthy at all. Also by the reaction of Bob and Jillian, you could see they were in shock. I think its deplorable to promote this for ratings. God Bless this girl, the word anorexic comes to mind.

  87. Ooo! Mixed feelings of guilt and sadness. I watched the BL, religiously when I was losing weight. The stories and transformations gave me a weekly boost. I lost 80lbs. I am holding a healthy weight. I tuned in halfway through this season and liked Rachel right away. When she walked in at the finally looking so sickly skinny, I felt guilty. I don’t think I can watch anymore.
    Also, I think many of the winners go on a big publicity tour after they win, to encourage others to get fit… I didn’t see Rachel on any talk shows this week. Hope she’s ok. 😦

  88. After 10 years experience in the industry I do understand the slowly but surely approach which I do recommend to the majority but these people have struggled their whole life and need a dramatic kick up the arse

    If you don’t like it, don’t watch it

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