Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life after the Biggest Loser

I'm not a big fan of the Biggest Loser.

For those of you who aren't familiar with it the Biggest Loser is a "reality" television show that features extremely overweight folks living on a ranch for 6 months and undereating and overexercising in order to lose weight and potentially win $500,000.

Not exactly the reality that most of my patients face.

In terms of the show's participants life post-show is a mixed bag. Some will parlay their weight loss into new lifestyles and in some cases, new careers.

Unfortunately others won't fare as well.

Now while it's certainly true that there is recidivism with all weight loss programs my beef is not that contestants regain weight, it's what they're taught. Watching the Biggest Loser I can't help but feel that the message it ultimately teaches is that all weight is bad and the scale is the only determinant of how you're doing.


I think scales tell you what you weigh whereas you tell yourself how you're doing, where how you're doing depends on what you're actually doing. Are you eating in a manner that is both healthy and enjoyable? Are you exercising as much as you can happily include into your busy life?

I came across this article and video online detailing the struggles of a former runner up on the Biggest Loser - Kai. It's well worth the read. Here's a snippet,

"The philosophy of the show -- to radically change diets and exercise patterns of obese people -- seemed to have a hidden message about her character, Zwierstra said. It seemed to say that weakness made people fat. If they just had discipline, if they weren't lazy, they could be thin."
There was a video too - I've included it below. Sadly it's a lot more real than the Biggest Loser will ever be.


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  1. I tried out for this show and didn't make it and from thigns I have read I'm glad I didn't now. I'm glad that I'm doing it on my own.

  2. By the way I am into triathlons as well. My ultimate goal is to lose 130 pounds and do an Ironman by fall of 2013 right before I turn 40. I'm well on my way. I heard Ironman Canada is BEAUTIFUL. Have you ever done it?

  3. Hello, yes, Ironman Canada IS located in a beautiful place in British Columbia called Penticton. I have lived there for 19 years and if you have any more questions about IMC please email me at ramblingrrl@gmail.com Btw, you need to register early if you are going to do this triathalon. Although you do not need to qualify like you have to for the Hawaii one the spaces fill up quickly. And if you would like to rent my downtown house right in the heart of the city for Iron Week which starts on the Wednesday prior also let me know. All the best! Joanne in Penticton, B.C., Canada Phone 250 770 1397

  4. Anonymous2:28 pm

    they don't undereat, they eat the right amount of calories as per what their normal weight range should be and according to activity level, for when they are of a normal weight I am on the Biggest Loser plan, as per their books I eat about 1800 calories a day and have lost about 10 pounds in a month, each contestant is designed a specific plan, many eat about 1500 to 2000 calories a day and as they lose weight they lower their calories as you dont' need as many to fuel your body at a lower weight. They do so much exercise because when you've been sedentary and you require more movement to lose weight than someone who isn't heavy and because it's a game as well to see who loses the most weight they have to be more active than those of us who have jobs, family etc. I love this show it's very motivating, if you read the books and the behind the scenes information on the nbc website for the show you'll learn it's a very well thought out plan and they have doctors, medics, nutritionists etc around all the time

    1. Although this is an old response/article, I want to express my opinion. It has been proven that you do not need to move around more BECAUSE you are sedentary. If you eat a normal diet while expending so many calories, you are not getting enough calories to restore your body- this may explain why these people were in starvation mode. Even with the extra medical care, this can be dangerous and have lasting affects on one's body.

      You are successful because you are dieting properly. If you tried to exactly replicate what the contestants do on the Biggest Loser, you would (become malnourished) need medical attention.

  5. Kimberley2:33 pm

    I love this show, you must remember this is a game first off as to who loses the most weight. They do have doctors, nutritionists and so forth right there on set daily and do not starve themselves. Each participant has a plan designed for them as per what calories and food they need to become a more normal weight and as per their activity level. Whether the contestant sticks to it or not is up to them. They are so inactive that in order to lose a lot of weight you have to work out a lot harder than most people. I am on The Biggest Loser plan as per the books they have out, I eat between 1600 and 1900 calories per day and workout an hour to 90 minutes a day depending on the day of the week. I've lost almost 10 pounds so far in the first month, I am very realistic and realize as many others do we can't be like them on the ranch, some of the past contestants were doctors or nurses and they succeded (Jeff,Kelly) and they knew what they were doing was the right thing.

  6. Anonymous7:59 pm

    I have been on a diet for 6 months now. I know the one big thing I see is blame after these people leave the show they gain weight. Well it is their own fault not the show. By now they all know how much to eat, if they gain they are eating to much. I hate to say it but that is the answere for all over weight people. WE ALL EAT TO MUCH, for the activity we do.

  7. Anonymous10:37 pm

    this show teaches them to live on 500 calories, and to exercise 2-4 hours a day. to the people that are defending this show, they should do some research.