Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Goodbye, Biggest Loser

Brother forwarded the article from the New York Post, titling his email Your (formerly) favorite show.
I read about ephedrine and Adderall and diuretics and 800 calorie days and I squirmed in my chair.

I put the article aside for a day.... or tried to, at any rate.  Some of the statements wouldn't leave me alone.  They were heartbreaking in their naivete.
“It ruins lives. Mentally, emotionally, financially — you come back a different person. Half the people from my season have gotten divorced. The ripple effect isn’t just weeks or months. It’s years.”
What did she expect?

Morbid obesity must come with its own psychological baggage, and choices made must reflect that baggage. Maybe the people she chose don't like her new, quite sudden, incarnation. A wife who suddenly bares her emotions after decades of stoicism is bound to notice disturbances in the world around her.  The vigilance which comes with the dieting and exercise required to live a healthier lifestyle means the former contestants were probably the party pooper at every Let's go for pizza/ice cream/some beers and wings conversation for, as quoted above, not just weeks or months, but years.

I began to think deeper.  Fat Shaming was the touchstone of much of the article, but I never saw that on the show.  The emphasis, in words if not in deeds, was on how sick the contestants were, not on how ugly they looked.  Sure, they looked forward to Makeover Week... but who wouldn't?

The better trainers over the years have been full of positive reinforcement and great advice.  The show never gave us a glimpse of the trainers dishing out yellow jackets, as the article describes. Instead, we saw healthy recipes and moms and dads encouraging their kids to run with them, to get in shape with them, to feel good together, as a family.

I never had cause to doubt the integrity of the program.  I guess I am as naive as the contestants.

I've tried to verify the claims, but the interwebs are strangely silent on the subject.  There are responses to the NIH study, there are suggestions that such rapid weight loss might be the reason all the Season 8 contestants regained the weight, but nobody is commenting on the misbehaviors detailed in the Post.  So, I am left to wonder.....
isn't Danny better off at 295 than 430, given that 191 was never going to be sustainable?
The government researchers, with no ax to grind, came to some interesting conclusions about the 14 participants they studied.
These individuals were “quite successful at long-term weight loss compared to other interventions,” wrote Kevin Hall, Ph.D., and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Indeed, according to Hall, other high quality studies show that only 20–27 percent of participants manage a 10 percent weight loss after several years. Among the Biggest Losers he followed for six years, “57 percent maintained at least 10 percent weight loss.”
Okay, so the scientists think the show is doing a good job, all things considered.

And then, there's this, debunking the "it's not my fault" theory that a slowed metabolism (metabolic adaptation below) made it impossible for the contestants to keep the weight off.
The degree of metabolic adaptation did not correlate with weight regain, however. In fact, the opposite occurred. “Those who were most successful at maintaining weight loss after 6 years also experienced greater ongoing metabolic slowing," the paper reported. This makes it inconvenient to argue that the metabolic adaptation caused the weight regain. 
I'm not sure where I stand on the whole thing, but I think we're taking the show off our seasonal rotation when it comes around again.  I certainly never look for more television to watch, and a controversial reality show is a simple hour to jettison.  I wish the contestants well on their weight loss adventure; I hope they can do it without me.


  1. I never watched the show, but hubby did. He liked it and he always found it quite inspirational. As someone who has lost 35lbs and has my last 12 to go, I can tell you that my life is so much better being thinner. I like being able to fit in clothes and not have someone ask me if I'm pregnant--which happened to me at 167.

    I love the plan I'm on and will stay on it forever. I feel better. I do think that too much emphasis is put on BMI. I was reading an article a few weeks ago about how BMI was factored in the 50s and having a normal BMI doesn't actually mean someone is healthy and having a BMI over 24 doesn't necessarily mean someone is obese.


    Hope you are having a great Tuesday.

    Megan xxx

    1. "will stay on it forever." That is the key, I think. Finding something that is sustainable over time and then adding in exercise, like your 5K with the kiddo. I am SO glad that you are happier and healthier, and that you've found balance to keep it up

  2. I don't watch reality TV but had heard of this program. Being someone who is too fat and isn't going to do anything about it, watching others deal with it just doesn't interest me. I aim to eat as healthy as I can but don't always do that either. There are many ways a person can end up fat and some is metabolism but some can be a health issue, such as when I had to take prednisone twice for different reasons. They say it doesn't actually put on weight but most who take it find it does for whatever reason. At this point in my life I want to enjoy food and not worry so much whether someone else finds that acceptable. Watching a program like biggest loser would be a major no-no for me whether I needed to lose weight or not

    1. You are up and about and tending animals and rental homes and moving. The biggest thing I took away from the show was the importance of exercise; the NIH study agreed and that was a nice thing. The contestants always seemd so glad for the chance to change their lives; maybe that is what I liked the most.

    2. Writing and a heel problem have played havoc with my exercise as it was mostly walking for cardio. That's my biggest concern getting back to where I was in terms of walking :(

    3. I hate it when my body gets in the way of itself, don't you?


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