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My Love/Hate Relationship with The Biggest Loser

Posted May 13 2010 12:00am
Yes I watch this show. And yes, I have watched every single season and probably will watch it until they take it off the air. Sometimes people are surprised to learn that about me because I am the poster girl for focusing on a holistic approach to health and I am constantly putting out the message that focusing on just weight loss is like thinking the puzzle is complete with huge pieces missing.

So why the heck have I never missed an episode of a show that is a weight loss competition that is notorious for such a huge focus on pulling big weight loss numbers each week to stay in the competition?  Main reason is that I have learned a lot from watching it. Not only things that have been important for my own journey, but I feel like by watching it I’m learning things I can use when I start training people as a Personal Trainer. Don’t worry I don’t plan on yelling obscenities like a crazy person like Bob & Jillian do! I believe you can be assertive without having to resort to this kind of behavior.  

When BL first aired I was heavier than most of the females that were on the show.  I sat and watched the first couple seasons dreaming about what it would be like to drop all the excess weight I was carrying, yet I was on a yo-yo roller-coaster during most of that time. Even though I found the show to be inspiring at times, I also found it intimidating because when ever I would attempt to work on my weight I never would come close to loosing those big numbers you see on the show. This is one of the negative influences I think that this show has because it creates pretty unrealistic expectations for it’s viewers about weight loss. Just took me a while to realize that what you see on the show is pretty hard to replicate in real life unless you plan on putting life on hold and do nothing but workout for hours a day. I know that, as I start training clients, that there are going to be some who are fans of the show who are going to have these unrealistic expectations about working with a trainer. I plan on talking about having realistic expectations right up front to try and avoid having them fall into the trap of feeling like failures if they aren’t seeing “Biggest Loser” results.

Once I got on my own path to better health I continued to watch and found it inspiring but not because of the numbers on the scale that I saw the contestants pulling. I found inspiration through watching them complete the physical challenges, workout like machines, and watching them make emotional breakthroughs. The emotional breakthroughs where very interesting and very important to my own understanding that there are big emotional components to why I put on excess weight. As I watched each season, I found myself relating to the contestants because I was making some very similar breakthroughs myself. I watched how the trainers would push the contestants to confront their emotional demons and help them over the hurdles that came with opening up. My dream about wanting to be a Personal Trainer started to grow because of watching these moments. Let me just put it out there that I question some of the training tactics I have seen and in no way want to be just like Bob or Jillian. They both have some good qualities as trainers but there are just some things I personally don’t agree with.

Now that I’m in the weight maintenance portion of my health journey I really find myself getting more emotional when the seasons come down to the last couple of episodes. For example, the episode from this week the contestants each sat down and watched a video that was of clips of their journey so far, including a message each one of them taped for themselves when they first started out. I’ll be honest I cried through most of that. Why? Because, just like them, it is pretty overwhelming to recognize just how much hard work you have to put into changing your life like that. I get very reflective on my own journey watching those moments and I cry not because I’m sad but because I am so proud of myself that the emotions just flood out of my body as tears.    

As my fitness has improved over the years I have also used the show to steal some of the workout exercises that you see contestants using. Now granted I research them before trying them so I learn what the proper form is so I didn’t injure myself.  Mostly, things you see them doing with free weights and little equipment since I don’t use a gym to work out in.  I also have a couple of the workout DVD’s that have the Biggest Loser title on them as well as a number of Jillian Michaels' titles.

There are plenty of things I hate about the show as well. Here is a list of some of them.
  • The concept of the game where the faster you loose the more you are rewarded by getting to stay on the show. Yeah I do realize it is the main focus on the show, doesn’t mean I have to like it. I think it almost encourages doing some really questionable things to drop weight fast both with contestants and to the at home viewer. 
  • The whole game play drama that occurs between contestants.
  • The way they cut to commercials to try and create short cliff hanger drama. Thank you DVR for helping me just skip this!
  • Product placements
  • The temptations where eating crap could potentially earn you a reward
  • The way that the trainers yell obscenities in an effort to be assertive
  • Lack of coverage on the nutrition plans that the contestants are following
  • Not addressing how they are training these individuals without causing over-training syndrome. I suspect that many of them suffer from over-training problems and we aren’t informed about it. There are signs though because I think back to some who have suffered from injuries over the years.
Questions for You
Do you watch BL? If so what are your thoughts on it?
If you don’t watch it are you not watching it because of some of the reasons I hate it?

Oh and before I let you go don’t forget about my ‘Don't Drink ___, Drink WAT-AAH!’ Giveaway . You have until tomorrow @ 11:59pm to enter.

Quote of the Day: “All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?” ~ Nicholas Johnson
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