Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thoughts on The Biggest Loser

I've been on my own weight loss journey for almost eight years now. You would think I would have had some interest in The Biggest Loser during this time, but this year was the first time I ever watched the show. Much of that was simply due to the fact that I only watch TV while working out, and previously, I didn't have a way of watching "live" programming in my home gym. Since discovering Roku/PlayOn, I have been able to watch current shows ... although I'm always behind, as I have to wait for the networks to post the program to their website.

So ... I'm a day late in watching and talking about The Biggest Loser. I'd actually planned on writing up a blog post from the start (even before the controversial conclusion this year that has social media buzzing). So although I already knew  the results, had seen the pictures and heard others opinions, I went ahead and watched the finale yesterday.  My "Thinking Out Loud" topic this fine Thursday will be some of my thoughts on The Biggest Loser (coming from someone who has never watched it before) ... the entire season, not just the end result.

  • Comparison & Competition: At first I was a little put off by the entire concept. We are taught NOT to compare ourselves to others. Weight loss is an individual process. I realize this is pretty essential to the "game" but it's still a little difficult to get over the negative aspect of competition to lose weight. Really the only person I want to beat or compare myself against is me.
  • Challenges: I've always liked the challenges in "Survivor" ... but some of these Biggest Loser challenges just rubbed me a little wrong. I wasn't sure why "chance" was included (rolling the dice to determine how many buckets of water the team could carry), why not just let them compete fairly? Forcing them to eat candy and unhealthy foods? The equipment auction was actually interesting ... equipment/gadgets are great, motivating and helpful, but not absolutely necessary.
  • Commercialization: I realize the show is sponsored and endorsements help pay the costs, but the pushing of products was eye-rolling for me. All the commercial interruptions too (especially there in the finale!) ... I was very happy I had it recorded so I could fast forward through all the breaks.
  • The Caffeine Controversy: Before the big finale fiasco, there was the caffeine controversy (remember that?). On one hand, I wondered if it was just an attempt to get a popular player (Reuben) back on the show. My other thought was "is this tacit endorsement of caffeine pills" by the show as a whole? If the pills were considered "cheating" enough to take such action ... does that imply that they do actually help someone lose weight?
  • Therapy: Not that I thought the trainers gave bad advice or anything, but when the trainers would sit down and talk with the contestants and delve into their backgrounds and such, I would wonder if they had a background in psychology. The show did bring in physicians, dieticians and make-over experts ... perhaps they should have a trained professional to analyze and offer therapy.
  • Food, Fitness & Numbers: If you follow my blog, you know I'm a numbers gal. I would have liked to have a little more information on how many calories the contestants were eating (if they WERE tracking, I would assume so but I don't know), exercise estimates for their workouts (did they have a body media or other tracker, I thought I saw something on their arm). Were trainers and contestants allowed to crunch numbers? I'm assuming they weren't allowed to step on a scale other than the official weigh-in. I would just like to have more info on some of the background details. The day to day stuff interests the OCD in me.
  • Sizes & Makeovers: I had to wonder at the sizes spouted during the show. When Rachel put on the size 8 jeans. They showed a picture of her wearing them and she looked a lot smaller than when she put them on in the show. I personally felt smaller than Rachel at that point (we are similar in height/weight at that point) and I still was wearing a size 10. At the finale when Chelsea said her dress was a size 6 ... again, doing a little of that comparison I said I should not do... I don't fit into a size 6 although I feel similar (even smaller) in size/shape.  It was fun to see the changes in the makeovers though. Even with my weight loss, I still don't feel comfortable in form fitting clothes, belts, bright colors or sleeveless shirts. I could absolutely sympathize with Marie and the hair cutting. I would feel the same way (that said, she did look great!). I laughed a little as Chelsea went back to no bangs after the makeover show. The change in David ... wow!
  • Travel & The Utah Connection: It was so much fun to see the contestants come to Utah and to the Olympic Oval, which is just minutes away from my home (My Olympic Oval Experience). We're lucky to have such a nice venue accessible.  But this episode also re-enforced my fears about vacation and travel. I'm such a homebody and need to stay "on the ranch" so to speak.
Back the the show's conclusion. In the second to the last episode, Rachel was favored by far as the triathlon winner. If she had NOT won that automatic spot ... she would have been eliminated that week as she only lost one pound, less than any other contestant. I had wondered if she "threw" that week (I wasn't sure how the final weigh-in worked, if it was a total loss, or a loss from that show to the finale ... as I said, I hadn't ever watched the show before).

Rachel had been seen as a favorite to win for weeks ... but I wondered. Going against David and Bobby, who had both shown HUGE losses from one weigh-in to the next in previous shows and who still had weight left to lose. Rachel didn't  (Jay had been in a similar situation). I really wondered HOW Rachel could possibly win ... I guess I (and everyone) saw that she still could, but... The number cruncher in me wonders at what weight she could have still won (and if that would have still been an underweight number). Anyone with better math skills than me want to crunch some numbers?

Anyway ... will I watch "The Biggest Loser" again? Probably. It is amazing to see the transformations take place. It will be interesting to see the ramifications of this season's finale and how that impacts the show in the future.

... I think I'll also consider finishing up the season as an NSV.  I was on my elliptical working out for every moment watching The Biggest Loser. I don't mind pressing pause and coming back to my episode (I don't watch it all in one sitting, standing/stepping). What will I watch now ...

**Update ... just thought I'd post a link to a more recent interview where Rachel has put on a few pounds and looks healthier (Biggest Loser Update) and it will be interesting to continue to check in. Good luck to Rachel! 


  1. This year was so different than previous years. In the past, it was always a 2 hour show so they went into more of those details that this season lacked. They wear Body Media and track their individual calories. The physicians are involved in the correct caloric intake for each contestant as well as any physical activity they are limited to. I don't know much about Dolvett, but trainers of Jillian and Bob's caliber usually have "life coaching" certifications or psychology backgrounds of some sort.

    I like Biggest Loser, mainly because I'm a huge Jillian fan. But, Extreme Weightloss with Chris Powell is amazing and seems like a much healthier approach. Have you seen that one? Check it out sometime, if not. It's great!

    1. Thanks Tiffany for answering some of my questions! I'm sure I could have investigated further but just hadn't really looked into it beyond my random thoughts. I figured many things had probably been explained in previous seasons and maybe they didn't repeat it each time. I'll have to see if the Exteme Weightloss is available online (I'm usually able to find almost everything if I look for it!). Thanks again :)

  2. There are very few seasons of Biggest Loser I haven't watched religiously from start to finish. This was one of those. I watched until they orchestrated to get Reuben back. Now, what I'm going to say below, you will find VERY cynical...but the older you get, the more crap you see, and yes, the more cynical you get:

    1. people lie. On this show. Everywhere. It's of epidemic proportions. Do I believe that Jillian did the caffeine thing? I do not. I think she was thrown under the bus to bring back Reuben and his ratings. I wouldn't be surprised if Jillian does not return. Which leads me to:

    2. the power of the Almighty Dollar. Jillian has created a cottage industry of herself, but in no way can she earn the dollars on her own, even with books and public much as she can being ON the show. So how much of her soul does she have to do that? I wonder. And it makes me sad.

    3. back to the lying, I do believe that Rachel is lying. I do not believe she was eating 1600 calories a day, particularly the last 2 weeks. I don't believe it for a moment. I believe she was so consumed by winning, that it was truly 'win at all costs.'

    4. the product placement is a common denominator in all of reality TV. At least it was mostly healthy stuff they were hawking. Even if their idea of 'healthy' and mine are two different things.

    5. I agree with you on the competitions. While I understood the rationale for 'temptation' challenges, when they started making the 'prize' so strong an incentive (extra 2 pound advantage, immunity from being booted, etc.)...they were telling the contestants to EAT IT. I found that evil.

    6. I know one season not long ago, Jillian brought her mother to the ranch, who is a professional therapist-not sure if she's a psychologist or psychiatrist, or family therapist...but she was one of those. I don't have an issue with a certified trainer of those 3's caliber, talking to the contestants about psychological issues. I'm frankly glad that they do.

    7. People in the public eye lie A LOT about what size they are!!! Was Krystie Allen telling the truth about her size? Hell to the no. I do understand that very expensive clothes runs larger (gotta keep those heavy wealthy women buying!)...but still. I do not take at face value anyone on TV talking about what size clothes they wear. I just don't.

    I read that if Rachel had been as high as 118, she would've won. Of course, she had no way of knowing that.

    Will I watch again? Prior to Tuesday, I would've said sure, I'll start the next season and see how it goes. NOW, I'm waiting to see if any changes will be instituted after this. Because if not, it's only a matter of when someone will drop dead, a la Karen Carpenter...not if. I don't want to be part of that, even as just a viewer. They either make changes, or I'm out.

    1. Lots of good thoughts yourself (and your own post about it too) ... even IF Rachel has been eating 1600, that's still a weight loss intake, even with little or no exercise. If she has been exercising "a ton" then that could very easily result in a negative net. The other two finalists were very competitive too, Rachel didn't know exactly how far she would have to go to get the win. It would have been interesting if she'd come in at 120, still looking too thin and lost ... I wonder what the reaction would have been ...I guess overall I'm glad I watched so I at least have some idea of WHAT everyone is talking about :)

    2. ... and even though all of Jillian's team were eliminated earlier on, it does look like they all really learned a lot, enough that they made such great progress even after they left the ranch. I thought everyone improved, but was most quite impressed with all those on Jillian's team as a whole!

  3. As someone who's never really watched enough of The Biggest Loser to form a solid opinion of it, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the entire season rather than simply the finale. I watched a handful of episodes, but the show always rubbed me the wrong way. The methods of weight loss that they suggest just seem unhealthy, and the competition to be the thinnest reminds me too much of the mindset behind eating disorders. God only knows that our society is plagued with an obesity epidemic, so I can appreciate the fact that they're encouraging people to lose weight and get healthier, but I wish the means weren't so extreme and unhealthy.

  4. Funny, I wrote about The Biggest Loser today! I didn't watch this past season or even a few seasons before that. I thought the challenges got silly too and were made up just for ratings and drama.

    1. TBL is the topic of MANY blog posts these past few days :) I'll stop on by and check out what you have to say!

  5. I am pretty much the opposite when it comes to this show because I've watched a few seasons in the past but this season I saw the first couple of episodes but then my schedule got crazy and I didn't have time for it. I think it is awesome that you watched it while on the elliptical. That is a great NSV! it makes sense to watch show like that and move because I guess sitting on the couch having a snack would be a little ironic. Good for you for keep it up!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...