If you viewed the biggest loser TV show as a “scientific” study, then you would obviously think that weight loss is 80% Exercise, 10% Nutrition, and 10% Drama/Crying (sorry, I couldn't help myself).
But seriously, the extreme focus on exercise to the detriment of nutrition is very deceiving to the viewer.
I would find myself constantly wondering, “what are they eating?” I even went to the Biggest Loser website to find out, but all I could find was a list of new recipes, which I KNOW the contestants aren't making day in and day out. I needed details. Are they low-fat, low-carb, everything in moderation...what are they really eating? This information was nowhere to be found.
Don't get me wrong...Every now and then they will have a nutrition segment, but these were very rare and often confusing. Usually, they would introduce food and nutrition for one of three reasons.
1) A visit from a Celebrity Chef
2) A “guess the calorie” team challenge.
3) A blatant product placement (Subway and Extra gum, anyone?)
What bothers me about this whole thing is that, in my experience, the is the exact opposite of how I and many others I know have lost their weight. For me, it was 90% Nutrition and 10% Exercise. So, to see a weight loss plan that seems to focus mainly on exercise, it is disheartening to know that there are people out there that think exercise is the key to weight loss. (Read my previous post: 3 Reasons That Exercise is NOT the Key to Weight Loss)
2. Leaving the Real World For the "Ranch" (preferably low-fat ranch)
After a few seasons of watching this show, I suddenly realised that the contestants literally had nothing to do except lose weight. No job, no family, no responsibility. They just had to eat, sleep, and work out. This may be extremely effective for fast weight loss, but there is no way to maintain this lifestyle at home. Unfortunately, many former contestants have gained most or all of the weight back for this very reason.
One disturbing aspect of this is those contestants with families back home. Is leaving your family really worth it? Some of these contestants were leaving pregnant wives, new born babies, a house full of kids and a working spouse, all for a chance to get yelled at by a celebrity trainer? If I were single, this may seem tempting to me, but I would have a hard time justifying leaving my family for a chance to lose weight in an unnatural environment.
I think when you are desperate to lose weight, you may feel like this is the only way to lose weight. I eventually saw through this ruse and realised that what happens at the biggest loser ranch is not a true, lasting weight loss for most contestants. I found out that it really is possible to lose weight while at home, working a normal job, and with my normal husband and dad responsibilities. No need for the "ranch"....
3.Games and Temptations- (Eat this candy bar, and we'll help you lose weight!)
This one makes my blood boil….
In the midst of dealing with food addicts and people who are literally sick and miserable because of their weight, the Biggest Loser came up with the Temptation Challenge. Basically, they are put in a situation where they can increase their chances of staying in "the game" only if they will eat junk food. For instance: Whoever eats the most calories in 10 minutes will get immunity at this week's weigh in. THIS. IS. STUPID!
In light of the sacrifices that these contestants are making in an attempt to get healthy, it is unconscionable that the producers of this show would come up with such ridiculous, high pressure situations where they would feel the need to eat this junk. I have personally dealt with food addictions, and I know first-hand that when you decide to give up certain foods for good, it is very important to stay away from these food for as long as possible. The longer you go without them, the easier it get's to stay off of them.
When I see the Biggest Loser trying desperately to get these contestants to stuff their face with junk food, even manipulating them with rewards, it makes me wish I had never watched even one episode. Despicable...
4. Former Fat-Self Hate (Ugh, look how disgusting I was 2 weeks ago!)
On the Biggest Loser, the initial weight comes off fast! Inevitably, about a month or two into the program, the contestants will be asked to look at a video or picture of their former self. As they watch or look at the video, it is amazing to me how many of them proceed to engage in what I call “fat hate”. They will ay things like, “ugh, who is that person” or “Wow, I can't believe how disgusting I was”. It’s hard for me to believe that they actually think these things without some encouragement from the camera or others around them. Maybe they are genuinely surprised at how much they have changed, but it’s hard to believe how hateful they are being about their former selves….and by former selves I mean 8 weeks…
What's disturbing about this is that the Biggest Loser show really plays up these moments, meaning that if a viewer out there there is still overweight, it is telling them that they are gross and disgusting too, which is not true! What is ironic is that some of these contestants that say how gross they used to be end up gaining the weight back in the end. It was a big, emotional moment on tv, that was promoted by the show for dramatic effect.
This fan is done. Now that I realise the real way to lose weight and be healthy, I don't need the Biggest Loser anymore. So, for the first time in 10 years, I won't be watching this show anymore.