Average Jane

Why I Hate the Biggest Loser

I have a feeling this post may be one of my more controversial. I’m prepared to lose the 10 loyal readers I have (Hi, guys!). But hopefully you’ll hear me out, and at least stick around long enough to read all the eviscerating comments that will surely follow.

I hate the Biggest Loser.

I nearly wrote that I hate what it stands for, but the truth is, I don’t. “Hey, America! Don’t be fat!” But more than “don’t be fat” it wants Americans — the world, really — to be healthy. To unite as a fit nation to battle the evils of, like, McDonalds or whatever.

Here’s the rub: I think it is failing in any number of ways.

  1. From what I understand, it is more of a custom for people to sit around, eat brownies and popcorn, and watch the Biggest Loser than it is for them to get up and start changing their lives.
  2. It creates a really false notion that you, too, can lose 100 lbs in 6 weeks. “All you need are these $150/hr personal trainers at your beck and call 7 days a week and a personal chef to take care of your culinary needs while you don’t work and have no familial responsibilities on ‘the ranch’. “
  3. In a way, this show is the same as a “miracle drug” that people think will solve all their problems. Losing the weight is just the start. Going home and facing a life that you left as a fat person and enter back into as a normal-sized person is not a walk in the park. It sucks. That is the true battle of a lifetime.

It is no secret that I lost a good bit of weight about 4 years ago. And I did it alone. Sure, I had a nutritionist, but I had no personal trainer and no chefs at my disposal. I had no support system cheering me on and no one to turn to when times got tough. I was broke from buying expensive healthy food, and exhausted and lonely  from trying to fit my daily workout into my already hectic life. But I did it.

In NO WAY am I saying that I am better than the people that go on the Biggest Loser, but what I am saying is that there should be some kind of “Not The Biggest Loser, but Not So Bad Either” show that shows people who have lost weight on their own. I guess that’s why people buy magazines like Self or Fitness.

In NO WAY am I saying, either, that the show isn’t giving a good message to the American people, but much like when Extreme Makeover Home Edition was under scrutiny because while they gave these needy people new houses, they didn’t account for utilities and property tax expenses… The Biggest Loser doesn’t give the whole picture. For me, the hardest part of losing the weight is facing a nation of people who aren’t Big Losers. It’s having to live my life as a not-so-fat person who still looks in the mirror every day and sees the 200+ lb girl who started on this journey. It’s thinking about food every minute of every day, worrying that the meal I was invited out to at a really nice restaurant will derail my weekly diet. It’s having to learn to date at the age of 25. It’s adapting to life in a world that doesn’t judge you, when I’m constantly expecting to be judged. Or, even more, being judged on a completely new scale.

I waited a long time to post this, hoping a little bit that Google searches for “Biggest Loser” would die down so the crazies wouldn’t find me here in my corner of the bloggosphere. Weight is a hot topic for everyone I know. The only point I’d like to make *clears throat for big finale* is this:

Even if you’re not on the Biggest Loser, you can make any change you want in your life, including your body and your health. You don’t need the fancy cooks and state of the art equipment. You don’t need the wacky competition or the crazy challenges. You don’t need expensive trainers. You need a good support network right at home or online. You need patience because the weight won’t just fall off in a week or 6. You need love for yourself and for the process.

I’m prepared for the backlash. I’m prepared for the comments. I’ve never held back in the past when it comes to my opinions so here it is, for what it’s worth…


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  1. * cuteellaisbold says:

    You make some very valid points…I concur.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  2. * Rachel says:

    Okay, so…I guess I kind of agree with you and kind of disagree with you. Having battled weight my whole life, and eventually getting up to the kind of weights that they start with on the Biggest Loser (like in the 250 lb range), I realized that I couldn’t do it on my own. I had gastric bypass two years ago when I was 23. It was a tough (and expensive) decision, but I knew that I’d tried and failed many times to lose the weight the way you did, and my health was starting to suffer. I was having heart palpitations at 23 years old. Before I decided to have surgery, I went to a BL audition, but chickened out before I could go through with it. For a lot of people on the show, they really just don’t know where to start and for some of them, the show is really helpful. However, I do agree with you that the general viewing public believes it is a magic pill. (When standing in line at the audition, I heard several comments from people much larger than me say things like, “If they expect me to give up fried chicken, they’ve got another thing coming.”) When starting a weight loss effort like that, you have to be ready, which you definitely were. The people who sit at home on their couches and watch the Biggest Loser, instead of getting up and doing something about their weight aren’t ready. Some people never will be ready. I don’t know if you watched this last season, but I did and I started to see some evidence from the show that they understand their position in encouraging viewers who think that it can’t be done anywhere besides the ranch. They sent people home to lose the weight while their partners stayed on campus. Some of the largest weight loss came from the people that were at home. So I guess I have mixed feelings about the show. I think they don’t focus enough on the diet part of the equation, because let’s be honest, you have to count your calories to lose weight. And they do too many “temptations.” But I think they’re finally starting to get that people have this attitude that they’ll never be able to lose the weight unless they’re on the show. You and I both know that’s not true. And just to let you know, my surgery was successful; I lost close to 80 lbs, but I’ve put about 15 back on. To get it back off, I’m doing what everyone else has to do — counting calories and exercising every single day. You have to put the work in no matter what, but surgery was that kick start I needed to maintain and re-establish a healthy lifestyle. Because it’s hard to go to the gym when you can barely walk up the stairs to get there.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  3. * Rachel says:

    Wow sorry for the novel up there 🙂

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  4. * Andi says:

    Thank you for articulating what I’ve been thinking for a long time! I’ve never actually watched Biggest Loser because I feel that real, honest lifestyle changes don’t happen in front of a camera. I think what they do on TV shows like that is sensationalistic and exploitive.

    Sadly, there’s no entertainment value in someone making small, reasonable adjustments in their life so that they lose weight in a slow, healthy manner.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  5. * Katherine says:

    I hate it too. Not so much for number one, but definitely for number 2.

    I really hate how (and please still be my friend after I say this) it has forced its way into office culture.

    In general, I’m opposed to shows where there’s a lot of yelling. Unless, of course, it’s on VH1. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  6. Well, I think the point is that it’s a lifestyle thing. And if these people worked out, then went home and had pizza and fried chicken (or dieted but didn’t work out), then the results would be negligible. The reason it works is because they get these people to change everything that is necessary for the new lifestyle and to keep it for long enough that it may become a permanent habit.

    Losing weight is simple (not easy, but simple). There’s only 4 punches in boxing (jab, hook, cross, uppercut), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be a boxer. If it were easy, then everyone would do it. Same thing with developing healthy lifestyle habits.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  7. * Emily says:

    Personally, I really enjoy the Biggest Loser. I don’t like any other reality TV shows, and I watch BL on my DVR so I can fast-forward through some of the drama. But it’s the only show I watch that does get me off the couch. I usually do weights or crunches or squats while watching. I’m inspired by the changes the contestants make, and I like the tips the trainers give going to the commercials.

    And as Rachel mentioned, this past season they did focus more on what you can do at home.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  8. * Daniel says:

    Right on! Its just so false. People cannot have a job and do what they do on the BL, spend every second of every day focused on losing weight. Its just not realistic, and as you say, it just lures that magic solution in front of people and makes them feel bad when they fall short (when they take that cookie at work or skip a workout).

    And I so hear you about learning to date at 25. I feel like I missed so much and that pretty much was my situation as well.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  9. A healthy rate of weight loss is 2 lbs per week. The thing about biggest loser that I find frustrating is that it encourages an unhealthy rate of weight loss. I absolutely agree with your post and with Andi above. (now if only I could get 2 lbs per week going regularly 🙂 )

    That said, people should be smart enough to put 2 + 2 together and realize that if they too spent 60+ hours per week working on their body for six weeks and hired a trainer/chef, they too could lose the weight quickly. That kind of time commitment is not realistic for most of us, and most of us don’t have the money or resources to do it either. Instead of going out for BL auditions or hating ourselves for not losing quickly, we all just need to take it one day at a time. Changing a lifestyle is a day by day effort – and it’s a lifelong struggle. Even those who lose quickly, like the first commenter who had gastric bypass, will have to eventually make those lifestyle modifications.

    I don’t let the show bother me. I’m sure it’s entertaining and exciting for others to watch, and maybe it is motivational for many people. I just stick with slow and steady wins the race and enjoy watching Burn Notice or Smallville ;).

    It’s nice to hear you speak your mind!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  10. I don’t know if it makes anyone feel any better for me to say this, but I’ve been 200+ since I was about 18 years old and I never let it get me down. Sure, sometimes people say stupid things, but for the most part I just lived my life. I dated several people long term, went on a bunch of first dates, met a wonderful husband ;), had a lot of friends and fun and started my career. As much as being overweight is a pain, I haven’t ever and will not ever let it dictate my life. It’s just one small part of my life and who I am. I wish more people felt that way. It always makes me feel sad to see perfectly wonderful people who hold off on living until they achieve the weight they want.

    Congratulations average Jane for making such a positive change in your life, but just remember, you were beautiful then and you’re beautiful now. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 10 months ago
  11. * xoxo09 says:

    The one thing that I found most mind blowing in this blog is that you thiks we have a personal chef on the ranch! We did not have a personal chef on the ranch… We were responsible for preparing ALL of our own food…We were taught what was healthy and what wasent…The reason why people drop so much weight in so little time is because we go from being the most unhealthy people to eating right and excersizing. Yes it might not be realistic when we come back home because we will to to return to work and our normal activities, but it gave us that jumpstart that we needed. . The show is not in anyway dangerous, There are doctors on site at all times monereting us. We had all of the responsibilities that someone at home would have, all of the housework is done by the contestants. The Biggest Loser might not be for everybody, but dont make it seem like we have everything handed to us, we work extreamly hard for our results!

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 7 months ago
  12. * Foodie mcbody says:

    I agree with everything you said// people DON’T need all that extra stuff to succeed: but I still love biggest loser. Even though they lose 5x more than me, I still feel a kinship with them in the struggle and the journey.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 4 months ago

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