>I still think The Biggest Loser is an entertaining program. It also provides some good advice on healthy eating and exercise. Watching severely obese people take control of their lives and become healthier individuals also continues to be inspiring. However, I am distressed by the amount of weight people lost and how quickly it happened. What's the message?
Dramatic lifestyle changes at the show's ranch aside, I understand that people with significant amounts of weight to lost may find that moderate changes can produce big results quickly. But plateaus definitely hit all of us, and I'm not sure that show portrays that enough. I also think that it underplays how much time contestants spend exercising, which may give viewers false hopes. My suspicion is that most of the audience is like me, and doesn't have four or five hours to spend exercising every day.
Further, in the second to last episode of this season, the contestants already lost enormous amounts of weight. At that point, it is no longer healthy or normal to lose over 6% of one's body weight in a week. That is a lot of fucking weight for people who are in decent shape. (In season 3, which I just saw in re-runs, the final four lost half of that - about 3% - in their final week on the ranch, which seems more reasonable.) And how does muscle get counted? If healthy people replace fat with muscle, they look better, but weigh more. The winner of The Biggest Loser is determined solely by what percent of one's body weight is lost.
I've been stewing over this for a few reasons. First, I would gladly way more if it was due to increased muscle mass. I seem to have lost some of my muscle tone in the last few months, and although my weight is pretty constant, my gut is hanging out way more. Give me a few more pounds if it'll pull me in. (Yes, I know this won't happen unless I start doing stupid crunches again.)
Watching the show also made me realize that from 1997-1999, I lost 25% of my body weight. Since I did it through small adjustments in my life that were pretty sustainable, it took two years. (In fact, a few nights ago, I asked Husband if he could remember how we used to eat before we lost weight, as I cannot remember at all what a typical meal was like. I suspect it involved a lot more dessert, but he could not pinpoint the many changes we made, either.) I think that sounds about right for most people.
I don't begrudge anyone who can lose weight faster, or the show for promoting rapid weight loss. I do hope that people who want to change their lives realize that doing it at home and on their own is likely to take a long time, and that they should not give up. When I first joined a gym 11 years ago, I was sure that it would only last for a little while. Yet here I am today, still going regularly, and maintaining a consistent weight for over 8 years.
That's my 2 cents on this topic.