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-   -   Does Biggest Loser Send Wrong Message?? (https://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/weight-loss-support/190991-does-biggest-loser-send-wrong-message.html)

tiniree 01-15-2010 10:45 AM

Does Biggest Loser Send Wrong Message??
I have watched the Biggest Loser since the first season and was always filled with admiration for the contestants. I knew it must be extremely hard to be so overweight and go on national t.v. and expose not just your huge belly, but your inner emotions as well.

Two weeks ago I joined weight watchers. I have approximately 35-40 pounds to lose. Not even close to the amount the contestants on TBL have to contend with.

But having had my initial "starting weight" weigh in and two weigh-in's since, and losing a respectable 3.4 and 2.8 pounds, I have a question?

Could the show be sending the wrong message to people who need to lose weight by having these contestants lose so much at each weigh-in? Last night at Weight Watchers I was standing outside the weigh in area and the woman being weighed cried out, "But I expected A LOT more than just 4 pounds! I was hoping for a double digit!"

I am concerned that the show, while having a very admirable goal, may not be giving the public a realistic view of "true healthy" weight-loss.

What is your opinion?


Eliana 01-15-2010 10:49 AM

I don't know. I have always assumed people knew that this was an unrealistic amount to lose and that given that it's television a "week" may be a very loose term.

As for the woman you heard, if it was her first week and she had a lot to lose, double digit numbers aren't out of the question. I lost 10-12 that first week.

paris81 01-15-2010 11:07 AM

I think it sends both the wrong message and the right message. I agree that it makes people think that they can lose loads of weight week after week. It's not made 100% clear (although you can figure it out if you want) that the contestants eat VERY low calories (I think they're all at 1200 a day) and work out for like, 8 hours or something--not realistic for the real world.

But the positive message that it sends is that every day people, not just Hollywood starlets, can lose weight and get in shape. I think that the show sends a positive message about fitness. Also, at the end of the season, you see them able to go home and lose weight, without all the fancy equiptment and trainers of the ranch, which is more realistic for regular people.

I think that it also sends an incorrect message about overweight people in general--all the contestants seem to allow themselves to be held back because of their weight, they let their weight get in the way of their lives. Their entire self confidence is wrapped up in their weight--I know this isn't an accurate picture of ALL overweight people, as I don't feel this way at all. Sure, some of my self confidence involves my appearance and therefore my weight, but most of it comes from other things, because I haven't let my weight hold me back in things I want to do. It's not how I define myself. This may be the case for some, but not for all.

mom4life 01-15-2010 11:24 AM

I used to watch the show and felt motivated at times to push myself to extremes then to give up. I would start getting discouraged that this is who I was meant to be....large.
They push people hard and you see the struggles. I have always worried about those that felt the same as me....like they couldn't do it and just decide to give up without trying.
I'm so thankful for shows like "I lost it" and "X-weighted," I was so motivated when I started watching the show that I made it a point to exercise everyday while the show was on (1 hour). I started with my Wii Fit Step workout, where I could watch the show as it was tracking my steps. From there I did other stuff as I was able to move better.
Now I use my treadmill as I watch the show. My dh tells me that I don't need that show anymore but I still find the motivation I need to not fall back to old habits.

Nada 01-15-2010 01:14 PM

It's always bothered me on a number of different levels. First, unrealistic expectations of normal weight loss, unrealistic expectations of amount, intensity and duration of exercise required, and finally the sight of morbidly obese people struggling to run or perform other activities isn't entertaining to me.

(I've always had a sneaking suspicion that many viewers tune in to laugh at the "fatties". My own insecurity may be showing here.)

honeybjones 01-15-2010 01:22 PM

My issue with the show is that they track pounds lost and not fat % lost. Maybe they do that behind the scenes but what America sees is pounds lost and that is ingrained in our psyche when in reality you want to alter your body composition for true lasting health and fitness.

L144S 01-15-2010 01:24 PM

I think for some it sends the wrong message, and that is for those that don't see how much work the contastants put it. But the right message is calories in vs calories out. I have a Bodybugg, which i woud have never heard about without the show, it has proven t me calories in vs calorie out is all about the numbers and a cookie/peice of chocolate is NOT the end of my "diet" nor do I have to throw it all away. If I exercise hard and stick to my calories, I can lose weight.

I think if you listen to what they are not telling you, it is all about lifestyle..

The other thing I have learned watching this show, mostly from the where are they now, is that I willl aways have to live my life as a fat person. I will always have to count calories, and I will always have to excerise. just because I now like th number on the scale does not change what I have to do to maintain how I got here and will have to do to stay here.

For me it has been a positive message becuse although I appriciate the game part of it, I can see how it has changed me...

randomcards 01-15-2010 01:28 PM

Well if people choose to be uneducated about weight loss and believe they can eat healthy and exercise a few times and lose 18 pounds a week then I have a hard time believing they were going to be successful long-term in the first place.

So I think TBL is great because A) It puts the spotlight on the issue, B) Shows that large people can work out hard and C) Focuses a lot on the "life change" that weight loss can bring vs. just winning a reality show.

So while it is not an accurate portrayal for "normal" people, I don't think anybody would want to watch a show about me creating a 500 calorie day defecit, going to the gym 4 times, and losing 2-3 pounds per week.

Tomato 01-15-2010 01:28 PM

No, I don't think the show is sending out a wrong message (at least not in the sense of your question). You are not comparing apples to apples. You cannot compare weight loss based only on diet to weight loss based on both diet and exercise [and massive amounts of thereof, to be precise]. Also, most, although not all, contestants on TBL have a lot more to lose than just 35 lbs and weight loss in the initial stage goes faster.
They are building muscle and weight lifting routines results in increased metabolism for a couple of hours AFTER the exercise. I can't imagine how long their metabolism remains elevated after 6hours at the gym.

19Deltawifey 01-15-2010 01:39 PM

I watched BL when it was in its 1st season they didn't have as much weight to lose as they do now. Plus when the show 1st started they had a women who weighed about 220 or less. They were all losing about 3 and 4 lbs a week. Now it seems like if your not dropping double digits on the show then you are a failure. I only watch the Finale of the show now. The BL is a show and if they were losing slowly like some of us do then the show wouldn't be as entertaining. When I hop on the scale Im happy when I see .5-2 lbs loss. Im not expecting 8 or more lbs to come off in a week. The BL is a show and what they do on there is unrealistic for the average person. I personally would not want to workout 8 hours a day just to lose 10 lbs in a week but thats just my opinion. Im shocked at how quickly some of them are losing weight I think a guy lost 100 lbs in 8 weeks thats really quick but a lot of them gain the weight back after the show ends. Losing weight is the easy part but sticking with the healthy lifestyle is the hardest part and a lot of the past contestants show that you can lose the weight but even they struggle to keep it off

caryesings 01-15-2010 01:55 PM

I personally get frustrated that this show receives so much attention, while there is a Lifetime show (I watch on line, don't have cable) called Diet Tribe that does it all so much better. Women who are supporting each other instead of competing against each other. They're doing it while living their real lives and are given a diet and exercise program they can do while holding down jobs, raising family, etc.

PastelApple 01-15-2010 03:26 PM

I think it does send the wrong message. It's very easy to watch the show and glorify the idea of weight loss instead of the actual process. People watch the show, I think, and come into weight loss with these completely unrealistic expectations, not taking into account that shows like the Biggest Loser create an environment in which weight loss, although it's never really easy, is much easier. The numbers become the main focus, although health is often taken into account as well, just on a minor level (I think.) Prizes aren't given for better cardiorespiratory health or lower blood pressure. The focus is on the pounds lost in context of what you previously weighed.

While logically a lot of people should be able to see that for most people those results are unrealistic unless in real world setting, where people have jobs and the like, it's very easy to buy into the idea of fast weight loss. I have. I'm still fighting that. I expect to lose a massive amount of weight in just a couple of days. It frustrates me that I have to wait, because I only see the results that people get in the media. I don't see their mental struggle.

I think most, if not all weight loss-related shows, have a negative impact on me...because it makes weight loss seem so easy. And it's just not. So, I end up feeling guilty for not being strong-minded, and then the cycle starts again.

Well, hopefully it won't this time. ;)

jgray321 01-15-2010 03:30 PM

I have gone back and forth on this. I used to think it sent the wrong message with the weight loss numbers, but people aren't stupid and they know that without all that hard work that weight doesn't come off so quickly. As for inspiring I think it depends on where you are, if you're ready to face certain things. I used to watch the contestants and think "if they can do it so can I" but wasn't really doing anything to prove it. For some reason this season I have been inspired to start trying. One thing that made an impression on me as well was watching Bob take on the weight of the contestant who weighs 430 pounds. To see how much of a struggle it is for a normal healthy person who is in good shape to carry around that much excess weight made me think of how much better I'll feel when I shed it.

If people want to watch the show to make fun of the fatties, which used to be my reason for swearing I'd never consider being on it, then they're the ones who have issues not the contestants. No matter where they start they've always lost the weight and most of them keep it off. That is something to admire no matter who you are because it's not something everyone can do. If you can't admire that then chances are it's because it's not something you could do. I'm just saying.

For now I'll keep watching and cheering them on.

saef 01-15-2010 03:39 PM

This is the cheesiest show I watch. It's my guilty pleasure, even more than any other reality TV show. I wince at its cheery forced infomercials for overly processed foods, the sound of the Scale of Doom beeping during its hour-long weigh-ins, the way the camera shakes when heavy contestants walk or fall, the prolonged close-ups on big bellies striated with stretch marks.

That said, watching people losing weight healthily would be as entertaining as watching paint dry. And while I wish I could see more scenes of contestants learning to cook & eat healthily, I think the producers are afraid someone channel surfing might see that part & confuse the show with one of the apprentice chef shows.

But I still value its message about getting out & moving. If I hadn't been watching this show, I would have missed the inspiring sight of Tara turning herself into an athlete. When I was intimidated by free weights, I remembered the heavy people on the "Biggest Loser" & their struggles. This is the only show I've ever seen where the entire exercise class or the whole population at the gym isn't already svelte & sculpted. These are not actors & actresses & fitness models & professional athletes trying to sell an infomercial device. I had never before seen so many fat people on machines, trying to get healthy, sweating hard, giving it their all. I remain thrilled by that sight. If the show has done anything, it's taken that from a laughing matter to something "heroic," as the trainer Bob keeps saying. I find there to be something of value in those images.

My concerns for the show mostly stem from how hard & how soon they push these contestants. I don't like the injuries. They keep getting bigger. I worry someone will die. That will end the show completely & undo a lot of the good I see it as having done.

dragonwoman64 01-15-2010 04:26 PM


Originally Posted by saef (Post 3097441)
This is the cheesiest show I watch. It's my guilty pleasure, even more than any other reality TV show.

me too. I make the joke when they pause for commercial before showing someone's weight loss number: how do you keep an idiot in suspense? (talking about myself here, ha)


Originally Posted by saef (Post 3097441)
That said, watching people losing weight healthily would be as entertaining as watching paint dry.

I'd agree with that too.

they actually do track percentages lost, that's how they determine the winner.

in my mind, the show does set up the perception of weight loss being a superfast process if a person does the right amount of exercise and diets correctly. while that may have some grain of truth in it, I think it's unrealistic for the vast majority of people who have large amounts of weight to lose to think they'll do it in a matter of months (double digits every week).

I love watching the transformations. they helps me to envision how different my life and body could (and will) be. I definitely feel like watching it motivates me to exercise and eat better.

I am conscious as a viewer, and the contestants actually talk about it quite a bit, that it's the opportunity of a lifetime to have that kind of help around them to lose weight, to completely concentrate on their eating and exercise with trained professionals in an isolated environment. much more valuable than any money prize. Yes, there's some sacrifice of personal dignity that's made in the public eye, but how many people remember most of the past shows, and for how long do they remember them? only a handful of TBL contestants have stuck in my mind.

it does seem to inspire a good number of people in the outside world to get off the couch and put down the potato chips.

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