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-   -   Biggest Loser : more harm than inspiration? (https://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/biggest-loser-winning-losing/285254-biggest-loser-more-harm-than-inspiration.html)

Matisse 07-25-2013 12:43 AM

Biggest Loser : more harm than inspiration?
I have been catching up with the four last seasons of The Biggest Loser lately. Even though, I do not like the repetitions and the weigh-ins that go on forever, there is something I like about that show. I love to see the transformations, both physical and psychological. I also love the moments when contestants transcend game play and act altruistically.

I also realize that this show has set completely unrealistic expectations in my mind regarding to weight loss which could be really detrimental. Lastly, Bob and Gillian in season 14 were petty and too ego-driven in my view. I found Dolvett to be much more inspiring and generous.

I found this article written by Tom Venuto, a fitness and nutrition expert.

http://www.burnthefatinnercircle.com/public/614.cfm (I will let you read the article.)

Here are his cons. I will let you read the article.
  • The biggest loser is judged on weight loss, not body composition.
  • Rapid weight loss competition encourages physically dangerous practices
  • The Biggest Loser pushes overtraining to the point of high injury risk
  • The Biggest Loser has no relevance to real world situations
  • The Biggest Loser trainers are walking a fine line between tough love and abuse
  • On The Biggest Loser, normal rates of weight loss are penalized and frowned on as failure
  • The Biggest Loser encourages unrealistic weight loss expectations
  • The Biggest Loser does not teach real-world lifestyle strategies
  • The Biggest Loser doesn't focus on lifelong maintenance

The more I think about it, the lesser I am convinced that overweight viewers get positive reinforcement. What do you think?

luckymommy 07-25-2013 12:52 AM

I completely agree with the above bullet points, but I still like to watch the show because I'm a sucker for any weight loss show. Right now, I'm loving Extreme Weight Loss and for the longest time, I was watching Supersize Vs. Superskinny on youtube (which has some major food binge triggering images for me). I feel terrible admitting it but even if a show has a lot of negative aspects and even though I get tons of info/support on this board, I still feel like I'm the only one who is struggling to lose weight in this world and watching these shows reminds me that I'm not alone.

CrazyCatWoman 07-25-2013 02:21 AM

I have just started watching it as it is on evening tv over here in Finland. I have found the show incredibly motivating, just to see the week by week changes. However I completely agree with the points raised and there's no way I would ever want to participate on such a show myself! For me, it's all about showing it is POSSIBLE to lose large amounts of weight, and make that change.

Underwater 07-25-2013 04:11 AM

I've always felt that when you have these people regularly posting 6, 8, even 12 lbs lost each week, it gives people an unrealistic view of what they can expect. I was a on a very low calorie, medically supervised diet, and exercising and I still only lost 2-3 lbs a week.

Changergirl 07-25-2013 04:28 AM

I think you just need to know that these people are losing weight as a job. They're on super low calorie diets and exercising 6-8 hours a day. It's nothing that a normal person can do.

I had never watched the show previously but started to right around when I started my latest 'diet'. I felt that it really helped me stay motivated during some rough patches and it was nice to compare some of the percentages as on my highest weeks I matched some of their lower ones. (It is insane to try and compare pounds lost as a lot of these people were double my size to begin with).

Now that I've gone through all the seasons I started watching the UK show Supersize vs. Superskinny to keep me motivated.

Missys Mom 07-25-2013 09:51 PM

I have to say "The Biggest Loser" has been a great motivation for me along with "Extreme Weight Loss" with Chris Powell, especially the last episode with Jami....that episode really hit home with me and I cried all the way through it. I admit, I have a HUGE problem with food and I have hardly any willpower....there is always something getting in the way of my goals and I always wind up falling off the wagon even though I want to be able to fit into smaller clothes etc. Next resort is weight loss supplements which I am hoping will help with the working out, etc.....I go to Weight Watchers every week and I dread going there...even though I follow program the majority of the time and even when I dont cheat (when I work really hard to lose weight) I still gain weight and it totally deflates me :(

Matisse 07-25-2013 10:13 PM

That's awful, Missys. Fellow Canadian here. Did you have a full medical check-up(thyroid problem, etc..)?

It seems that you need more than WW i.e. all the help our universal health care can offer (GP, specialists, nutritionists). It's too frustrating otherwise to work so hard for minimal results.

I found Jami's episode on youtube and I recall Chris Powell for his help with David Smith which you probably have heard of.


Matisse 07-26-2013 02:37 PM

Myssys -

Thank you so much for nudging me in the direction of Extreme Makeover Weightloss edition. I love Chris Powell so much more than Jillian or Bob. You can tell that he speaks from a position of respect and love. I remember that David Smith became his roommate/friend when he was shredding his weight. I can't imagine any of the celebrity trainers being so invested in the well-being of the other.

I also love that he thought Jami had restricted her calories too much in the first phase and she was over-exercising, so she had no weight loss goals, just fitness goals.

He is also gradual in his exercises geared towards the out-of-shape or obese. No puking, no abuse, no doctors who have to be on stand-by all the time because people are passing out left and right.

Good find. Thanks!

TriciaV 07-27-2013 09:30 PM

I turned my nose up at Biggest Loser for years, but got drawn in during the stress of my husbands studying for the bar exam. The rates of weight loss are crazy, but I do think it demonstrates anyone can lose weight (like how anyone can cook from Ratatouille).

I dislike the reality TV politics, but Season 7 was a breath of fresh air. If you haven't seen season 7, I highly recommend it. Hulu has season 1 and then skips to 6. Once in a great while I might learn something, like why do dead lifts.

Mayssa 07-28-2013 10:54 PM

For my part, if it wasn't for the biggest loser, i probably wouldn't be here right now trying to change my life. It was a huge eye opener for me. The fact that it not only focuses on the physical but also the emotional part made me realize that i didn't " just get fat " but that there was a problem behind it. After a few seasons of hearing the trainers talk to the contestants i started to understand and figure out what my real problem with food was and that is priceless.
Of course you can't achieve that amount of weight loss at home without medical supervision and non-stop work outs, but even in the show they do focus on the fact that the most important thing is to change your lifestyle. Sure it has its flaws but over all i think it motivates thousands of people.
To me, it gave me a wake-up call, made me understand what my core problem was and helped me deal with it, gives me motivation, helped me believe that it IS possible and more importantly helped me realize that for a better life, there should be NO excuses.

So yeah, to me, definite inspiration :P

Matisse 07-30-2013 11:53 PM

Nice to read you two. Season 7 was good indeed. I would have joined team Tara.

To me, this is what I take from the show : role models. Not Bob and Jillian. I do not like what they have become.

Here are my favourite so far. Tara, of course, Danni from season 14, Kim from season 13, the parents generosity and selflessness in season 11.

I love the hard workers with athletics abilities. I love the contestants who do not rely on strategy and social skills and fear that one slip on the scale will get them eliminated. I love the ones who show grit.

Seashell84 07-31-2013 09:45 AM

I got disgusted with BL and had to stop watching. Too much petty drama, too much whining, too much unrealistic expectations and letdowns, too much stupid competition. And personally I find Jillian revolting. She is at times verbally abusive, she has terrible form and so do her clients. I think some of the exercises they do are just asking for injury. I also think that they way they lose weight, in a bubble in a crazy short period of time, is just asking for failure.

I love Extreme Makeover Weight Loss! Jami's episode really spoke to me. I also tend to place my self-worth in what I weigh/how I look. I have serious feelings of worthlessness. I am also majorly obsessive. I do the undereat/overexercise thing. I am prone to developing an eating disorder. I have been suicidal in the past. I loved that first of all, he encouraged her to eat more and exercise less. Then when she didn't meet her weight goal and still felt good about herself, he saw that as a victory. I loved that he gave her a fitness goal instead of a weight goal. I actually just started doing this because of that episode. I had my husband stick the scale and measuring tape in the farthest corner of our tallest closet. I can't get it without climbing and potentially hurting myself. If I want to measure/weigh my husband has to get it down and I told him only once per month maximum. Unless I am ordering clothes online and need to measure for that there is no need for it more than once per month.

I actually just watched the epidode with Ryan, the man with one arm. I don't think I've ever cried so much from a weight loss story. He was so inspiring. I love that Chris seems to really know when to push and when to back off and compromise. Jillian just pushes and pushes, no matter the circumstances. He is kind and yet not a pushover. He is very balanced in his training. And the fact that it is over a year, instead of a few months, and they are in their home environment, helps them to maintain because it is more realistic.

diamondgeog 08-17-2013 08:34 AM

I don't watch BL but think success stories are very motivational. If people find that in BL great for them. I find mine here on goal and mini goal. And on the Huffington Post weight loss success stories.

TriciaV 08-18-2013 08:20 AM

Another way I feel the show is inspiring is that people keep going when they have been injured. They find ways to make it work. If I can't run, I walk. If I can't walk, I bike. If I couldn't bike, I'd swim.

Bellamack 08-18-2013 09:27 AM

I wish they would have a Weight Loss Show for us middle aged menopausel women with some disabilities. I was always an athlete and worked out hard and then an accident broke my neck and back. I recovered fairly well and went back to most activities (gave up running) but now in mid 50's, have had neck, & both shoulders done (surgery). Everything has to be so much more moderate...plus hypothyroid. Have a show to SUPPORT those that truly have to take the "turtle" approach, we need encouragement and success stories too! Jillian is hidious, can't stand her attitude, used to like Bob, but not so much anymore.

PatLib 08-19-2013 07:11 PM

I love Extreme Weight Loss with Chris. I like that he takes a year and he often will change goals based on personality. Like the young woman who was developing a an eating disorder he changed the whole goal into dealing with her food issues.

Wendyg311 10-04-2013 10:11 AM

I really liked the idea of the show when it first started, but I do not watch it. I've tried to go back to it a few times but I can't stand to watch people being screamed at when they are about to pass out or are crying. People who are on their own can't work out for as many hours per day as they do. I am happy for the people who learn how to be healthier from the show

Tulip2 10-26-2013 03:30 PM

I also can't stand the yelling on the biggest loser. The stories themselves are inspirational but the weight-loss is totally unrealistic and so many regain.
I love extreme weight-loss though. I can't wait for the next season.

Koshka 01-23-2014 01:15 PM

I have never had any interest in Biggest Loser for the reasons stating. It isn't motivating to me. I've watched a few episodes but just didn't find them motivating.

ReillyJ 01-23-2014 03:29 PM

i'll watch it sometimes when there's nothing else on but i absolutely cannot relate to the amount of physical exercise they do. I can only do 1/2 hour on the treadmill and i just find all that yelling and pushing to be de-motivating. Also i wish there was much more focus on nutrition and what they're eating because IN REAL LIFE THAT is what it will take for the average person, not hours spent on grueling exercise

i also find it interesting that in the beginning the ladies are wearing bra tops which expose their stomachs, and as they near goal, it's tanks which are probably spandex and hiding the loose skin.. would be nice to have that talked about as it was something that was unexpected with me simply because i didn't know any better

Silverfire 01-23-2014 04:02 PM

Like all "reality TV" BL needs to be taken with a large grain of (low sodium ;)) salt!

I bet that if you and I were willing and could afford to go through the 4-6 hours a day of intense exercise, being pushed to the absolute limit and following a strict diet, complete with personal trainers and all the equipment one could ever dream of, we too could lose 100 lbs in 4 months. Obviously most of us do not have this luxury!

We also have to remember that these people put their lives on hold to do this. No job, no relationships, no distractions. Their entire life revolves around one thing and one thing only. The rest of the world doesn't get that option.

I find it extremely motivating. Knowing that it does take dedication and that it is possible, for people who are not to dissimilar to myself to lose 100+ lbs. I find something relate-able to many of the contestants, and that gives me hope. I see that these people who are heavier and in worse shape than me, CAN work out, and HARD for a long time. Sure they might puke, but they don't die, and they are better next week for it.

Is it sensationalized. Yes. Everything is these days. You have to be able to pick out the useful information from the entertainment.

Anyone who watches BL and hopes for the same results at home are just foolish.

diamondgeog 01-24-2014 08:58 PM

I never watched BL until this year except for an episode here or there. I am anti time goals so that part of the show, which is a huge part of it , turns me off.

I have watched about half of the season 15 episodes and I might be missing it but they don't seem to spend much time on diet.

And one episode a training tip was one of those pretty bad for you fruit yougarts. Obviously it was a sponsor. But that was disappointing. Overall though it seems better than I remember earlier years. I just hope the show pays for skin removal surgery. Because with how much and how fast it comes off, it must be a huge problem for them.

nelie 01-25-2014 11:37 AM

I've been watching BL a little bit while exercising (season 13). I know it is dramatized for tv though. I have heard some of the behind the scene things for both Biggest Loser and Extreme weight loss and I almost feel like Extreme Weight loss is much worse.

I just always wonder where they find people who can not work for 6 months or so... I mean even if I told my job that I was going to leave without pay for 6 months they would be like what the ****..

I also don't know if they have shortened the weeks to actual weeks? I know when Biggest loser started, their weeks were almost 2 weeks long so the numbers they pulled were really over 2 weeks, not 1.

Anyway, yes if you think it is something you can do at home, you don't realize that they have doctors on staff behind the scenes constantly monitoring the contestants. They also are spreading their workouts throughout the day as well. And they also have chefs preparing them specific meals. So I think it is interesting to watch but not something to emulate at home.

diamondgeog 01-25-2014 05:19 PM

Nelie and everyone you have to read this. It should probably be its own thread. It seems credible. I came across it wanting to know how some cast members are now.

Really, pardon pun, food for thought about these shows. Or at least extreme weight loss makeover.


Chardonnay 01-25-2014 05:59 PM

I used to watch it, I thought it was motivating despite what I thought of the methods. I WISH I had doctors, massage-therapists etc...at my disposal after a whole day of working out with a paid trainer, and my food chosen and paid for as well. And each contestant gets paid depending on how long they are on the show too, so there is some monetary compensation. It's fantasy for me, but I liked seeing the transformations.

I think I got turned off when Jillian started to act as a therapist, I forget which season it was.

Mad Donnelly 01-25-2014 07:37 PM

Yeah, it occurred to me the other day I've never NOT seen Jillian Michael's belly button. Does she ever wear any clothes?

The thing with EM is that skin surgery is a GIVEN. Yes, as fast as they make them lose it (80 pounds in 3 months? Yikes), it's going to be loose. But they let NO TIME go by for your body to even catch up a little.

I want to like BL but I have never understood why you're MADE to stand there in that spandex and then they pretend like they care about you. It's not okay to wear some regular shorts and a t-shirt? That's not humiliating enough? And the one episode where they had an entire buffet of nothing but sweet desserts? Um, why? It was only for the gratification of people at home watching these "fatties" being "pigs".

nelie 01-26-2014 07:23 AM

As someone who used to weigh more than many of the female contestants and lost over 100 lbs, some of it very quickly (75 lbs in my first 3 months), I don't think skin removal surgery is a requirement. Yes, when you lose quickly, the skin will be noticeable at first but then it gets better. I felt 100% better with the weight loss and the loose skin was just a thing...

Pattience 03-04-2014 04:55 PM

Yes i can't watch the show. Its horrible. The abuse , the conflicting strategy that makes "good tv" but it harder for contestants to achieve their main aim, the way that people put off the show are probably going to end up back to where they started from because of the ordeal and rejection they experience.

But i can see how it might be inspiring to many who identify with the contestants.

rosesandholly 04-16-2014 08:12 PM


Originally Posted by TriciaV (Post 4802101)
I turned my nose up at Biggest Loser for years, but got drawn in during the stress of my husbands studying for the bar exam. The rates of weight loss are crazy, but I do think it demonstrates anyone can lose weight (like how anyone can cook from Ratatouille).

I dislike the reality TV politics, but Season 7 was a breath of fresh air. If you haven't seen season 7, I highly recommend it. Hulu has season 1 and then skips to 6. Once in a great while I might learn something, like why do dead lifts.

Ugh, season 7, don't get me started on Janelle! :devil: That girl pissed me off to the nth degree! That said, she bugged me so much that I haven't seen about half the season, and it was a good season. Going back to it now.

I find the theme song very inspirational. At the end of every day, corny as I know it sounds, I ask myself, "What have you done today to make you feel proud?" It makes me happy that I can easily answer that question these days.

Biggest Loser does totally skew my expectations. I don't ask such huge numbers of myself b/c I know it isn't safe (and a lot of the contestants put the weight back on anyway). I do get discouraged when I don't seem to look different in a week or two, the way they do. I look at how hard they work out and ask myself, am I doing enough?

I know this is dangerous territory, so when I get into a Biggest Loser watching phase (they tend to come and go with me; not a big reality show person generally) I try to limit myself to an episode a day.

rich8ames 05-29-2014 06:31 PM

The messaging may not be the best, yes I think judging on body composition would be better - still, the show is a good insperation for me, cause it shows if you do the work and dieting, you can lose the weight.

RawrGirl 10-07-2014 08:33 PM

RawrGirl likes the show. She likes Jillian. She likes how much the trainers care and the snippets of when they get to the core of why a person is overweight. It's also very motivational because RawrGirl always lifts weights when she watches, so it's a longer workout on those days, lol.

TheSatinPumpkin 10-12-2014 11:44 AM

I like it. Favorite seasons are 4, 5, 7, 11.

kaplods 10-12-2014 12:56 PM

I stopped watching after a few seasons, because it started to feel like the main message was becoming "fat people are lazy, crazy, worthless pieces of $#@T, that deserve to be treated like subhuman garbage, because that's what they are - and only severe mental and physical abuse AND steady weight losses of 15 lbs a week can possibly redeem them."

I've been away from the show for five years or more, and when I saw this thread, I thought maybe I had overreacted, or that maybe the show had changed for the better (or at least had stopped getting more dangerous and brutal every season).

Then I read the article in the OP, and am thinking, I've not nearly been opposed enough. I mean, come on, contestants peeing blood? How is that admirable in any way, except in a culture where obesity is so villified, that anything: physical abuse, mental torture, and even death and self-maiming, is considered an acceptable cost in the pursuit of slimness.

aryastark 10-13-2014 09:47 AM

Totally agree, its a competition first and foremost though so you need to look at it like that rather than as a weight loss show. We have our own weight loss show here, no one gets voted off, everyone stays at home doing their own thing for the duration and no one is expected to be ultra slim by the end. That is the way it should be done.

johnsonGA 03-27-2015 02:18 AM

I have always looked at it as somewhat demeaning, but to each their own.

Esofia 04-02-2015 01:12 PM


Originally Posted by Underwater (Post 4800115)
I've always felt that when you have these people regularly posting 6, 8, even 12 lbs lost each week, it gives people an unrealistic view of what they can expect. I was a on a very low calorie, medically supervised diet, and exercising and I still only lost 2-3 lbs a week.

See, this is exactly why it gives people the wrong idea about a good speed of weight loss - 2-3 lb/week is actually very fast weight loss! There's no "only" about it! I lost a lot of weight a few years ago at a rate of 1 lb/week, and thought that was about an average speed. I remember reading that average speed is actually more like 1/2 lb/week. Slow weight loss is easier to carry out, which means that it's easier to stick with and messes with your head less. The more we tell people that it's only worth doing if it's massive amounts of weight lost each week, the likelier they are to give up when that doesn't happen, and to feel miserable about the whole business.

Firecracker777 04-06-2015 10:54 AM

I am not a big fan. I agree that it gives unrealistic expectations of how much you can lose per week. I also think they are demeaning to the people on the show.

Matisse 07-22-2015 10:41 PM


Originally Posted by aryastark (Post 5081377)
Totally agree, its a competition first and foremost though so you need to look at it like that rather than as a weight loss show. We have our own weight loss show here, no one gets voted off, everyone stays at home doing their own thing for the duration and no one is expected to be ultra slim by the end. That is the way it should be done.

Catching up with this thread. Love the way you see it, aryastark.

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