Thursday, February 6, 2014

The sham that is the Biggest Loser

Most days I have no idea why I still watch the Biggest Loser but every season I still tune in. It's probably the OCD side in me that just can't stop watching since I already started watching. Its one of those shows that I put on and only half pay attention as I play with my phone or try and beat the latest level of Candy Crush but yet I still tune in each season. When I first started watching I was over 415 pounds and I could relate with the contestants and try and live vicariously through them as they were getting a chance to do something I would love to do. I even applied to be on the show in June of 2009 after having lost about 40 pounds that year. I find as the years pass I can no longer relate with the contestants or the show and I find myself further and further away from even understanding them anymore. I never even got a call or an email to go with my application to the show most likely because I didn't have the sob story attached to it something they could play up on the big screen something they could sell you. I was fat because I liked food and I didn't move enough it was that simple. There was no emotional tragedy or event for Jillian to sit me in the corner and try and play armchair therapist to try and fix me. I liked food and I lived a sedentary lifestyle oh how simple and probably a greater reason for people being obese then what the show tries to portray.

But I plugged along I never had one of those amazing 15 pound weight loss weeks in fact the most I ever loss in a week was a paltry 4 pounds something the trainers and biggest loser would have shamed a contestant for losing in a week. But what I did have was consistency and the strive to keep moving forward. Between May of 2009 and June of 2010 I lost 2-3 pounds a week every single week and the weight slowly came off. The process ended up taking more than 2 years and when I got to my lowest of 187 right before my first marathon in October of 2011 I had spent nearly 3 years losing that weight. I was what some would probably call to skinny by that point like they have been calling Rachel out since season 15 finale aired and I was no where near as emancipated or skinny as she ended up being. I had lost %55 of my body weight about %5 less than she ended up losing and I didn't get a big cash prize all I got was the ability to be healthy and fit. I was about to run my first marathon and I was very fit, looking at Rachel with zero muscle and zero fat I wonder how fit she is being a former swimmer you would think she would want some muscle in her arms and legs. She looked more like a crash diet calorie deprived person rather than someone who would kick your butt in the pool. She took the game to what was going to eventually be its conclusion someone so interested in winning that they swung the pendulum the other direction to win. From eating too much to eating way too little all for good tv and all for a cash prize.

Weight loss like that is unsustainable because with it comes misery. The misery of always being hungry the misery of the things you once used to enjoy being forever denied to you. The misery of doing something day in and day out that you hate. It's not a happy medium, it's a terrible place to be. That is one of the things that has made me like the show less and less over the years well one of the reasons. They make exercise seem like a medieval torture chamber something to be dreaded and something to be feared. Like being put on the rack and stretched until your arms and legs pop off or having your toenails ripped out one by one. There is crying, there is puking, there is despair. None of it looks fun all of it looks horrible. But working out and exercise doesn't have to be that way heck it actually can be lots of fun. I never knew that until I found my love for running and then eventually triathlons. Oh sure there is days where I'd love to be sitting on the couch watching tv and vegging like the old days but there is many glorious days where the runs seem seamless and fun and I wouldn't trade it for anything. And on those days when all the hard work accumulates to a pr or finishing something you would have never thought possible just a few years ago like a marathon and or a ironman it is totally worth it. It's the reason you see tons of runners signing up for marathons or ironman events not because they are being tortured to do so but because they enjoy it. Sure there are some who hate it and our doing it for that fitness aspect or to tick something off on a bucket list but you won't see them in a few years because that is unsustainable. No one is going to do something they hate for years and years its almost a matter of time before they quit.

And that is where the biggest loser fails, they never show the positive aspect or the joy of training or doing events like the marathon or an ironman. When one contestant wanted to try for a sub 4 marathon and only lost 2 pounds in a month they shamed him for losing so little even though he was at a pretty good and healthy weight. Working out is a torture device and do people who watch the show really want to be tortured or would they actually rather find something that they love and that is actually fun. Running can be fun, biking can be fun, swimming can be fun and working out can be fun and enjoyable. But we have for some reason started trying to make everyone think working our or running is torture. They do this in schools too you did something bad now go run laps. Running is a punishment, working out is torture. And they wonder why America is becoming fatter and fatter. And the Biggest Loser perpetuates this myth. This isn't healthy, this isn't normal, this isn't right. Stop the madness per se.

So now we see a contestant finally take it too far and they feel they need to shame her my worry isn't that she's too skinny my worry is that she has done something she can't keep up. That once the show is over she will just put all the weight back on. Over %50 of the contestants do just that they put the wright right back on because the biggest loser didn't really help them. They put them in a torture bubble had them work out for 6 hours a day and eat nothing to lose the weight as quickly as possible for good television. No one wants to watch somebody lose 2-3 pounds a week for 3 years even though its the best way to lose the weight and to keep it off. They want results now and they want them fast so they can sell you yoghurt and jenny o turkey all in the name of good television. What Rachel accomplished was good but what would be even better and great is if she manages to keep the weight off.

Since I started in 2009 I have managed to keep the weight off for 5 years. No I am no longer at that low weight of 187 as I have but back on about 30 pounds of it but I am still close to 200 pounds down after 5 years and I don't see the weight coming back because I found something I love and I don't mind getting up in the morning to do. I love to run and I love to bike and I love triathlons and it keeps me motivated and it keeps me going. Working out isn't torture, it isn't something to dread, it is something to look forward too.

This is where the trainers and the biggest loser fail. I have run with several Biggest Loser contestants over the years and I always wondered why they weren't faster or better than they were. Hadn't we came from the same background, being former obese people using running to help lose weight. When I did a 5k with them in March of 2011 I managed to beat every former contestant with just a low 26 minute 5k and I was still around 230 pounds. You watch the show and Jillian will turn that treadmill up to a 12mph and have them run on it for 10 seconds and after years of training I always watch that and ask why. It accomplishes nothing, in fact it is probably more adverse than helpful. Jillian herself brags about being able to sprint these amazing times and turning the treadmill up to a 12 or 14mph but when she failed abysmally at a triathlon last September she ran a 11:47 pace for the 4 mile run. Do you really think someone like Usain Bolt would average nearly 12 minute miles if you asked him to run 4 miles. She is a sham, she is a fraud but she makes good tv screaming in someones face until they burst into tears. She made tons of excuses why she had such a poor showing from her wet suit to her bike but never once admitted her abysmal running time something I could easily beat at 250 pounds and just after a year of training. It's all about bad training, they train them poorly, they don't give them the love and eventually they set them up to fail. They turn the treadmill to a 12 and don;t actually teach them how to run only how to be tortured. Once released from the bubble it's now up to them to maintain this weight loss but they weren't giving the sufficient tools to do so. That is the shame of the biggest loser and why I can no longer relate. I am not being tortured, I still eat the food I love hey it may mean I need to run an extra mile or two but I love running so that's not really a punishment. Hopefully Rachel can find that food and working out aren't the enemy and not fall back into old traps but I am doubtful.

No comments:

Post a Comment