Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hopping on the Biggest Loser Bandwagon

So by now we've all probably seen the biggest loser finally, and the predominantly negative response to this season's winner Rachel. At first I wasn't going to write about it, but after leaving a long winded comment about it over at Go Fit Gals, I thought, hmmm I have something that needs to be said.

"I think it’s a huge step to say eating disorder, which to me suggests a long term/chronic, if you will, condition. At the end of the day, she was aiming to win 250,000 dollars through a one day weigh in. Clearly by the semi final she was in great shape, and nearing her ideal weight, but you go home, knowing you’re up against a pair of guys who have the potential to lose a lot more than you do, and maybe you do like every other athlete who has to make weight, and cut at the end. Two weeks from now she may be up 10 pounds, be at a totally healthy weight and be just fine. She is not the first person to show up at the finally looking gaunt, and many of the winners often look ‘fuller’ if you will in their TV appearances even the next day.
That being said, is it healthy to try to cut to your extreme lowest weight for the sake of winning a prize? nope. But its a game show, and to be honest, I’m sure many people in her same position would do the exact thing, drop slightly (remember we’re talking about 0.5 of a BMI pt here) below healthy recommended weight to win, and that does not an eating disorder make.
I hugely respect the message you are getting out, and that light need be shed on the issue of eating disorders. But the quick assumptions and harsh judgements in this case could have huge implications for both Rachel and any other woman who reads them. I can’t think of anything more horrible than to make such a dramatic change in your life, be happy with your body for the first time in years, be unmeasurably healthier than you were before and be faced with the negative feedback, harsh criticism and be suddenly made a poster child for eating disorders."

 I won't post pictures of Rachel, or the trainers faces, and a quick search of #BiggestLoser #Rachel or whatever on Twitter will bring you to uncountable tweets. But here are a few things:

1) I respect the hell out of the Biggest Loser, I honestly find it to be one of the most inspiring things on TV, believe it or not, despite having never been seriously overweight myself, I can honestly say the show was the driving force behind my own lifestyle change to become a healthier more active person. I've written about it here as I described my journey to my first half marathon.

2) It's still a contest, and there has been plenty of fishy play over the years, let's not forget early seasons with immunity and water loading before weigh ins. And don't even get me started about them sneaking Reuben back on this season just to plug his new album.

3) Rachel was one of my favourite contestants all season long, and in a season where it just seemed like some people weren't really committed. I wish her all the best, and that she could somehow erase the past 24 hours and just be proud of her win and not have to face the media/public over reaction that went with it. I hope that she is in a place in her life that includes both mental and physical health.

If you want to go read one of the few articles on the topic that drew some attention to the negative outburst that followed last night's finally, go check out this Huffington Post one.


  1. I agree- she was a good contestant all season. I was a bit taken back by seeing her at the finale- hopefully she does gain a little back.

  2. I haven't watched the show very often--I do know as a mom of three girls, it gave me an opportunity to talk to them about healthy eating and taking care of ourselves. It is definitely a competition, and I know people are in it to win it. I just wish it didn't have to be quite so extreme. Losing 1 pound every two days for three months is crazy!

  3. I haven't watched the show but I'm aware of the premise and as you've wisely noted it is a contest. I'm uncertain if it's the rapidity of the weight loss that ensued or the realization that many have never connected the dots between the various forms of disordered eating. Your post may have inspired me to address the subject at some point. :)

  4. Well said. I hope Rachel finds health and happiness - she seems like a genuinely nice person who worked incredibly hard this season. Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one who still watches The Biggest Loser. I've never struggled with my weight like the contestants have, but I also find it inspirational.