My love/hate relationship with The Biggest Loser

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I’ve watched this show since the beginning and catch most episodes in each series. It is one of the few shows on TV that try to promote a healthy lifestyle. I was really looking forward to this series as it was taking on the challenge of helping a whole town to lose weight. Here is my opinion on some aspects of this TV program -

THE CRYING

Not an episode goes by without a contestant crying their eyes out or breaking down into a sobbing mess. Sometimes you think the trainer is given a script to read that will push all the right buttons to produce the tears at just the right moment so the camera can catch it. The emotional breakdowns can be caused from a monster training session, physical pain, a message from a family member, or even achieving a new fitness challenge or having a great weigh in. All these tears may lead viewers to think they are all weak cry-babies. However annoying it can be, I understand why they are this way. For the most part of their life, food was the thing that supressed their emotions, that prevented them from feeling them and letting them out when needed. If they were sad, they ate. When they were lonely or bored, they ate. Even when they were happy and excited, they ate. Whenever they felt ashamed and unhappy about their weight or their reflection, food was the thing that helped to numb this emotion and supress the tears. At the Biggest Loser camp, there is no comfort food. When these feeling emerge they spill over and the littlest thing can set them off. They are forced to feel the way they need to and not distract themselves with calorie-laden plates of refined, sugary crap.BLFriMorn

THE TRAINING

The sessions run by the trainers look pretty brutal. They are designed to push the contestants to the max. I don’t believe a person should go from nothing to 5 hours of exercise a day but this show is designed to produce extreme results and this training will do that. I believe they only showcase the absolute worst of it and most exercise without the trainers is walking and more low impact stuff. These sessions show the players what they are really capable of. They achieve so much more than physical fitness gains. They grow their confidence and self-worth. They start to believe in themselves and ask “What more am I capable of?” The show should show more of what a day of physical activity looks like for each contestant. At the moment, someone watching may think to lose weight, you have to flip tyres, run up 100 steps then use the rowing machine until you throw up!

THE TRAINERS

Now we only see what goes to air so it is difficult to get a good understanding of how these trainers truly support their clients but here is my view -

Michelle – I think she is a great mix of relating to the emotional side and being a tough, no-nonsense motivator. She has made the toughest, biggest men crumble.

Shannan – he is tough, but also a softie. I love how he brings boxing into the mix and laughs with the contestants

Commando – he has saved this show. From the robot-like drill sergeant with corny one liners in his first appearance to the supportive, encouraging sex-symbol we see today! He sure has all the women drooling. Without this guy I feel that ratings would be on a downward slide.

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TEMPTATION

This is a form of challenge where the producers lay out a feast containing 1 billion calories in refined and processed crap and tell the contestants they can stay at the camp for another week if they pig out on the stuff! It makes for entertaining viewing but it does fly in the face of everything they have been told. The only good thing is how sick they feel after eating it, showing viewers the effect of ‘bad food’ in a body that has been nourished with good food.

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THE TRANSFORMATIONS

The best episodes are the makeovers and then the final reveals. They are so amazing and you can see the change in the physical appearance but also the confidence level. It gives you so much motivation to think – if they can do it, I can too. The best thing is to see the pride in the faces of their families in the audience.

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THE MISSING LINKS

Nutrition!!!! A few seasons ago they had an episode a week dedicated to learning to cook healthy meals and filling in food diaries. Now it barely mentions what they eat. I was hoping to see the town members attend cooking demonstrations Jamie Oliver style but haven’t yet. Food is 80% of successful weight loss compared with the 20% that physical activity brings. Because viewers will find it difficult to have access to the physical regime that the contestants have, they should be educated about what to eat. I also would love to see a ‘where are they now’ special where we see how the contestants have managed to maintain their weight loss.

I realise this is a show designed to ‘entertain’ but I feel it could do so much more to motivate and educate those watching at home at the same time. I’ll keep watching it though. It is inspiring to see how people can turn their lives around in such a short space of time. The commando is another bonus reason ;)

What are your thoughts? Love it or hate it? Comment below.

~ Kim

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