Friday, September 14, 2007

The Biggest Loser. DOES IT REALLY WORK? Huh?

I admit it... I am a Biggest Loser junkie, and I'm quite excited about the new series because there is the return of the fabulous Jillian, whom I am just a little bit gaga over because she once made the effort to answer some silly questions I had about nutrition and even called me 'The Sajster' which I thought was.. ... cute.
I don't know why it makes good TV to watch a bunch of overweight people being starved and tortured with extreme exercise, but there is something very riveting about it. It's a bit like 'Extreme Makeover' - you get to watch someone become a prettier version of themselves and get an insiders view into the emotional ups and downs that accompany that sort of transformation. I guess deep down, we all know that the hothouse method of 'reality TV fat camp' is not a long term solution to a serious weight problem, but we cross our fingers and hope that it all works in the end. When I saw the latest Who Magazine, with the enticing byline Who's kept it off, who's piled it on I just had to grab me one and find out.

Out of the 12 people profiled in the article, which included contestants from the Aussie and US shows, only 1 had continued to lose weight after the show had ended and that is Cat White, now a spokesperson for the Celebrity Slim weightloss system. I'll be interested how that works out in the long term. Four featured contestants had maintained their loss (including one that had given birth to a baby recently) and five had regained 10-15 kg before getting a grip and figuring out how to live in the real world. One of the regainers is now a Jenny Craig spokesperson, so I suppose we will have to wait and see how that works out in the long term too! I hope that the Celebrity Slim and Jenny Craig girls succeed and I'm trying not to to let my cynicism show.. it's just that you all know how I feel about low-calorie, packaged food diets.... if you don't know, just ask..

I noticed that the success stories either from the magazine or that I found on the net, like Kelly Minner here on Jillian Michaels site, have all embraced fitness as a lifestyle. All of them exercise and all of them have created around them an environment that supports an active and healthy life, forming friendships, romances or business relationships with likeminded people and educating their families.

Interesting too, are those whom have not managed to carry their Biggest Loser weightloss into the outside world. I am intrigued by this article and this article from Times Online that gives the inside scoop on the extreme lengths that some of the winning contestants went to in order to get their hands on that prize money. It does not surprise me that with $250,000 up for grabs a person might starve themselves or live on asparagus for days before the final weigh in. I've seen similar insane behaviour from Body for Lifers and figure athletes that consume only lean protein and green veges for weeks before the 'after' photo or show. It also does not surprise me that a person whom has done that to themselves might have a problem with weight re-gain when they try to eat normally again. I say 'try' because it is quite difficult to go from a strict diet to 'normal' eating without a certain amount of overeating as the appetite kicks in. I have experienced it myself and I personally have seen figure competitors gain up to 15kg in a week after a show, no joke. I found this entry on Ryan Bensens (winner of the first Biggest Loser) myspace and it makes thought provoking reading for anyone whom has lived through the crushing experience of rapid weight re-gain after a huge weightloss. Ryan nearly killed himself to win that show and has now regained nearly all of the weight that he lost and he acknowledges that this happened through a return to his old habits.

I think that the 'lesson' I can take from this look at the Biggest Loser lab-humans is just a reminder of the same old basic truth that I like to ignore. There is no voodoo or magic or quick fix solution to being consistently fabulous. If we want to be fit and healthy we just need to do the following: Live healthy, eat right and move our bodies. Repeat every day. Forever.


  1. I too love these shows.... hope we get another one on telly soon!

  2. I got so addicted to Biggest Loser...both US & Aus versions... I was desperately trying to tell my husband it was all in the name of research...for becoming a PT!!
    Sounded convincing enough anyhow.
    So does this mean Kim Lowe is no longer on US Biggest Loser?

  3. Anonymous10:45 pm

    I love your last paragraph - it really is all about making the best choices you can, over and over, and getting back on track if you slip up, and doing so forever!!
    This takes some time to get your head around. I think I have got it :)
    - Lou


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