Wednesday, May 19, 2010

another biggest loser rant

I have a bone to pickwith The Biggest Loser. While I do agree with many that the premise of the show isn't all that reasonable for us "normal" folk, I'm still pretty much obsessed with the show. I think that the show has evolved so much since its conception - it used to be strictly about weight loss. Now, more and more they are shedding light on the issues that cause people to overeat, and why weight loss is a physical and emotional challenge to overcome.

Back in February 2009, I posted my rant about the Biggest Loser and how they claimed that Dane finished a marathon in 3:51 but really he got picked up at mile 17. He was then filmed crossing the finish line as though he'd run the entire race. I understand that reality tv is not actually "reality," and that everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt, especially for the sake of ratings. However, I draw the line at lying and giving false information. And that pissed me off - but not as much as last night's episode.

Last night was all about filming the contestants at home, and showing how they can overcome obstacles that may have stalled or sabotaged their weight loss efforts in the past. Michael was shown making dinner for his big, Italian family - his meatballs, instead of bread crumbs, contained chickpeas. I'm all about healthy alternatives, but I hate when the message is that CARBS ARE EVIL, IF YOU CONSUME EVEN ONE PIECE THEN YOUR BODY WILL IGNITE INTO FLAMES AND YOU'LL GO TO CARB HELL!! Ashley is filmed talking about how she has zero interest in going out and "partying" (which is totally fine, let's be clear about that) and later on discusses how guilty she feels for staying out until midnight.

The only part of the episode that didn't irritate me involved Daris, whom very obviously has a lot of issues stemming around food (as do all of the contestants). He explained the vicious cycle of overeating. How food comforts him, and while he's eating he feels good. But then once he realizes what he's done, he goes back to feeling terrible about himself. I've struggled with poor body image problems for as long as I can remember, and I wish I could say that I didn't understand how he felt before, during, and after a binge.

But what angered - no, PISSED me off the most - was when the contestants were told that they were going to run a marathon. Oh, and they only had 30 days to train for it. Seriously? Training programs for that distance run in excess of 16 weeks. Thirty days is NOTHING. Just because someone is in good (or at least much better than they had been) shape does NOT mean that you're fit to run a marathon. I have friends in way better shape than me who likely couldn't run for 26 minutes, let alone 26.2 miles. And not only that, when Daris got on the scale and gained 2 pounds, he was told by Jillian and Bob that him training for a marathon meant that he should have absolutely lost weight - so he must have been overeating. I wonder if either of them has ever trained for a race of that distance - it can be QUITE difficult to lose weight for training for a race because you're asking your body to do two different things. Running demands that you fuel your body properly, while losing weight means that you put your body into a calorie deficit. Many people actually GAIN weight while training for a long race, because you need to give your body nutrients, and you will likely gain some muscle in the process.

Life cannot be lived in the extremes - especially when it comes to healthy living. You cannot close yourself off to the rest of the world, sit in your house, exercise 14 hours a day and live off of Bigger Loser protein whey and Extra sugar free gum. The key, and the hardest part of the entire journey, is finding where you can find a balance. It's easier said than done - and I work every day to try to attain that. Some days I fail, miserably, other days not so much. It's a constant struggle. So many people look to the biggest loser to give them advice about living a healthy life and when they give inconsistent or incorrect information it really just chaps my ass and makes me not want to watch the show.


1 comment:

Julia L. said...

This is a really good post. Then again, when is that not the case, miss j? Anyway, I completely agree with ALL of that. The part about Daris' eating wa open and actually honest. And so little of that show can be sometimes... I do appreciate BL trying to get the real story out about the emotional addiction to food, the comfort it bring when it's satisfying much more than simply hunger. That's so true for so many of us that handling it can be overwhelming. But good for them for showing it. On the marathon side? That killed me. That didn't seem real and actually? would be DANGEROUS for more people. Their joints are not prepared for that kind of damage unless they prep for longer... In their case, they have been running a lot on the show; I just wish BL would have shown their training stats leading up to the "race."