Many people believe that The Biggest Loser will teach them everything about fitness and weight loss. This is not true. This show tells you that in order to lose weight, exercise needs to be debilitating. It also tells you that the only thing that matters is what a scale tells you. This show does not teach you the importance of your body’s metabolism when it comes to losing weight and building muscle.
The Biggest Loser overemphasizes cardio exercise. This makes contestants prone to injury, with poor metabolism. If viewers are already physically fit, however, there are some redeeming factors.
Is The Informative Content Edited Out?
Many people watch The Biggest Loser with the hopes that they will learn something about fitness, which they can incorporate into their daily lives. The only concrete tips from the last season included:
- Drink more water
- Eat healthy meals from Subway
- Wear a fitness bracelet to encourage you to take a walk
- Let go of the old, fatter, you
There is a chance that this television show did offer informative content, but it was edited it. Often times, this type of content is replaced by ratings grabbing “meaningful lessons”, motivated by love, celebrating life, and coming out on top.
Exposing the Lies
The best way for the physically unfit to learn something from this show, is to expose the lies perpetrated by the show, and tell the real truth.
Lie #1 – Exercise Must Be Excruciating to Be Effective
Watching contestants cry, fall off the treadmill, vomit, and have rage filled outbursts during a workout makes great television. Unfortunately, it does not make a great motivator for the unfit audience watching at home. If viewers believe that they must endure pain staking, injury causing workouts, they are more likely to change their mind about losing weight. When viewers see that they must work out to the point that they need a doctor, a diet will be off the table. Rather than teaching viewers the importance.
The best way for an overweight person to lose weight is to train regularly, and gradually. Start with daily walks, and build up to cardio, only enough cardio that you and your body can handle. When it comes to dieting, you do not need to starve yourself, or eat so little that you feel as though you are going to faint. Replace sugar and junk food with nutritious, home cooked meals, containing protein and other natural food.
Lie #2 – Scale Weight is Your Sign of Success
The Biggest Loser bases the contestant’s entire success on a scale. If they lose less than three pounds per week, they cry, hang their heads in shame, and feel like failures. This show offers a quick fix, which makes overweight people thin, in the same way that anorexics and bulimics get thin. It is unhealthy, and as the weight on the scale drops, it is likely to go back up once the show is over.
True success is not gauged by a scale. There is a great deal of progress which can be made which has nothing to do with weight. Body comp is the ration of lean body mass to fat mass. As you build muscle, the composition of your body improves. If you build muscle at the same time that you are losing fat, the scale will not show you your progress. This does not mean that you are not making progress, it simply means that you are making healthy, long lasting progress.
The scale also does not show behavioral changes, which are huge when trying to lose weight. If you begin taking a walk after dinner, rather than sitting down to watch television, that won’t show up on a scale. If you choose an apple, over a box of cookies, that triumph won’t show up on a scale. Also, scales cannot always be accurate. Simple biological issues, such as water retention, constipation, and muscle glycogen can all make body weight fluctuate dramatically. This, again, shows that the scale is not the be all and end all of weight loss. Weighing less is not as important as being truly fit.
Lie #3 – You Need to Do A Great Deal of Cardio to Have an Effective Workout
Just watching the contestants doing cardio can be painful. Watching a person who weighs between 300 and 500 pounds crashing down, over and over, on the treadmill, looks painful. According to former contestants, it also is. Most of the former contestants who are “success stories”, are skinny fat. This means that they are thin, but have no muscles.
When you overuse your muscles, they can be injured. These injuries lead to a long recovery time. While you are recovering, you cannot work out. This can seriously set back your recovery time. Former contestants on The Biggest Loser, have come forward and admitted to injuries which they sustained while training at the ranch.
According to them, the show editors left out the medevac rescues, stress fractures, hospitalizations, and other bone and joint injuries. Aside from injuries, killing yourself with cardio can also do a number on your metabolism. You need muscle for your metabolism to function properly. If your metabolism is slow, you will have a much more difficult time burning calories.
Lie #4 – You Need to Completely Overhaul Your Life to Be Successful in Losing Weight
When contestants are taken to The Biggest Loser ranch, they are forced to train for 4-6 hours per day, they are only eaten what is given to them, and are kept in isolation. This artificial environment is not realistic in the real world. People cannot quit their jobs to keep themselves isolated and spend all of their days working out. Most people also do not have a person right there, pushing them, keeping them in line.
You do not need to change your entire life to be successful when trying to lose weight. The people who are successful, are the ones who make gradual healthy changes in their life. They learn to avoid situations that will tempt them to turn their back on their diet plan. They learn to program, exercise into their day. Finally, they master these changes a little more each day, until adding these things into their lives is no longer difficult.
Slightly Redeeming Factors
While there are many flaws with The Biggest Loser, there are a few factors which may be of some help to viewers at home, trying to lose weight.
It teaches you powerful lessons about obesity: People who are overweight are not stupid. They just never learned to cope with the temptation from junk food, and have never learned how to productively workout. When overweight people watch The Biggest Loser, they can find comfort in the fact that there are other people out there like them. They may also be able to empathize with the contestants.
It shows you the big picture: When viewers turn on The Biggest Loser, they see how difficult it is for the obese. Viewers see everything from medications that the contestants must take due to their weight, to contestants trying to fit into a movie theater seat. This show gives viewers a reality check of what it is like to be obese.
The trainers are improving: Trainer Jen Widerstrom (photo) has muscle. She is beyond toned, and she does not act like a drill sergeant to try to get contestants to look like her. She leads with kindness, unlike former female trainers on the show. Bob Harper has gotten rid of his “cardio on top of cardio” approach, and is now incorporating CrossFit, which is much safer and more effective. Dolvett is also incorporating more than cardio into his workouts, and Jesse is more knowledgeable as well.
The Biggest Loser has a chance to be a platform to teach real life lessons to overweight people. Unfortunately, however, it continues to disseminate strategies, which keep people from making progress.