The newest season of The Biggest Loser is starting soon, and as always, I’m Looking Forward To It! If you have been living in a cave or are naturally thin this show may not be on your radar. Here’s the premise The Biggest Loser takes severely overweight contestants, makes them live in a house together, and compete to see who can lose the most weight. Very entertaining for viewers and damn hard on the contestants. If standing on a giant scale every week in nothing but spandex on national television isn’t enough, they also compete in mini challenges, such as racing kindergarteners(small children are deceptively fast), or are forced to choose between eating candy from a vending machine to earn 1 pound passes, or staying on their diet and hoping it was enough for the weigh in. I like. A Lot. I find it absolutely fascinating.
Here’s the catch though. They are not you. This is the Super-Bowl,World Series, and NBA finals of Weight loss all rolled into one.
I’ve worked with 6 clients that were over 400lbs to start. One gentleman exceeded 5oolbs. The first workout consisted of him walking from his car to the studio. That was it. That was all he could manage. Over the first month we got to the point that he could walk 20 min. non-stop. 30 days: total time exercising 2hrs 16min. He lost 37lbs that month.
The numbers are all relative. And deceptive.
These huge numbers people drop week after week can make your small, steady weight loss seem insignificant. You need to wrap your head around the fact that what you see isn’t “reality”. You need to see what goes on behind the scenes.
First of all, you have to keep in mind that these contestants are Big. Real big. The bigger you are, the more calories your body needs to keep you running. Thus, someone who weights 450 pounds on a 1,800 calorie a day diet is going to lose a lot more weight than a 200 pound person consuming the same intake.
Female contestants are put on a measly 1,100 to 1,500 calorie a day diet and male contestants eat around 1,500-2,300 calories. This is low/low.
The daily workouts these participants are put through are grueling and time consuming. Each day consists of 1-2 hours strength training, 1 hour of high intensity cardiovascular exercise, and an additional 3 hours of lower intensity cardio, such as walking on the treadmill or using the recumbent bike. That’s around 5 hours of exercise every single day.
The contestants are in a Restricted Environment they can’t get out and nothing can come in. Removed from family, friends, jobs….basically, any responsibilities, outside stressors (as if they don’t have enough already) what so ever. No office parties, no business lunches, nothing even available except under the challenge and controlled conditions. No wife, husband, kids, soccer games, or late night projects to get in the way of their workout time. And no-one Sabotaging them with “what? You’re going to go workout? Why? You look Fine. Stay home with me.” You know That Kind of sabotage.
Remember its reality TV, not real life.
But it gets results, right?
Kai Hibbard, a finalist on season 3 of The Biggest Loser, blogged about her weight loss efforts at home, in preparation for the finale’s weigh in.
She admitted to severely dehydrating herself with hours-long sauna sessions, and colonics to drop the 19 pounds she lost for her final weigh in. She didn’t win and that’s alright. She got results. But.
She gained it all back and then some. And that’s not O.K.( I know why she gained it back. But that’s a topic for another post)
Extreme weight loss (from malnutrition, think Survivor with lots of exercise) can cause gallbladder infections and disease, cardiac arrhythmias, electrolyte abnormalities, dry skin, and loss of hair, which many of the contestants reported experiencing.
Such a necessary yet severe workout regimen, with few breaks for the muscles to recover/repair themselves, (add in the severe calorie deficit)and you have over use injuries. The contestants quite often suffer from stress fractures(pretty common with 110lb runners too). The contestants push through, however, to both lose the weight, and beat out everyone else for the $250,000 prize.
But of course, you don’t get to see all of that in the 90 minute episode.
Here’s the deal.
Comparing your slow, steady weight loss to the double digit weekly weigh ins of The Biggest Loser contestants can be discouraging, but don’t get down on yourself. Take the show for what it is, a TV show where people compete to lose weight to win money.
Use it to your advantage. Use it for inspiration. use it for tips, ideas, and strategies for your own weight loss. Like I tell people Test it Try it. If it doesn’t work throw it out. Keep what works.
And Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back because just having the guts to make the changes in Your life to drop the weight puts you in an elite category. Hundreds of thousands of people Need to, Want too lose weight. But you know life gets in the way for them. Not for you. So for all your hard work, and finding time in your busy, REAL life to take care of yourself.
And that’s what will make you a real life Biggest Loser.