What the Biggest Loser Can Teach You

Hello All,

I am fascinated with the show the Biggest Loser. What I can’t determine is if I’m watching the start of a brand new life for someone struggling with their weight or if I’m watching a train wreck. I wonder have they finally made it or is the poor soul going to gain it all back once the camera crew goes home.

Probably both are happening depending on the contestant. I spend a good portion of the season guessing which ones will make it and which ones will backslide. I’ve never seen any extensive follow-up to the contestants but I’d love to see where people are 12 months after their time on the show. I’m betting over 50% regained at least some weight.

Bob Harper, said the Season 1 winner, Ryan Benson, was great at playing the “game” but had gained back a lot of weight. In fact, Time magazine mentioned he gained back 90 of the 122 lbs. he lost during the season. That is not a successful player to me, that is an abysmal failure. The true winners are the ones that take this extraordinary experience and really learn how to control their health as opposed to the contestants who focus on the game.

The After picture and the After-After picture. Quick weight loss is nearly impossible to maintain.

Here are 5 things that the show taught me that we can all take into our real lives.

1. See A Doctor. If you are obese you need to see a doctor before or early on in your weight loss to make sure you’re healthy. Obesity is a known risk factor for death. There is a laundry list of diseases that obesity can contribute to. If you don’t see a doctor early on you could be playing Russian roulette and not know it. The show has highlighted a couple of people with very serious medical conditions and the contestants didn’t know they had them. The show literally saved their lives. If you’re just a little overweight and you haven’t had an annual physical lately, it’s a good idea to get a kick of the tires from your MD.

2. Seek Out Professionals. Bob and Jillian are well trained. They continue their educations and they know how to use a combination of exercise physiology and a little pop psychology to get their clients to the next level. While I don’t always agree with all the exercises they choose for people, (Stop climbing on people w/your full body weight!) they are both consummate professionals.

3. Keep Track of What You’re Doing. You might think you had a virtuous day but you forgot all about that slice you had before the movie as a “snack” or the leftovers on your kids plate that made it into your tummy. Be honest, write it down, and you’ll see results much quicker. The Biggest Loser competitors use something called the BodyBugg. It’s pricey. I have one. It’s not necessary to buy one but it’s a fun geeky toy. A notebook and pen will do fine or you could try an on-line journaling system.

4. As soon as You’re stronger do more. The show results are so dramatic because the trainers don’t let the contestants plateau. As soon as they can do 3 sets of 10 reps with a 10 lb. weight they move ‘em right up to the 12 lbs. Rest is in the form of days off so your body can recover. It is not doing the same routine for an extra month because you’re on autopilot. If you want results you have to continually push yourself!

5. You Can’t Do It Alone. How you live your life, your physical environment and the people around you have contributed to where you are. You are going to need them to help you change. For your environment, you need to clear out the junk food, clear off some floor space to workout or sign up for that gym membership. For the loved ones in your life, you need a good, serious, heart-to-heart.

To elaborate on #5 a bit more, when I was post-partum I needed to lose 42 lbs. I kept asking my husband, who does the grocery shopping, to please stop bringing home junk food. Basically if it’s in the house I’m gonna eat, so please don’t bring it home. After several weeks of him ignoring me and me mindlessly blowing through ice cream and cookies I finally threw a fit and in tears hurled the junk food into the trash as he was taking it out of the grocery bags and told him if he did it again, I’d throw that out too. He finally got the message and the needle on the scale started to slide down.

Hopefully you don’t need to do something that dramatic to get your family to buy in. But you do need their help or I promise you, you will not make it. If you do get their acceptance, there’s a good shot you’ll be helping them to get healthier too and that’s a great bonus.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to add a comment,