Wow, what a scandalous last few weeks for the Biggest Loser. First, there was news that “They all gained the weight back”.
Well maybe no all the people but a large majority anyway.
Then this weekend a story broke in the New York Post that there were drugs being given out, weight loss drugs and ephedrine.
I remember a story a couple years ago about Jillian telling her team to take Caffeine pills to lose weight on the show, so these latest stories don’t seem too shocking to me.
In the bodybuilding sport/industry the idea of getting down to weight has gone on for a half century, as well as in boxing, and any other sport where your weight is important so we shouldn’t be super surprised.
The fact that Biggest Loser may be encountering cheating was just another step in the spectacle of reality TV and especially reality TV with millions of viewers.
I remember when the Biggest Loser started it seemed to be a joke until the ratings quickly climbed and we saw people armchair quarterbacking and cheering for their favorite even in that first season.
Building Expectations on TV
The trouble with the excitement and hype is that it is really hard to keep up. As we watched and became excited with 10 pounds a week weight losses we would look for more and faster. 20 pounds in a week, throwing up from working out so hard, losing 100 pounds in a season.
And then finally an anorexic looking winner that had to diet down that low to beat a man that could afford to lose 60% of his bodyweight.
I think that was the episode that the show jumped the shark. Finally, we saw someone willing to sacrifice anything including their health to win the Title of Biggest Loser and 1 million dollars.
But between the beginning and now there has had to have been a steady ratcheting up of pressure on the show to keep us tuning in and sadly the contestants on the show were the ones that weren’t really taken care of.
The Pain of Biggest Loser Success
Sure someone that is living a really sedentary lifestyle can have their body pushed and pulled to lose 100 pounds in just a few months but the damage to the spirit and body can’t be easily healed.
Everyone that gets on the show and under the lights of network television where the only people they can talk to are in on the deal will say that “Never Ever will I eat that way again” or “Activity is my new lifestyle”. But once they limo takes them home for the last time these poor contestants have no support system that will keep them working out 6 hours a day and eating 800 calories of food a day. Who the hell would want to anyway?
So here we are with a show that has run out of tricks, failed to keep helping people safe and healthy during the show let alone afterward and the stories are starting to leak out.
It was a fun ride for those of us watching, but the people that wanted to turn their life around where in for far bigger stakes than their bodies could really live up to.
I am guessing a show that follows people over a couple years changing their lives and losing a couple pounds a week would never do very well on TV anyway.
As for the show itself and the people that run it, they deserve all the punishment being thrown their way now. You can’t just go along with bigger and bigger spectacles and not expect to hurt people.
The fitness and health industry can be terrible for selling a dream that is not attainable as quickly as it is sold.
- You can’t just cheat people on the show or in the audience by saying 1500 calories a day and instead, only let them eat 800 calories.
- You can’t have people taking ephedrine, which has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.
- You can’t work people’s bodies for 6 or 8 hours a day without knowing that you will tear apart knees, hips, ankles, and other body parts, especially on sedentary morbidly obese people.
The producers and trainers on the Biggest Loser may have had us as an audience to watch this train wreck but the lives that they have put at risk are still entirely their fault