Just like anyone I was horrified at the pictures that I saw of Biggest Loser Rachel from the show last night. I understand what she did, I think we all do but the message is dangerous.
There are lots of motivations that drive people to lose weight. Ex-athletes and other very competitive people are always looking for the win and I am sure Rachel is no different. After a few years of gaining and losing her previous health and fitness level there is a lot that would drive her after some initial success. We all know times when we succeed just a little bit at something our confidence grows, just imagine a competitive swimmer that is not competitive for years getting that taste of success and just going for it.
What we saw on the stage last night was not a celebration of health, it was the attainment of success and winning. We saw Rachel get that competitive fire back and she pushed as hard as she could to not just get in better shape, but to lose as much as humanly possible.
And she sure did that.
I am sure she is calling all the outraged people on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs haters today, as she maybe should because all she did was go for the win like any competitor would.
A Brief History of The Biggest Loser
But still, what are we supposed to be thinking? I know that the first season that I saw Biggest Loser as an anomoly, a show where everyone was cheering on their fellow contestants as they tried to overcome health issues and problems, and confidence problems, all as a result of gained in the past. They were all mostly excited about the future.
I think it was in the second season of The Biggest Loser that we saw a hint of gameplay and by the third season we started seeing people “playing the game” hard, even to the point of padding their gains when they had immunity so that the next week they would have a huge loss. Over the last few seasons people get smaller and smaller, knowing that to be competitive in the finale you need to lose at least 50% of your body.
Well last night it all came to a head. Even the trainers, Bob Harper, and Jillian Michaels were shocked. The show that they started working on to help people lose weight, get fit, and entertain to the end goal of building a nation that improves its lifestyle had just seen the dark side. The dark side being that to lose the most you also have to lose lots of muscle and fat.
Where Can Biggest Loser Go From Here?
A lot of people that are a lot smarter than me have given up on The Biggest Loser long ago since the goal of 10 pound weekly losses are a lot more dangerous than not losing at all and are building up terrible expectations and feelings of failure in all of use that can only make relativley small incremental improvements in fitness.
We all look at loss as actually fat loss and almost everyone promotes the idea of gaining muscle as a way to improve health and strength. Trouble is muscle is still . And after losing all the fat you can you still have to find a way to lose more to win at the Biggest Loser.
I wish I had an answer. I have been racking my brain all day today wondering how they do this better. How can a show that has had to reinvent itself for ratings stop itselfe from becoming a freakshow that does not really motivate anymore but titilate with barfing, crying, and now extreme loss that shows the thinspo freakshow that extreme loss is.
I hope that NBC and the people in charge of the Biggest Loser can fix things but I worry that the show has now run it’s course.