There are precious few articles available for those seeking the reality behind the reality of the Biggest Loser. I went digging for information almost as soon as I got home from the audition in Dallas. What I did find, coupled with my own experience of those ridiculous 2 minutes, changed my outlook on the show forever.
Former contestants are not allowed to speak about their experiences on the show unless given express permission by NBC. They’re threatened with legal action if they do. (See this article from The Huffington Post for details.) As such, it’s hard to find information.
Ryan Benson, the very first winner of Biggest Loser, gained back nearly all of his weight after the spotlight grew dim. He was back above 300 pounds (his show weight was 330) and noticeably absent from the first reunion show. He later admitted that he lost the weight on the show by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point where he was urinating blood. (See this article from the New York Times for details.)
Shortly after my own audition, I found this article in the Tampa Bay Times about a former contestant/Tampa Bay resident that just about broke my heart. It also made me feel enormously grateful that all I did was laugh during my 2 minutes in front of the hipster doofus casting assistant. While the before and after pictures are still highly motivating to me, I no longer watch the show. I might look at the before and after shots on the news the next day, but I don’t even watch the season finale.
Requiring a contestant to promote drinking milk for the show, then making them spit it out after the shot is filmed because they’re not allowed to drink milk…that’s lying to the audience. It’s either good for you or it’s not. You either approve or you don’t. You don’t suck up to advertisers and make your contestants shoot commercials for it…then make them spit it out as soon as they’re done. That appalls me.
Even before I read the articles I’ve referenced here, I had grown tired of the manufactured drama of the Biggest Loser. My fact finding mission really drove the final nail in the coffin for me. Contestants losing their hair from lack of nutrition, working out 5 – 8 hours a day, eating nothing but asparagus for days before weigh in. These things are not sustainable. It’s not motivating to me when I know what’s really going on.
I always assumed that the trainers were there with the contestants every day, but they aren’t. They’re present once a week and only for a limited time. When the show first started, the trainers warned contestants against using pre-packaged diet foods to stay within their calorie limits…and now they’re selling their own line of the same crap. Biggest Loser merchandise sales bring in millions and millions of dollars.
After 20+ years of struggling with food issues, I’ll tell you what really scares me: fitness professionals who are selling something. I wish I could get a kickback from all the diets, pills, cookbooks, and other diet & fitness related products I’ve purchased over the years. I will never again lose track of the fact that the diet industry makes money off of fat people. Not skinny people. FAT PEOPLE. I can smell a snake oil salesman a mile away. No, thank you. That’s why I’m determined to lose this weight myself without surgery, pills, shakes, or special diets.
That’s also why you don’t see automated banner ads on my site. If I can’t control what goes on it, I’m not putting it on my site. How can I preach a logical, healthy approach to weight loss and healthy living if I have ads on my site for surgery, pills, and special magic shakes. I refuse to be part of the problem.
I really encourage you to read the articles I’ve referenced here and form your own opinions. Motivation is a very individual thing. If you’re motivated by the Biggest Loser, then I say go for it. In these three posts, I’ve shared my experience and my feelings with you…and I thank you for reading.
(I totally couldn’t afford this, but how awesome would this be? I would burn so many calories while blogging…)