Thoughts on ‘The Biggest Loser’
‘The Biggest Loser’ started in 2004 and yet it’s only now, 10 years later, that the real truth of the show has reached the mainstream masses. Many people have known what you see on the show isn’t realistic for a long time, but between the Rachel Frederickson publicity (USA) and TBL Australia contestant Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello exposing the tactics behind the show, it seems as though more people than ever are realising the weight loss journeys on the show aren’t nearly as fast or smooth as depicted.
The day after the USA finale, I stumbled across this interview with Rachel by The Girl’s Got Sole. In the article, Rachel says she was doing 3-4 gym classes plus walking on the treadmill while working every day in the lead up to the finale. Even with such an intense training schedule, she was eating 1600 calories a day.
By a similar token, Andrew ‘Cosi’ Costello from the 2008 Australian season of the show recently came out and exposed some details behind the show. Weigh ins, depicted as a weekly event on the show, are actually filmed much further apart – the longest gap was three and a half weeks, and the shortest 16 days. Three and a half weeks, depicted as one week to Australian audiences. How do the producers of the show not realise how damaging that can be to viewers? I have visions of countless Aussies sitting at home watching and getting disheartened because they worked out like crazy all week and still didn’t lose even nearly as much as the contestants. The contestants were even told to say how well they’d done that ‘week’. I definitely think the show needs to be a little more realistic and transparent.
Cosi isn’t the first bring up the show’s bad points. In 2012 there was a war of words between ex-presenter Ajay Rochester and ex-contestant/winner Adro Sarnelli from the 2006 Australian season. If you believe the accusations, Adro was almost starving himself in the lead up to the finale and doing some pretty crazy things to lose weight. Similarly, USA season one winner Ryan Benson even went so far to win that he didn’t eat a single piece of solid food in the final ten days, instead living off ‘The Master Cleanse’ – water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Kai Hibberd of USA season three also followed some pretty intense practices, not eating solid foods in the two weeks up to the final weigh in, getting two colonics and spending the night before the finale in and out of a sauna trying to dehydrate himself even more than he already had.
I don’t even really want to get started on the psychological and emotional side that such a crazy weight loss journey must have on the contestants. Transforming yourself is as much about changing your habits as anything else, and I feel that locking contestants away from the world isn’t going to help that. The real world is still out there waiting to tempt you. The only way to build self-control is to learn to say no, not hide away.
None of this is new news – most of it has been around for years. The more stories that come out though, the more it angers me. The producers and so-called professionals on these shows are ridiculous. How can they stand by and let the contestants treat their bodies so badly? They should have a duty of care and at the very least, a conscience. Health is more important than ratings and they should have said enough is enough.
To sum this little rant up, please, please don’t try and compare yourself to what you see on TV. It makes me so sad to know there are people out there getting upset because they don’t feel like they can measure up to what they see on television.