Unhealthy Weight Loss: Who Really Is The Biggest Loser

the biggest loser

The Biggest Loser isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Recently, it was reported that a former contestant on The Biggest Loser revealed some of the harsh reality that she experienced on the show. Even though she allegedly dropped 121 pounds, Kali Hibbard shared with the public that she felt it was done in an unhealthy way and called the show “a fat-shaming disaster.” Hibbard described the cruel things trainers would shout at contestants, the rules that the show placed upon them, and the unfortunate health condition she was left in after she was off the show.

The Biggest Loser

Most are familiar with the popular show. It is similar to most game shows but this time, it’s a competition for weight loss and money. The competitors are filmed and broadcasted weekly about their “weight-loss journey,” and they are eliminated if they have not lost the highest percentage of weight. Ultimately, there is one winner crowned “The Biggest Loser.”

Now, I’ve never found this show to be a good depiction of healthy weight loss at all. Of course, every reality show has it’s targeted audience and specific focus, but having a show that is focused on something that plays with someone’s well being should be approached as professionally as possible. Losing weight requires time, proper nutrition, reasonable amounts of exercise, and a personalized program that is based on the client’s health status. If this is put on TV, you’d think that the producers would want to expose the contestants AND the media to the proper protocol. I mean, these are people’s bodies we’re talking about here. Their weight, physical health, and their mental health.

But…….No

For one, the training is amplified to make the show seem more entertaining and “inspiring.” But unless you like being trained like your in boot camp, anyone voluntarily paying for this type of torture shouldn’t be expected to stick to working out this hard, and will probably quit working out all together. Creating a negative association with something related to health is so incredibly idiotic because it set’s the client up to quit the program immediately after they complete it. If I had someone screaming at me to go to the gym and yelling at me when I got there, you can bet that after my training package was complete, I’d never set foot in that place again. It would be seen as hell, not a place to improve my health. But of course, compassionate approaches aren’t as “exciting” to watch.

Secondly, the fact the show has a grand prize of something other than weight loss removes the value of accomplishment and recognition for bettering one’s “health” and adds a positive reinforcement tactic where it shouldn’t be placed. Yeah, winning “Jeopardy” or some other game show is definitely deserving of a cash prize, but using money as even a small motive for losing weight is wrong.

Everyone is different, and weight loss SHOULD vary among each person. Also, rewarding someone with money for losing weight risks the potential for gaining more weight back. If they worked that hard ONLY to get the reward, what’s going to keep motivating them to maintain it? Hopefully one would notice the obvious health benefits, but most would probably agree that a lack of reward results in a lack of motivation to keep going.

Additionally, the competition doesn’t represent a healthy method of weight loss. The New York Post quoted Hibbard revealing, “I was running on 400 calories and eight- to nine-hour workouts per day.” She also said that her hair fell out, and her thyroid was severely harmed. Scary stuff, right? Weight loss would never seem like something that could result in more harm done, and that’s why the show made it seem that way.

In actuality, her diet was destroying her metabolism, and her workout’s were a recipe for injury. According to the USDA, calories should not drop below 2,000 for women between the ages of 19 and 30. With exercise, the USDA also recommends higher intake with additional physical activity. Hillard, being 26 at the time, was consuming far too little calories and exercising way too much. The CDC recommends 60-90 minutes per day, but Hillard was obviously exceeding that limit dangerously. These prescribed energy intake and output regimens are of no benefit to one’s metabolism, internal health, or their long-term weight maintenance.

Having a show aimed towards bettering the health of a select few seems great at first, especially in a country with an obesity epidemic. But, it should be approached as professionally as possible. Gambling with someone’s health to receive good ratings is wrong and destructive.

References:

Callahan, Maureen. “The Brutal Secrets behind ‘The Biggest Loser'” New York Post. N.p., 18 Jan. 2015. Web. 20 Jan. 2015

“How Many Can I Have?” Choosmyplate.gov. USDA, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

“Losing Weight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

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Rachel Jimenez

An Exercise Science major at USF with a love for dance, food, and sarcastic banter. Oh, and she was gluten free before it was cool. instagram: @sassycalves twitter: @itsraayy

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