Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Biggest Loser

I caught about 20 minutes of the Biggest Loser Tuesday night on tv. This is probably the second or third time I have seen the show over the last few years. This is the worst show for the average person who is trying to lose weight, get stronger, and be healthier. The blatant marketing plugs for 24-hour fitness and Weight Control Quaker Oats doesn't quite overshadow the humiliation the contestants endure. Instead of supporting each contestant with 'realistic' lifestyle changes of a healthy diet and daily exercise, the trainers push the severely overweight and sedentary contestants through grueling workouts and make them feel guilty for eating the whole 160 calories worth of oatmeal. I watch in awe as the trainers have a 400 pound guy sprint and jump, wondering how his joints, tendons and ligaments could withstand this type of insult. Contrast this with competitions where half of the contestants don't even compete.

The worst part is the emphasis on the scale and losing as much weight as fast as possible. Most of my clients who are trying to lose weight know that we never put emphasis on the scale or rapid weight loss. It is unhealthy and is setting up the wrong mindset. The emphasis should be on making your daily life more active and healthy, focusing on all aspects of fitness. The Biggest Loser goes to opposite extreme of morbid obesity and drives contestants to exercise bulimia. The changes should be gradual and progress over time. Most importantly they should be changes that can last forever.

While I am happy for the contestants that lost weight and are now healthier, I don't feel that the Biggest Loser sends the right message. Being healthy and active should be part of your daily life. While most people need to add more activity to their lifestyle, they should understand it is not an all or none proposition.

No comments: