The Biggest Loser — One Fewer Guilty Pleasure


Beverly’s back with her thoughts on this popular television show that she observed several young women watching during her stay at Green Mountain at Fox Run. “I’ve been struggling with my response ever since,” she says.

Yes, I’m among the millions who have watched “The Biggest Loser.”  Who will fall below the dread “yellow line.”  Can anyone beat Tara at the challenges?  Why is Ron still around?   Drama, competition, more drama, and tears.  Lots and lots of tears from people whose very lives seem to depend on how much weight they lose in a week.

“The Biggest Loser” has been a guilty pleasure.  I usually record it (thank heavens for digital video recorders) so I can watch it when my husband is otherwise occupied and I can whiz through the commercials and the phony drama of the weigh-ins.  No more.  Not after Laura, who is all of 24, sustained a stress fracture in her hip bone.  Hello, wake-up call.

These people are not athletes and yet for four months they live like athletes.  All they seem to do is exercise, compete in challenges and do more exercise.  I can only wonder why more contestants have not sustained such injuries.

What is it that we are not being shown? What kind of post-exercise programs do they do?  Do these people ever stretch? What about yoga, tai chi, golf?  What kind of health screening must they go through before being allowed on the program?  What kind of psychological counseling is available to the people on the show and their families?

This is not about healthy living or balance or self-acceptance, it is about entertainment with people willing to put their bodies at risk for $250,000. It is also about desperation.

All of us who have struggled with our eating and weight and self-image understand desperation.  You don’t have to weigh 350 pounds to be desperate. But would we pay the price required by “The Biggest Loser?”

Enough.  I really hope that every one of those men and women come out of their experience healthy and happy and able to deal with the stresses, strains and anxieties of life.  But they’re going to do it without me.  Whenever I’m tempted to record another episode, I’ll remember Green Mountain’s three-legged stool of exercise, nutrition and stress management.  I’ll put on one of LynnAnn’s DVDs and do some exercises.  Or I’ll whip up one of Jon’s great salad dressings.  Or think about how I’ve used food to deal with loneliness or anger or frustration, and find other ways of handling life.

Good bye, “Biggest Loser.”  Have a nice life.

8 responses to “The Biggest Loser — One Fewer Guilty Pleasure”

  1. Emily says:

    Finally! I am glad GMFR posted about this, and in the light that you did. The Biggest Loser is so unrealistic; it seems unfair for those wanting (and trying very hard) to lose weight in a healthy manner to watch the show and think that that is normal. I have wondered what are they not showing us from day one.

  2. Cindy says:

    Great post, Beverly. I’ll admit I cringed a little when I heard that women were gathering around in significant numbers to catch the BL. But what to do? Dictate what folks watch on TV in an effort to keep their minds from being sabotaged? That seemed ludicrous. We figured that it’s best to let folks self-select (it’s a free country after all) and come to their own conclusions. If nothing else, it might elicit some good conversation. And now we have it!

  3. Riayn says:

    I am currently watching the Australian version of The Biggest Loser and whilst it is a guilty pleasure there are quite a few things about it I do not like. Firstly, the low calorie diets the contestants are on are terrifying, the girls regardless of their size are on 1,000 – 1,200 calories whereas the guys are on 1,5000. These calories limits are honestly too low.

    Secondly is the so-called “weekly” weigh-ins that actually occur every 12 days. These give people watching the show an unrealistic view of how much weight they should expect to lose each week and most likely lead to people becoming unmotivated and upset about their own weight loss.

    And thirdly, no one on the show every talks about contestants putting on muscle which can lead to weight gains or decreased weight loss. They all act like these contestants have done something terribly wrong when in fact, they are doing everything right.

    I am not actually sure why I watch this show…

  4. Marsha says:

    I think you’ve got plenty of company, Riayn. And that’s probably why Beverly titled this post a guilty pleasure. For some reason, these stories appeal even when we know they’re unrealistic and promote dangerous practices. At least many of us realize what they’re promoting is dangerous. Unfortunately, however, I fear there are many folks who don’t.

  5. Michelle says:

    Although I have never watched the show out of principle, I think I’ve seen all I need to see in the previews and agree completely with your sentiments. And what I want to know is what kind of support is in place when the show ends? Life goes on for these people and without someone hounding them every day to eat carrots and lettuce all day while burning hundreds of calories, how are they ever going to find long term success? I’ve read a few follow ups about the contestants and more than a few put back on most if not all the weight they lose on the show. These people need to learn to love themselves for who they are and be encouraged to take care of their bodies in the name of that love, rather than for the sake of entertaining millions.

  6. Marsha says:

    I’m with you, Michelle. I’ve never watched the show. It is too counter to what I believe. Re your comment about taking care of ourselves because we love ourselves, ‘rather than for the sake of entertaining millions’ is so true, and it’s true for many more of us than those who take part in reality tv shows. Unfortunately, a lot of the weight/body struggles that people, particularly women, are engaged in are a result of trying to please others, or fit in, with a certain look. Not blaming the victim here, though. We are a product of our society. Fortunately, many of us are waking up. Hooray!

  7. Beverly says:

    Riyann: Twelve days and not a week! See, I knew there were things that we weren’t being told. I also read that the contestants are weighed earlier in the day so that the “on-camera” weigh-in is for the audience. And, that the outfits they wear are deliberately too small. Drama and more drama.

    I’ve turned it off because doing the right things is hard enough without the program’s phony-baloney and brainwashing.

  8. melissa says:

    Its not a bad show. Yes, it’s unrealistic. Who has a trainer to work them out for hrs everydayt?Not me.. But it can inspire people to get off the couch and exercise.
    Yes, those people are desperate. Hello they are between 300-400 pounds. And they are at risk for far more than an ankle sprain or a hip fracture. If they don’t loose weight. So,hooray for them!! For standing up and doing something about it.

About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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