Monday, May 2, 2016

The Biggest Loser is STUPID


I used to watch the reality show Biggest Loser from time to time. I liked watching the challenges, and I'll admit I got a little choked up at all the transformations, heart-wrenching stories, etc. I was cheesier when I was younger.

In fact, BL was on the TV in the birthing room when I had my first child. I suppose I enjoyed seeing other people grunting and not looking cute and fluffy, because Lord knows, I was not so cute and fluffy at the time.

Anyway, there were always things that bothered me about that show, and the more I learned about diet and exercise, the more I grew to despise it, and now I officially can't stand it. I can't even watch it for five minutes. If you like, me no judgey, but I'm going to tell why:

I hate how they make exercise look like torture. You do not need to vomit to have a good workout. You do not need to walk on treadmills for hours on end. There is almost no joy in movement communicated to the participants on that show. They seem to do the same old same old all.the.time. Why not water aerobics? Ballroom dancing? Or even... barre?! (You knew I was going to say that.) Really, there are so many different ways to move your body. I don't understand why they persist with rope slinging, kettlebell swinging and treadmilling over and over and over. Not to mention the fact that many of these activities are really tough on the joints, and when you're dealing with the morbidly obese, joint issues should be a huge consideration. Not to mention all the emphasis on processed diet food and calorie counting. It makes me crazy.

But today I read an article in the New York Times that made me hate this show even more. It's called 'After The Biggest Loser, Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight.' The article is heartbreaking. It chronicles the punishing regimes to lose weight fast, and the regain experiences of contestants on the horrible show's season 8, nearly all of whom regained almost all the weight they rapidly lost this stupid show.

And it's not just the season 8 contestants. If you search 'where are they now' type articles, you'll find many, many, many BL contestants have regained all or most of the weight they lost. It's just that the season 8 contestants were studied by the National Institutes of Health. They found that all the contestants had significantly slower metabolisms after participating on the show. This means they now burn far fewer calories at rest than they did before. This means they MUST eat FAR fewer calories than would be expected for people their size.

Also, since they lost so much weight so rapidly on The Stupid Show, their hormones are messed up. The contestants were found to have almost no leptin, which is one of the hormones that governs the hunger response. After regaining some weight, their leptin levels increased, but not to the previous levels they had enjoyed before The Stupid Show. This means these poor people were HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. Of course they gained the weight back! Who can resist the siren song of HUNGER?

Ok, I really need to go do some laundry, but could we please just get over the number on the scale? Please? It is SO NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. SO NOT. These people would have been so much better off if the emphasis had been on small, sustainable changes, like moderate, enjoyable movement. Like eating WHOLE REAL FOOD. Like focusing on other health markers, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, heck, just ENJOYING LIFE MORE.

Even this article reveals that people are still hung up on weight, even though the maniacal focus is what seems to have permanently damaged their bodies.

The only winners of The Stupid Show are Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, who have become household names and made money hand over fist from yelling and screaming at people. It certainly wasn't the contestants, nor the millions of people who have watched this show and tried to emulate the results. Enough.

Can we please finally get this stupid show off the air?