September 16th, 2009

Biggest Loser Fail: Season 8 Contestant Hospitalized

People ask me about The Biggest Loser all the time, but I don’t watch very much TV. Last nite I watched the biggest loser TV show for the first time ever (also the last), just so I can discuss this in the future having actually watched it.

Now I see why this show is so popular – it sells with emotions and human interest stories; a real tear jerker. Not to mention the reality-TV style, which is the format well-known to get folks hooked to their TV sets.

Amidst all the praise from fans on blogs and forums today and over the past seasons, I’m curious about why no one is talking about the contestants who were sent to the hospital.

For the contestant’s first workout (they called it a “challenge”), the group was instructed to take a 1 mile run down the beach. It was NOT a go at your own pace type of thing (ie, “finish in 15 minutes or 1 hour 15 minutes, doesn’t matter”). No, it was a RACE with a prize for the winner (“immunity” from round 1 elimination).

The contestants are all morbidly obese, weighing up to 460 pounds and 57% body fat. A few were over 400 pounds.

Two were sent to the hospital. One of them collapsed just short of the finish line, at first looking dehydrated and fatigued and then progressing into looking seriously ill, incoherent and unconscious. She was flown by medivac chopper to the hospital.

The show’s/trainer’s general sentiment about the inability to run a mile and subsequent hospitalization: “See how out of shape and sick all of you are?”

This show appears well-choreographed and pre-recorded so the producers are obviously showing us what they want us to see to maximize ratings and entertainment value. I won’t be surprised if the hospitalized contestant makes a triumphant return in the next episode. (But I wonder what happens that we don’t see in the final cut).

I would begin editorializing, but frankly, I am speechless, at the moment. So how about you just leave your comments – I am immensely curious about what you think about this.

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65 Responses to “Biggest Loser Fail: Season 8 Contestant Hospitalized”

  • DR

    I wonder what % of TBL contestants maintain even a portion of their weight loss in the years after their appearance on the show.

  • I have never watched the show either but I have it Tivo’ed to watch this weekend. I have heard from my family that its good and I am looking forward to watching it this year.

  • I caught a few minutes of it last night. This was also my first time watching the show.It seems like the point of the show is to showcase human triumph over adversity and sell a story. Of course part of the story arc will include bringing participants to their lowest of lows, to “break” them before building them back up again. That said, I couldn’t get past the trainer (I think her name is Gillian Anderson?) screaming profanities at the participants while they were working out.I don’t mind profanities. In fact I use them on a daily basis. If the participants are willing, fine. But it’s not entertaining to me to watch people – who are probably at the most vulnerable points in their lives – being belittled by their alleged “trainer.”I switched to the Yankees game. At least Posada was able to retaliate when he felt like he was dissed by Toronto’s pitcher.

  • gwen

    “I watched that show a few times — and yes, it DOES draw out some emotion & get you sucked in, but it also is SO unrealistic to think that you could keep THAT type of lifestyle up forever. Working out 6 hours daily, food CLOSELY monitored, isolated from family, sole focus on WEIGHT LOSS. It’s just so FAKE.Saw a follow-up on Oprah about this show & the winners/high finishers from it, and MANY had regained quite a bit of weight (15-20 lb.+) — just could not maintain things. Supposedly they’re on a maintenance type program when they come home that is 1-2 hours daily with diet modifications still or something like that, but it’s just not REALITY. It’s not feasible to think they could keep that amt. of weight off back at home. And they DON’T.Disappointing… it’s like dangling success in front of them & then taking it all away. Pathetic & MEAN, honestly.

  • I have seen this show in the past, simply because people always talked about it at the gym.Basically – I think the show is crap.It is all for ratings and money.I believe the reason it is so popular is because they workouts the trainers do appear “larger than life” and follow the “latest and greatest” trends.If the trainers actually knew what they were doing, they could easily get those people much better results with less pain, less work, and less discomfort.That show also makes a lot of people say, “See! That is why I don’t workout.”They see people getting injured, crying, and miserable.Who would want any part of that?My rant is over . . .

  • Leanne

    I had often wondered what someone like you would think of such a show, I’m not a big viewer of it myself, but, the little that I have seen, now that I am a keen follower of what you teach really does make me think. These people are coming on, and being encouraged to lose kilos a week, I’ve seen some people losing as much as 12kg in a week. How is that healthy? Being encouraged and praised for losing up to 26lbs in one week, lets face it, that just isn’t healthy at all, and because people are desperate they are listening to what these “experts” are telling them. Knowing what I know now, I think the show is nuts, and really encouraging people to have unrealistic expectations for weight loss.

  • Tim

    I’ve watched for the past 4 seasons. While the transformations are stunning I have a problem with the whole losing lbs too quickly part of the show. If you are the average person and you hope to see the results they see on the show you are setting yourself up for failure losing 8-10 lbs per week isn’t realistic in the real world. these people train upwards of 6 hours a day and have their food supplied for them. They don’t have to worry about jobs and everyday life. Also they are unhappy about losing a mere 4 lbs in one week. That too is troublesome.

  • Traci

    “I cannot stand seeing these trainers act so unprofessionally!! If I had someone screaming at me I would fire them immediately and if they broke down and cried in my presence I would offer them psychotherapy, for a hefty fee!”

  • Jacquelynn

    “I usually start watching mid season. By then, the contestants have lost a bunch of weight, and even though they still have a lot to lose, they are in much better condition.I am sure the running the mile on the beach in the first episode was a way for the contestants to have a baseline to gauge their own progress down the road–and that is not a bad thing–sometimes we all get so focused on where we want to go that we forget about how far we have come.It is unfortunate, however, that people were hospitalized just for TV ratings.”

  • Lisa

    I disagree with their drill sergeant approach without taking their size and health into consideration. To be hospitalized from pushing the contestants that hard — that’s unacceptable and abusive. I’ve only watched it a couple times and I felt motivated by the show however, after reading your blog I’m boycotting the show.

  • Brian

    “I have watched the show for the past several seasons. I am conflicted. They do not teach these people how to live a real healthy lifestyle. They have them in an unrealistic situation. Removed from daily life, with only healthy choices. HOWEVER, these people are all terribly obese and require some radical treatment. Therefore, I think the show is a good thing. If it motivates even 1 person in this country to get up and do something to better themselves, then it is a good thing.”

  • Christi Pampino

    The Biggest Loser is a tv show for ratings and for money however, it’s also suppose to be a motivational tool to give people out there hope. The problem is they take morbidly obese people and put them into an isolated, unrealistic lifestyle where they have their food monitored and are put on a fitness routine designed for a professional athlete. Therein lies the problem. Most people are in everyday life with everyday temptation. They don’t have the means to hire a personal trainer or to join a gym. They aren’t taught about the simplistic daily steps you can take to on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. They go out and buy equipment and start to over exert themselves and end up with unrealistic expectations. The result is an individual with a broken sense of self and more than likely an injury from improper workouts. They simply can’t believe that eating only one serving instead of two and walking for 15 or 20 minutes a day can really make a difference and get them to the point to where they can workout like a world class athlete.

  • Having watched this a few years ago for he same see what the heck all the hype was about I was immediately disgusted by not only how they humiliated the contestants, but how the ‘trainers’ acted towards them.This is so sad not only for the contestants, but for everyone watching. Especially, the very obese people. It will hold them back from wanting to finally get in shape thinking that what they see on TV is real life situations.No trainer in their right mind would not have this type of client do anything close to what is happening on the show.These ‘trainers’ should be ashamed of themselves to do what the show wants then to do without a care in the world for the contestants.The sad thing..the ‘trainers’ then move on to make millions of dollars …..CRAZY!I think we need to create our own reality show on what getting in shape is REALLY like.Great post Tom!

  • Thomas

    I watch this once in a while because my wife is a big fan of the show. I don’t care to watch others “succeed” when I am already doing it myself. It seems a waste of time for me. My wife needs to get started on changing her life for fitness and health, and watches the show to help get motivated to start. I don’t think it is working for her. It is really a waste of time for her as well.

  • Crystal

    I was not fond of how they did the mile run at the first challenge last night. As obese as those folks are, I knew there would be problems. I do, however, think that this show has a lot to offer for folks who don’t know anything about eating right or exercising. It gives hints and tips about how to make your life healthier and at the end, it shows that hard work pays off. Now I completely agree with the others that it is not realistic, but it provides HOPE! And what better way to motivate obese people than to show them someone even more obese overcoming their eating issues. Maybe they should have an “After The Biggest Loser” program to show how they maintain everything when they get back to “real life”.

  • I don’t watch the farce of a show. Just drama for made for t.v. garbage. Too bad it wasn’t formatted to show people at home how to healthy properly. The people that I talk to that follow the show do so out of emotions and drama–they are not learning a thing. And the trainers–picked for audience appeal or dislike–they sure are not picked because they are top notch trainers. Folks get a real trainer who has a track record of helping people get healthy and learn how to be healthy on their own. “Biggest Loser” in my opinion is those wasting their time watching the show.Randy Woody

  • christine

    “Biggest Loser lacks crucial components for long term success. It’s a fad diet in reality TV form. I think it promotes unrealistic expectations and fails to teach what people really need to know for their health. There is a documented history of injuries with show participants.I’ll agree there are positives and negatives, but I think the ratio is far too negative. I detest reality TV anyway. People should be out doing, not sitting and watching other people live their lives in front of a camera.”

  • Neva

    I’ve never watched the show, but I know it is by far way too unhealthy what is taking place and totally unrealistic for viewers to try to do this on their own in the same manner. They really should take this off the air, but it’s a money game. All kinds of products are now popping up in stores, etc., and everywhere you turn you see the words Biggest Loser. I’d love to see people like you, Tom, jump on a band wagon & stop this craziness to human beings lives!

  • Jill

    It has always bothered me, among lots of things mentioned by others, that the show places no value in building lean muscle – it is purely based on weight lost. I have seen contestants at the finales who are thin but have not an ounce of lean muscle tissue to speak of and the contestants who have built lean muscle are out of the running for the prize money because they have done so.

  • Jessica

    Obviously the results come rapidly on this show, but they are setting these people up for major binges post show. Baby steps work much better.”

  • jill

    The hospitalization is all apart of the drama. I don’t doubt she needed it and I disagree with that challenge but the show is all about the drama of reality tv and ratings. I hope the contestant is alright and I do think less of the show for it.”

  • Kim

    I agree with Jill. If the show placed a value on FAT lost, rather than WEIGHT lost, it would definitely change the way things were done. But body fat % is never mentioned. When it gets down to the finalists and they go home to try to lose more weight before the final weigh-in, they are doing crazy things to try to lose weight and are not worried about losing muscle in the process. You can tell by looking at them that they did it all wrong. This is my big pet peeve with the show.

  • Simao L.

    Hi Tom, that show is not broadcasted in the country I´m living in, although I´m familiar with the whole concept. I wonder what happens in the “after” stage. Do people keep the good habits? Have they effectively learned something that they´ll put to good use in the future? Are they still wanting to progress after their 5 mins of nationally televised fame? Those are my questions. For most of them, I believe it´s another shot at getting exposure time, and sometimes that motivation is as lasting as it´s duration. Big Brother made its “casualties” in Portugal, people met people, people got famous, people got engaged in the series. 4 years later, all top 3 contestants were out of money, divorced and simply spit out by the fame they so longed for.Growth needs to be sustained

  • Justin

    As a trainer and student of fitness and health I’m disgusted by the show and think it puts us in a bad light. I think someone is going to end up getting seriously injured. Having obese people, some who are over 400 pounds run a mile down the beach when they usually only walk to the fridge and back to the couch is ridiculous. That being said…I’m sure they’ve all watched the show before becoming they SHOULD have known what they’re getting into. But all in all I’m not a fan of the show

  • Blueskies

    I personally don’t mind the tactics that are used on the show. While there are things that I don’t agree with like measuring weight and not bodyfat percentage, I think it is a good show. These people are obese and unhealthy. They are past the point of having a trainer be nice to them. What they need is tough love. And I am sure that behind the scenes their health is being monitored. It just doesn’t make sor good TV.I am somone who was in their place. The only thing that helped me lose the weight was a super tough traininer who I fought with all the time. I would bitch and complain about how everything hurt, I felt like I was going to die..yadda yadda yadda. That was my way of trying to keep from being uncomfortable. It was like a drug addict saying I just needed a small hit to get me through. My trainer was not having it. We not only focused on fat loss but on gaining lean muscle.And it worked. It’s been 8 years and I have put back on some weight but I am still at a healthy weight and no where near where I was.So…I am all for the Biggest Loser and I know exactly what they are going through. In the end they are much better off than they were. And if they are pushing themselves past their comfort zone for a simple prize like immunity, so be it. Obviously it is better than anything else they have tried.

  • rachel

    The helicopter and hostpitalization drama looks pretty bad, but I know from someone who was screened to go on the show that they have to go through an extensive evaluation to make sure they won’t actually kill them. In this person’s case, they uncovered a heart condition so they didn’t put him on. I’m pretty sure it’s just sensationalism. The whole show just feeds into this nation’s epidemic of short term thinking. I am never impressed by short term weight loss. I want a show with people who have lost weight and kept it off for years. That is the real challenge

  • Sandi

    I had to quit watching the show when it became obvious by product placement that it is subsidized by the Dairy Council and Jennie-O. Minute long segments on drinking milk was too much, let alone a race that leaves contestants hospitalized.I think I’m actually more infuriated by the celebrity achieved by the trainers featured in the show.

  • Travis Tolbert

    I’m so glad you wrote on this because the first time I watched the Biggest Loser, the immediate thoughts were exactly the same! As a certified exercise professional, we have to be aware of all the absolute and relative contraindications to exercise, and it seems that all of the contestants fit the standard for avoidance of vigorous exercise.I do want to make a point that at the end of the show, they make notice that all of the contestants are under the care of a physician and on monitored diets, but that still does not diminish the risks associated DURING exercise!Good thoughts Mr. Tom!

  • Angela

    I HATE this show, they OVERTRAIN very out of shape people and do not emphasize proper nutrition enough. Who in real life has that kind of time to devote to just training and who can afford a trainer 100% of the time. I find this show totally unrealistic for REAL people. Plus they do not address the emotional aspect of weight loss and why/how they got to that weight in the first place.Lose weight = exercise and proper nutrition consistently forever period.

  • Eric

    Here’s the thing: Yes the show is scripted. Yes the show is dramatic and completely unrealistic (for real world people). I mean who has a staff of personal trainers, cooks, and a whole medical crew around 24/7? BUT…I truly believe the contestants leave the show in a better place then when they arrived.Most if not all of them go home with less fat on their body. Most of them go home in better cardio shape then arriving. But most of all I think where the show does the best good is inspiring people across the country to get in better shape and eat healthier.It’s still just a show on T.V and we all have to remember that. I’m sticking with “Burn the fat, feed the muscle” because I KNOW that’s the best way for me and for that ill leave T.V shows for what they really are…Entertainment 🙂

  • Denise

    Although I disagree with the great amounts of weight loss in the show (which I am more than positive is mostly water, followed by muscle and fat), it has inspired a great number of people to “join” in the revolution to weight loss.I don’t, however, disagree with Jillian Michael’s approach. My brother-in-law does that, too, but she’s also not hard on EVERYONE. Sometimes you need that push, especially if you’re a stubborn individual who “gives in” to a little bit of lactic acid build up. I will probably be flamed for that, but some people do need that. I see it in my muay thai classes. Granted, some people in the show maybe are pushed a wee bit too hard for their weight -,but I digress.NBC also has the show’s website where people at home could partake on a Biggest Loser of their own, most likely to stay motivated. It’s also sparked Biggest Loser competitions in the workplaces. My sister’s best friend has one in their realty agency and they do one every half of the year, it seems, where each person puts in money for a pool, and obviously the Biggest Loser takes all. The same thing happened with my brother-in-law’s cousins workplace… she’s a teacher.So, although I disagree with some of the antics of the show (being a reality show the most … hate reality shows), I do agree with the premise. Perhaps if they were a bit more realistic about it, it would catch on more.

  • Ray

    Even though I don’t agree with all their tactics, if it gets only 1 person in the viewing audience motivated enough to lose weight & get healthy, what’s wrong in that?Most people that watch I’m sure understand that the quick weight loss the people get on the show are not realistic for a “home user”.

  • Jami Kotera

    I’ve watched reruns of the show and the thing that bothers me the most is…..gee….where do I begin? First of all – the intensity of the workouts for these first timers is cruel and I believe dangerous. How have they not actually had someone die yet is amazing to me. Second, the amounts lost each week is ridiculous – I don’t care how big someone is. Third, the pull at emotions is just too much, almost gaggy. Fourth – I’d love to know the body fat and lean body mass ratio’s. Fifth – how is it that these morbidly obese people rarely have sagging skin when it’s all done? I’ll stop there.In summary – I think it’s crap.

  • Paul

    Wow. I am amazed at the negativity towards this show. First off, there are no more serious injuries than with anyone starting an intense training program. Yes they have knee injuries, twisted ankles, and the like – but when an injury happens those contestants are restricted from certain exercises and these are sprain and strain injuries… and if a personal trainer tells me they never had a client have those types of injuries, they are either lying or have never actually had a client.They do focus on muscle gain, although there is no good way to figure that in during the weigh-in as the methods for determining body fat and muscle %’s have a huge margin of error. But I’ve read enough about both Jillian and Bob to know that their focus is on taking off fat and putting on muscle. If you watch the exercises they do, it is pretty obvious. They also focus greatly on nutrition in the house and offer info on it throughout the season.Some people need the drill sargeant approach. If you let yourself get to 400+ lbs, let’s face it – you do have some mental stuff going on that needs to be dealt with. I’ve never seen an overly nice trainer get great results. I’m sure there are some out there but if you don’t push people, they will not give it their all or achieve their optimal.I have never seen a study that shows losing weight fast is any worse than losing weight slow. 95% of all people, no matter how the weight is lost, regain within 5 years.Bottom line is you cannot argue with the results – and this show over the last 7 seasons has definitely obtained results.Oh, and as for the weight loss being mostly water? Please quit drinking that cool-aid. That is just silly-talk 😉

  • Linda

    In an attempt to “understand” the one mile scenario, my thinking would take me to the attitudes of people. So many people want to work out and shed their fat. But then how many actually give up half way through or fade out not having the stomach nor the discipline to stick to the routine, after having decided for themselves that it involves just a little too much hard work and dedication.Would that the one mile purposefully brings home to the new contestants that “we are not playing games here – you will suffer, and you will need to work hard if you want to get there! So get the right attitude right now”.Surely they would have all the medical pre tests in place to ensure that those taking part can actually handle everything without creating a medical situation. Imagine the law suits that would get flung about if one of them landed up with a serious medical consequence, irrespective of whether they signed an indemnity or not.I have seen the show only a few times, and was left thinking that the weight loss per week seemed a little extreme. The level of exercises they are made to do likewise to me appeared just a little too intense for their physical conditions.It is a TV show at the end of the day, and the participants are willingly partaking in whatever takes place. Whether they have been properly informed with regards to health nutrition and exercise, specifically for their body type, is another issue altogether.All this aside, I have also seen interviews of individual participants who had lost great amounts of body fat (and possibly even more than just fat) – they claimed to be elated and very pleased to have gone through with it.Imagine being that overweight, then imagine having to build up the willpower to do something about it, not just for a week but for a long long time. A show such as this that focuses on their dream, their goal of a slimmer body, not for an hour a day but for extensive hours per day, actually gives them what they cannot give to themselves. The show puts them in a place where they cannot take a day off when they just don’t feel like it – and that is the discipline that they need to get the ball rolling. The show gives them much more than one realises – it gives them no choice but to persevere. It educates them into the right mind set.Not that I totally agree with the way things are done – but it is a lovely opportunity for those who really really want to – but know that they just cannot do it in an everyday environment.

  • I have to agree with you Tom.The show is just one big production. How many trainers would be allowed to berate their clients on the gym floor like these two do?Not too mention the pathetic isolation exercises I saw sprinkled through out. How about some whole body movements, these people are not at the specific body part training point.I had to laugh when I saw them promoting Brita filters later on in the episode. Classic program marketing…Mike

  • Marylin Sanchez

    I think TBL show is extremely dangerous.You have these poor people that are obviously severely overweight/obese and are asking for help in losing this weight and the only thing this show does is whatever it takes for ratings! That’s very irresponsible.What about teaching these people about proper nutrition for the rest of your life. Not a diet but real honest to goodness nutrition that you can use for the rest of your life. Following it up with a good sensible exercise/fitness regime that is tailored to each one’s current ability and physical fitness that helps you progress?You can’t just take someone that is severely overweight/obese, that has not exercised in years, if ever, and say ok run a mile race ASAP. What are you insane!What they need is to learn about proper nutrition and to be shown the proper way to exercise so it becomes a way of life not a temporary patch.Well, it’s time for me to get off my soap box now!! Sorry but that is how I feel and that is precisely why I don’t watch all this BS reality TV!

  • My real issue with the show revolves around “time compression”In other words, how many weeks are they REALLY exercising before they weigh in.(I’ve heard rumors of 2 or 3)Passing off 2-3 week results as one week results would be pretty lame… and I’d prob research it further if I didn’t think it was a waste of my time… lol

  • Brad, I had no idea about “time compression.” they CLEARLY passed off weight losses ranging from 6 to 28 pounds (average was probably about 12 lbs) as occuring in ONE week.I have, however, heard what people do to themsevles for final week weigh in – ie, complete starvation and wrestler-style dehydration.

  • @TomYeah, don’t quote me on that… like I said, rumor… lol…. but somehow I think that the “complete starvation and wrestler-style dehydration.” is probably encouraged or at the LEAST, eluded to by the folks running it.

  • Ana Estévez

    I think it is completely irresponsible from the TV Network, the hosts, “trainers” and all the team involved in that kind of production because it encourages two main things:1) A justification for the people that simply does not think “it’s worth it” to work that hard and to suffer that much just to be “in shape” (normally people do not think about health)2) Encourages the complete opposite: anorexia, extreme fad diets and excessive exercise without really thinking about the calories.To sum up, I think this kind of shows only promote unhealthy ways to simply justify being fat or to starve away to anorexic bonds, not to mention all the physical and emotional damage that it causes the contestants and their own families. With that kind of diet and exercise plan (torture?) I do not doubt why there are so many people in both extremes!!!

  • Sean

    OK, I know the comments here have been overwhelmingly negative, but I wanted to mention a couple points about the show I think are actually positive (and make it one of the very few bits of “Reality TV” with some redeeming qualities:1. The editing helps build story-lines that are compelling, and generate some connection with the participants of the show. Yes, they do show some of the conflict that occurs between players, but overall, I think viewers are left with a sense each week that these people *are* benefiting from their time on the show, and that it is sad (cruel?) for any of them to be eliminated.2. The show depicts the fact that training is *HARD*. This is not an infomercial that states how easy it is to get thin if they only [buy this product/take this pill/eat this food], but instead shows people sweating, cursing, puking, crying, and actually working hard. Seeing the participants hit their own perceived limits, and then push past is (I’m assuming) an extremely powerful experience for them, and very moving to watch.3. As far as the actions of the trainers, I think that might be personal preference. My wife and I discuss this all the time and if we were to be using personal trainers, she would absolutely want to work with Bob, while I think I’d be more inclined to work with Jillian (not sure if either of these trainers are part of the current season.) I see professional trainers all over the place who never seem to push their clients, and who seem act more like tour guides on a sweatless walk through the gym. Yes, it’s a competition show, and yes, these trainers push their subjects hard, but I’m still left with the sense that they are committed to improving the health and well-being of these individuals. Of course, there is some additional foolishness that exists to push the entertainment value of the show, but it *IS* TV, which makes it almost by definition flawed at a very deep level.4. Finally, I think the product placement is so over-the-top that it has become comical, and I anxiously wait for new moments where they oh-so-seamlessly (kidding) introduce yet another sponsor product.Compare this with any of the romance reality-shows, the ever popular “Apprentice” and “Survivor”, and the horrible “Celebrity Fit Club” and perhaps some of the redeeming qualities of the show will become more apparent.Oh, and in regards to “cutting weight’, I think the past season was the first time it became really evident in the finale, and agree this would be a terrible thing if it became commonplace.”As far as reality TV goes, I don’t think it’s that bad.” There, I’ve said it. Donning flame retardant suit now. Fire away. 🙂

  • Sean – no “flame retardant suit” needed, lol. There ARE pros as well as cons to this show.I happen to think the cons outweigh the pros, and that there are some serious dangers here, inherently built into the very nature of the program…but its only fair to point out the positives – there are important lessons to be learned hereI will post tomorrow with all my thoughts: pro and con.thanks EVERYONE for your comments

  • Alan

    This rubbish has got to be stopped before someone dies. Why do fat people seem to get some perverse enjoyment watching it? “At least I’m not THAT fat” is their way of dealing with their own obesity. It is not entertainment!

  • Jill Coleman

    This is why “rest-based” training is the only way to train and to get people to push themselves but also let them rest. We have found with our clients that they actually push HARDER if they feel like they can rest, and it takes the pacing component out of the whole thing. Push til you can’t, rest til you can. The days of the drill sergeant trainer are over.

  • It was scary to see. And sad. Sad that these people are abused. Sad that people become trapped in their own bodies. I need at least 1/4 just to get warmed up. It’s scary that so people simply can not function physically.Where would we be if our ancestors were in the same physical condition we are today?There’s been a serious injury or health issue every season for at least one contestant it seems – or at least as long as I’ve been watching.Here’s a quote from one contestant last season after she achieved a goal, “I’ve never felt this way before!”My goal is for each of my clients to experience the exact same thing. I watch to learn and get insight into how they might be thinking and feeling. I watch to see what Jillian does so I can learn what not to do. ;)I hated this show when I was “fat”. It depressed me. Comments like the one before mine still depress me.I don’t know. I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I like seeing the positive emotional and mental transformations some of the contestants seem to go through (who knows if they’re real.)I hate that suffering people are used and abused for profit. Having been not too far from where these people are, I find it, and comments like the previous personally offensive.There also seems to be too many people who try out repeatedly for this show thinking that they’ll never be able to lose the weight unless they get on. They’ll die waiting for someone else to “do it” for them.

  • Blueskies

    It seems as though most people are bashing the show. I appreciated Paul’s refreshing post.And this is coming from someone who was obsese. Tough love and pain (mentally) was the only way I lost my weight. When you are that obsese you need someone to show the harsh reality. Losing fat and gaining muscle is not easy, it takes you to a place where you are not comformatable. As far as obese people running a mile…the first time I was forced to do something like this…I was so exhausted I got sick and felt like I would die. The majority of that was psychological. But when it was over I felt such an amazing feeling of accomplishment that it pushed me to continue. I knew if I had run that mile I could do anything.I know many people who posted are trainers or experts in this area…but I am someone who actually lived it and can tell you from the other side….TBL is not as bad as you all make it sound. For some people it is the final option for them.

  • Stacey

    I also watched TBL for the first time last night. I sent you a tweet to say that I found it to be a freak show of yelling and physical risk to the contestants, but moreover it’s about humiliating them. Jillian’s defense for the badgering? (She was caught on tape stating this months ago) She feels these morbidly obese people are sick and half dead inside. Great defense, no? She’s a piece of work, screaming at contestants to do it naturally with hard work, and then endorsing diet pills between seasons. Great message to give to people like me who can’t take diet pills and are fat due to retarded lady junk not overeating or lack of moving. She sounds like a delightful and supportive person to have on one’s side. :-I’m terribly worried about contestants like Tracy, who to me (with my untrained eyes) appeared to be lapsing into a diabetic coma within feet of the finish line, and instead of getting immediately medical attention, she got lots of support to get up and finish from everyone, including the show host. Is that compassion? If I look up the definition of compassion, will I see the show listed as a prime example?? I think not. I think this show, like all of the “reality” shows, have their agenda, and they aren’t going to let anyone slow them down in their race to fulfill that agenda. The contestants may be sick, but this show is sicker.

  • Sylvie

    Hi, Tom!I have never seen the show but from what I’ve heard of it I always thought it is stupid and misleading. What you have written makes me think it is dangerous as well. And I do not mean the contestants – there are those millions of people watching and believing and some of them will be copying the pattern.I am obviously lucky to be living in Bulgaria where I have no chance of seeing this show live. Anyway, I am against any kind of reality show – they are simply a waste of time. It’s better to work on one’s training and eating habits instead, right? :)Sylvie

  • Shelly

    Where are they now? finished your book, Tom! Will be writing down my goals tonight!

  • Genevieve

    I have done some pretty expansive weight loss myself and would never be able to re-create the results on the show myself at home. That being said, I do find myself watching the show from time to time, either as motivation or because it pushes me to think about what I am doing and, through internally criticizing the show, finding things that work for myself.As for the trainers being cruel, we are only shown a tiny portion of the interactions that occur with the trainers and most likely only the most sensational are represented. Personally, if I’m under stress and someone is nice to me, I immediately dissolve into tears. It has always been far more helpful when someone is unsympathetic and tells me to ‘man up’. I agree with those who have said that every person may require a different kind of motivation, and for some, the drill style encouragement may be what is needed.The show is unrealistic for someone living an everyday life, but many of the people would just be watching some other show it not this one and if encourages someone to try something new, get involved or even get in a discussion about fitness and nutrition, I think it is beneficial.Genevieve

  • I dvr’d the show and watched it last night for the first time. I know everyone raves about the trainers and I’ve started the 30-day shred video by Jillian Michaels, but I must say, I DID NOT CARE FOR THE SHOW. The c hallenges were hard and I am all for pushing a person but I thought the trainers went too far in terms of shaming (or is that motivating) the contestants. I’m not sure if I’d watch again.

  • Well Tom, you have seen this show one more time than I have, and thank you and everyone else who gave me the validation that I should hold on to my record for never having seen the show!

  • Traci Breazeale

    As a PT I have always been offended by the show. There are no disclosures that these people have medics 24/7. There is no disclosure that 5-7 hours a day of exercise is not healthy unless you are a training athlete. Its not disclosed that taking a 300# person to a sudden caloric intake of 1000-1200 calories isnt the safest thing to do medically or mentally.I saw a show last year where previous “big losers” were followed up on….I believe it was 2 out of the 16 visited had kept any wt off. What this does to a person emotionally is abuse imo.I tell all my clients: If you find the personal stories motivating- then watch it by all means but do not ever compare your abilities or success to that show. Do not expect me to treat you like the hollywood trainers treat people.I find it hugely inappropriate & irresponsible without any & all full disclosures

  • Michael Davis

    I would just like to say that I cannot watch the program at all because it’s just so awful what they make the participants do.I wonder it’s not illegal.If there are people watching it who want to lose weight, will it encourage them or scare them off? I wouldn’t mind betting it’s the latter.Just my opinion.Michael

  • Hey guys!As always, Tom’s perspectives are right on!The BL is so popular among the thousands of americans who struggle with their weight, because we love to see the struggle and the triumph over our most common hurdles in life. The problem is that sometimes in the name of entertainment they overexaggerate the story, and this in turn really misleads people in the “real world”.I think the inspirational aspect of BL is great. They clearly have an awesome entertainment formula. The question I would have is, how many people does the BL actually help lose weight. This might be significant, if it actually is what creates the “spark” for someone to change. However, the actual examples in the show can be detrimental to a beginner’s long term weight loss strategy.Among the MOST common mistakes in a beginner’s program, is to try to do too much too soon. Running a mile is NOT a good idea for a morbidly obese person. Walking a mile is more like it…for time. Most not on the show with all the stakes at play, would probably give up after nearly passing out trying to run a mile. So in some ways the show could set viewers up to fail.However, in the show’s defense, having these people walk a mile would have less drama, because nobody would go to the hospital :)Thanks for all your great insights Tom!-Steve

  • LaDonna Reynolds

    I’ve been watching the show for the past four years. As someone, who’s frustrated with not being able to lose weight, I was shocked by what I noticed on the show the other night. Amanda and Rebecca’s results were listed before they even got up the steps. How is that possible unless there is some type of editing. My trainer told me not to get caught up in these shows because you only see what they want you to. He said that those people are definitely losing that weight over a longer period of time than what is stated. I believe that now. Not bashing the show becasue it known to have helped people including myself, but don’t believe all that you think you are seeing.

  • CM

    Well, since you’re asking. I don’t like watching reality shows anymore. There was about a minute where they had a degree of reality attached to them. After that… It’s just gets more and more crazy.Interestingly, I’m in the middle of reading the book Where did all the Fat Go? Which is written by Rob Huizenga. He’s the MD behind this show. There are some really good explanations in his book that actually highlight all that it wrong with this show. Lean/muscle loss, using a scale as a form of measurement (instead of body fat/mass changes) etc.The thing that I’m taking from his book is that losing weight even if you’re morbidly obese IS POSSIBLE! And in his book he does not EVER discount losing just 3 lbs in a week instead of 15 or some crazy number… and you have to work hard… and eat less… that’s pretty much it. His methods are still extremely aggressive. 2 hours of workout a day, and enough calories to keep you going… to feed your organs/muscle and such.He talks about his interest in proving that a morbidly obese group of people could lose weight, and large amounts, without living at “the Ranch”. His book tracks in part the successes of those that were NOT chosen for the show… do to usually extreme medical situations, and then perhaps the wrong personality for the show (not sure)…Personally, I would take the show for what it is… Yet another wacked out fabrication of “life” by the networks looking to not pay actors and actresses, while raking in the ad money. I think there is a large group of people that like to watch others suffer, and another group that likes to watch people overcome what might otherwise be a death sentence… and then the rest of us that just change the channel, or put in an exercise DVD.If you’re interested in what the heck the Dr. that put this together was thinking… then check out his book…

  • It’s scary the things that people will buy into. It’s only a matter of time before a contestant ends up seriously ill! I would go so far as to say it is irresponsible.

  • Sue

    Why does everyone say this is reality TV? Who the heck lives like this in reality? It’s about entertainment and $$, not about hope or teaching lifestyles, or anything like that. The contestants, I would hope, know full well what they are in for. They are in it for the money grab.That said, this show does a tremendous disservice to all the thousands of morbidly obese people and the millions of obese people who are viewers. This show certainly does nothing to lay the groundwork for safe, effective, permanent fat loss. And if someone were to attempt this sort of weight loss circus on their own, they probably would end up either injured or gaining more weight (fat) due to severe restrictions, followed by the inevietable mass re-feed after such severe caloric deficit. I think the biggest losers are on the outside of the TV screen.

  • Karyn

    Shay began the show at 475+ lbs. If she were to lose a “normal” 1-2 lbs a week, it would take her over 3 years to reach a healthy weight. She would probably be dead of a heart attack way before ever getting there. These people are way past that point. They need to get those first 200 lbs off now or they may not be around to have time to learn the “finer points” of nutrition and weight control!At least they are given a second chance at life. What they do with it after that is up to them, just like the rest of us.

  • KarynObese individuals can and will be able to safely lose more weight than lean people – for physiological reasons. Recommended rates of weight loss, therefore, vary depending on how overweight a person is.the guideline is 1-2 lbs per week or up to 1% of total bodyweight. Therefore, a 475 lb individual could easily expect 4.75 lbs per week; 300 lbs, 3 lbs per week etc. Also first week weight losses are always very high due to water and glycogen loss.To lose 10, 15, 20 lbs a week as some contestants do in Biggest loser is unrealistic and mostly unachievable by the average person in a real world situation, also possible unhealthy or dangerous. You dont lose that much fat in a week – its largely water and lean tissue.Also, to believe that losing less than 10 lbs per week is failure or reason for disappointment is a terrible idea to promote and that is what this show does — watch my video clip in the more recent blog post on biggest loser pros and cons and tell me it aint so.Also please see my previous post about the 2 lbs per week rule for further clarification

  • Daniel M

    The biggest loser is first and foremost a reality tv gameshow. It has nothing to do with inspiring America to make a change. I did watch some episodes and the show can be fun and entertaining to watch. But often times it’s just painful to watch how the trainers abuse the contestents.Trainer Jillian is a master in digging up old wounds of the contestants and making them cry in front of the camera during workouts. She is also a master of turning contestants against each other. Simply her authority makes people afraid to say or do anything that pisses her off. When she is mad at someone, everyone in the camp turns against that contestant and the contestant will get bullied.Another thing everyone blames the contestants for is “game playing.” Are they kidding me, the whole game is set up by the producers, script writers and other people behind the scenes. Instead, Jillian and Bob get angry at the contestants for playing the game.There was a season where the friendship between two overweight black women who came on the show together was broken, because one had a fight with Bob. This is just sickening if you ask me. The whole show is made of emotional abuse and Bob and Jillian are masters of bringing out or even creating the dirt.One reason why the show isn’t produced to inspire america to do something about their health, is that the trainers will say anything to support and rationalise what they are doing in their show. Something like “don’t think you are building muscle, if you are not losing scale weight, you are not making progress.”The funny thing is that the show has access to the most modern health testing facilities and hospitals. Why haven’t they moved from measuring percentage of weightloss to percentage of FAT loss? They could easily get a body pod and measure this accuretely every week. In the beginning of the journey weight loss might be a sufficiant measurement, but after a while it becomes unfair. Simply because everyone reacts different and some people will add more lean mass than others. While others will lose massive amounts of water weight in certain weeks.The fact is, the results measured in body fat percentages wouldn’t be dramatic enough to hook the viewers. It’s not that the trainers are ignorant. They know exactly what they are doing, but they have sold their souls.Everything behind the scenes is low impact cardio and some weight training. Everything in front of the camera is pure torture. This brings a wrong message to people who are watching the show to learn about proper training for weight loss. Don’t get me started on their diets. It has been mentioned on the show that the contestants had to get in 1200 calories a day.Seriously, the only reason to watch is that Allison, the hostess of the show, looks kinda hot.

  • Shellz1

    I am no health export or fitness guru, and i must admit that i enjoy watching the show, b/c I am overweight, and I look forward to watching the before and after post of the eliminated contestant at the end of each show. But at the same time, it doesn’t take a genius or a fitness expert to see that this is not typical, healthy, or normal.I am amazed to see how the the trainers, etc. promote this excess amount of weight loss each week, and even show disappointment if a contestant is not showing a double digit weightloss on the scales, especially if they are one of the larger contestants. These contestants are upset and disappointed when they are only losing 3,5,6 lbs a week……it’s insane!and OMG, have you seen how the winners of this show look each season at the finale, they look so sick and unhealthy….their skin is lose, they have really bad fake tans, their faces are wrinkle, bones bulging east and west…..bottom line, they don’t look healthy. I have even seen where one finale winner lost half of his body weight, and gained it all back and then some.In my personal nonprofessional opinion, they are losing too much weight too fast, and as a result they are gaining it back even faster, b/c they never had enough time to adjust to a new life style of healthier eating which makes it easier to go back to bad eating pattern….everything happens just too fast. also as a result of losing weight too fast, their skin doesn’t have a chance to adjust to that massive weightloss, therefore, their skin just hangs instead of tighten….i know you have to tone for this, but i think they are toning by doing weight training, it’s just all happening too fast. May sound crazy, but that’s just how i see it, strictly my unprofessional opinion!

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