The Biggest Loser

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the biggest loser tv showI pride myself with quite some good taste when it comes to movies and shows and still, there’s one more “mainstream’ that’s really got me interested. The show started in 2004 and still runs today, as you may already know.

The Biggest Loser is pretty simple: we have some people (men and women) who are obese. Some are very obese, we had women of over 400 lbs and men over 500. I weigh 115, so you can imagine my shock when I see these numbers. We take these people for some months at a ranch where they’ll exercise for 6-8 hours/day and eat low calories meals.

At the end the one who’s got the biggest percentage of weight lost hits jackpot and takes a quarter of a millon bucks home. From the people who’d been eliminated (similar to Big Brother) the winner of the weigh in will go home with 100000 dollars.

There’s 2 personal trainers to make them sweat (Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels), medics and Alison Sweeney from Days of our Lives as the presenter (few seasons had another presenter, but she’s the one who’s done most of them).

Each week starts with a “temptation”. If they are willing to eat some “high-calories” foods, the contestants can win an advantage in the game (they can decide teams etc.), there’s also a “reward challenge” that really puts  them all to the test. Many of these require such a determination and stamina people with a better physical condition might be shocked to face them and the reward is worth the effort: they can phone home, or see videos with their loved ones, can win money or various things or even gain immunity at the week’s weigh in, that’s more valuable to them than 100 new cars).

Before the week ends they have the “last chance workout” too, that’s so grueling even an ex-sports woman as I am might be scared to go through it. I do believe that in my biggest moments as a Karate practitioner such a workout could have killed me or come pretty close to that.

The biggest moment in the week is the weigh in, when the last 2 contestants (those who “lost” less than the rest) are up for elimination. The rest vote and one is sent home.

What’s not cool?

There’s a lot of drama, yelling, crying, making and breaking of alliances and commercials (more or less hidden). The show is not “smart”, so the resemblance with Big Brother is not far fetched.

What’s cool?

Everything else. The idea that weight loss is not something temporary, that it means a LIFETIME commitment. You cannot starve yourself for 2 weeks than to get back to eating junk food and hope to become slender. There’s nothing you can do without working out too. Of course you won’t be able to work out for 8 hours/day, but anyone can still squeeze in some “personal time”.

For the Biggest Loser contestants life at the ranch is easy: they eat what they should eat and workout a lot. The problem is when they get back to their families with all the problems they’ve left behind with work and lack of personal time, going out to eat etc. It is true that by the end of the season they’ve reached their ideal weight, so there’s only maintenance to be done, bu it’s still pretty difficult.

We have some contestants who put the weight back on (the winner of the Season 3 got almost as obese after 1 year and a half), some who put 20-30 lbs (in many cases it was just because they started drinking water, after trying to dehydrate as much as possible before the finale), and some who really kept it off. Few of them are now ambassadors for a healthier life style and some even got their personal trainer license.

I’ve really loved seeing what each contestant has become, what huge efforts they put into their transformation. Some of them were just “players”, but I still remember some amazing people who were interested only in breaking all their limits and becoming what they’ve dreamed of becoming. These are the true winners of the show, even if some didn’t quite win the final weigh in.

Another amazing thing was to see these once so heavy and lacking stamina people run a half-marathon and even a marathon. Well, I do look “perfect” and have a decent stamina, but I’d die after mile 2. These people actually run the entire thing. Wow.

So, it’s been an “easy entertainment” show, but still I’ve enjoyed watching it each and every episode. We have a friend in NYC who took part in a small Biggest Loser contest at her office and she’s now regained her life back, after struggling with her height for the past 20 years.

What do you think about the Biggest Loser? do you like it?

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