Maddening Biggest Loser – Episode 914

Posted: April 21, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Last night, I was becoming more and more frustrated with the messages the media is sending to our culture about health and wellness. No, it wasn't through ridiculous commercials or a radio ad to call Quik Trim to "get skinny again". As frustrating as the plethora of those types of "information" is, I was more annoyed by something I watch regularly last night.

The Biggest Loser


I have watched The Biggest Loser since one of the first seasons. I loved the show back then. It was really inspiring to see the changes these people made to their lives. The past couple of seasons have started to irk me by the producers needing to choose the BIGGEST players they can find, or the oldest, or weakest, etc. I much preferred the times where there were contestants who could stand to lose 100-150 lbs, instead of 300. I could cheer them on for their successes and not have to watch them doing things that were way beyond their physical limits and constantly wonder about the safety of the contestants.

I do continue to watch this show, partly because of the tradition of having my sister over for dinner and that we have watched it together so long, but mostly because I still love seeing these people make changes for the better.


As much as I don't agree with many of the methods the show uses, and think that the contestants should have more than 6 months to lose a couple hundred pounds and make it a safer more lasting loss, I support the purpose of the show. To help people gain their health back and reconcile some emotional and mental struggles related to their weight.

But then last night had me questioning even MORE how this show is going to help these contestants really make changes that will last a lifetime, without adding new mental and emotional struggles to their psyche.  Last night's episode started off with a temptation. For each of their meals over the course of a day, the contestants had to go into a room to serve their plate from a buffet that had a "good" side and a "bad" side.

Sample Buffet of Heavier & Lighter Foods


This really annoyed me, because it was teaching them the all or nothing mentality. It was portraying to the contestants that they had to either eat the healthy stuff OR the heavier stuff. Most of the contestants stuck with their diet plans and ate the grilled chicken, veggies, fruit, oatmeal, etc that was offered on one side of the buffet, constantly complaining about how they would LOVE to have a cookie, a fry, a donut. One contestant dove in with hopes of winning the challenge and ate a lot. Only two of the remaining contestants did anything remotely in the middle. One had a chicken wing, because she really wanted it, and then had the rest of her meal from the more wholesome items. Another had a bite of a taquito and then realized it wasn't good and put it down. I commend them.


But in general, why not help teach these contestants that it is okay to have items like this in small portions and as a part of a healthy diet. I understand that these contestants needed to be removed from these foods to have time to learn about proper portions, the benefits of nutrition, how to fuel their bodies, etc. But fourteen weeks into the show you think there would be at least some mention of still being able to fit those types of things into a healthy, balanced diet.

What happened instead? The contestants received guilt. They were put through grueling workouts with Bob & Jillian yelling things like "chicken wing, taquito, hot dog, pizza" in their faces. They were told "time to work off those calories"! Basically, you have to pay penance for eating. Hmmm? Not quite sure how that mindset will help them in the real world. Great, Jillian. Remove the hard feelings of an unsupportive mother and how it led a contestant to being an overeater in one of your powwows, but likely replace them with "you fatty still eating too much you don't deserve it workout for an extra hour" thoughts.


And on top of all that, when going over the results of the temptation...the HIGHEST number of calories consumed by a contestant (besides the one who "won" and overate to do so) was 1556! For approximately a 280 lb young man! That spends most of his day working out. I knew that the contestants ate too little in order to get the amazing numbers that come up in weigh ins, but I never knew it would be that bad. And to say that it was the 2nd highest from part of a temptation just screams a message of "eating more than 1500 calories is way too much" to the public. No wonder there are so many skewed views of how much you need to eat to diet.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the show allowed contestants to eat enough to fuel their bodies properly and lose the weight more gradually? And included some life lessons about eating for a lifestyle change that can last versus the "choose Extra gum as a healthy snack" commercials within the show? Sadly, money is worth more, so the show will continue down it's path. And I don't know how much longer I will be along for the ride.

No Comments to “Maddening Biggest Loser – Episode 914”
  1. morriskr says:

    Totally agree, it is so ridiculous! The females eat 1200 and the males 1500 right from the start. Can we say starvation? That is BW x 4 for a female.

    Before they weighed in I commented that Soli, who ate the 4100+ cals, would probably be better off because his body finally had fuel for his workouts for once.

    The all or nothing mentality is why many get home and don’t know how to maintain because they think they have to maintain with that crazy deficit and working out hours a day.

  2. I basically have stopped watching. I will probably tune in to the last show, but that’s it. I hate the all or nothing mentality. I think of food as food! Not good or bad.

  3. Lindsey says:

    I was annoyed with a bunch of things in this episode. And I totally didn’t get that the 1400+ calories he ate were for the whole day – I thought he ate that as ONE meal. I was making dinner while trying to watch, so probably why I was confused. But wow – yeah 1500 calories for a full day, including hard workouts would be fine! Crazy. It was a very strange show and temptation premise.

    I’m more annoyed each time with the product plugs. Do they even care anymore what the products are?

  4. Heather says:

    that would be great, but they always have to up the drama factor and have a deadline. i agree though, the show is great for showing that they CAN lose the weight though…to themselves and to the viewers!

  5. lisaou11 says:

    wow I’m glad I havent been able to watch that season.

    I dont like Biggest Loser because it shows people that they can and should lose 10 lbs a week when in reality 1-2 lbs a week is GREAT! however, when people in real life lose 1-2 lbs a week they think they are failing somehow and just give up.

    I hope Jillian and Bob didn’t totally ruin the 2 contestants that did practice some moderation!!

  6. Really?! Gosh…this almost makes me sick. I have to admit, I have a love/hate relationship with the show. I LOVE that they are promoting weight loss for those individuals who have severe health problems. I HATE how they go about it! I’ve always thought it would be much more interesting to me if they did an “At Home” Biggest Loser – have real people, working real jobs, losing weight over, say…a year. I’d find that MUCH more interesting (and realistic)!

    I worry about the contestants because it definitely sets them up for disordered eating habits. And even with some of the things that I’ve read Jillian does with her eating, I wonder if she is the appropriate “nutritional consultant” to have on the show!

  7. Hey girl – you make such a great point about the show. I’m sure there is a great deal we don’t see regarding what they do teach them (or I hope they’re teaching) but it’s most certainly more about ratings now. And product enforcements. Ugh.

  8. Kelly says:

    I have stopped watching The Biggest Loser a while ago. I know someone who worked on the show and after hearing a few stories I have vowed to NEVER be a supporter again.

  9. Mellissa says:

    I did not watch last nights episode but do agree with you on this topic. If moderation could be taught so many people would be so much more successful.

    I saw two of the contestants last night at a baseball game I was at and it was interesting to watch people come up to them and congratulate them.

  10. cardiopizza says:

    This show angers me and I don’t really watch it anymore. I don’t agree with really anything the trainers say and do. These poor people exercise 4+ hours a day on little food. Who has time for that in “real life?” It’s ridiculous. You can certainly eat chicken wings, pizza, and ice cream and maintain a healthy weight. They should be learning THOSE tools..not the ‘all or nothing’ mentality.

    Don’t even get me started with Jillian and her weight loss supplements..what a bunch of crap!

  11. homecookedem says:

    I no longer watch TBL. I can’t stand the “commercials” in the show when they’re steaming veggies or chewing gum, soooooo annoying. And I hate it when the contestants feel frustrated when they only lose 6 pounds. It’s like helllllloooooo – you lost SIX pounds!! I know it’s all apart of the game, but I just don’t like the idea of this game. And I love Jillian’s workouts, but she annoys the crap out of me the way she speaks to the contestants. Clearly, I’m not a fan of TBL, haha! 😉

  12. I was never a Biggest Loser fan for exactly these reasons!

  13. Sunny says:

    I also don’t watch this anymore. I caught a few minutes of last night’s episode and changed it. It’s ridiculous and unrealistic for a “real-life” person trying to lose weight. I will probably tune in to the last episode because I like seeing everyone’s transformations but don’t agree with the way the show does it.. but I guess that’s why it’s on tv.

  14. I have never ever watched this show. I have seen the 30 second teaser commercials promoting it, but have never sat down to watch. I didnt know until last week that Jillian was on the show. LOL I also dont pay attention to her much either. None of these people or their methods/paths resonate with me, at all, so I just read things that I like…i.e. food (friends) blogs.

  15. kbwood says:

    i totally agree w. you!! ugh-ive heard TERRIBLE things about TBL! it doesnt teach lifestyle choices from what i hear- and it doesnt promote a healthy lifestyle..esp for kids watching!

  16. lessonstolearn says:

    I completely agree. I haven’t been able to watch the show at all because I feel like it sets up unhealthy expectations for the audience. And like you said, it teaches that there are good food and bad food and that working out is a punishment for eating. That’s the wrong message and the reason why so many people struggle with weight in the first place.

  17. I’ve actually never even watched that show before!

  18. Michelle says:

    I agree with you, but I still love the show.
    I don’t think that with all their trained professionals on hand they would put the contestants in actual danger. And it is a show, after all, there has to be drama. The contestants know what they’re signing up for.

  19. Susan says:

    Yup, I saw bits and pieces of the episode and was totally flabbergasted by the whole thing too. I also don’t like how they’re recruiting larger contestants, and having them lose mass amounts of weight without changing the period of time they do it in. It’s just continuing the unhealthy path they’re already on. From one extreme to another.

    I think they’re doing youtube auditions for the next season? I really hope they pick some more average-ly overweight people next time and set some more realistic goals for them.

    Also… I really want to know what happens to the poor contestants who lose hundreds of pounds in 6 months and are left with pounds of excess skin and stretch marks from the accelerated weight loss.

    • Tina says:

      I really hope they pick less overweight people as well. I think I would like it more then. Still not completely happy with their approact, but at least somewhat more realistic. And my husband always says the same thing when we watch the finale. “What will they do with all that extra skin??”

  20. I am with most of the ladies above, I cannot stomach that show anymore. And I LOVED it before. Although I think it has a good core message, I still think it ends up discouraging a lot of people at home in the real world because they can’t loose 10 pounds a week.

  21. I totally agree with you, everyone needs to be able to indulge at times to keep their sanity. The all or nothing usually leads to a binge at some point.

    I would be interested to see how many of the contestants actually keep the weight off. Very few is my guess…

  22. Jennifer says:

    I just finished watching that episode on my DVR and I agree with you. While I have mentioned before that I like the fact that the biggest loser shows people that something wrong internally can cause an unhealthy body, I do believe that the show goes about a lot of things the wrong way. These people are eating unnaturally for the amount of exercise that they do. That’s part of the reason that 2 of those girls only lost 1 pound because their bodies are probably going into starvation mode. If you go back and look at people who at least got to the final 4 in the show, after the show is over, they end up gaining about 10-30 pounds back because it is unrealistic to workout out that much and eat so little. So good points for you to bring up. I will say that Oneill has the best heart that I have ever seen on that show.

    • Tina says:

      I agree about O’Neal! It’s for contestants like that that I still watch. And they definitely all gain at least some of the weight back. Like you mentioned in your post about the show before, they do very unhealthy things before the finale. It’s almost like a competition prep plan, where it is unrealistic to stay that lean in real life.

  23. rc1001 says:

    I’ve never been a fan of the Biggest Loser because of the points you’ve outlined here.

    Also, it gives people the attitude that unless they are dropping 10 pounds in a week, they are a failure.

    Not true! I lost 40 lbs and lost it over the course of an entire year, some weeks losing less than a pound.

    Slow and steady is the only way to be successful on a permanent basis.

    If you go look back at previous contestants on this show, 99% did not maintain their ultimate weight loss. Why? Because once they got back to their regular lifestyles, it was impossible to maintain since they weren’t working out 8 hours a day and functioning on basically a starvation level diet.

  24. Hi doll!! Wonderful post! I think you are an amazing mother!!!! When I have kids I want to teach them that certain foods are better in moderation not because they are fatty, etc. because they are loaded with chemicals and artificial stuff.

    You rock!!

  25. Melissa says:

    I missed the episode, but I like your way of recapping. And I agree with SO many things you had to say. While the overall message of the BL is a good one, things are getting out of control. Crazy temptations, product placement, unhealthy rapid weight loss. It’s a bit much and it’s upsetting to watch.

  26. janetha says:

    im just reading through all your new posts but i had to click out of reader to say this info was SHOCKING! i dont watch TV and now i am glad i dont!

  27. Vee says:

    I have mixed feelings about this show. I liked the first few seasons mainly as I enjoyed the psychological transformations. How people learned to put themselves first and generally, how their outlooks on lives changed. I must admit I am not a huge fan of the American version, I watch regularly the Australian one. Contestants are much lighter there! I absolutely agree with you that the calories are way too low!

  28. I agree with you also. I used to LOVE the show, it was one of my favorites on tv and I couldn’t get enough. I was never fond of the “temptations” that they did because they derail the point of the show, but it has gotten even worse. It also gets worse with the plugs and product placements on the show.I barely watch it now, but will prob watch the last show.

  29. I used to watch the show religiously but that was earlier when I had cable. Now I don’t have cable and I have to watch the episodes online. I haven’t seen that episode, but I do not agree with the all or nothing either. Last season Jillian went to see (I forgot her name….the blond, ex-plus size model, was in the final four…beside the point) one of the contestants when they were home for a week, and jillian told her that it was ok to relax and have a glass of wine, which means its ok to step back and relax. Don’t overwork yourself to the point where you could endanger your health, and I have not seen that once this year.

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