Biggest Loser Win?

I have been an avid watcher of the Biggest Loser for many, many years. There were a lot of days that I would watch the show and get my butt to the gym asap to workout. If they can do it, so can I.

I love the trainers, and I especially love how they take the time to get to the ROOT of the problem. If they just lost weight and went home, they would gain it back. Figuring out the source, the why they were filling voids with food to begin with, would help set contestants up for success at home. Not to mention, who doesn’t love a good transformation story? However there is a dark side to the show as well. Pushing contestants too far too fast, not treating them like they are in the real world, etc can be detrimental.

I laugh, I cry, I clap during makeover week, it’s an interesting show. However, I have to say, I have never been more uncomfortable watching a season finale than I was this time. The winner, Rachel, (in my opinion) lost too much weight.

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The gaunt frame I saw on the stage was not one of a strong athlete. The picture of health? I think not. It scares the crap out of me that impressionable little girls watched the confetti fall on her and thought “wow she is being rewarded for that, so I need to look like her.”

Some say she only did it to win the money, and will now gain weight. Even if that is the case, is that safe? I totally get the allure of a $250,000 is strong, but to put yourself through something so unhealthy (I’m assuming restrictive eating and hours on end of cardio were involved) seems crazy to me. Not to mention, in an interview yesterday Rachel said 105 was her goal weight and now she wants to maintain. So it doesn’t seem to me like she lost the weight just to win the money and one plans to gain.

So, the question is…who is to blame? Is it the shows fault? Is it Rachel’s fault? Or is it the media’s fault? I think all three play a role here, and I really hope something is done next season on the show. I’m not sure what (maybe disqualify a contestant if they lose more than a certain % of body weight? I really have no ideas). Yes i’m sure the show pushes them to lose weight, yes the media is screwed up in terms of what skinny and health is, and yes I am sure Rachel had some serious drive to win that money at all costs, but what do we do to fix this? I’m not writing this as an attack on Rachel, she just happened to be the first contestant to my knowledge to take it this far. My issue is the show has a problem and we need to figure this out.

I hesitate to say anything that has to do with BMI, b/c it does NOT measure muscle mass. For instance, my husband who is very in shape and muscular is considered overweight by a BMI chart. We even fought with our health insurance company for many months because they raised his rate based on his BMI!)

All I know is, something needs to be done. The show went from celebrating health and athleticism, and second chances, to praising someone for looking sickly. The faces of the trainers said it all, you can tell they were really freaked out.

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Bob also put out an interesting statement on Facebook yesterday.

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My head is still spinning, there is so much to say. I am very saddened by this and feel very sad for Rachel. What should have been a day of celebration was overshadowed because it was taken to an unhealthy level. Whether it was pressure from producers, herself, family, I don’t know, but I do know it’s a problem. What do you think? Any ideas of what can be done? Do you think she looks too skinny? Don’t forget the cameras actually make you look heavier so she probably looks even smaller in real life.

I Thought Rachel looked awesome and beautiful her last week at the ranch. I had no idea how she was going to lose much more weight. I wish there was an easy answer to this. The idea of the Biggest loser is a good one and I know it has helped so many people lose and keep weight off, but is it swinging to much in the opposite direction? Is the show itself causing unhealthy views on weight loss? What do we tell kids who watched the finale? It’s a tough one!

QOTD: Thoughts? Ideas on what the show should do? Who’s fault is it?

Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more… Rachel looked SCARY skinny… like afraid “if she’d sneeze, she would break a rib” skinny. She looked wonderful on her last week at the ranch: athletic and HEALTHY. At the finale, she appeared to even lose muscle. I hope she wises up and brings her bmi to a healthy level and gets help if there is a bigger problem in play. Eating disorders are nothing to take lightly.

  2. I have loved the BL show since the beginning and watched and been a fan every season. When Rachel walked out last night I gasped and immeadiately felt sorry for her. Was money THAT important? What in the world went wrong here? I feel really badly for the BL show itself. I hope this doesn’t bring negativity to the BL show. I hope that whoever is training Rachel at the moment has a close eye on what is best and healthiest for her and helps her get there … it obviously wasn’t what I saw on the finale. Thanks for your comments Heather… I whole heartedly agree. I must also add that I am glad my kids did not watch the finale… ages 5, 7, and 9… they have watched some of this past season. I do not want them thinking that is what a healthy 24 yr old looks like.

  3. Her appearance is a concern and I am onboard with the widespread concern for her. But my focus is on the show’s strategy. Had she not lost that much weight, she would not have been the winner. In other words, the way that the show is set up, if she had lost the 5 – 15 pounds recommended by the physician after leaving the ranch, she would have lost. So, who is really at fault – a competitor who recognized what it takes to win, did it and in doing so, may have lost sight of whether that weight was really a healthy one for her? or a show that set her up to lose (the competition) no matter how much weight she lost (if she got down to what is considered a healthy weight?). I think this has to force the show’s producers to re-evaluate how to assess the winner. I have no idea how they do that. But it has certainly exposed a big issue.

  4. I had no idea she said her goal weight was 105…

    I blogged about her last week on the ranch where she looked like a strong athlete, with no chance of winning because she was already at 150.

    I am so disturbed by NBC not having safe guards in place for this, her smile even looks painful..

  5. Lisa Anderson says:

    It was disturbing for sure! She looked so much older than 24, too. Bob and Jillian’s faces said everything. She just traded one addiction for another. I think they should have disqualified her or something, maybe now they will have that in place for the future seasons. The other two looked great and healthy, but were overshadowed by her extreme appearance. She definitely went of the deep end once she left the ranch! Sad.

  6. I watched a few episodes of the first season and was disgusted by the show. Losing so much weight in so little time and achieving good health are two totally different things! Putting people in that situation could force them to spiral out of control. I wouldn’t be surprised if many other contestants like this “winner” didn’t also develop disordered eating habits at the opposite end of the spectrum long-term — because over-eating and under-eating are so similar that it’s relatively easy to go from one extreme to another. I guess the good thing is that by having a “winner” look so gaunt maybe NBC will change the rules or pull the plug on shows like this that award people for putting their health at stake.

  7. I share many of your same thoughts, Heather. The biggest piece of the puzzle that’s missing from this story though is that we don’t know why she did it. Was she pushed too hard by her trainer (on the show and/or at home) and nutritionists? Was she motivated solely by the chance to win the money? Was her family pushing her too hard? Was it all the above? I respect Bob for his comments yesterday, because as he said, he and Jillian didn’t train Rachel, and therefore aren’t in a position to add commentary, and I think the same goes for the rest of us. We don’t know what really drove Rachel to this extreme weight loss and we don’t know what’s in store for Rachel in the future. While I do believe that she lost an unhealthy amount of weight, we don’t have the full picture painted for us, and therefore, its difficult to provide a well rounded assessment of what’s going on here.

    With that said, I truly believe that this should be a wake up call for the BL producers. They often announce on the show how many viewers watch the show and the influence that the show has had on the world. Is this the example that the producers want to set for those who follow the show? Do they want people to push themselves to such extremes like Rachel did? At the end of the day, the focus should be on people’s health, and not on the potential for NBC to make lots of money and the expense of others’ well being.

  8. I’m don’t watch the Biggest Loser, but I did see this picture on another website. It grosses me out! I do not like seeing extremely skinny people, it’s just very unflattering. I do like muscle tone and athletic bodies though. I think they do need to make it a point to acknowledge this situation and hopefully prevent it in the future.

  9. Heather, thank you for writing about Rachel’s weight loss on your blog. As an avid BL fan for many, many years, I was shocked by Rachel’s transformation. I think we’ve all seen contestants go just a little too far for the finale, win the money and then put a little weight back on as they adjust to normal life – and they look great. I hate the fact that Rachel is being so publicly criticized for her weight loss as that certainly won’t help the situation. I hope that she is seeking counseling (as I think all contestants should – it’s such a big life change that I think professional help is needed to sort through it all!) and that she will be able to live the healthy life that she hopes for.

    Rachel was my favorite contestant from the very beginning because I thought she was relatable to young women and truly wanted to be an athlete. I hope she will return to that goal of being a strong, successful athlete and will be healthy and happy!

  10. It is very shocking and sad all at the same time

  11. I couldn’t agree more. I use to love BL, it was a motivating show. But this is sad to me and sad for Rachel. Last night being interviewed (not sure the show, but saw a clip on Access Hollywood) when asked about the amount she lost and if it was too much, she said she found the person she use to be and her confidence again. It makes me sad that her confidence is tied to being that small. Wasn’t she confident when she made it to 120 or even 115? I seems that the issues that got her to 260 may have brought her to the other extreme.

  12. I’m 100% on the same page as you – Rachel was one of my favorites from the start, but now I feel that she somehow has reached a point where the number is all that matters. She looked incredible the last week on the ranch and should have stayed around that weight in my opinion. Every time the camera panned on her during the finale, this horrible feeling of stress (and nausea) came over me. I felt so sorry for this girl who apprently couldn’t see how anorexic she looked. I know that the trainers are handling this very carefully publically, but I truly hope that behind closed doors, and behind the camera, Rachel is getting the help she clearly needs.

  13. I didn’t follow this season of BL as closely as I have for previous seasons. However, I did watch last weeks and loved Rachel’s tenacity and drive to succeed in changing her life. I thought during the last week on the ranch Rachel looked healthy and beautiful and I was excited to see her in the finale. When I tuned in this week to watch the finale though I was shocked to see Rachel’s dramatic weight loss. I’m hoping young girls do not look towards Rachel’s “goal weight” and strive to reach that. I have struggle with negative body image for years thanks to the media already portraying and I hate to see such a positive show celebrating someone who looked so unhealthy.

  14. I’m with you 100%! I thought Rachel, my favorite contestant this season, was going for an athlete’s physique. However, she managed to loose all muscle tone! Even lean athletes have amazing muscle tone. That’s what I was expecting to see and that’s what I wanted for her. Instead I felt as horrified as Bob and Jillian looked!

    When contestants are on the ranch, they are constantly monitored by a team of doctors. I can’t help but wonder if they have any of that support after they go home. Technically, until finale night they are still “on the show”. Maybe the medical guidance after they go home is lacking. Maybe contestants should face disqualification if a medical professional observes unhealthy behaviors.

    I wish Rachel the best!

  15. Kymberly Swope says:

    I completely agree. She looks like a shell of her former self. I know that is the idea; but there’s a point where someone needs to say enough. I am hoping this teaches them and in future seasons, before they are sent home from the ranch, they are evaluated for any signs of a developing eating disorder. I’m not saying she has one but that’s a LOT of weight in a short time.

    Ironically, Bob’s Facebook post is VERBATIM to Jillian’s. Maybe the show doing damage control or do Bob and Jillian have the same PR rep?

  16. I was shocked at how frail she looks. Her face and arms stood out the most to me. She weighed 155 on the last taped episode (the one with the triathlon) and to drop 50 pounds in 3 months is way too extreme. The other girls looked fantastic and maintained that muscle mass they gained…Jennifer has some major guns now!

  17. I think as this unfolds, we as the media and fans of Biggest Loser need to be careful how we criticize Rachel. Biggest Loser is a show that is meant for entertainment purposes, yes they inspire people to get their lives into shape, but it’s not real life. My hope is that as other winner have done, she too will gain the weight back that she needs to. I’m not denying that she looks very thin, I just want to be so careful about what I say and not to judge her. I think it was a competition for her and she had it in her mind to win.

  18. I’ve been a big fan of this show too for several seasons but watching Rachel win on Tuesday night made me really sad. I agree with you – WAY too thin. She looks almost anorexic. The looks on Bob’s and Jillian’s faces say it all, and Tanya too sitting behind them! At 5’4″ 105lb is too skinny. Yes, she looked great at the final weigh in on the ranch; I hope for the sake of her health she puts some weight back on.

  19. I didn’t get to watch this season of BL or the finale. I first read about her the morning after and that is when I first saw her too. I was shocked!! The trainers were shocked and even the girl behind the trainers were shocked. Hopefully she finds some balance in her life.

  20. p.S.
    now I’m curious of what she looked like before she left the ranch.

  21. This was a shock to me as well! I think we will end up seeing a new rule in the Biggest Loser. Dietbet has a policy that will not allow your BMI to drop lower than 18.5 (under weight) or you are disqualified. Perhaps this is something BL can incorporate.

  22. OMG. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I could not have said it better myself. I was in a state of shock and I was honestly so upset when I saw Rachel come out. I kept talking about this for about 10 minutes after the show ended and my husband couldn’t understand how I was still talking about it. It was so upsetting. She was/is a swimmer, but that is not a swimmer’s body. She looks anorexic and I feel horrible for saying that, but I think someone needs to seriously address it. Losing 60% of your body weight when you start off weighing 400 pounds is one thing, but when you’re 260, that much weight loss is dangerous and she clearly was not healthy in the way she lost it. I think BL needs to release a comment or statement, or change the rules like you suggested, because for anyone to look at her and think that’s what you should strive for, it’s just sad. As someone who constantly struggles with body issues and has taken them to an extreme, I understand what a battle it is everyday and how hard it can be to say enough, I just hope someone can help her and reach her.

  23. ChristineB says:

    I completely agree with you. This is the first year I’ve watched Biggest Loser the whole season, and I have some issues with how they choose the winner. Biggest % of weight lost doesn’t seem to me to be the healthiest way to judge if the person has lost the ideal amount of weight for them. However, I’m not sure how it could be changed. Maybe measure body fat %? But that penalizes women, since we naturally have & need more fat than men. Maybe have a male & female winner? I honestly don’t know what the solution is, but it doesn’t seem right to reward someone who appears to have gone from one unhealthy extreme to another.

  24. It is a tough one and I have so many thoughts on it that they are hard to separate out. I feel like you do – that seeing that confetti fall and her winning $250,000 tells young girls that SHE is the ideal. That by looking like her and by eating 1,600 calories a day while doing 4 exercise classes A DAY should be rewarded is so alarming to me. I equated it to not being much different than the anorexia boards that were all over Tumblr not that long ago. When we venerate sickly skinny, young girls watch and listen. But when we also venerate healthy and athletic, young girls watch and listen. Unfortunately, we have too much of the first and not enough of the latter.

    As far as the show, they have all the resources possibly available to them so why not do a full body composition test to find their “healthy” weight, taking bone mass into consideration? And if they go below that healthy weight, then they are disqualified. But I think the #1 thing the show/NBC needs to do is acknowledge that Rachel’s weight is far below what is considered healthy. Until they make an official statement saying that it went too far, they are condoning it, in my humble opinion.

    I just think it’s sad all the way around because what should be celebrated can’t be now without the dark cloud of “too much” hanging over it. I hope she finds the balance she wants and that she is truly healthy.

  25. I could not agree more! I think Tumi looked GREAT and even announced she has become a runner! (Welcome to the crazy club!) She deserves the hype and praise the winner typically receives. Not a finale worthy of the fantastic season in my opinion…

  26. So sad… just sad… I think she looked great at the triathlon… that was just too much… the trainers faces say it all.

  27. Well said, Heather. I am truly sad for Rachel. It’s almost as though she can’t escape criticism – first with being overweight and now with the amount of weight she has lost. I’m not a doctor or physical trainer, so I can’t say she is the book definition of underweight, but clearly, she doesn’t look healthy. She doesn’t look fit. She looks feeble, not strong. As much as I love the Biggest Loser, I feel they are portraying the wrong image. The show was meant to empower people to change their lives. But how far is too far? And all for the sake of money? Like you said, impressionable young girls see that she is being rewarded for this. I honestly think that to prevent things like this from happening in the future, the producers need to set more defined rules – The winner should be determined based on who lost the most weight while remaining at a healthy weight.

  28. In my opinion, commenting on someone weight, whether its because they are “too fat” or “too skinny” is unacceptable. I feel that calling someone “too skinny” is the same as calling someone “too fat”. Unless you are a family member, friend, doctor, or trainer; you have no right to judge. She is an athlete and she may be at her perfect training weight.

  29. I completely agree that Rachel was “scary skinny.” For a show that tries to promote a healthy active lifestyle it is more than a little concerning. Women today are judged on being too fat, too skinny, too muscular, too short, and the list goes on. Instead of concentrating on being too – anything, we should concentrate on healthy. After all, there’s no such thing as too healthy!!!

  30. I don’t watch the show but came across this story on Twitter yesterday. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating, this picture was a huge, very scary trigger for me.

    I know everyone’s body is different and I don’t think it helps to call people out on being “too skinny” or anything else but I can’t help but be very bothered by this whole situation.

  31. I sort of stopped watching BL in the last season or two, but was an avid fan before that. That being said, I don’t know Rachel’s story, I didn’t see her on the ranch, etc. But seeing pictures of her the way she is now is making me EXTREMELY uncomfortable. I’m not one to judge anyone else’s weight or weight loss journey, but you’d have to be blind not to see that she is clearly underweight and does not look even remotely healthy. It definitely bothers me and makes me feel better in my decision to stop watching — the show focuses more on the number on the scale than anything else, in my opinion, which is not the way I’m living my life any longer after a lifelong battle with my weight. Also, I’m considered borderline “obese” according to my BMI; meanwhile, I wear a size 8/10. BMI means NOTHING — totally agree with you there!

  32. I’ve sort of held off on commenting on this topic simply because I don’t want to judge someone on their weight without knowing the entire story behind it. As society we tend to place each and every person into a glass box – if they weigh too much we label them “fat” and tell them they need a gym ASAP. If they appear too skinny, we tell tell them to eat a cheeseburger.

    With that being said I watched every single episode this season and was absolutely shocked when I saw the scale drop to 105 pounds on the finale. While I commend Rachel for achieving the goals she accomplished throughout the season, I hope she realizes the difference between being healthy and being skinny.

  33. I stopped watching BL a long time ago as it was starting to get kind of monotonous. This is just another reason I don’t really miss it. In answer to your question, I think it would be easier to say who ISN’T to blame? Men freak out over Victoria’s Secret models and act like horny teenagers when the fashion show is on in December. We see long, leggy, skinny, “super” models gracing the coverage of everything from Cosmo to fitness magazines (really? THAT is considered fit??). Every avenue of media pounds into every one of our senses how skinny is better. It warms my heart every time I hear the hubby say one of those models is too skinny. Hats off to JLo and her butt, Lindsay Vonn and her quads, and our American sprinters who I think are the elite picture of fit. I’ll take muscle over skinny any day! :)

  34. Zenaida Arroyo says:

    Wow, I did not watch it but just seeing her picture said it all. What message are we really sending here?

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