Thursday, December 10, 2009

Biggest Loser Unhealthy?

A friend of mine sent me this article in the November 24 edition of the New York Times. The gist of the article is that some contestants on The Biggest Loser resort to high school wrestling tricks to maximize their weight loss at those end-of-episode weigh-ins.

Honestly, I'm not surprised that some folks would do this. There's a $250,000 prize in addition to having two professional trainers, round-the-clock medical coverage, and a bit of relaxation in the form of "The Ranch". Money is a hell of a motivator, but that's not really why these people are supposedly participating. Every season, all season long, every contestant talks about "getting my life back." I'm curious when the motivator moves from getting healthy to show me the money.

I hate to sound like a dork, but the show did inspire me to lose some serious weight this summer. May began with yours truly weighing in at 275lbs. Today, I'm 230. While I've more or less taken the month off from the gym, the loss came from working out every day and eating better. This isn't to say I was a perfect angel about food all the time. Occasionally, I'd have a burger or hit Taco Bell but the key was moderation. That said, maintaining willpower was incredibly hard to do after the second month started. That's when the cravings began. I would wake up wanting to eat a dozen tacos or be tempted to eat an entire box of granola bars on a random workday afternoon. Either I'm somewhat unique about the cravings or it's an issue that's never been addressed on the show.

This week's finale showed some truly ghastly contestant transformations. A couple of the women appeared as if there might have been starvation used to make that final weigh-in. Some of the men looked just plain uncomfortable. While I'd jump at the chance to spend 12 weeks on The Ranch with a stocked kitchen of healthy food and a fully-equipped gym, I don't think money would ever be my reason for participating. I'd just want the chance to stay there as long as possible.

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