Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Thoughts on last night's "The Biggest Loser"

Don't worry, I won't tell you who got sent home, in case you recorded it.

I can't help myself, this show just gets me every time. There are a lot of terrible things about the show: The cheesy graphics, the overdramatized weigh-ins, the eliminations. But the show does seem to bring hope to people who thought they could never lose weight. The extreme nature of the show is actually inspiring to me, because it shows what people really can do if their limits are tested. Dr. Rob Huizenga was a team doctor for the L.A. Raiders before joining the show, and he based the show's high-exercise premise on his observations of the football players:

Reading that makes me think I need to find time for a second daily workout.

This season's premise of married couples vs. pairs of parents and children added something interesting to the show. When the parents and children weighed in, you could really see how genetics influences the way your body stores fat. The father and son from Boston could have been twins from a distance: The father had a lot more body hair, but both had the same pear-shaped abdomens. The mother and the daughter from the pink team looked the same too. I guess it shouldn't have surprised me, because if you put me next to my mother on that scale, the only difference in our body shape is that I'm about three inches taller.

The most shocking part of the show was when Dr. Huizenga, who continues to study the long-term results of former contestants, explained to the current set of contestants what kinds of health problems their extra weight has caused. Who knew that your lungs and heart could be encased in fat? Unfortunately, though the information on the contestant's physical age vs. their chronological age was dramatic, for some reason the show's producers stomped on that drama with a silly graphic that ticked off the years that the contestant's health problems had added with a door-slamming sound for each year. I was surprised that so many of the contestants, especially the younger ones, smoked. They seem to keep getting sicker and sicker people on the show, hopefully because they want to help people and not because the producers really think an on-set death would boost their ratings. It was obvious, from one scene, that there are always medics around just off-camera.

Jillian and Bob got to hand-pick their teams. It would seem that Jillian is at a little bit of a disadvantage, because her pairs obviously share bad genetics, but I have faith in her. Besides, I know from experience that trying to lose weight with your spouse can be demoralizing.


  1. I wondered about Julian too until the end and the bottom two were both from Bob's team

    I wonder and wonder what is genetics and what is eating and exercising habits (or non-habits) - like friends who have all the same habits and end up looking like each other?

    My mom had never seen the show before - is an RN - and kept expecting someone to drop dead on the spot.

    I was not at all surprised at who went home. I think that they were the most fit and didn't push themselves enough. It was sort of like they were already at the end of the first month and everyone else had the benefit of the first week's water loss.

  2. The reason I was so struck by it was the way that they stored their fat in the same places. I wouldn't have been as shocked if they were similar sizes, but the shape of their bodies was strikingly alike.

    My mother and I store our fat in the same places too: below the belt in a pooch, upper thigh saddlebags, upper arms. I have other friends who are similar in size to me who store more of their fat in their upper abdomen.

    So that was more the weirdness -- the similarities in shape and fat distribution.

  3. I just watched Gwyneth Paltrow
    (Oprah yesterday) and
    her trainer, her gym, her workouts.

  4. Hey, Thank you for the great overview of the show. I actually forgot to have my Tivo get it, but now I feel like I watched it. :)

  5. Oh man, I've not been watching this season. Maybe I'll start picking it up, it is really inspiring!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07