Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Biggest Loser Week 2: In Sickness and in Health

Before I get started, let me say that I wish Blogger would have a setting to disallow links in comments. This might be a bit of a bummer for commenters, but the spammers would go away.

This week's episode prominently featured Dr. H. Now that I know from his book that he's only 5'4" in shoes, I noticed all NBC's little tricks to keep us from noticing this.

This time there was a lot of emphasis was on selling the "Know Your Number" health assessment. I am not linking to it but if you are interested, Google away. I would suggest that if you want a number like this, you go take the free RealAge assessment, which seems to be about the same thing, and instead of $89.95, you just have to give your email address (which will then be used to send you annoying information about every single condition you admitted to having. Maybe $89.95 isn't such a bad deal). Dr. H was sounding more shrill than usual, and I really think it was to scare the at-home audience into buying his health assessment. If you are watching the show and are overweight, do you really need to pay almost $90 to find out that you would be healthier if you lost weight and got active? That's what I thought. Most people would probably be better off if they saved the money for a gym membership or a visit to a nutritionist or even a copy of Dr. H's book. The test itself is only going to tell people why you should lose weight, not help them do it.

I wasn't blown away by the "body age" numbers because I had seen them before, but I was oddly fascinated by the iDexa scans, which actually proved that old adage that inside every fat person there is a thin person. It was weird to see a visual that showed normal-sized organs, especially lungs, inside the person's body. Even though when we are overweight we can be angry at our bodies, this really illustrated how well our bodies manage to take care of us, even when we overburden them with excess fat. I am curious (though not curious enough to pay several hundred dollars) to know what my scan would look like. I know that when I had a shoulder injury I was shocked to see my fragile-looking ribcage on the X-ray. I think I had internalized that whole idea of "big-boned."

Each team was given a "fitness task" related to their health assessment. When we saw Patti (diagnosed with diabetes 20 years ago) and Stephanie watch a video of their family talking about their sadness and worry about their weight and disease risk, I got a little teary-eyed. The segment with Cheryl and Daris, which required Jillian to try to eat one of their meals, didn't work as well. Jillian took a few bites but then refused to go further, looking like she was going to throw up. I was astonished to hear that both members of the orange team would go all day without eating, and then load up at Taco Bell. I don't know how or why anyone would try to go all day without eating. We also found out that Lance, of the Red Team, had lost his job as a professional diver because he could no longer pass the physical exam required. They stood to lose an estimated $3 million in income and health costs if they couldn't get fit enough for him to get back to work.

There was a very powerful segment with Michael and Marie. Bob had to put on a weighted vest and other weights that simulated Michael's weight. Bob wasn't faking it when he had to sit down after only half the extra weight was added. His face was totally shocked and a little awed that Michael could walk around all day carrying that burden. I think it gave Bob a little more empathy and respect for the contestants to have a sense of what it would feel like to carry that weight every day.

This week's challenge was a weird one -- contestants had to walk across a balance beam stretched over a pool carrying beach balls. The beam was less than four inches across, so it was obviously going to be a tough challenge, but I never realized it would be dangerous. It turned out to be really painful, though, when Marie was so afraid of water that she refused to fall into the water, and instead flung herself onto the concrete platform. She broke or sprained a finger, bloodied her nose, and blackened one of her eyes. It had the effect of ruining her chances and Michael's, and they got a two-pound disadvantage at the weigh-in. I could tell Marie was really terrified, but I also wondered if she, unconsciously, was trying get her son's attention back. He had been looking exasperated with her before she fell, because she was literally standing in his way of competing. He seemed to lose a little of his confidence after her accident. Bob even asked him point-blank why, with all the medical personnel there to help his mother, he felt the need to try to take care of her. I think he may be one of those children who does much better once the parent leaves the ranch. The Red Team won immunity, which turned out to have saved them from facing elimination.

When Purple Team lost the weigh-in, Patti volunteered to go home so that her daughter could stay and continue competing. As a diabetic with no feeling in her feet, the challenge had been very hard for her and I think she realized that she didn't want her daughter to develop the disease. She seemed to have done pretty well at home -- losing weight is harder when you are diabetic -- and Dr. H visited and gave her good reviews on the health improvements she had made by losing the weight. She was down to just one diabetes medication and had high hopes to lose enough to get off that one as well.


  1. What I find amusing about the link spammers is that all my comments are moderated. I have to publish them myself. And they STILL leave spam comments! Like I'm going to lose my mind and approve a spam comment? Please!

  2. The body scan images were amazing. You imagine that a large person would be large on the inside as well. It's strange seeing the skinny person within.

  3. Thanks for the recap. I missed the first 40 minutes or so, so I appreciated catching up via your blog!

  4. Dr. H. is 5'4"? Now I'll be paying special attention to that next time he is on!


"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