There are a lot of clichés in weight loss television. "Weight loss journey," "make the inside match the outside," and the one that probably bugs me the most, "It's time for me to put myself first." It's not that I think that people don't have trouble with this, it just sounds so trite and I think it oversimplifies the whole issue. People who get to three or four hundred pounds have been putting themselves first in a lot of ways. They have put their immediate needs to numb their feelings out with food ahead of their friends' and families' need for a fully-functional, honest person to be part of their lives. When I look at Arthur, who had a large pizza delivered to his house every day automatically, I didn't necessarily see a selfless person. I saw a person who was hiding from himself and from other people. This week, Courtney gives the "I need to reach out for help and put my own needs first," speech. It is probably true that she put her family's need for an employee at their store ahead of her need not to have fried food and ice cream in her face all day long while she tried to manage her weight. There are people who work in stores like that who don't gain weight, though. From some of the show clips, I think the real issue was the resentment and pain that she was hiding from her family, and maybe her need to protect them from what she was feeling suggests to her that she was putting them first. I also think, though, that it was her fear of conflict, not her parents' real needs, that won out in that battle. We saw it firsthand last week when she agreed with Jen's plan to not "buy" their trainer but then later complained to Brett and to the camera that she didn't really agree with the plan. I am sure that if she had talked honestly to Jen that they could have given up a couple of phone calls or the massage or the dinner out. Jen might have benefited from that conversation, since the week ended in her going home. Or Brett might not have made the difference after all, but Courtney would have practiced speaking up. This week, she reaches out to her friends for help. I'm not really sure what she was asking them to do, because we don't see her working out with them, but maybe off-camera they all did some of their "homework" together.
This week's challenge was kind of interesting. I would not have done well with it, even though it isn't physically hard. Each team gets a flag and has to choose among several black squares to find the one-mile mark on a specific walking course. The winning team will get a night out on the town, "Hollywood style." Allison says that with all of the miles they've logged on the treadmills, bikes, and the Presidential Mile loop, she hopes they will have a pretty good idea of what a mile looks like. The contestants only have 15 minutes to complete the challenge, so they can't really carefully pace it out, although several of them try. Once they realize that they are running out of time, though, most of them start to run. Courtney says how happy she is not to have teammates to argue with here, she can just do her own thing. The Green Team places their flag the furthest out. The two younger women on the Blue Team run ahead together with the flag and place it close to the spot Green and Red have staked out. Moses comes up and says that he has paced it out and the mile mark is really a ways back, but his teammates overrule him. The Black Team literally runs out of time, and has to place their flag way back from where they think a mile would be. That "mistake" pays off, though, because all of the other teams put their flags too far up, and the Black Team has actually come closest to the real mile. The losers all have to clean the campus. I am assuming that there is a staff that usually cleans the campus, so I think this was played up for the cameras. The kitchen is a huge mess, but we don't see them actually clean the gym.
It's funny to me that the Black Team is actually afraid to tell Jillian that they have won the challenge, because they know she won't be happy about them leaving campus and eating out at a restaurant. They wait until the end of the workout to tell her, and predictably, she goes ballistic. Bob is happy his team has to clean because they will "burn calories."
Jillian also has a heart-to-heart with Rulon about his late-night binges in his room. He says that he feels like he "deserves it" after his long, hard workouts in the gym. Maybe he is just very hungry when he gets back from the workouts, or maybe he is stirring up some feelings he doesn't like, but the videos we saw of him eating the chips do not give the sense that he is really "treating" himself. He doesn't look happy, just mechanical. Jillian says she will help him learn to incorporate higher-calorie foods in his diet so he doesn't feel deprived. I think there is more to this conversation because it all sounds a bit fake to me. Maybe what actually happened is that Jillian upped his calorie allowance (if he was eating out of hunger) or maybe she referred him to the show's counseling staff (I assume they have one) for his emotional issues. I think the conversation we got was staged to cover up the real issues, but I can respect that some things might have come out that the show is keeping from us to protect Rulon's privacy.
It is pretty fun to see Hannah all dressed up and girly for their night out. Her escorts seem a little more low-key about it. Each of them has a new outfit waiting for them in their room. I don't know what the Biggest Loser's fascination with sweater vests for guys is all about, but Rulon looks uncomfortable in his to me. Do sweater vests hide bellies? I have never thought they were flattering on big guys and thought Rulon would have looked better in a dark untucked shirt. Jay gets the more traditional suit with a dark-colored shirt underneath. Hannah's dress is pretty, black with sequined long sleeves, very flattering. I thought it might have looked better without the tights underneath -- maybe that is trendy or maybe it was cold outside. Or maybe Hannah has varicose veins from being overweight? She gets to wear some skyscraper heels that she seems pretty excited about, but they look painful to me. Their night out doesn't seem to be all that big of a deal. They ride in a limo to downtown Hollywood, walk around a little bit in front of the lights, goof around with the hand and footprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and then go out to dinner at the Geisha House. Sushi is low-calorie but rice and soy sauce could make them retain water before a weigh-in, so they are pretty careful and have it with no rice. They have some crab legs with a "citrus sauce" instead of butter. They share a couple of salads. They drink some sparkling water.
A young blond guy is eyeing Hannah and the two guys decide to "go meet someone" to give him a chance to talk to Hannah. I could believe that he is interested in Hannah, because she is beautiful (and he isn't all that cute, at least to me) or that he was attracted by the cameras and given the scoop by one of the crew members, who encouraged him to talk to her because it would make a good scene. Hannah seems flattered but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of chemistry on her side. I think it was a good representation of one of the issues that is going to face contestants when they leave campus -- they suddenly have new, more attractive bodies and they will get more attention. Hannah handled it all very well, I thought.
On campus, as the Blue Team winds down their workouts, Bob brings in three big brown bags. He puts one in front of each of the contestants, and similar to a scene from last season, the bags are full of the kind of crummy food the contestants used to eat. This time the emphasis is on the calories added by condiments: Ranch dressing, ketchup, and sour cream. The contestants poke at the food but don't seem at all interested. I'm sure it was cold and not all that appealing after a hard workout.
For the last chance workout, Cara steps a little outside of the fighter routine and sets up firefighter workouts for her crew. Brett and Courtney do the same kind of workout they seem to always do: The ropes, the tug of war, some treadmill running. Courtney impressed me on the treadmill -- she has some speed. Brett is especially motivated this week, because if Courtney leaves the show this week, so does he. When Jillian works out with Rulon, we see some serious stunts that remind us of this guy's athletic ability. Handstand pushups? On the Blue Team, Bob pushes Moses outside his comfort zone.
The weigh-in comes down to the Green Team vs. the Red Team, which means the two new trainers. I really think they are not pushing the contestants like Bob and Jillian are. They seem to be doing the same kinds of workouts, at the same intensity, as they did at the beginning of the show. Bob and Jillian are pushing the contestants harder and harder as the show goes on. I think that's why, when the eliminated player says "That's OK, it must be meant to be," that Bob and Jillian both seem angry and say that it's not the way it's supposed to be. I think they are thinking that if Courtney had been training with one of them, she would not have been eliminated and her weight loss would not be stalled.
Courtney goes home and, unbelievably, the welcome home party is at her family's Dairy Queen. I wouldn't think that "Our daughter got dangerously obese eating here" would be a great advertisement for the place. We do see her talking to a regional manager about getting more healthy options on the menu, like frozen yogurt. I think, though, for this kind of stuff, portion control is probably more important than having lower-calorie ice cream.
The best part about this is that Courtney is speaking up and asking for things that would help her, which might make a big difference in her life. Hopefully she will find a way to either work there without it triggering her or find a different career path.