Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Biggest Loser Review: Season 14, Episode 5, Stay Focused

Warning: There are some spoilers in this one.

The supposed theme of this episode was "Healthy on a Budget," but there wasn't really a lot of information on that theme. The teams had to shop for their food with a budget of $10 per person per day. Danni got to shop with $70 but had the advantage of not having a whole team full of people to negotiate with.  Inexplicably, they also had to do it "Supermarket Sweep" style, with only 15 minutes to shop for each team.  Real healthy eating on a budget takes planning and thought. We didn't get to see an inventory of what each team bought, or how they planned to use it. I couldn't imagine why a team of 4 people bought 12 cucumbers, for example.  Does each person really eat 3 cucumbers per week?  Each of the multi-person teams seemed to have designated a "Mom" who did the math to figure out what they could afford.  We hear, here and there, that having to manage their own food caused some tension, but that wasn't really what this week's show was about.

It seemed, at least to me, that this week was about getting past all the distractions and drama and just getting the work done.  We had a kinder, gentler Jillian who didn't yell at Danni but nurtured her and made sure she was getting what she needed. Bob suddenly turned into Bad Bob, because he is getting impatient with his team's lackadaisical attitude and wants to see them work for it. All week, he ran around freaking out, "We're set up to fail this week!" This did not really seem to focus his team so much as send them into a tailspin.  The fact is that contestants can control their level of effort and their food intake but can't directly control the numbers on the scale, so there are a lot of superstitions, like "Win a Challenge, Lose the Weigh-in," and "The team that hasn't had an elimination is set up to fail." Danni, wisely, ignored Jillian's directive and did win the challenge, because it would give her a two-pound advantage in the weigh-in.

Just a side note: If you ever plan to go on The Biggest Loser, learn to swim. There are so few contestants who know how to swim that it becomes a huge advantage. Ali, the first female winner, was a former swimmer, and I can see Danni going to the finals with her big, athletic swimmer's body.  Her main rival, Joe, is also a pretty good swimmer.

Now that we're five weeks into this season, the contestants who have an athletic history seem to have a real advantage. They know how to shut up and be coached instead of yelling back.  They know how to push past discomfort but not get injured. They also have learned to roll with the punches: You win some, you lose some.  Plus, the body remembers. They do better in challenges. Joe, the former NFL player, obviously has a six-pack under his gut -- it's starting to show.

The other thing we see this week is that it does not pay, on TBL, to be a "mama" type. Danni, who normally cooks for the whole group, is freed from this duty because she is her own team and has only her own food to control.  Gina, the Blue Team's "mom," is starting to annoy her teammates, who thinks she "likes to play the victim." And Lisa, who is the ultimate mom -- four kids at home and a job as a special education teacher -- is the one her team chooses to send home when they lose the weigh-in, mainly because she is so nice that they're not afraid she will be mad at them. The good news is that she seems to have thrived at home. Maybe all the fake drama at the ranch helped her learn to stay focused on her own goals even in the midst of all the other demands on her time.


  1. I let my recorder get a 45 minute head start and then watched the same night it aired. And I kept notes as i watched

    I think Danni was lucky to be shopping (and cooking) for herself! Maybe it taught her good boundaries.

    I almost missed the updates on Nikki and TC. Thought it was a commercial for half a second and almost skipped. I was pleasantly surprised. I am always highly skeptical long term. But at least they went home and got started.

    It would be interesting to actually back and check; my perception is which ever group calls home, gets mail, videos home, does terrible the rest of the week and loses the weigh in. (Later Jillian said that about winning challenges in general).

    We were just talking (at my house) about the fact that every child should learn to swim. My niece's college requires each freshman pass a swimming test or take swimming as freshman gym class. We took swimming in high school (required).

    Amazing they do not have a lot more knee injuries the first weeks on the ranch when they have impact with those high weights. I spend a lot of time thinking - put them in the pool! And they hardly ever do!

    I am trying to remember if we have had a man with as much excess belly skin as Jackson (appears he is going to have) in the past. It will be interesting to see if it starts to soak up. The younger guys usually soak it back up in an enviable way.

    I wonder if there were actually more whole foods (shopping for themselves) than what they usually eat out of the stocked kitchen. I will never forget Bryan, Kim's team/season 4, who was adding soy sauce to everything and poor Kim, looking at his food logs, couldn't figure out why he was not loosing weight. He was probably on sodium overload for weeks on end.

    I love how they are doing the elimination voting now. I think it makes for more quality attitudes and behaviors.

    Loved the special Ed classroom changes. My middle is special Ed/early elem Ed double major. She is interested in BACA and they often work with food issues.

  2. On what you wrote:
    I agree, they missed a golden opportunity to do food education.

    It took me a while to learn how to take direction in classes and with trainers. Luckily my first ones were sticklers about positioning and detail. I understand the nuance of position. I understand adding that little hold/squeeze at the key points in each move, I understand just clear your mind and do it. It doesn't matter if we are doing 5 more or 100 more, I am that second jet pilot following the leader. I saw what you mentioned too.

    Some years they are sending the slackers home, some years they keep them, it is funny to see the trends.

    Very good post. Nice to be able to watch and then chat.

  3. I totally agree re the pool at the ranch. They show it constantly, but it's always empty. I can only hope they are doing swimming and just saving us from seeing them in swim suits. LOL I also feel there is too much emphasis in over-the-top exercising/weights...compared to diet, or exercise more suitable to a real life schedule.

    Still, love the show. Love when the top contenders 'break through' and start working on it with a vengance. Best part of the season. :)


"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