I happened upon the finale of The Biggest Loser last night. This isn’t a show I frequent because I’ve always questioned some of their tactics. I know they have medics on staff and blah, blah, blah but as a personal trainer, some of the things I have seen just make me cringe.
Aside from the fact that I can’t quite imagine having screaming matches with my clients or climbing on them like a baby monkey, I don’t always believe in pushing them to the brink of exhaustion, which can often lead to injury. You’re running on a treadmill, your body is giving out because I am taking you from the couch to a run at a 10% incline, I’m screaming at you like a crazed lunatic, and you fall. Who won here? Me, because I got you to get frustrated and get back on that treadmill? You because you proved me wrong by twisting your ankle or banging your face off the treadmill?
I tried to watch the show last year when they worked with children. I really loved the things they did with the kids to improve their knowledge of health and fitness and how they taught them that it can be fun. I also saw plenty of fun workouts and found it fascinating at how little knowledge many of these contestants have about how to be healthy. This is all great. I also saw what I felt could be a slippery slope. It’s all about weight loss. This can be dangerous.
As I watched the end of the finale last night, I was introduced to Rachel. I listened to her story and watched in the recorded portion as her “new self” talked to her “old self” and exclaimed to Keith how incredible and healthy she looked. Then it was time for the big reveal and out she walked. It made me sad. She looked as if she aged 20 years and appeared ill. Too skinny, in my opinion. She went from being a sad, obese girl to a happy, underweight girl? I have a good friend who was overweight and is now anorexic. She is aware of this but is terrified of being “that fat girl” again. She has suffered medical issues and personal issues because of this. It breaks my heart.
It breaks my heart to look at this Rachel girl and see what a slippery slope she’s on. Maybe, just maybe she’ll find that to be healthy and strong, this doesn’t always equate to skinny but maybe she won’t. Maybe she will end up unable to have children and in and out of counseling because of her eating disorder. I’m rooting for her to be healthy but I feel that The Biggest Loser producers need to keep a close eye on this and may need to change their platform if the competition of weight loss is making people sick.
I did a little research on Rachel to try to figure out if she’s as sick as she looked last night. She’s 5’4″ per google and 105 per the show. This gives her a BMI of 18 which is classified as “underweight”. While BMI isn’t the end all, be all of health monitoring, neither is weight loss.