My Obsession with The Biggest Loser

I do believe that fat people are often discriminated against and mistreated in society. I think there is too much of a stigma attached to fatness and an overglorification of thinness. That said, some people are overweight, and I love seeing those people work hard to lose it and actually succeed. I realize reality TV shows are manipulative and always have the main purpose of getting high ratings, no matter what the cost to the participants psychologically, but I feel that The Biggest Loser is probably one of the best reality TV shows out there in that it actually helps people get healthier.

Yes, it does that silly thing where some contestants have to vote off other contestants. I think that’s ridiculous. The only people who should be eliminated are the ones who lose the least amount of weight. There should be no voting.

And, of course, they do the duh-duh-duhn focus on faces in reaction to scale readings right before the commercial break for maximum manipulative suspense-milking.

Oh, and the whole show is a just a long advertisement for 24-Hour Fitness gyms.

Nevertheless, when I see these people going from 350 lbs. to 180 lbs. and also getting rid of their health problems (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), it’s pretty inspiring, especially when I know many of them probably have a genetic predisposition to gaining weight. Anyone who knows me well knows I am a nurture person all the way, and it’s not because I don’t believe in the power of nature—I just don’t believe in giving in to nature if you also have the power of nurture. I’m genetically predisposed to being diabetic, but I’m not going to just throw in the towel on that one. As long as I can, I want to avoid being diagnosed with diabetes, and when I am finally diagnosed, I want to put off needing insulin shots as long as I can and also avoid losing my eyesight or limbs as long as I can. My wife and I had together all four of our grandmothers outlive their husbands, so, as a male, I’m genetically predisposed to dying earlier than she does, but I want to maximize my life as long as possible.

If you’re fat and happy with yourself and healthy, that’s great. Stay that way. But if you’re fat, have related health risks, and think that your genetic predisposition cannot be overcome, then I think you need to start exercising and eating healthily and fight what nature has thrown your way. You may have to exercise more and eat more healthily than some folks who are naturally skinnier, and that’s life. And some naturally skinnier people may actually have health issues despite society telling them they “look” a healthy weight, and shame on them.

It is an injustice that anorexics get treatment and pity while overweight folks get mistreatment and ostracization. That doesn’t mean they don’t both have problems. Would I love to see a The Biggest Gainer? In theory, yes. But people who are excessively skinny and have an eating disorder could gain weight just for the show and then still remain psychologically anorexic or just add bulimia to anorexia. You can tell when you watch The Biggest Loser that these people are already psychologically ready to be thinner. The problem is purely physical, and psychology comes into play only as far as competitiveness and motivation are concerned.

Waiting for my DVR to record the next episode…

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4 Comments

  1. Personally these shows annoy me because I never see anyone trying to form a coherent diet – or if they are, it doesn’t get into the show.

    News and entertainiment shows focus on exercise as a method of weight loss because it enables them to avoid the low-carb/low-fat debate.

  2. Being overweight is a serious health problem, especially when combined with smoking.

    I have recently learned that there is a connection between obesity and cancer. It works this way: obesity increases the risk of diabetes and thus uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Cancer, fast multiplying cells in the body, runs on fuel and that fuel is blood sugar. Smoking gets the cancer going, blood sugar keeps it going and it goes fast.

    Our family has lost two members in the past year to the arthritic of obesity+smoking=cancer. One was 74 and the most recent one was 44.

    Being a normal body weight and a non-smoker greatly reduces your chances of dying from cancer, especially prematurely.

  3. that’s funny dude. Leah and I totally love this show. Definitely DVR though, as it gets dragged way out.

    They stacked the deck against Jillian this year though. I guess they had too since she’s never lost. By giving her all the parent/child, and bob all the married couples, statistically she’s at a disadvantage. All her contestants are automatically 2nd generation obese. Bob’s may or may not be (though some probably are). If there are genetic predispositions for obesity (there probably are many) they are more likely to cluster around Jillian’s contestants. Bob’s are more likely to be due to lifestyle (again by selecting obese couples, they select obese lifestyles). Obviously there are both sets of factors on both sides, but inbred obesity is more likely to cluster with Jillian. Even then, she’s doing pretty well.

  4. @mc
    I’m not sure what umbrella “these shows” you’re fitting The Biggest Loser under, but they actually do talk quite about diet, and you see it especially after the contestants have left the ranch and need to live, eat, and exercise on their own for months before the finale. The talk about diet is actually one of the things I like about the show.

    @Adam
    Thanks for the extra health info.

    @biff
    I can’t believe you guys DVR it also. That’s hilarious. Yeah, I can’t stand when they try to drag it out, especially during the weigh-ins right before the final weight numbers come out. Where do they get these scales that go so deep below and far above the actual weight and yet seem to be digital?

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