About Fogdog's Weight Loss

Don't Focus on the Goal...

If you've followed this blog you know that I've struggled for many years with improving my health. I've finally reached a point where I've managed to maintain a small amount of success. Now it's time to take the next step, but I believe it requires a new way of thinking.

Instead of trying to get healthy, why not shift focus toward learning how to build healthy habits instead. Follow me as I try to teach myself how to Engineer healthy habits that will allow me to take my health to the next level. Let's see where this experiment goes!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Hate 'The Biggest Loser'

I have a confession to make.  I am one of those few overweight people who absolutely hates 'The Biggest Loser'!  I hate it, but I still watch it... sort of.  With the wonders of DVR I never watch on the night it airs, but rather I record it and watch the full 2 hours in about 30 minutes skipping through a lot of it to get to the things I actually care about (I like to watch the challenges, the results, and the 'where are they now?' at the very end.  Now I know a lot of people would disagree with me on this topic and they see the show as a source of inspiration, but if you indulge me for a moment let me share with you the top 5 reasons why I hate 'The Biggest Loser':

Reason #5 - The Shameless Plugs

It's hard to watch the show and not know who their biggest sponsors are by the shameless plugs the contestants are forced to do.  Whether it's deli meat, gum, or even sandwich baggies, these folks aren't afraid to ask those contestants to participate in their little "live commercials".  It's like that website you go to that's just plastered with ads all over it, too much turns people off.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not against advertising completely, you will find some right here on my blog, but it's the amount of advertising that I struggle with.  That's what commercials are for on TV; I don't expect to get a second dose during the show I'm watching.  Besides, when they use the contestants and the trainers (who are not professional actors), the whole thing comes off as so cheesy.

Reason #4 - In one word... Jillian!

Not for the reasons you think though.  I like Jillian's in-your-face style and she was impressive early on with the results of her teams.  What I don't like is the way she started slapping her name on anything and everything that had to do with weight loss once the show started to get popular.  From Wii games to books to exercise gadgets, it seemed like everywhere you looked she was endorsing something new.  Can anyone name a product that has her name on that you actually liked?  I can't.

Now just to be fair, I will say that I own Bob Harper's 'Inside Out Method' workout DVDs.  I own 5 different DVDs and think they are absolutely outstanding!  I bought them several years ago and still use them as part of my workout rotations.  They are tough if you are extremely overweight, but not impossible and no matter what your fitness level, you will sweat!  I never realized just how hard Yoga could be!  You can get the DVDs below (my own shameless plug)


Reason #3 - Exploitation of Overweight People

Actually my reason #3 is more about why I hate almost every reality show out there; the industry is exploiting people for personal gain. Think about this for a moment... Imagine that you are selected to be a contestant. What do you think? Do you imagine yourself getting the help you need to change your life? Do you think about at least getting to the makeover? My guess is that you don't think about how the producers might make you out as the drama queen or the quitter. Remember, only a small handful of contestants make it through to the end. Don't forget about all those folks that only made it a couple of weeks and have to go home and tell everyone they didn't make it. Also, how many villains can you remember from the show? How many crazies? How many game players? The show doesn't succeed if there isn't a little controversy going on and you are crazy if you think that the controversy being generated is "all natural".

What really has me nervous is how the show has to keep ramping things up in order to keep getting ratings. Remember when they kept getting larger and larger contestants every season?  Thankfully they reigned that in a little.  Now it seems like they are pushing the contestants harder and harder. Have you noticed the number of contestants sitting out of challenges has risen due to injuries?

Reason #2 - Oh the Drama!

Really... 2 hours per episode?  What do you need all that time for?  In a nutshell: you need room for the shameless plugs (see reason #5) and for all the drama!  The next time you watch the show, take out a pencil and paper and count how many times you see contestants cry.  Count all the magical "breakthrough" moments that are followed by inspirational music and an inevitable huge loss at the weigh-in (the only thing that would make it cheesier is if the inspirational music was the theme from Rocky).  You can almost predict the results based on what you see early on in the show.  Is someone having a tough week?  You can bet they will be a highlight at the weigh-in either positive or negative depending on how they were portrayed through the rest of the episode.

This season it would appear that they've got Jillian in their sights as well, portraying her as being "too tough" and subsequently knocking all of her team out of the show.  It has been fun for me to watch (see reason #4), but I have no doubt the producers have something up their sleeve that will make Jillian look like a hero again (don't be surprised if her one remaining contestant makes it all the way to the end).  By the way, do you think it was a coincidence that Jillian ended up with a bunch of contestants that really didn't respond well to her type of training?  Don't think for a second that it was a coincidence, those producers know exactly how to maximize the drama and as a result some players that might have fared better under someone else ended up going home in the interest of getting more drama (see reason #3).

Reason #1 - Setting False Expectations

The most unfortunate part about this show is that it changes people's expectations when it comes to losing weight on their own.  These contestants post huge numbers week after week and even the at-home players end up posting big losses at the finale.  Because of all these big numbers and incredible transformations, viewers begin to see small losses as "unacceptable" for weight loss and in our 'instant gratification' society it only amplifies the problems around making this a journey instead of a sprint. 

Your average person starts to think there is something wrong with them because they haven't had their "Breakthrough Moment" yet.  Breakthroughs are not usually monumental and aren't followed with everything automatically working out in the end.  Weight loss is tough no matter how you want to look at it!

So there it is; my top 5 reasons for hating 'The Biggest Loser'.  I'll leave you with one more thing to consider when you think about the show.  As an engineer I'm always looking for patterns or lack thereof.  If you go back and look at all the seasons past and the finales, you might be surprised at a pattern that you don't see.  When you look at all the contestants that didn't make it all the way to the end, you would expect that those that made it the farthest on the show would have performed the best at the final weigh-in (the at-home challenge).  Surprisingly many of the people that got knocked out the earliest have put up some of the most impressive numbers.  In fact, there have been several seasons where the person with the highest percent weight loss overall wasn't even in the finals, but rather someone that finished their journey at home! When you think about this last paragraph, it makes you question what's so magical about "The Weight Loss Ranch"?  In my opinion, the answer is "nothing". 

Let me know what you think; feel free to leave me a comment.  Stay Strong!

[Photo: Flickr / Sarah-Rose]


  1. Gotta Love Adsense! Just noticed my Adsense Ad Has a big Picture of Jillian Machaels on it. Bravo!

  2. Although I don't hate TBL I have to admit I just find it boring. I think I have only ever watched 2 seasons of it. I get bored watching them do the same things week after week. But I like your idea of dvr'ng it & then just skipping to the good parts, maybe I'll try that. I agree with you though. I don't think that it's realistic as far as every day and therefore I discount it as doable. And I'm all about what's doable for me, therefore I don't watch it. I would much rather find a successful blogger & see how they did it than watch TBL. Good post though & too funny about Adsense.

  3. I am quite ambivalent about the show. I record it, watch it sometimes and not other times. I don't put a lot of stack in what they do because it is such a controlled environment and I don't think the contestants are truly given a chance to figure out how to listen to their bodies, which personally I think is key to success (for me anyway). I so agree with your points above as well.

  4. I can't say that I hate The Biggest Loser, I do watch every so often but I'm not like deep in it. I agree with #1 HOWEVER, I look at it this way: They have personal trainers who are there all day everyday (most days), people who prepare their meals and access to workout machines... the average person has a job, a family ...and a life. There is no way that we can dedicate ourselves ALL day in real life. Imagine if we had access to what they do, we would be total rock-stars! Also, everyone's body is different. We just have to get to know it :)


    1. They train 4-6 hours each day. I wish I had that time to work out.

  5. I don't care for TBL either, for the reasons you listed. I also find it VERY boring! 2 Hours is waaayyyy too long to keep my interest.

  6. I hate that they almost never address the food issue except to throw in Subway or Jennie O turkey products. I'm convinced that the food part is at least 80% of the battle so it is important that they include it in their show. :)

    1. I agree, there's very little focus on food and tons on exercise. It should be the other way around. Thanks for commenting and signing on as a new follower!

  7. A few years ago when they did one particular year of TBL on Aussie tv they used to do a cooking thing Friday nights and that used to be really good. Sad that didn't keep doing it.

  8. i agree as well with all of your points. I cannot believe how many products Jillian has out on the market now. I never liked the show as it was just not based on real life

  9. Ha! I should have read this before watching lol you said it so well!