While The Biggest Loser remains one of the most popular TV shows in America, I still hold to my belief that the show does more harm than good, as evidenced by the winner announced last night.
In case you missed it, Jezebel had a great recap. Contestant Rachel Frederickson lost a whopping 155 pounds — going from 260 to 105 pounds in just five months. Losing 60% of her body weight. IN FIVE MONTHS. If that doesn’t scream “unhealthy” to you, I don’t know what does. I don’t like body-snarking; be it “she’s too skinny” or “she’s too fat.” It’s all the same to me: unfair judging. But it’s hard to see such a dramatic transformation and not raise an eyebrow.
I don’t watch the show, but I can tell you this: she didn’t drop weight in a healthy, moderate, sustainable way. And though I don’t know Rachel from Adam, I think it’s safe to assume there are some deep-rooted issues going on – and fear for what lies ahead for her.
Like so many women who started out reasonably dieting (is there such a thing?) but then end up in a downward spiral into the underworld of disordered eating, I get it. I get how the compliments and positive feedback — while a temporary high — can fuel disordered thinking and behavior(s). I get how the “just one more mile/hour at the gym” mentality can take over your brain, causing you to disengage from the real world and miss social functions. I get the public and private debates/agony over food choices in restaurants and at dinner parties. I get how you can play the “healthy eating” card to socially-acceptably restrict. I get how it happens because I’ve lived it. Breathed it. And I am SO relieved to be five years removed from it this March.
I can’t predict with certainty what will happen to Rachel. Will she end up like me — heavier than she’d like but supremely happier and healthier in mind and spirit? Will she end up anorexic or bulimic, obsessing over every single calorie in fear of gaining it back? Will she maintain her weight and practice healthy, moderate eating and fitness habits? I’d like to think so, but it’s hard to imagine. Still, no one knows how she will end up.
I do know this: the show — while it aims to do good at its core — is completely unrealistic and sets a really bad example, in my opinion, of what healthy living is all about. While Rachel’s extreme weight loss is astounding and, as some may say, commendable … I don’t look at her and see the epitome of health. I see a young woman who — if she hasn’t fallen victim to an eating disorder already — is headed in that direction. And the competitive nature of the show is very much to blame. Yes, she volunteered to be on the show. But just look at Jillian and Bob’s reactions to seeing her; though they weren’t her trainers, their faces say it all: she took it too far.
This, my friends, is a perfect example of how something so good for you — eating well and exercising — can be detrimental to one’s health when taken to an extreme.
How about you? Do you think Rachel took her weight loss too far?