I wrote recently about the struggle that even the folks that love us most have with telling us the harshest truths and realities. Though it applies to so many battles we have in our lives, health and weight-loss seems to be where it’s highlighted most boldly. In fact, in society, we often measure someone status in a relationship by where they are from physical standpoint. You’ll hear things all the time like “fat and happy” or some comment about two people who’ve gotten comfortable in their relationship “letting themselves go” a little. As crass and somewhat generalizing as that may be, I think there is some validity to that observation. When we are in a relationship, we often focus so much on that other person, we take our eyes off of ourselves and lose sight of what’s important. That theme, for me, ended up being the story of this week’s episode of The Biggest Loser.
Before we begin… as always…
“Be Yourself” opened with a revelation that anyone who has watched five minutes of reality television figures out during last week’s vote off of Mike. When Jeff – an original member of the Blue Team – opted to save Francelina over his former teammate because of “the bond they had”, everyone knew that was very poorly worded code for “showmance.” A “showmance”, for the uninitiated (read: people who have been things to do than consume volumes of reality TV), is when two competitors on a reality show start a romantic relationship during the filming. Sometimes it’s done for strategy. Sometimes it’s a legitimate love connection. Still others it’s probably best defined as a sort of Stockholm Syndrome meets Florence Nightingale Effect where these people who are cut off from the rest of the world have this relationship on fast forward because there are no other barriers (jobs, family, etc.) between the two. On The Biggest Loser, like many reality programs, the newly formed couple can either instantly put a huge target on their backs or self-sabotage by losing sight of the game because of Cupid’s Arrow.
Alison Sweeney met the Contestants at the top of the show to offer them a Challenge for the week. If the seven remaining contestants could lose a combined 70 pounds, the entire group would have immunity and no one would be going home. If they fail, there would be a red line, meaning the person with the lowest percentage of weight-loss for the week would go home. No vote. No strategy. Results based. As it should be.
As far as the 70 pounds, if you’ve been reading my recaps all season, you know what’s coming next. I’ll keep my rant to a brief but effective “Come on!” Even for the morbidly obese, which in fairness some of these people still are, asking the body to shed 10 pounds in a seven-day period is a nightmarish recipe for longterm weight-loss success. Using the simplest math in the world, you’re asking your body to burn 35,000 more calories in a week than it takes in. If that doesn’t seem like a lot to you, jump on the treadmill and crush it for an hour. See how much the treadmill says you burned (which, granted, is not an accurate measurement, but it’s a ballpark). Let’s estimate high side and say you burned 1500 calories. You’ve got to do that 25 times in a week BEFORE you put a single bite of food in your mouth. Yes, I know, I’m not accounting for your body’s natural ability to burn calories even at rest, but you get the point. Even reality show contestants that are essentially being asked to lose weight as their full-time job would be hard-pressed to meet these goals.
Of course, because it’s a game show, there are opportunities to change your luck. The kid contestants were immediately brought in with a chance to help the adults trim that 70 pound mark by competing in two tests. The first, a five question quiz on calories and nutrition with each correct answer taking one pound off of the 70 pound mark. The kids got four of the five correct and were able to lower the mark to 66 pounds. The second task would feature the kids retaking their basic physical assessments that were given during a previous visit. For each mark they could improve from the first go round, another pound would be deducted from the goal. The kids were able to claim all five points by besting their last effort, however, though I’m going to give them a break because they are tweens and teens, what the show is choosing to call a pull up (jumping up and down next to a bar) and a push-up (being on all fours and dipping your chin toward the ground) is not doing anything to toughen up a generation that is already being seriously impacted by this everyone gets a trophy/you’re not allowed to be bad at anything mentality that week adults are foisting upon them. A 13-year-old is better off doing two legitimate push ups then 70 whatever these are. When I was 426 pounds, I couldn’t do a single push up… now I can do dozens. Not because they made push ups easier to do… because I made myself better at doing them. Kids are tough. Stop bring the bar to them… let them reach it.
With the new number to beat at 61 pounds, the Contestants hit the gym for another sweat and drama soaked session. Contestants fighting with each other. Contestants fighting the trainers. Trainers fighting the trainers. Great “unscripted” (wink, wink) drama to fill the slow parts of the episode. Would viewers hate it if they used these workouts to actually educate America on exercise? I exercise almost everyday and I love to learn something new. The Biggest Loser, to me, really misses a great opportunity to teach. Sure most of us don’t have the equipment that they have. In fact, even the presenting sponsor Planet Fitness lacks about 60-70% of the equipment shown on a typical telecast. There’s something that could be taught each week. We see the tail-end of exercises, but never with an explanation. Why not explain a plank? Why not talk about kettle bells? Why not spend 60 seconds on some of the plyometrics that you see taking place? Instead, they spend the time in the gym telling us what we already know… that these people got fat because they’re really good at quitting. Is that what America wants to see?
An additional Challenge came up allowing the group to shed another 10 pounds from their looming weigh-in. In this task, the Contestants would work together to shovel piles of sand to uncover a path to the next pile, rinse, repeat until you hit the finish line. Though it was tight, they managed to cross the line in time and bring the number down to 51.
Jared from Subway stopped by next for the required Subway product placement of the week. He brought the infamous pants (Side Note: Those can’t be the original pants, right? These have to be like Lassie or the Georgia Bulldogs mascot UGA, where one dies and they just bring a new one in. I know he’s just carrying them around, but I’m calling shenanigans.) and a bag of sandwiches to break bread with the Contestants. At the end of his visit, he let them know that the winner of this season’s finals would also be appearing side-by-side with him in a Subway commercial. This was greeted by my well-trained in snark daughter saying “Yeah… aren’t they already in a Subway commercial right now?”
The Last Chance Workout was less of a workout this week and more of a made-TV-moment as the Contestants attempted a ropes course trust exercise where teams of two were forced to lean on each other in order to move further down the line. Not much of a workout and really nothing that moved the storyline.
The weigh-in began and the number to beat sat firmly at 51 pounds or about 7.5 pounds per person. To no surprise, it became evident fairly quickly that the goal would not be hit and someone would be going home. There were a few notable moments at the weigh-in as Danni Allen, the Remodeling Clay Pick To Win It All, posted a -7 which made her the Biggest Loser of the week and took her under 200 pounds – a goal I know a lot of people hold very special on their weight-loss journey. When Gina, another Contestant to Watch, posted a -4 for the week, The Biggest Loser once again showed their complete abandonment of what is supposed to be the purpose of the show – health – in favor of the reality that is competition. All three trainers, basically, said that Gina’s four pound weight-loss wasn’t good enough. That she should be a six or seven each week. What a horrible message for people trying to do it the right way.
As only reality television can do it, lovebird Jeff (-3) sat at the bottom of the numbers with only his new girlfriend Francelina left to weigh-in. She needed to lose at least three pounds this week, but lost only two, sending her home by percentage points. The two Contestants assumedly focused more on their new romance than their own journey, found themselves at the bottom and one them sent packing.
At the end of the day, I don’t want to come off anti-love in this whole thing. I don’t want to imply that you have to disregard your relationships to find success in weight-loss. But, gaining weight, so often, is about putting excuses between you and what you know is right. When you’re in a battle to save your own life, you have to get very selfish. You have to not only cut out the excuses, you have prevent new ones from forming by any means necessary. You have one accountability partner at the end of the day. Your relationship with yourself is where success is formed.
Thank you for checking in again this week! Come back Monday through Saturday for new daily content!