Sometimes when we’re going through a tough place in our lives, we want to dig deep into the problem and try to find a hidden root. We pour through layer after layer, over-analyzing every nuance and aspect of our personalities while completely ignoring what’s on the surface. So many people simply refuse to accept the fact that, more often than not, the obvious answer is the correct one. They prefer to spend time and energy trying to find a cause and a meaning when the answer is right in front of their face.
This week’s episode of The Biggest Loser, titled “Face Your Fears”, was a great illustration of that tendency in human-nature. One that is very prevalent on this show.
Before we begin… as always…
The show opened this week right where last week ended with the exit of Francelina due in large part (by my theory) to her budding “showmance” with Jeff. Host Alison Sweeney informed the contestants that Francelina wouldn’t be the only one leaving the ranch that week. There would be a competition on the spot and the loser would be leaving campus to work out on their own all week while the winner would receive a one pound advantage on the scale. The competition itself was a simple. Stack concrete blocks in front of life-sized pictures of your fellow contestants (you could not put them in front of your own picture). Last picture covered up was the loser. Person who stacked the most blocks would win the pound.
On the fly strategy immediately took shape and it appeared that Gina, the Biggest Loser in the game so far, would be sent to exile for the week. That is until 21-year-old Jackson Carter began pleading with his fellow competitors to save Gina and send him. They reluctantly obliged covering Gina’s picture just before Jackson’s. Joe Ostaszewski just edged Danni Allen 20 blocks to 19 to win the one pound advantage due in large part to a fall by Danni early in the competition.
Before Jackson was sent away, he was required to choose another contestant to join him off the ranch. Before he could make a decision, Jeff stepped to the front and volunteered. They were sent to a house that appeared to be somewhere in the San Fernando Valley around L.A. The house had no food (though they were allowed to shop for their own groceries), limited exercise equipment and no access to the trainers. They did receive bikes and had access to vehicles that could take them out to go hiking – something they did take advantage of during their time away.
The “Face Your Fears” theme of the week was an attempt at a clever metaphor where typical fears like heights, sharks and confined spaces were used to represent the “prison of obesity” or the “fear of success” that the contestants endured in gaining the weight. I know it’s great television, but it’s such a lie. It’s such an excuse. The Biggest Loser is supposed to be about “no more excuses”. In fact, they’ve used that as a theme in seasons past. You don’t get to be 300 pounds because you fear anything other than not getting enough pizza and Mountain Dew. Fear is real. I don’t deny that. However, fear controls what we DON’T do… what we don’t accomplish. As I’ve said many times on this site, you don’t become morbidly obese without a tremendous amount of effort.
Here’s a quick rundown of the “fears” from this week’s episode that were somehow attributed to the Contestants’ health:
Danni – Singing in Public – This isn’t something that contributed to her weight gain. Besides being one of the greatest fears among everyone on the planet regardless of size, the weight may have compounded the fear, but the fear didn’t compound the weight.
Gina – Enclosed Spaces – Jillian puts Gina in a casket during the episode to face her fear. Great visual metaphor for obesity, but the entire show this week seemed to have been dedicated to Gina telling everyone over and over what an amazing person she is. There is some nutty going on with this lady and I’m not sure The Biggest Loser isn’t making it worse.
Joe – Sharks – Yep… Sharks. They did manage to make a clumsy connection between a fear of sharks and a fear of losing control, but, in the end, it was an excuse to shoot at San Pedro Bay.
Jackson, Jeff and Alex all had their fears kind of glossed over this week. I think the week away from the ranch was supposed to somehow be representative of fear.
The kids’, who are playing at home, fears actually generated the most interesting content of this week’s show.
Lindsey’s biggest fear is being diagnosed as diabetic since she has received a “pre-diabetic” warning. Valid concern. Valid fear. Actually weight-loss related. In the episode, she meets with her school counselor, who is diabetic (and, for the record, carrying about 40-50 extra pound that might just help if she shed), to discuss her concern and impact. Highlight of this exchange is when Lindsey asks this person, who works with children for a living, how she felt when she was diagnosed and her response was, “I was pissed!” Awesome.
Biingo – the child who I’m trying not to detest because I know all 13-year-old boys are annoying so it’s not his fault – listed his biggest fear as vegetables. Because of that, his parents don’t make him eat them. And, while I’m a firm believer in moderation over the food pyramid, shame on his parents. In our house, we have a simple rule – you eat what’s for dinner or you don’t eat. Period. When a kid gets hungry, they’ll eat. Instead of parenting, however, they chose to puree a bunch of veggies and covertly put it in his meatloaf. How exactly is that making him a better eater? That’s the biggest lesson people should be taking out of this season of the show. Parents have so much control over the direction of their child’s health if they’ll simply be parents.
The last “kid”, and the one who continues to really be the bright spot (no pun intended) of the show, is Sunny. Sunny’s fear was simple. She’s afraid that her morbidly obese Mother is going to die. Legitimate fear. She is dying. I know, I know, we’re all technically dying, but those of us who choose to live at 300, 400, 500 pounds are just expediting the process. Do you know how many 300 pound 70 year olds there are? A handful. 75? Very few. 80? Almost zero. Medical science allows people to live healthy, fruitful lives well into their 80’s an beyond. But even science can’t trump fat. Fat people die before they should. Sunny’s fear for her Mom is real. And a message that every parent should be conscious of.
The final challenge of the week had the contestants battling for immunity on a rooftop in Los Angeles. Each contestant would stand on a plan and hold 40% of their body weight on a pulley system. If they dropped the bar, they dropped from the roof. Last person standing would win immunity.
The heaviest competitors went first with Jeff and Jackson both taking the plunge in less than five minutes. Alex was next with Joe right behind. It came down to my pick to win it all Danni and her fellow “Remodeling Clay Player To Watch” Gina going head-to-head. Gina was in the zone and took home immunity, guaranteeing herself a spot in the Top Five.
At the weigh-in, the weight-loss numbers were actually quire impressive. Jeff and Jackson, who spent the week away from the ranch, lost 13 and 11 pound respectively. Joe, my other “Player To Watch”, dropped 12 and became the first person on campus to lose 100 pounds this season. Gina, who was safe with immunity, had a solid seven pound loss, while Alex, who has had more “bad weeks” then good ones, dropped eight. It came down to Danni again. After a super impressive seven pound loss last week, she’d need a nearly impossible nine this week to avoid falling below the yellow line and being up from elimination with Alex. Can’t say I’m shocked to report, Danni dropped ten pounds this week making her the Biggest Loser for the second straight week (5.15% lost) and pushing Jackson below the line.
It would only take two votes to seal her fate and Alex quickly received both and was sent home after losing a total of 53 pounds on the ranch.
People allow fear to be such a huge factor in their lives, but never in the way they describe it. We want to believe that fear pushed us toward action, but, for most, that’s not the case. Fear makes us complacent. It makes us lukewarm. Fear pushes us, not to action, but to the conscious decision to not move at all. You hear things all the time like “crippling fear” or “paralyzed by fear”. That’s the reality! Fear didn’t make you fat. Fear keeps you fat.
Thank you for checking in again this week! Come back Monday through Saturday for new daily content!