Biggest Losers and Winners

10 Feb
photo courtesy of NBC

photo courtesy of NBC

Last week, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” crowned the winner of its 15th season, Rachel Frederickson. Congrats, Rachel! Along with your $250,000 payout, you also win: criticism!

Rachel, who is 24 years old, dropped an astounding 155 pounds from her 5-foot-4 frame to weigh in at 105 pounds. When she was announced the winner, Rachel was met with this reaction by the trainers.

*I wouldn’t call her weight-loss disturbing (unless I had other information), but I’ll get to that later

You’d expect those faces from upset competitors, not the people who were helping you along the way.

Had Rachel lost too much weight?

The reactions were semi-justified. When Rachel left the competition, she was 150 pounds. She returned after dropping another 45 pounds, therefore losing 60% of her body weight for the show. To put that in perspective, past winners have dropped an average of 48.6%.

I have my own issues with the format for “The Biggest Loser.” I appreciate any venue that allows people to address health issues. I’d appreciate them even more if they were addressed an a healthy manner. The show isn’t practical, as most reality competitions aren’t. We don’t all lip sync for our lives or design dresses out of garbage to get a leg up in life. “The Biggest Loser” takes people’s health issues and makes a game out of it, which I find unnerving. It is unrealistic for Jane Shmo to expect to drop that amount of weight in such a short period of time without causing serious damage to herself.

The other problem I have with the show is that the feats performed by the contestants aren’t sustainable. No one works out for eight to 10 hours a day and survives on kale smoothies. People have jobs, kids, mortgages and other responsibilities. It is highly unlikely for even the above average person to sustain workouts of that intensity coupled with diets so low-cal that rabbits gawk.

Which brings me back to Rachel. I applaud her efforts. She’s a young woman who wanted to get her life back on track, starting with her weight. She said she’d been stress eating after a bad breakup (I can relate) and joined the show to get a fresh start. Kudos to her.

But Rachel is damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. Society has judged her for being overweight. Society has judged her for taking her struggle public on a reality show. Then society has decided to add a little more judgement because now she may have lost too much weight.

If you’re concerned with BMI results, then she’s slightly underweight. But that’s all relative. BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass, water weight and activity level. It’s just a guideline.

When she appeared on the “Today” show to discuss her results, she was greeted with low-ball questions, none addressing her the criticism she’s received for her drastic weight loss. But is that necessary?

I don’t want to shame her results because that would make me a hypocrite. She was a swimmer in her youth, so she had an athletic background that helped her along the way. I am, however, curious as to what motivated her to go so far. What was it that pushed her to this level? Where did she find the time to do it?

Like many of you, I get a bad case of the I-don’t-wannas and have to find my motivation wherever I can. Rachel found hers within the show, but she took it to a heightened level, and that scares me sometimes. I don’t want to get so focused by my goals—be they weight, career, love life, etc.—that it makes me obsessed.

I hope that if she’s happy with the way she looks, she uses healthy measures to maintain it. Maintenance is the absolute hardest part of this process and it is the true test of will. I trust that you all will find the point that makes you happiest and keep up the good work to stay there.

BTWs: There has also been talk of whether Rachel had a little extra help to reach this point. Anything’s possible, but I don’t think so. She still has a little arm waddle when she waves. I just think she got super-focused on losing even more weight that she might not have seen where she was going.

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