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Fat Ass: The Secrets of The Biggest Loser

Published: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 20:02

I found myself discouraged this week. My weight has been about the same since Christmas. I am running again and watching my diet. Confused, I visited the doctor and had my blood pressure, glucose levels, and cholesterol checked. Overall, I have lost about 30 pounds since last August. I was pleasantly surprised by my doctor’s findings. My lipid levels are down, my blood pressure is normal, and my glucose is normal. The doctor said, “Keep at it. Even if you don’t fit into your favorite jeans, you are making some very healthy decisions.” While I appreciated what she said, I was unhappy that my belly is not shrinking more quickly.

I think I am watching my third season of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I have mentioned this show several times before. I certainly do not watch it for the fitness and training tips. The show is full of the infighting and drama that defines reality television. Also, the show is full of shameless product placement. Nonetheless, I watch as men and women who weigh 400 and 500 pounds change their lives, lose three quarters of their body weight, and run marathons all within 16-weeks. An informed viewer has to wonder what is going on.
I discussed this with friends and came up with a theory. The people on The Biggest Loser are the healthiest fat people alive on the planet. Recently, my running instructor revealed that he has run competitively for seven years and is just now entering a marathon. If someone who is logging 90 mile weeks, with no excess body fat (by the eye-test standard) waits seven years to run a marathon, how is 500 pound man with permanently damaged knees doing it? Again, I say these men and women are superhuman.

Think about is this way…what would happen to NBC’s reputation, The Biggest Loser show, ad revenues, and the show’s signature trainers if someone died while competing. The contestants on the show are picked from thousands and only the fittest are chosen. It is hard to believe this when the producers of the show manipulate viewers into believing that each contestant had one foot in the grave. I realize that each contestant has probably signed a waiver saying that NBC bears no responsibility in the case of death or permanent injury. While NBC would be unlikely to lose money in a lawsuit, they would stand to lose millions with the collapse of The Biggest Loser franchise and the show’s sponsors.

I say all this to make a point. Staying healthy is an individual task. Our bodies are different. My mother’s family can eat almost anything and never gain weight. My grandmother looks half her age and tells people the secret is eating a quart of ice cream each day. Contestants on The Biggest Loser make huge changes in their lives and lose a tremendous amount of weight – for which that should be congratulated. We, however, are not Biggest Loser contestants. I cannot safely lose 31 pounds in one week and I will not be able to compete in a marathon in 16 weeks.

When I asked my running instructor why he has not run a marathon in the past seven years, he replied that he did not want to merely survive a marathon. He wants to compete in one. I do not want to merely diet. I want to compete at life.

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