Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Biggest Loser? or The Biggest "Back-handed" Compliment?

I've been wanting to write something about the TV show The Biggest Loser for a while, but have been a little overwhelmed by my feelings, but here goes.....(this is where the real Tracy comes out, lol)

I have never watched an entire show, much less an entire season of the show. And even though I started my weight loss with a "bet" at work, between 6 other women, based on the show, I have never supported, or been a fan, and would never have called our competition by the same name, and I'll tell you why. I believe the first season aired just before I started my own weightloss journey, but I looked it up online and confirmed the timing. The first season started in Oct 2004, and we started our weightloss competition in Jan. 2005, so that would be correct. This is some of the information I found online, and I highlighted some of the reasons why I've never supported the show.

"The Biggest Loser started with a lot of fan fare as a replacement show in October of 2004. People did not initially understand what the name Biggest Loser meant and tuned in shocked to see men and women in their skivvies weighing more than 300 and in some cases over the years even over 400 pounds. After the initial shock viewers started to really relate to the former underachievers on the Biggest Loser as week by week they got slimmer guided by their trainers. The trainers on that first season of the Biggest Loser were the Affable Bob Harper and the mean but caring Jillian Michaels. "

" Shocking!!" Underachievers? What the hell? "F-U" But I'll get back to that....

First off, the name, "The Biggest Loser" I could never get past the name. I mean, what is it implying? Exactly what it says....that fat people are losers. Make no mistake, it's not a cute play on words, it's a direct, purposeful, insult meant to get your attention, admittedly using the name to peak potential viewers curiosity. The word "loser" is a popular phrase used to describe a persons lack of success managing their life. It would be common to describe anyone that is jobless, homeless, or pennyless as a "loser", maybe even someone that is, or has been, to jail, but fat? Am I being sensitive, lol? Well, maybe I am, but so what, I don't have to support a show that insults me.

So why did I ever tune in at all? Well, they got me too, they got my curiosity and I had to see what the fuss was about. When I tuned in I saw a handful of very overweight people being dangerously overexercised, and at the same time left in rooms loaded with disgustingly shitty junk foods, as if to imply that if they were really strong, if they were really determined, if they were really serious, they wouldn't give a care about the mountains of crappy food put out as bait, daring them to prove they were not one kind of loser, but another. "F-U!"

Let's get back to the overexercising part. Now, I admit, I'm an overexerciser, but come on! I didn't start out that way. A person who begins at a weight of more than 200lbs has no business running, jumping, or trying to dash across a balance beam 10 ft above water to lose weight, and any good trainer should know that. But exercising for hours at a time in a body already stressed by carrying such a heavy load for years risks serious injury that can result in not being able to exercise at all (thank goodness kettlebell training is one of the safest, effective, and effecient ways of fatloss, and conditioning). I began my own exercise program with only walking. Walking at least 2 miles every morning, 5 days week, with a bonus 6th day walk of 4 miles, losing 50 lbs in three months time, before I ever picked up a kettlebell.

I could go on and on, but one last thing (before I get alot of shit, lol). I can't tell you how many people I've heard say something like this...."I wish I could just go on a show like The Biggest Loser, because then I could get this weight off. At least they have trainers,and they have their food controled and good food choices available to them, AND they have the chance of winning $100,000....I could do it for $100,000!" (or whatever the prize is). But I would bet, like me, the winning contestants would still have won from their own motivation and drive not to mention the thrill of competition with no prize money or personal trainers.

Weightloss for real people isn't about being on "diet vacation" for weeks and months, sequestered in a house with barking trainers who've never had to lose a pound in their lives and a $100,000 prize. It's about how are you going to live your life with no one in control, but you? Same job, same family, same 24 hours in the day, working around real life.

People who are fat are not underacheivers. Peoplle who are fat are not losers, whether they ever lose any weight. Anyone, fat or thin, can experience the miracle of regaining their health . I would never call myself a big loser, or the biggest loser, instead a living example of a miracle. So, I guess the name of my show wouldn't be something so sensational, instead, hopefully, more respectful in the fact that I recognize that we all do our best.....maybe "Living Your Physical Potential" (LOL!)


Marty said...

You go tracy!

I must admit, I like the show. On no other reality show do you see contestants pulling for each other like on this show. They help each other.

And even though they seem to be over trained, they are monitored by doctors closely.

You are right, the name seems a little rude... :)

Take care.

AL said...

Actually, I believe Jillian was overweight as a teenager.

Mark Reifkind said...

then she(jillian) should have known better. the training those people were put through was well as the psychological torture. I hate that show.I wonder how many of those contestants have kept their weight off or lost more?

Jen said...

I have friends that have a "team" called the Biggest Losers on a a weight loss message board website and they asked me to be a part of it. I told them that I didn't like the negativity of the name and tried to explain my reasons to them, but they didn't understand what I was trying to express yourself so well and said exactly what I meant.

Some of the past winners of that "game" have in fact gained the weight back and since it is a game some of them may not have learned the healthiest way to live as a thinner person.

I have to admit that I watched last season with the hope that it would somehow help me reach my goals. It didn't, I think I came away feeling like there was something wrong with me since I couldn't lose 8lbs a week (which is unrealistic, unhealthy and just plain crazy). I know better but got caught up in it for the moment.

Thanks for writing this.

Amy Jurrens said...

What the show's producers don't get, but you do, is that weight loss and living a healthy life isn't about access to a trainer and healthy foods. It's about the person on the journey. You've said it many times - you didn't lose weight until YOU took control and decided to change.

We could all be forced to change if we were locked in a house, secluded from our real lives. But we all have to go home and be accountable to ourselves. We are a nation of blamers. We want someone else to fix us, someone to blame for our unhappiness when we only need to look in the mirror.

It's sad that so many people live life without understanding that they determine their own level of satisfaction in life. It's empowering to know that my life is just that, MINE. I can choose and I choose health and strength.

Thanks for a provacative post, Tracy!

Diana said...

Unfortunately this country is all about the "benjamins". Just another way for somebody to get rich off of a very serious epidemic that our country is going through. You definitely know what's next: "Biggest Loser: Kid's addition"
Sponsors of the show are making millions, and millions off the show, which I have to admit, I've watched. Too bad it doesn't work to run from your life to change it only to come back and find out you really didn't fix what was wrong in the first place. I've had to answer some pretty hard questions and go through a lot of emotions while losing my weight, and if I had to do it all over again, I'd do it exactly the same-BUT I won't have to ever do it again because that part of me is gone. I'm now a middle aged athlete (16days away from triathlete!)and I am the happiest I think I could ever be!

Tracy Reifkind said...


The show has been very motivating for alot of people. The beauty of this free country is we all have a choice on the programs we watch and support.

And what good is a doctor going to do when after a injury that can affect a person for the rest of their Mark alwyas says "Glory is vey temporary, pain is forever", real joint inuries are never the same again.

Most doctors have zero experience or knowledge about exercise, especially for heavy people.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Actually, I believe no 'before' pictures have ever been published of Jillian being even a pound overweight. If she was ever seriously overweight, don't you think they'd make a big deal about it?

She's been training martial arts for 17 old is she? 34 I think. When was she overweight, when she was 14? Give me a break.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I don't begrudge anyone that is motivated by any means...go for it! But you get the point of this post, it's about the judgements and attitudes about people that are fat.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I don't think that most people connect overweightness with bad health....yet! Since obesity is a growing problem in this country, many overweight people are still relitively young, I know I didn't take my health seriously until I hit my 40's.

I didn't even know what good health was, because I don't think I had ever had it, to be honest! I eat better now than I ever have in my life, and of course beacause I exercise regulary I consider myself "fit" for truly the first time in my life.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I love that you said you will never have to do it all over again, how powerful...brilliant!

And I think you're right about the kids addition, although they might have to find some way around the fact that kids are minors, I wouldn't know if that could create legal issues as far as exposre on national TV.

Anonymous said...


Last monday I started classes with Fawn Friday.It really wasn't until I cam across your blog that I started to believe that Kettlebell training could be what I've been looking for to achieve my dreams of great if not ultimate health and fitness.Having just turned 40 my health is a major priority of mine.I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration and I hope I can train with you some day.

Marty said...

Tracy said: "And what good is a doctor going to do when after a injury that can affect a person for the rest of their Mark alwyas says "Glory is vey temporary, pain is forever", real joint inuries are never the same again."

You and Mark are right on with that. I have found I need to take my training down a notch sometimes, because I feel a twinge here or there. I realize how devastating an injury can be to my fitness goals, so I back it down. If I was laid up for any length of time I would be miserable and could easily back slide to bad habits.

Adam said...

Tracy i very much agree with your comments here.

The show was marketed as some kind of side show the first year, i doubt they thought so many people would tune in.

I do not understand why the net work stuck with the name, or the crazy nazi trainers they have.

The only thing i will say, it is 10 times better than all the jack asses at washed up TV "star" fit club show with Dustin Douschebag diamond (he will sue me for typing this) or the horrible, horrible "Skylab"

this is why i only watch 2 hours of TV a week.

BTW, Awesome job on the 1K swings with the 24kg! I have never done that, and i never will. Your a machine!

Tracy Reifkind said...


There's only one key to getting what you want and need from kettlebell training....keep showing up, no misses, and doing the work. You and KB's are a great combination, but one without the other doesn't work, it's up to you, not the KB's, not the trainer. (although you won't find a better KB trainer than Fawn!)

I'll be in St. Paul the weekend of Sept 21, but I'll be busy assisting at the RKC all day Fri, Sat, Sun. I could, however, be talked into co-teaching a special class Friday night @8pm at The Press, if enough people were hardcore enough to commit, lol!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Forced down time sucks, I experienced that this past Dec/Jan., but I chose that! I would be pissed if I hurt myself because someone else was pushing me too hard past my ability....especially when it isn't neccessary

Tracy Reifkind said...


There are many positives about the show, especially compared to 'Fit Club' (although I've never watched an entire episode of that one either), but as a former 200+ pounder (lol) I found the name insulting and I just couldn't get over it.

I don't give the trainers near the credit as the media does, like I mentioned, I think the people that win, would win regardless of who the trainer is or was. I didn't need a trainer for one minute, even though I live with "The World's Best Personal Trainer"!

The 1st day of my diet, after our group all weighed in, one of the other women said to me, "It's not fair, you are married to a personal rainer!", and I responded, "Well you can see how much that's helped me so far, lol!"

In other words, being married to a great personal trainer didn't keep me from gaining over 100lbs, we do that on our own! We also take it off on our own. Not that the support and motivation are not important, but I was "on a mission" and no one, or nothing was going to get in my way!

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