Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Biggest Loser Finale: Going too far?

I've watched the Biggest Loser since season one. I know a lot of people have a lot of opinions on it - and many have been critical. I haven't really been a critic. Personally I've always found a way to be inspired and entertained by show. I think there are some good messages in there even if rapid, large weight loss is unrealistic for most. Plus I love Dolvett :)

I thought this season was OK. It took me a little while to really warm up to the players but by the end I was really rooting for Rachel. She is a bright, beautiful young woman. She has the heart of an athlete that was trapped in a body that didn't match her spirit.  She killed the sprint triathlon and week after week she worked harder than anyone else and week after week she proved her toughness, perseverance and strength on the scale.

Rachel before

But now it seems that same amazing drive and focused personality could be backfiring.

I'm not a doctor and perhaps her nearly 60% of her body weight drop is OK for her. Perhaps carrying a mere 105 pounds on her frame is OK. I'm not an expert but I have to say she didn't look healthy and I was alarmed and I wasn't the only one.

Twitter lit up with worry and criticism. Hell, even Jillian and Bob couldn't hide concern when Rachel appeared and check out the contestant in red behind Jillian.

But Rachel was unaware of the shock she sent. She stood there, beaming with pride. Her hard work apparent for the world to see! She did it. She took on the challenge she was given and worked hard, stuck to her diet and literally worked her ass off. She was proud and then she was rewarded by nailing better than any of the other contestants the goal of the entire show: Biggest Loser!

Oh boy.

My fear as someone who struggles with weight and balance is that she could potentially be developing a disorder. She's felt "punished" and felt her relationship dramatically change with her Dad when she put on the weight and now she's been encouraged and celebrated week after week for taking her weight loss to new heights.

Has it all gone too far?

Maybe this is a healthy weight for her. I know plenty of very naturally slim people who would be offended by the idea that they were unhealthy just because they are uncommonly slim. Many of them can't gain weight if they try. But my gut says that for Rachel, it might have crossed over to a not so healthy place and it really isn't her fault. I can't blame her. When you live in the mind and body of a fat person it takes a long time for you to realize that you're thin. When I lost my weight I thought I went from a size 18/20 to a 12 and I was thrilled. My stylist friend thought 12 was too big for me but you couldn't tell me that. I believed that was my size - until she made me try on what I thought was a ten and it fit! Wow a ten! Only it wasn't a ten - it was a six. I was a size six / eight but my brain, despite the weight on the scale didn't register that. I am sure Rachel is not registering her size. Even the scale is deceptive for her. She is potentially living in varying states of "I can't believe I'm doing this!" Constant pats on the backs and an intense fear of letting it all slip to shit and eventually putting the weight back on. Even if someone says to her, "you're looking a little thin" she's not going to take it as concern - she's going to take it as a compliment - surely (fat her) couldn't be too thin. Especially with how fast the weight came off - her brain hasn't caught up to the body yet.  It could be dicey.

My hope is that she just got this thin for the show, to win the big prize and that her weight will normalize to what is healthy/happy for her and she'll comfortably maintain that.

My fear is that we've created a real issue. Someone who will obsessively count calories, fret over any ounce gained... Did we hand this girl an eating disorder?

By the way, Rachel wasn't the only one that flirted on the maybe too thin side. Runner-up Bobby looked like he had perhaps lost a wee too much too.

Only time will tell.

Did you see the show?




Jen said...

I didn't see the weigh in, but I did see the final three in their dress clothes. I thought Rachel looked great. She may be a bit thin but I thought she her over all appearance was healthy. She certainly wasn't gaunt. I don't know how tall she is. . . I'd say she would look better with some muscle and maybe that will happen. I do hope she doesn't have a disorder and I hope that she doesn't put it back on. I wish her the best of luck.

Starr said...

I've read that contestants put 20-30 lb of water weight back on the second they're not competing, so I doubt she'll stay at this low weight. However, I, too, was disturbed by how thin she got. Most winners lose 50-55% of their body weights, and she exceeded that.

Z@KickingKilos said...

I have always wanted to watch the BL series but it does not air here in India. I am going to google it and see her. But her weightloss does seem very dramatic!!!

Allison D. R. said...

I don't watch BL but happened to tune in towards the end of the episode last night. I saw the 1st guy weigh-in, then watched Rachel come out. She and I started at the exact same weight, and I think I'd look like a skeleton at 105 pounds. She's 3" shorter than me which might balance her out more, but even the BMI charts have her as underweight.

On one hand, if she's happy and healthy, good for her. On the other, I worry she might set an unhealthy level of expectations for people watching the show and working to lose weight. Googling her name and finding several references to her "wonderful weight loss" on pro-ana sites just confirmed my worries.

Jennifer K. said...

I've never seen more than about three minutes of the show, so maybe I'm not understanding why there was such shock here....aren't Bob and Jillian the trainers? Didn't they see this happening over the weeks she was with them? She didn't get that thin overnight. I'm not getting the surprise.

One Crazy Penguin said...

I used to watch the show, but I felt like it went from realistic-ish and inspiring to obsessive. It's not healthy and it's not something that the majority of contestant can maintain. They've showed that time and time again.

kellygreen514 said...

I think she looks too thin. And if she had developed an eating disorder she wouldn't be the first BL contestant to do so (Google Kai from season 3 to read about her struggles post show). The thing is, they take these people who already have an unhealthy relationship with food, and turn it upside down. No matter how you twist it, loosing that much weight, that quickly, is just not safe.

Michelle said...

She looked too thin to me - I would imagine 105 would be hard to hold on to as she gains more least that's my hope.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Too thin. There are so many pictures out there that show her gaunt, no muscle. It's not right. And yes she'll gain some of it back but what did she gain from the experience? * maybe an eating disorder? * maybe an unhealthy view of what is healthy. I mean she won a contest and people celebrated her on tv and now she'll have to face the implications of gaining weight back and how that will mess with her head.

Elle said...

I thought she looked pretty thin as well but my hope is that it was only to win and get the money and all the fame and endorsements that follow. I think if she put on a few pounds over the next couple of months she will look and feel awesome. But that is just my first reaction. Who knows really what is in her head and how she feels about it all. I thought this season was so much better... only 2 votes, and lots of hard work.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

Well, we know they all gain some weight back. The time it takes to lose all of that weight while on the show and at home for the big finale is unrealistic to maintain if one has a regular life, i.e. work, school, kids... unless $250k supports that new "healthy" habit. I think she looks gaunt, almost bobble-headish, but that's my opinion. I'll have to watch the episode on demand now to seethe reactions ffirsthand. I didn't watch this season. I tuned in for the 1st 1 or 2 episodes, but b/c they were an hour long, I just didn't connect with the contestants. I'm glad another woman won, but not if it's going to perpetuate unrealistic ideals.

Lynne said...

I think she looked great for the triathlon show, but the finale was SHOCKING and Bob and Jillian's reaction said it all. Scary. Her arms were bones?! She was a competitive swimmer... Where are her muscles? Her arms and shoulders used to be so defined, something I envy, but now she looks like Nancy Reagan... SAD