Motivation Articles

8 Lessons from ''The Biggest Loser''

Advice to Take Away from the Show

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They say that people love a winner. Well, I love losers! In October 2004, NBC introduced the reality show called "The Biggest Loser." Today, after completing its fifth season, it is a fan favorite. The show features individuals, couples, and — coming next season — families, who sign on to get fit and lose weight. These individuals are assigned to weight loss teams (and trainers) and then compete to see who can lose the most weight and the title, "The Biggest Loser." Although there's only one winner in the end, all participants change their bodies and their lives and become winners by becoming losers, too.

The transformations that occur on the show are nothing short of extraordinary. The biggest losers of all typically drop more than 100 pounds by the end of the 12-week period and many go on to lose even more. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, these folks morph into totally different people thanks to their newfound lifestyles. As a personal trainer myself, it gives me great satisfaction to see them succeed and to recapture a healthy body, mind and spirit. It is not just a physical transformation, but a mental one as well.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about the show is that it offers so many lessons, whether you're striving to live a healthier lifestyle, make exercise a habit, or reach a healthy weight. Here are eight realizations that I think are worth noting:

1. You shouldn't go it alone. Do you think that the contestants would be as successful if they went at it alone? In season five, for example, the Blue Team was a serious force to be reckoned with. Roger, Mark, Jay, and Dan seemed to never lose a challenge or a weigh-in. Did you notice how they supported and encouraged each other to push harder, work out longer, and stick to their diets? The support and camaraderie they exhibited definitely helped them succeed as often as they did.

Lesson: There is strength in numbers. Doing everything by yourself can be lonely and discouraging. But having a buddy — or a team of supporters — can help you to stick to it when the going gets tough. Instead of just going solo on the treadmill or bike, consider taking a group fitness class or joining a team sports league. When you need a word of encouragement, post on the Message Boards or join a SparkTeam here at SparkPeople!

2. Your attitude matters. The wrong group can drain your motivation and energy. Did you notice the Black Team in season five? Granted, they were fighting an uphill battle and constantly facing the elimination room, but they were so down in the dumps that they often reminded me of a group of Eeyores. That negative energy could have contributed, on some level, to their constant struggles.

Lesson: Surround yourself with positive people. A fitness buddy with a negative attitude isn't fun to hang around, and that can be detrimental to your workouts and your consistency. And if you find that the negative attitude is coming from you, chances are you won’t stick with it. Change your perspective and stay positive for good results!

3. You won't always see results. It happens every season — some of the participants actually GAIN weight instead of losing. Whenever they'd stand on that scale, only to see the numbers pop up as a “plus” instead of a “negative,” I wanted to cry with them! But just like ups and downs are part of the show, they're a reality for the rest of us, too.

Lesson: Losing weight isn't as simple as a mathematical equation. Sure you need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight, but even when you do everything right, sometimes it just doesn't work out that way. Is it frustrating? You bet! But when it happens, all you can do is accept it and continue on. Trust that your efforts will show eventually. Remember, that even when the scale doesn't budge, your efforts are making a difference. Try to focus on other ways to measure your progress — like how you feel, your health improvements, and how your clothes fit. If all else fails, take steps to bust through your plateau!

4. You have to train your brain. Bob and Jillian know that exercise and training will reshape the body. But they are great at training the contestants mentally too. Along the course of the show, they all learn to believe in themselves. Whether they make it to the end or get eliminated along the way, most of the "losers" say the same thing: What they had accomplished on the campus had previously been nothing more than a dream.

Lesson: Believe in yourself! When you're out of shape and overweight, it's easy to beat yourself up and lose confidence. But you don't need Bob or Jillian in your back pocket to change that. With every small step you take towards your goals, your confidence will build. With every goal you achieve, your self-esteem with sky-rocket. The key is to just start. It's always better to try—even if you mess up along the way — than to never try at all.

5. You have to change your lifestyle. The participants on the show understand that this is a complete lifestyle overhaul— a total transformation for life, not a diet for a little while. No matter how hard they work or how much weight they lose while on campus, it will come back if they revert back to their old habits at home.

Lesson: There are no quick fixes. Getting healthy and managing your weight it is not a temporary thing. It's a series of day-to-day, meal-by-meal choices that you have to stick with for the long haul.

6. You have to work hard. Sometimes when I'd watch the Teams work out I'd think, "Their trainers are heartless!" In reality, those trainers know that weight loss takes hard work. You see them exercise when they have nothing left, choose the healthy foods even though they'd rather have their favorite comfort foods, and even leave their families for weeks at a time — these things are not for the faint of heart.

Lesson: It won't always be easy. Lots of people want to lose weight, but most aren't willing to pay the price or make sacrifices to get there. You will not be successful with a half-hearted effort or by looking for shortcuts or the easy way out.

7. You can have fun! I always enjoy watching different challenges each week. Although they were often physical, they're not what I'd consider traditional exercise: trying to stay on a moving escalator the longest; running and placing empty soda cans from one bin to another; or traversing a ravine on a zip line.

Lesson: Boredom will kill your exercise routine. Mix it up and keep your body guessing and keep it fun. Instead on going to the gym for a mindless half hour on the stairclimber (more like the “stairmonster”), get outside and do some hiking or biking. Forgo the weight machines one day and head to a playground to swing from the monkey bars, climb, jump, run and LAUGH!

8. You have to be consistent. No matter how much the show changes from season to season, one thing is always clear. Those who lose the biggest are consistent. They make healthy eating and exercise part of their daily lives — even after they go home. And even when they encounter setbacks along the way, they don't give up.

Lesson: Consistency is key. No matter how close (or far) you are from your goal — or even if you're there already — the habits you learn along the way have to continue if you're to be successful in the long term.

Who would have thought that watching people sweat, exercise, grimace, and go through the rigors of losing weight could be so fun? Here’s to all the losers, and to hoping you can use this advice to be a loser, too!

Editor's Note: SparkPeople.com is not affiliated with "The Biggest Loser" or NBC.

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Member Comments

  • Guess why there's no Biggest Loser reunion show? Almost all of them gained the weight back! SparkPeople, you need to retire this outdated article. The show is (was? is it still on? I don't watch TV anymore) unrealistic, unhealthy, and downright dangerous.
  • The weeks are not true weeks. One week can be a month for the contestants. One of the contestants already educated the public on this. Also, this article is quite old. If 2004 was season 1 then 5 years later would be season 6, 2009....This article is being posted as if it is new. Today is October 9th 2015. I don't know how old these comments are, but the post is super old. And Jillian is no longer a trainer, and either is Bob! Just sayin'. I realize some of the advise on the show is good, but the way they train is completely unsafe. That is why Kim Lyons quit the show. She refused to put overweight people on a treadmill that had never exercised before on level 12 on their first day because of injury possibilities.
  • ETHELMERZ
    This show may be interesting, but the reality of it would be a show with all the people who have been on it before, showing that most of them have not been able to keep the lost weight off............wh
    ich is REAL LIFE. It's one thing to get away from your job and family and just think about yourself and losing weight, but a whole different ballgame when you go back to daily life, with all of it's ups and downs, and you discover that eating is one of the things in life that keeps you going, day in and day out. The "experts" don't like to tell you that dirty little secret, though.
  • I think it was season 7 that got me started loosing weight after watching the show for a few years.

    Saying that loosing 100 LBS in 12 weeks is unrealistic go and search for "where are they now" and see how 12 winners have got on. only one put back the weight.

    I still learn something from the show most weeks and that is what keeps me motivated.
  • COOKEDBOOK
    The points the article brings up are fine, but holding up a reality (not really reality) TV show as an example is disengenious.
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  • Losing 100+ pounds in 12 weeks is completely unrealistic and dangerous. I love the show due to the motivational aspect, but truly... those people probably end up putting the weight back on, plus some. It's actually very unhealthy.
  • CAROLCLINE
    I think the biggest looser is ok but I also believe they are a little severe on the person, I would not enjoy this, I will continue at almost 69 years of age to do spark people, listen to my doctor, go to curves regular, plus other excerises, and pray about these things.
  • I understand the concerns that are voiced here but some of you need to calm down a bit. It is a fun show and I really connect with a lot of the contestant's stories. Is this the way most people are going to lose weight? Heck no! Is it the best way? Heck no! But it is an option/an opportunity for some people.

  • PUGGLEMONKEY
    Sorry, find the show not only unrealistic but dangerous as well. People who, like myself, have health conditions (for me it is bad knees and arthritis) could not and should not exercise 8+ hours a day. Can we say repetitive stress injuries and/or permanent damage? My ortho doc told me that very overweight people should not do high impact exercises until their weight is close to healthy range. He said that many people like those on TBL will have permanent damage and will certainly pay the price when they get older. I suppose that is good for the hip/knee replacement industry, but how will they keep the weight off then?
  • AMBERT27
    I love this! I understand the arguments people have against this show being unrealistic but I think the underlying theme is that you CAN change your life if you want to and you commit to you. You may not be able to go to the BL Ranch and workout 8 hours a day for 12 weeks so it might take you longer to lose the weight, but you can lose the weight if you work hard and stay consistent.
  • I am so motivated by the Biggest Loser! I love watching the transformations in the contestants and the seeing them keep going even when they want to quit always makes me keep going!
  • MEEMEEOF5
    I have been watching The Biggest Loser for three years. I find it very interesting. It helps me see that someone really over weight can lose. The trainers do work them really hard. But they have agreed to have a trainer that they know is going to push them. I have really enjoyed watching and hope that there are a lot more shows to come, because I feel like it has helped a lot of people not only on the show, but all of us that are watching. It gives a lot of good points of being healthier.
  • I find that show to be dangerous and very unrealistic !
    Has there been anyone on there with say a bad heart condition that desperately needs to loose weight?
    Has there been anyone on there that is handicapped?
    Is there anyone on there that is up in age and in poor health?

    Of course not, doesn't make for a good show ! Afterall, who would She have to yell at to keep going till they almost pass out? How can you have a handicapped person push a football dummy across the field.? Wouldn't be good for the ratings.

    This show doesn't care about the person...it's about the ratings.
    How many people love to sit at home drinking beers, and watch a fat person being yelled at? These people have had enough strangers stare at them, call them names, tell them they are good for nothing, that they don't know how to do anything right ! Why does it have to be done again in front of the world?

    I guess it makes it alright since they are being paid to be treated this way...that in itself proves how little self -respect they already have for themselves..now a bunch of other people are going to drive it home.

    What is the main TRUTH about this show --You are a good for nothing, worthless person who deserves no respect...UNLESS YOU ARE THIN!!!
  • -BENI-
    I'm surprised this trainer is talking about this show being great. Isn't this the show that has people losing large amounts of weight quickly?
    I don't like the show. Yes, I like seeing people lose weight. But what MANY doctors, trainers, dieticians, and nutritionist fail to learn from their clients is people just don't put weight on because they are hungry or like food. There is always a "reason" for the weight gain. THAT needs to be addressed as well as changing the diet. If you just change the diet and not the issue then the weight will come back on as it has for even the Biggest Losers.
    There was one time I did see the show and they showed a doctor talking to a young girl, he was getting into the emotional side but then it cut to commercial and when it came back they were in the weight room with the Jillian and Bob yelling and insulting the contestant. Just what a person with low self esteem issues needs.
    Sorry, don't like the show and disappointed this trainer talks about it.
    Not to mention half of us can't afford trainers anyhow.
  • I'm appalled that this article is appearing on Spark People. TBL is a horrible show, and we don't hear from more of the contestants because they are afraid of being sued. SP should not publish this garbage. A mere disclaimer at the bottom doesn't prevent this some looking like SP endorses TBL.

    Color me disappointed.

About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

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