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Motivation Articles  ›  Staying Motivated

6 ''Biggest Loser'' Lessons to Unlearn

Leave This Advice in the Living Room

-- By Jason Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer
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3. They are often overtraining. Behind the scenes, participants are closely monitored by physicians and trainers to make sure they can hold up to the rigors of training. All, if not most, of the participants go from zero fitness activity to training every day for hours. In the controlled environment of the campus, they can rest optimally, eat optimally, and recover optimally. But this isn't a good training philosophy for the everyday person. In essence, they go from inactive to athlete, but that can be dangerous for many people, inviting injuries, pain, and health risks. The best bet is to start slowly increase the intensity, duration and frequency over time. Even then, no one person needs to exercise for hours a day. Allow your body the time it needs to adjust to workloads and remember that there is more to life than fitness.

4. They rely on trainers. At nearly every workout, Bob or Jillian tells the "losers" what to do, when to do it, how often to do it, and how long to do it. It sure would be easy to reach your goals if you had a trainer standing over you, motivating you, and forcing you to work harder than you would on your own, right? I believe in personal training (heck, I am a trainer!) but you don’t need a personal trainer to be successful. For my clients, I teach them how to exercise and then to let them go. A dependent relationship between client and trainer is not a good idea. SparkPeople has all the tools and resources you need to work out, get motivated, and lose weight on your own!

5. They give up their favorite foods. When voting in the elimination room, the contestants can be seen sitting in front of back-lit coolers full of treats, which represent their favorite foods. The show doesn’t come right out and say this, but it seems to imply that you must give up all “contraband” to lose weight. This is unrealistic, not to mention boring. In reality, you can enjoy your favorite treats from time to time—just not all the time. Trainer Bob even said once that you can have dessert once per week. Food should be enjoyable, and even when losing weight you should allow yourself to eat delicious foods that you like. Saying "no" to everything sugary, doughy, fried or fatty will set you up for failure. Like many things in life, healthy eating is all about moderation.
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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.

Member Comments

  • Glad to read this. Totally agree and personally find the show distasteful. I think it should also be said that the participants are specially chosen, partly due to their body composition and likelyhood to quickly loose fat w this type of method. Not all methods work for everyone .

    - 2/8/2014 10:02:22 PM
  • I agree with NancyAnne. I think it sets a bad and unrealistic example of how to approach weight loss and gain a healthy lifestyle. - 2/8/2014 7:42:15 PM
  • Contraband. Imagine SP calling some foods contraband.

    If the average person tried to set themselves up to that standard, they'd be set up for certain failure.

    Good article. This article is something that needed to be said. - 2/8/2014 12:29:41 PM
  • I'm glad to see someone at SparkPeople say this, because it's what I've thought for a long time. The people who run this show are trying to put together an entertaining TV show, not educate the public or optimize life for any of the participants.

    I have seen people who believe that their only chance for a normal weight is to get on the show and have their lives seized and made over by an outside force. The real "reality" is just the opposite--finding the strength from within to persist with gaining a healthy lifestyle. - 2/8/2014 11:56:36 AM
  • While this article makes some very valid and well-worded points, it was obviously written a few years ago. (8 seasons? Ha!) Since then former contestants have come out and said that the weeks are more than a calendar week, especially in the beginning (so they have more time to lose weight), that many people are dehydrating and using laxatives before weigh-ins, and that they are basically starving themselves. Between that and the obvious set-up drama, I stopped watching the show. While it can be motivating in some ways, I think it sets a bad and unrealistic example for the most part. - 2/8/2014 11:51:49 AM
  • I was so afraid this was going to be a bashing of truths making me squirm. It was a very well put article of things we should be learning or have learned on this journey to a healthier lifestyle. I loved this. It is a fun show and like all tele shows (reality based or not) it's just not real. LOL

    thanks for sharing.

    My favorite tip is "competing against yourself and not others" I do feel bad about the contestants feeling about about these great weight loss against someone else, but it's also a game. hard to mix the two. - 2/8/2014 11:09:08 AM
  • JENNAAW
    I stopped watching BL early on because it made me feel awful to see the pain the contestants often were put to. I think a lot of reality shows are staged and faked, but I felt the pain these contestants were in was too real and something too hard to fake. I know people who have been in boot camp type situations, and humiliation and lots of pain did not improve them. - 2/8/2014 8:28:00 AM
  • JENNAAW
    Very good to see this article! It validates what I felt about the show. I know from where I speak; a lifetime of trying to lose weight. I identified every single one of those points before reading this. Thanks! - 2/8/2014 8:25:01 AM
  • I agree with everything you said. My doctor recently told me just about the same thing. You have a great, clean writing style. I hope to read more of your articles. Thanks! - 2/7/2014 9:20:29 PM
  • MMMCITRUSY
    "The Biggest Loser" is also incredibly dehumanizing and abusive to participants. One of the former winners has even come out saying that being on the show gave her an eating disorder. Most of the contestants gain all the weight back and then some. It promotes the idea that thinness at any cost is healthy and desirable, it enforces the stigma against fat people, that they are lazy, slovenly, less than humans who deserve to be berated and abused for our entertainment. It's possibly the worst show on TV. Here's a great article about it: http://jezebel.co
    m/freaked-out
    -by-rachel-fr
    edrickson-s-b
    iggest-loser-win-1518433744 - 2/7/2014 8:55:19 PM
  • Well written article. Thank-you. - 2/7/2014 5:26:56 PM
  • So true! If someone cooked for me and stood over me yelling at me to train, I would be half the person I am size-wise. But, as stressful as it gets, I would rather have a LIFE!
    - 2/7/2014 4:48:48 PM
  • Thank you for putting it back into perspective. It would be easier to lose weight under those conditions - but I'd rather eat right on my own and teach my children about portion size and that "healthy' food can also taste good!

    Great article! - 2/7/2014 12:40:26 PM
  • Thank you for this article! I've only seen a few episodes of the show and always wondered why they would promote such unrealistic goals and situations. Well, other than for ratings!

    My biggest hope for them is that they come away from the show using the drastic measures as a jump start and continue on with their healthy and happy lives! - 2/7/2014 10:55:53 AM
  • I am incredibly happy with a half pound a week! It's a lot easier to take it off and keep it off that way. - 2/7/2014 10:37:50 AM