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Friday, September 7, 2007

The Biggest Loser

Did anyone else watch The Biggest Loser on Tuesday? I'd been meaning to talk about it, but I'm swamped at work and hadn't gotten a chance. Anyway, it annoyed me, but no so much as to put it on notice...

It was this whole show bringing back past contestants and having them get on the scale. They would bring them out, looking all fit and fabulous, talk to them for a bit, show clips of them working out at home and whatever, and then they would say "Did you keep the weight off??" (the whole audience would yell this together) and then they'd get on the scale and be all happy when (surprise!) they had indeed kept the weight off. I found this show to be irritating. Why?

  1. First off, there's no point in acting like there is drama or suspense about whether or not they kept the weight off. Obviously, they did, since they're on the reunion show in the first place. Not to mention that we can PLAINLY see that they are still skinny. This is what I don't understand about weight and that magic number. Has anyone noticed that I share my weight all the time? It's because people can see by looking at me how much I weigh, I'm not fooling anyone.*
  2. Jillian Michaels wasn't on the show, but she's coming back this season supposedly.
  3. I HATE the way they portray people before they've lost the weight. Slow motion black and white style video of someone wearing clothes that don't fit, stuffing a burger into their mouth. Give me a frickin' break. I also hate the "I was so unhappy!! Now I'm so much more happy!" thing. Between 2001 and now, I hit my lowest weight in February/March 2006 and I can tell you for certain that it made absolutely no difference in my happiness. Once again, there's the media/television tying self-worth to weight and it's JUST NOT NECESSARY. Sure, you might feel better, look better, etc, but everything about your life does not rely on whether or not you are thin. If you're searching for happiness, bark up a different tree.
  4. They got rid of Caroline Rhea. I don't know why, I hope it was Caroline's choice. Any insight on this is welcome.
  5. Trainer Kim Lyons was on the show, and the new host (who wasn't skinny and wasn't chunky, but seemed frumpy in the dress she was wearing...) asked her what mistakes people make and Kim went on about Diet Soda and how it has caffeine and therefore you can't hydrate with it. This is crap. I get seriously irritated when an "expert" is on a show giving BS about something and people listen because they think she's right. More on this in a second.
Anyway, after the caffeine comment, I agreed to change the channel back to The Science Channel (we'd been watching an episode of "The Universe" about the Big Bang prior to the Biggest Loser coming on), since Todd was whining and saying "yeah, this was worth changing the channel for". He was right - The Universe was the better programming choice by far. So, ok, I only watched half the show but I was still disappointed.

So, about the caffeine thing... Yes, caffeine is a diuretic. However, the ratio of fluid to caffeine in sodas is enough that you are still getting hydrated from drinking a diet soda over water. What annoys me about telling people otherwise is that now there might be people who attempt to drink water or who try to drink something sugary like gatorade or juice instead. Of course, this is all fine except for the fact that there are people (myself included) who drink much more if they can drink something other than water. I do a lot better with Fruit 2-0 or Propel or Diet Soda than I do with plain water. Sure, water is the absolute best thing, but if you're going to be taking on tons of calories drinking juice or Gatorade or if you're not going to drink anything at all, then GO AHEAD AND DRINK THE DIET SODA. It's not hurting you. Seriously. Heck, I polished off a 32 oz diet Coke while I was typing this. For running, many of us often drink coffee before a run because, damn, we run early. I also have started trying Shot Bloks with caffeine added to them, because you know there's got to be something that will push me through those last 5 miles.

If you wanted to tell me that artificial sweeteners in diet soda might be an issue, I would be tempted to agree with you somewhat. It's tough to really know for certain. I do eat/drink plenty of artificial sweeteners and I do wonder what the affects of that are, but like I said, it's all a balance and hydration and lower calorie consumption is what is most important to me right now. You will hear some people go on about aspartame in particular. I take a lot of this with a grain of salt because it sounds so propaganda-like (I once read a website where someone basically said that aspartame causes pretty much every modern disease... sounds kinda far-fetched...). Still, I keep my eye out for actual evidence about Aspartame, Saccharin & Splenda. I don't have time to find links right now, but if anyone has anything really interesting (and from a reliable source) that they'd like to share, I'd like to see it. Sorry... I can't help but be skeptical when there's so much nonsense out there.

Ok, so that's the rant of the day. Back to work.

Google Answer on Caffeine & Hydration

*As a side note, I have a theory about this - you can't go wrong telling people your weight. There are only three options: a) you weigh exactly what people thought, in which case, what's wrong with that? b) you weigh more than what people thought, in which case, great, you carry your weight well. Good for you!! or, c) you weigh less than what people thought, which should be fine because now you've set them straight. That's my theory anyway. It's more about the fact that it's painfully obvious what I weigh by looking at me and that the number really doesn't mean all that much anyway...


Wacky Neighbor said...

Interestingly, there was an article out a few months ago about how Biggest Loser contestants don't all keep the weight off. The angle was that the show's conditions are so unique - living away from home, people monitoring exactly what you're eating, constant and strenuous exercise - that it's difficult for some to keep the weight off.

I definitely agree that media tends to inflate the role of outward appearance to happiness and self-worth, as does this show to some extent. I do think this show goes a bit further, though - the contestants are generally obese and this show does try to help them feel better about themselves in total - physically, emotionally, psychologically. (I would, however, do away with voting people off - it's a weird mixed message, that the show is here to help people, but if you're the smallest person at the beginning, your team will vote you off because you won't help them win. Does every reality show have to vote people off?)

Lastly, on caffeine - I don't think sodas or coffee will dehydrate you. I tend to find I feel better hydrating before runs with water and Gatorade, but I also drink coffee and regular soda during the week, too. I don't think artificial sweeteners are bad for you, but I do think most taste bad.

Kim said...

If you know where that article is, I'd love to read it. The Biggest Loser is probably the most interesting (to me) reality show out there right now, just because I think that the dynamic is pretty interesting. I agree that it's GOT to be hard to keep the weight off under normal conditions... I'm really glad that last season featured contestants losing weight at home also. Plus, it was interesting to see how the at-home contestants did when they came on the ranch.

Agreed that the contestants are usually obese, etc. I don't know, though... the way they deal with it just rubs me the wrong way. And it's not as bad as The Swan as far as focusing on outward appearance. I saw a show on Discovery Health once that was based on You: The Owners Manual where they raided people's houses and got them into a diet and exercise program, etc, and I think that's a better concept for a health reality show - more like Queer Eye than Survivor, know what I mean?

I don't drink the caffeine before runs either - I can't stomach them at 4:30am... But I do eat the caffeine shot bloks for a pick me up.

Wacky Neighbor said...

I'll look for that article. WoWN might know where it is.

The Swan was garbage. Some of the things they did were good (for example, one woman had been very overweight, lost a lot of it, but was left with very saggy skin around her stomach) but most of it was heinous. They made these women feel so bad about how they looked, built them up so much after the surgery, and then threw them back into a competition based on looks. Ye gods. (Not to mention that the plastic surgeons and hosts were very negative about the one woman who decided to forgo most of her surgery (only some facial surgery, mainly a nose job) and gave up tummy tucks, lipo, etc. Of course, when it came time for the reveal, she was in the best shape because her recovery time had been spent working out and she looked really good ... and she then lost to the other girls.

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