I have a confession to make.
I’ve been watching the Biggest Loser this season.
I blame Marie. Marie, a contestant on the show, is from my hometown of Springfield, Missouri. I tuned into the first episode out of curiosity. My first impression was she was going to go home early. I tuned in next week to see if my prediction was correct. It wasn’t. So I continued to tune in every Wednesday afternoon (via the NBC app on my phone) while I did my treadmill intervals. Then I got hooked.
As a fitness professional, I am normally not a big fan of the Biggest Loser. I think it sets up unrealistic expectations for weight loss. There should be nothing disappointing about losing 4 pounds in a “week” (there is debate about how long the TV weeks are). The show can also make my job harder because it may be the only impression potential clients have of personal trainers and their behavior. For the record, I have NEVER made anyone puke nor have I ever jumped on a client’s back. That may make good television but most people don’t respond well to it in real life.
As I watched each week’s workouts and weigh in, I did see that there are some redeeming qualities to the show. If you look past the shameless product placement there are some important lessons one can learn about getting fit in the Real World.
- You will lose a lot of weight in the first couple of weeks then hit the skids.
When you cut out the sugar and starch you will lose a lot of water. This accounts for the big numbers in the first couple of weeks. Then your weight loss will slow down. And that’s okay. Slow and steady may not help you win a game show but the weight is more likely to stay off if you keep your weekly loss between .5 -2 pounds per week.
- You have to find your WHY.
Everyone has a different reason for being on the ranch. Everyone has something deep and personal pushing them through the intense workouts and separation from their families. This journey takes a lot of work. Changing a lifetime of habits is extremely hard. You need something driving you each day that really means something to you. Without your WHY you won’t make it very far.
- Your body will do what it wants, when it wants and how it wants.
Hap and Tonya have both stood on the scale with baffled expressions when the numbers were “small”. Their trainers backed up their proclamations of hard work. Yet the numbers don’t reflect it. Fat loss is not a perfect science. Weight loss is not linear. Most importantly, fat loss and weight loss are also not the same. Their bodies are changing just not in a way that shows up on the scale. They shouldn’t be disappointed and neither should you when the scale doesn’t drop. Focus on how your pants fit or how much longer you can hold your plank.
- There is power in numbers.
Having a support system is a huge secret to their weight loss. On the ranch they are surrounded by people on the same journey. They have experts at their disposal for food and fitness questions. They have a solid support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help on your journey. Surround yourself with those who share your values of health and fitness.
- At the end of the day, the only person you can really depend on is yourself.
In the last episode before the holiday hiatus the teams dissolved. Now it was time for each player to stand on his or her own. Eventually you too have to take responsibility for your journey and your actions. So what if someone brought donuts to work? It’s your choice if you eat them. So what if your workout partner canceled? You can still go to the gym or do a workout at home. All results are tied to the choices YOU make.
What do you think? Are you a Biggest Loser fan? What lessons have you learned from the show – good or bad?