By now, I’m sure that many of you have heard about the controversy surrounding the latest winner of The Biggest Loser, Rachel Frederickson.
A lot of folks have had something to say about her appearance, her rapid weight loss, and the message that The Biggest Loser and contestants like Rachel are sending to the American public. Some have gone so far as to suggest that she has an eating disorder.
I won’t speculate about this young woman, because I’m not in her shoes. BUT I will say that I think she approached The Biggest Loser like a competitor – this woman came to win. TBL is a competition first and foremost, and while I’m not a fan of the show itself, anyone who knows anything about it is aware that in order to win big you literally have to LOSE BIG. Personally, I don’t think the idea of TBL is the greatest one in the world. Contestants are challenged to lose a HUGE amount of weight in a very, very short period of time. Medical research tells us that healthy weight loss is around 1-2 lbs loss per week. Losing weight this way is easier to maintain because it is gradual, and along the way you are learning healthier practices that will assist you in the long run. But for a tv show like TBL, there’s no excitement in something like a 1-2lb loss per week. Folks want to see huge numbers on a weekly basis, so the show itself has oft been criticized for some less than healthy exercise and eating patterns, with past contestants like Kai Hibbard speaking out against some of the unhealthy practices learned while on the show.
But still…the reaction to Rachel’s dramatic weight loss doesn’t surprise me, because she is REALLY thin. Putting it in perspective though, she was on a show that offered a LOT of money to whoever could lose the most weight. I guess in my head, I figure she played to win, and yea the before and after is SUPER dramatic, but at the end of the day that girl won her money AND lost a good deal of weight. Will she gain some back? Possibly, probably…I know that a lot of us are hoping so. Either way though, I think what bothers folks the most is that her weight loss is being celebrated while she herself looks so very emaciated. Not much different than what we do with models these days if you ask me. However, we never see the models before hand…most never had an issue with obesity.
When it comes to a bigger person losing weight, I think there is something that people like to call “too thin.” Now…what exactly constitutes as being too thin? If you ask anyone who has lost weight or is in the process of losing, I’m sure they’d give you a different answer. I’ve had people in my circle warn me against becoming too thin, or losing “too much” weight, or even tell me that I’ve lost enough weight already. What does that mean, though? What is it REALLY all about?
I think, for the average person trying to lose weight and be healthier, not only do they have to confront their personal issues with body image and food, but eventually they end up confronting the issues of others around them as well. The bigger you are and the more weight you begin to lose, the more drastic the difference becomes. It’s apparent to those around you that you are doing something healthy and beneficial for yourself. And if I’m laid back doing my same old unhealthy thing while you’re kicking butt, I start to look bad in comparison. Your weight loss journey then pinpoints the inefficiencies of my own personal lifestyles. The better you look, the worse I look in comparison. And so some people in your circle may start to make remarks that sound something like…
“Make sure you don’t get too skinny!”
“You’ve lost enough already, slow it down some!”
“Be careful, you don’t want to become a bobblehead!”
“Men like women with some meat on their bones, don’t go losing your curves!”
And I could go on…and on. But you get my point. I think that people offer up this commentary with the best of intentions, but at the end of the day the journey you’re on is the one YOU are on. For anyone who has ever been overweight, you know what it feels like to get the stares, the backhanded compliments (Oh, you have such a pretty face…), and to feel self conscious where ever you go. Likewise, you will notice that as you start to lose, those around you may be concerned because they don’t want you to lose too much. But “too much” is really between yourself and your medical provider. In the case of TBL, the goal is to lose as much as possible to win the monetary prize at the end. Not all of the past contestants have kept the weight off, but a number of them have been able to maintain the weight since leaving the show. In the real world though, the only incentive for losing weight is to get healthier. There’s no rush or timeline, no big crowds to cheer you on, just the voice within you telling you that it’s time to make a change.
It’s literally all on you.