A while back, I got rid of my cable subscription, leaving me with Netflix and Hulu. I really don’t have the time to watch anything live on TV, but sometimes I run out of things to watch. When I do, I skim through the services I have on my Apple TV to find something entertaining (or really just to serve as background noise while I do work on the couch), and I found myself binge-watching The Biggest Loser.
Even though it has been around for a while, I had never seen an episode. I knew the basic premise but had no idea it would make me think so hard and get so emotional. As the contestants had breakdowns about how hard it was to meet their goals, I cried. As they weighed in, I cried. As the winner got up on the scale for the last time and was showered in confetti, I cried. I thought about my own journey, successes, failures, and everything between, thinking, “I get it.”
I read a recent New York Times article about the contestants after the show is over, and it was really interesting to learn about their daily habits (exercising for most of the day and the rest of it spent obsessing over food/preparing it), but more importantly how much harder it is for these folks to continue to lose weight or even maintain what they’ve lost. Even without reading this article, The Biggest Loser made me realize a lot about myself and the world I’ve built around me.
1. Change is good. In the season I watched, contestants who were eliminated were sent into a limo, thinking they were heading home and that their chance at weight loss and changing their life was over. But, surprise twist! They were driven to a smaller gym, with one trainer, given one last chance to face off head-to-head with the challenger who was the “king” at the time, meaning they lost more weight than their competitor and truly eliminated them from the competition. This gave the contestant a new exercise routine, and most of them saw jaw-dropping results, especially compared to the week before. It’s easy to follow the same schedule every day, but then you might get stuck.
2. You can’t always win. Many of the contestants went home saying “I did everything right, it just wasn’t my week.” I find myself saying that all the time. “I did everything right! I ate perfectly and exercised every day! Why am I not where I want to be?” Turns out, it happens. Even when you have total control over the food you’re eating and celebrity trainers working you day in and day out.
3. Someone needs to push you. These contestants were doing CRAZY things that I don’t think I could ever do. Weird obstacle courses, climbing up sand dunes, running a bazillion miles as a warm up. I have a hard time motivating myself to do most anything – especially working out and running, but these contestants had trainers and others around them, screaming at them to go further, faster, and better. I’ve noticed that running in races is easier than running alone, and that seeing others post their workouts online makes me want to do better. Some people prefer to exercise alone, but we could all use that extra push to make us perform better than we thought we could.
4. I’m not the only one obsessed with my weight. Boy oh boy did this show make me obsess over my weight, but yet I kept watching. Of course it’s the nature of the show, and unsurprising that it’s the number one topic of discussion between contestants and to the camera, but that number dictated their entire life. Sadly, I let the same thing happen to me – and it happens to a lot of people.
If anything, the show gave me a “keep it up” mentality. I don’t exercise for most of my day, and I’m not going to lose 27 pounds in a week (yep, that’s a thing), but I’m not the only one that struggles. The Biggest Loser has a handful of contestants, but thousands of applicants. Thousands of people who are fed up with their body and are even threatening their lives. So, whether you’re a contestant or not, keep it up, and accept that sometimes it won’t go your way.