I am sure you have seen the uproar that surrounded the finale of the show The Biggest Loser. In case you are unfamiliar with the show, they essentially take 15+ contestants who are morbidly obese and help them to shed jaw dropping amounts of weight over the course of 16 weeks – and even compete over who can lose the largest percentage of weight. The final three then get to go home for a few weeks before reappearing live on the grand finale for one final weigh in and the chance to win $250,000.
This season’s winner, a contestant named Rachel, had become one of the shows “favorites” with her bright beautiful smile, amazing determination, and champions spirit. She won the Biggest Loser Triathalon to secure her spot in the finale as America cheered. At the live finale, everyone anxiously awaited her grand debut. What we saw however was jaw dropping – as the show is known for – but this time out of concern and fear for her health more than admiration and applause. Rachel had lost so much weight that her features appeared sunken in, her bones protruded, and she looked downright frail… Rachel was down to 105 pounds – a 155 pound weight loss in less than seven months.
The uproar was immediate – Twitter all but exploded and the trainers Facebook pages became inundated with both nasty messages and messages of real concern. People questioned her health, insinuated an eating disorder, blamed the show, blamed the trainers…
For me however, it was like an epiphany.
For the last year I have been focused on my weight, and I have let it control a huge part of my life. You will know what the scale said in the morning based on whether I am happily bouncing around or walking around looking like I could kick the cat. I have worked my body out to total exhaustion – literally making myself sick. I have worked out to the point that I would rather have someone else brush my teeth than to have to raise my aching arms that high. I have been grouchy beyond measure because I was either hungry or mentally tearing myself down because I had indulged on a meal that I knew wasn’t the healthiest choice. I have eaten enough grilled chicken to make my worry I might sprout feathers.
In short – I have been completely miserable, given myself an unhealthy body image, and shattered a good bit of my self esteem.
One of the common complaints I saw on Facebook was from Moms who were watching the finale with their teenage daughters, and they quickly changed the channel to make sure their daughters did not see people celebrating and rewarding such a sickly looking frame. I – watching with both of my daughters and Mike – instead turned it into a discussion about how the scale truly doesn’t matter. And we all collectively agreed that none of us ever – EVER – want to be that thin.
My hope is that Rachel will re-emerge in a few weeks having put back on about 20 pounds of lean, healthy muscle mass. In my eyes she is still very much a champion, and maybe even more so than the others because she clearly did what she needed to do to secure her winnings – possibly at the expense of her health. But to me, the concept of the show is to blame for that – not the trainers, and not Rachel. She is a competitor, and she knows what it takes to win.
As for me, it is time to give it a rest. I have taken off my FitBit. I have put my scale in the garage. I have turned off MyFitnessPal.
I know what choices I need to make to be healthier, and I know what makes me feel good, and what makes me feel bad. My focus will be more on the former than the latter – and not on the number on the scale – but also to quit worrying so damn much. No more obsessing. No more exhaustion. No more beating myself up.
For months I have been staring at the same couple of numbers on the scale – hating myself a little more each day because the number has not changed – no matter what I have done. However watching that finale, I realized that I will never be as committed as Rachel was… and that is perfectly okay.
So Thank you Biggest Loser for giving me some perspective.