Guest Post: Why I Don’t Like “The Biggest Loser”


I’ve decided not to watch this season of “The Biggest Loser.” I posted about my frustrations with the show here.

Today my friend Heidi posted this on Facebook. I found it to be so perfect, I asked her permission to share it here. Permission granted, so here you go.

Why I Don’t Like “The Biggest Loser”

by Heidi Nieland Hall

Little known fact: I was once so desperate to lose weight, I applied to appear on “The Biggest Loser” with a friend. The application form was priceless. It was mostly aimed at trying to figure out how grotesquely fat I was and how much of a character I’d be on national television.

I was tipping the scales at 382 pounds. I thought the only way to stop overeating would be on a ranch in the middle of nowhere with some celebrity trainer — who’s probably never been so much as 10 pounds overweight — screaming at me. I called that “accountability.” Never mind that I’d had “accountability” in the same weight-loss program that I ultimately quit five times in five cities. That I’d tried three different prescription medications. That I’d made deal after deal with my poor husband that I’d lose the weight.

Luckily, “The Biggest Loser” didn’t take my friend or me. He’s subsequently gone on to lose at least 70 pounds by healthy eating and exercise, and as far as I know, he never had to cry because he “only” lost 3 pounds in a week and was letting his team down. Neither did I.

Today, “The Biggest Loser” makes me very sad, and I refuse to watch. Because I know that, for me, shame, guilt and humiliation in front of a national audience has nothing to do with weight loss. When I commented something to that effect on a friend’s post, a stranger came back with this screed, in a series of four messages: “Typical. Weight loss motivation by osmosis. Can’t be any more weaker motivation for doing nothing.” “Humiliation is part and parcel of competition. Coming off second best. That’s life, kiddos!” … Then he went on to post dictionary definitions of “competition.”

Also this morning, I awoke to find an absolutely gorgeous — but overweight — friend of mine received an insult about her problem. And after she reached out for support, someone replied to her, “God also wants you to be Healthy, live long and continue to inspire others…, for a longer period than you may be willing…”

I agree with his statement, but telling a friend that she’s unwilling to lose weight the way God would like her to is not helpful.

I’m going to let you folks who have never been morbidly obese in on a little something:

Fat people know we are fat. You don’t need to tell us. We may make self-deprecating jokes or post on here [Facebook] about food or weight, but that doesn’t mean we are unaware that it’s a problem. Every day, every hour, society makes us aware it’s a problem. And if that’s not enough, our painful feet and knees, tight clothes and other issues make us aware.

For many of us, it is more complicated than finding the right diet. If you’ve never had the issue, you’ll never understand, so please stop talking (or posting) to us about it. There has to come a time where we are absolutely willing to address it, and you cannot hurry that along with well-meaning ribbing, inspirational quotes or outright insults.

How you can help is by modeling healthy eating in your own life, providing us with healthy options in your homes and loving us despite our outward appearance. A friend recently invited me to work out with her instead of inviting me for cocktails. That was helpful.

And to the stranger who needed to define “competition” for me. Honey, I know what the word means. I just don’t think it belongs in a conversation about losing 100 pounds. Bless your heart.

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