The Biggest Loser is back! I hope!

All right, if you haven’t seen the results from this season’s Biggest Loser, be warned I will be revealing the latest winner in this post. I figure it’s now Wednesday and she has been hitting the talk shows, so I’m not going to apologize for anything I reveal.

You’ve been warned. 🙂

I remember when the show first started, I was curious about it. I wasn’t sure about the title, I mean, what kind of message was THAT sending? But I tuned in, and I found that I was hooked. This was a reality show I could get behind because while I knew there was a lot of editing, you actually saw the contestants changing their lives. It was so much more than “seven strangers picked to live in a house” or people dropped off in some remote place where they had to eat bugs and stuff to survive. These were people actively working to improve their lives. And so even if they lost the game, they hopefully were winning.

Of course, it’s not always that clear cut. Some have gained at least some of their weight back. Some weren’t ready for the changes and couldn’t cut it. But others have. Look at Tara – now an Ironman. Look at Olivia. Just a couple of the examples of the people who have truly embraced what they learned and the switch-flip that occurred in them.

Not many know this (I cold have used this in that 5 things post actually!), but I actually went to an open call for the show when I was living in Northern Virginia. I didn’t make it out of that round. I think I was too small for them for one thing – that was a season with some REALLY big people ultimately – and who knows what else. I was kind of disappointed at the time, but looking back, I’m glad I wasn’t chosen because I wasn’t ready to change yet. Not in that way. I had enough going on – I was in the process of coming out to myself and others, I was in transition between jobs, the timing wasn’t right, and I don’t think any changes I’d have made had I been chosen would have stuck.

But when I did make the decision to get in shape, when the switch finally flipped in me, I used the show for motivation myself. I didn’t consciously begin exercising as a result of the show, but the fact that I started all this with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred shows that clearly something was getting through to me. As my weight loss continued – I was using MyFitnessPal at the time – I confess I often used Elizabeth as my measuring stick. She was pretty regularly struggling with things, and I took a lot of pride in working and matching or even beating her loss, knowing that “a week” in production time wasn’t necessarily a week in real-time – and that she was working out a ton more than I could ever do working full-time. And I pretty much always did meet or exceed her loss.

I looked forward to each season – to seeing what new things I’d learn, what new tips I might pick up. I would often try the recipes that would be shown (and later put up on the website). I liked rooting for the contestants I felt like I was getting to know a little about. Were there contestants I didn’t like? Sure. There are always going to be people in life that we don’t like. But overall, even those people I was able to be happy to see them make changes in their lives.

And then last season happened.

I have never seen a less likable group of contestants than last season – with Conda and her brother leading the way. They all acted like spoiled brats – the strike just being the finishing touch on that image – and no one seemed to be in it for the right reasons. And then we had the Bob and Dolvett Alpha Dog competition. With it being just the two of them, the testosterone was flowing big time, and I have to wonder how much of the image we got of the contestants and the attitude the contestants displayed came down to the Alpha Dog competition. I suspect it was a circle where both things fed off each other. But at any rate, I quit watching before the strike and honestly didn’t care who “won” as I don’t think the changes any of them made will be lasting. (I’d love to see them prove me wrong. Seriously.) I was pretty much done with the show if that was how it was going to be.

And then two things changed my mind when I started hearing things about this season.

One ~ There were going to be kids involved. They always talk about the childhood obesity epidemic, and now finally they were going to address it head on. And I was curious to see how they were going to do it, involving the kids while not having them on the ranch full-time and not eliminating them.

And Two ~ Jillian was coming back. Now, I have my issues with her – the whole GoDaddy thing makes me want to barf the company is so sexist and gross in their ads is but one issue – but I do think she knows what she’s doing in terms of exercise. I’ve seen the results first-hand. And I do like a lot of the way she handles things – and I get that we’re only seeing what they want us to see (they being the producers) and that there are hours she spends with the contestants that we don’t see. But as a bonus, I hoped that her being back would break up the Alpha Dog competition. Or at least make it three-way and hopefully dilute it so the contestants didn’t feed off of it so much.

So I tuned in. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Other than the girl who left voluntarily the first week, they all seemed to genuinely want to be there and make changes. And other than the quitter (who based on what we saw AND based on what Jillian said on her podcast probably shouldn’t have ever made it past all the screenings anyway), there really wasn’t a contestant I didn’t like. I was annoyed by Pam at times, but once things started clicking with her, I was ok with her shenanigans. This was the first time I could honestly say I would be happy with whoever won, because I think all of them were there for the right reasons and were truly changing their lives for good.

I think we got a good variety of workout examples this season, and I loved the “teen room” punishment (or was it a challenge? I know the losing team from the challenge had to go in there) where Bob turned it around and showed them a way to make isolation like that work for them (the playing card thing was GENIUS). And I really appreciate that they didn’t force the contestants to run a marathon this season. I’m a runner, and weirdly I love marathons, but I know they’re not for everyone. And I know how much training goes into it, and I cannot imagine doing that training well while doing all the other things they’re doing on the ranch. Also? Even though they’ve been working at getting fit and healthy, not all the contestants were really at the point where they should have been doing a marathon yet (taking away the reports that some people were bussed further ahead to “finish” for the cameras). And also the amount of time they’re on the ranch is on the very, very low end of weeks required for marathon training programs, and those assume a certain level of fitness to begin with. Bluntly put, I always found the marathon requirement irresponsible for the contestants AND for people watching who wouldn’t realize just what it takes to train for a marathon.

Ant then this week was the finale for this season. While I honestly would have been happy for any of the final four to win, I was jumping up and down that Danni is the one who did. From the start, there was something in her I could see that just set her above the others, particularly as her team dwindled further and further down until it was just her. Watching her as she worked through the season, she reminded me so much of Tara. The switch is well and truly flipped in her, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see HER become an Ironman as well. Other than the horse mane hairstyle (I truly do not get that hairstyle or who decided it’s a good look on anyone), I thought she looked fantastic. They all did.

So I’m hopeful that this season marked a turning point for the show and perhaps they will attract people who really want to be there as opposed to people who seem to think “Ok, yeah the weight loss is nice, but I want the money” – people who will truly make life changing decisions and changes, and people who, like this season’s contestants with the one exception can truly be role models for people who watch. People who might see someone like them and say “Hey, I can do it too!”

Time will tell I suppose. We’ll see what happens next season.

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