Five Things I Gained from Watching The Biggest Loser
By Lauren Kozloff Sinrod
Throughout the seasons, NBC’s The Biggest Loser has been wildly popular and also highly controversial. Viewers seem to either gain inspiration from watching contestants work hard to shed pounds or cringe at what they feel is fat shaming and potentially unhealthy behavior.
I watched the season with my 15 year old daughter. While watching the show, we had an interesting discussion about weight, exercise, body image, health and reality television in general. Here are some of the things we gained from watching The Biggest Loser:
1. It’s Inspiring to Witness People Changing Their Lives
After watching the first episode, we agreed that the intention of the contestants to lose weight was positive and inspiring. It was obvious that the people on the show had reached a point where they were no longer happy because of their weight, or their health was at risk, and in many cases both were true. They needed to make losing weight their number one priority in order to improve their lives.
It is incredibly motivating and inspiring to watch people make these hard changes and work towards something new.
2. Anything Worthwhile Takes Hard Work
Unlike most diet programs that promise the pounds will just melt away without much effort, The Biggest Loser features the contestants working their butts off. Shedding the pounds is not easy, and viewers witness the blood, sweat and tears it takes for the contestants to get results. Some may say that The Biggest Loser goes too far, with many hours of workouts each day, to the point of exhaustion and sometimes injury. It makes for compelling TV and at times seems extreme. But a key point is that hard work pays off. Whether you are setting a goal to lose weight, completing a school degree, working toward professional advancement or training to run a marathon, hard work and determination are the only ways to achieve these goals.
To believe that incredible results can be achieved without amazingly hard work is both naïve and unrealistic. There are no shortcuts in life, and anything you want to achieve takes lots and lots of hard work and grit. I think my high school sophomore daughter got this message.
3. Accountability is a Powerful Motivator
Personally, I avoid the scale like the plague. In fact I did not even own a scale for many years. However, numbers don’t lie, and the scale provides a form of accountability. When you know you are going to have to weigh in, or take a test, or be evaluated or measured in some way, numbers are a huge motivator that can help change behavior in order to achieve results.
Being part of a group or team where your actions impact others is also a significant motivator. When your efforts or lack of effort not only reflects on you but on your entire team it’s harder to slack off. If people are depending on you, sometimes you can make an extra effort that is beyond what you would do for yourself for your team.
4. Competition Works
Competition is another great motivator. The contestants on the show are driven to succeed due in large part to the fact that they are competing to become “The Biggest Loser” and walk away with a huge cash prize.
The employees at my husband Brad’s office recently held a Biggest Loser style competition. At the end of a three month period, the Biggest Loser in their office would be awarded $500! They had weekly weigh-ins, encouraged each other to eat healthy and even stopped work at 11:00 am every day to do pushups, sit-ups and jumping jacks for fifteen minutes. At the end of the competition, the eight people participating had collectively lost about 110 pounds, with one highly competitive woman claiming the prize after she lost an impressive 20 pounds!
5. Being Thin Won’t Make You Happy
There was an infamous and controversial line from the premier where one of the trainers said, “Money can’t buy thin.” Many viewers felt that implied that being thin equals being happy.
In my adult life, I’ve been anywhere from 119 pounds at my thinnest, to 165 pounds at my heaviest. I’m usually somewhere in the middle. I’ve tried not to let those numbers define me, and instead focus on how I feel. I realize now that I was not necessarily any happier at my thinnest than I was at my heaviest, but I think I definitely feel better about myself when I am working out on a regular basis, and eating well.
My daughter and I talked about how exercise and eating well can improve mood, and how it’s more important to feel good and be active and healthy, rather than focus on the number on the scale. We touched on some of the unrealistic expectations placed on both men and women when it comes to how their bodies should look, and what is natural and healthy. We also talked about how we are much more than our bodies – we are what we do, our brains, our skills, how we spend our time and how we impact others. The major takeaway here – your weight should not determine how anyone values you, or how you value yourself.
What We Gain
Viewers may bash the show, but we found there was a great deal to gain from watching The Biggest Loser. From inspiration to motivation, to understanding the value of health and the strength of our bodies and minds, my daughter and I made a commitment to continue to talk about weight, body image, exercise and healthy eating. To me, that’s a Big Win.