How Can The “Biggest Loser” Lawsuits Help Your Fitness?

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Recently, you may have seen articles revealing the intention of former contestants on ABC’s “Biggest Loser” to sue the show, even seeking class action status, implying that there may be a large number of disgruntled former contestants. The allegations include the contestants being subjected to excessive amounts of required exercise, insufficient food, illegal supplements, high numbers of hospitalizations, and the list goes on. Many of the former alumni have regained the weight they lost, some even more. and they suffer from reduced metabolic rates. Our intent is not to weigh in on the accusations in any way, but to examine the structure of programs like “Biggest Loser” for lessons that can help others in their quest to get healthy.

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Our first learning opportunity comes from the “crash” mindset the show employs. We are all constantly exposed to marketing programs that tout immediate and easy results and progress we don’t have to work for. If any of those actually worked, the majority of Americans would not be overweight and unhealthy. As has been proven in many cases, results from rapid weight loss through excessive means or gimmick diets seldom hold up over time. For example, with the low carb fad diets of a few years ago, a majority of dieters found that once they began eating normally again, they regained all of they weight they lost or more. Weight loss and positive fitness habits come from replacing unhealthy lifestyle habits with healthy ones, and doing so in a way that they become long term. For example, learning to follow a healthy food plan every day has a much greater long term impact that starving for a period of time, only to binge at some future point.

  Our second learning opportunity is about making fitness work in our daily lives. In the case of the Biggest Loser contestants, they were relocated to a facility, away from their daily responsibilities of job, family, friends, etc., so they had nothing to do all day, every day, but to exercise and eat healthy food prepared for them by nutritionally skilled staff. Once the contestants returned to their “regular” lives, scheduling and food prep became their challenge, just like most of you face, and they weren’t prepared with the balance needed to maintain their progress. Making fitness work in our daily schedules is one of the toughest potential obstacles we face.

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Thirdly, the contestants have constant supervision by experienced trainers when on location. When they return to their homes and daily routines, the absence of that resource can lead to making wrong choices, as well as a lack of accountability. having a skilled, professional fitness and nutritional resource is a huge help in staying on course. It’s also a great idea to get a friend or family member to partner with you in your journey, and you can each hold the other accountable. It’s much easier to blow off the gym when it’s just you than when you are committed to meeting someone there.

 How can you avoid these setbacks? First, let’s agree that we need to look at fitness and a healthy lifestyle as an ongoing commitment, not a short term push that goes away when we’ve reached a goal. Holding ourselves accountable, like putting our exercise program on our daily calendar and prioritizing it just like we would a business meeting or doctor’s appointment is a positive step. Making fitness something that “I’m going to do if I have the time” is likely going to leave you short of your goals. Using food logging tools like My Fitness Pal helps us keep track of making sure we get the proper fuel we need, and can deter a bad choice when you know you’re going to have to acknowledge it by posting on the app. 

  In summary, the tips we can take from the Biggest Loser are;

-Get help from a professional to guide you through the process. The Internet can provide a vast array of information, but it also can provide incorrect information that could do more harm than good.

-Look at fitness as a lifestyle commitment, not a temporary push

-Prioritize exercise like you would other important events

-Hold yourself accountable by logging your food, tracking your exercise, and having goals

-Find a partner to join you in your journey. Staying the course is easier with someone who is there for you and on the same mission

-Plan and prep your food in advance, so you aren’t left with only “lesser of the evil” options

Add these lessons to your fitness equation and you’ll see your progress improve!

Jim Harris