Friday, May 01, 2009

Notice the Excessive Disclaimers at the End of Each Show?

Confession time...

We watch and enjoy The Biggest Loser. If you don't and just don't care, you should stop reading now.

Still here? Okay, we continue.

We dislike but tolerate all the product endorsements built into every episode. We really dislike all the time-wasting narrated regurgitations by the contestants telling us what we already saw and understood. But then maybe the average viewer's IQ demands narrated regurgitation? We don't know.

Anyway, here's a link to a critical review of The Biggest Loser written by an author and "Board Certified Specialist in Sports Diuretics", which when combined with all the credential letters following her name means that she must know a thing or two about diet, nutrition, and physiology.

Well, that's not going to stop me from saying a few choice criticisms of my own.

The writer exaggerates, at least on the diet portion of her article. TBL encourages eating lean but appropriately. That's definitely one thing they do and she's unfairly critical of the show in that aspect. Also, her discussion of diets as a poor way to lose weight is way too simple-minded and a destructive message because NOTHING ELSE WORKS WITH THE OBESE!

And then she says that cutting 100 calories a day from daily consumption is a more sustainable way (although she doesn't use that word) of losing weight and then keeping it off. However, this is hideously naive, as anyone who knows about basic physiology knows that if you do that and lose three pounds over three months (yes, that's all a 100-calorie deficit would yield), gradually your body's daily caloric demands would decrease a small amount so the deficit between what your body wants daily and what you consume would close up. Meaning that your body would no longer need that 100 calories a day and plateau at your new "three-pounds-lighter" weight... if you're lucky to even get THAT!

Five years ago, I lost 45 pounds over three months on a very harsh and strict macrobiotic diet. There's a reason I lost 20 pounds the first month, then 15 pounds the next month, and only 10 pounds the last month -- diminishing returns based on that narrowing caloric deficit.

TBL is all about changing lives in a substantial way for obese people, which are now 32.7% of Americans. It's not about lowering body fat percentage of already-svelte gym rats from 8% to 7%. The BIG message of TBL is "Lose the Weight Using Harsh and Mercenary Methods, if that's what it takes, because Your Life Will Change in Profound, Wonderful, and Life-Sustaining Ways."

I agree that losing 14 pounds a week is grossly unrealistic for nearly everyone on the planet. But anyone who has lost a lot knows that it has to be a war where calorie count is a full-time job. It's not about denying yourself 100 measly calories of goldfish crackers a day. It's about making and committing to significant life-style changes, including exercise, that can't be made just by cutting a few calories.


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