F*ck The Biggest Loser

I have a confession to make. 

I love reality TV. 

Like, I “love it” love it. Like, “I want to take it out back the Walmart and get it pregnant” kinda love. 

You know?

LOVE.

However, I do have have two “not loves”.

Alright, I have two. 

1.) Weight loss television. Though I do watch it.

2.) The Kardashians and anything that has anything to do with the Jersey shore. 

I guess that’s three. 

Sue me. 

I’d like to start by saying this about The Biggest Loser.

Fuck The Biggest Loser. 

Fuck it right in it’s stupid, exploitative, embarrassing, cruel, and manipulative face. 

Fuck Bob and Jillian and that missus that used to be on Days of Our Lives — and whatever sideshow grifters they’ve got on that show currently. 

They may as well be Dr. Oz in a spandex onesie as far as I’m concerned. That’s how much integrity they have in my eyes.

Fuck ‘em. 

Ever notice how when the contestants fall they shake the cameras as if to say “Dumbo’s fat ass just shook heaven and earth, isn’t that hilarious?”

It’s isn’t. 

Ever notice how in certain challenges they use food as a punishment? As in if you’re a former fast food addict that’s trying to piece their life together live on international TV, they will make you consume that one thing you’re trying to get away from. It’s like forcing a cocaine addict to do a rail. Is this acceptable behaviour for a broadcaster touting the altruism and good vibes associated with this show?

It isn’t. 

What about when contestants are weighed on these fucking GIGANTIC scales? “Hey, we’ve hoisted another one up here Bob, what do we do now? Should we make them take of their shirt and stand there half naked in front of millions of people? Fuck yes, we should! That’s a great idea.”

It isn’t. 

And your little heart-to-heart’s on green grassy hills outside the gym where you and Bob (or whomever) sit down and talk about your shit life. And Bob does his level best to make you bawl on camera, cause that’s some good compelling TV right there, isn’t it?

It isn’t.

Recently The New York Times released an article that had former contestants alleging that producers and trainers were making them take drugs in order to lose weight. But, that’s cool though right?

It isn’t. 

Or what about when the people at home see these people go through these amazing transformations, and they try and they wonder what the fuck is wrong with them because they’re not shedding 13 pounds a week? Does they matter?

They don’t. 

And here’s why. 

Who cares? That’s why. 

As long as there’s overweight people in the world there’s going to be people trying to exploit them, or take advantage of them with these fast and loose ideas of what getting healthy is all about. 

From the awkward lean meat commercials where the contestants are forced to not only eat, but also sell food that looks like it’s not fit for human consumption. 

Fuck, they even pimped Subway for the first “god knows how many” seasons. 

Fucking Subway! 

I’m pretty sure that bread is one chemical compound away from being a tube of rubber. 

But hey, who doesn’t love rubber?

They send out all of this misleading and false messaging. They never show what it’s actually like to combat a food addiction, or staring down the barrel of a two hundred pound weight loss in any kind of meaningful, respectable, or truthful way. 

I mean as contestants are eliminated they’re forced to walk through a gauntlet of fucking cake. Who does that? Like, who in the everlasting fuck does that?!

Instead of telling the truth, they just send a bunch of fat people out to the desert and make them run around until they can’t anymore. 

Meanwhile, there are people at home who are sitting back and watching all of this unfold thinking to themselves, “why am I not losing all that weight? What am I doing wrong?”

Do you know what it’s like to fail on a diet? Or a lifestyle change? 

“Disheartening” doesn’t even begin to describe it. 

For most of us, one slip can lead to scrapping the whole plan. 

Nobody ever tells you that you’re going to fail. Everyone automatically assumes that you’re going to move forward now without any issues at all. 

Because, you know, THAT’S fucking rational. 

Truth is, there are failures all the time. 

Just this past month I screwed up, it may have been the worst blunder I’ve had thus far. I was going through a boatload of stress, that coupled with being really busy — I let things slip. 

I ate some shit I’m not proud about and lessened my exercise regime at The Energy Company. Which was a mistake. 

But you tend to wallow in that crap sometimes. It can play on you. Eat you alive at times. Make you feel weak.

The hardest part of slipping up is standing again. 

Because, you know. You know you fucked up. And you know that you have to do something about it. But you’re stuck in between two lifestyles — one that’s unhealthy and gluttonous, but familiar. And one that you know makes you feel like a million bucks, but you’re still wobbly with it from time to time. 

Making that pendulum swing back into the health-conscious mind frame is hard. And if you’ve never experienced it, then there’s no way for me to properly explain it to you. It’s just that, if you’re over in the familiar land of camp shitshow and you need to get back to camp healthy again — the strength needed to swing back over there seems completely exhausting and larger than life. 

It isn’t. 

It just takes practice. Practice that comes from what?

Yup. You got it. 

Fucking up. 

Because, in weight loss (or anything for that matter) learning to fail and recover is not only more important, but much more attainable than learning to be perfect. And, it’s what life is all about — screwing up, and then unscrewing and learning from it.

Perfection is a fool’s errand.

For me, I’ve been doing this a while. And, could I have lost weight faster? Definitely. Would I have learned as much about myself and the reasons for the weight gain, and why I falter under immense stress? Definitely not.

My trainer Mike O’Neil has welcomed me back with open arms and is taking it easy on me.

Shows like The Biggest Loser, and anything to do with six hundred pound people or whatever, are not helpful. 

They are shaming overweight people. 

And I want to make this point abundantly clear:

As somebody who writes a blog about matters dealing with weight and mental health it is my position that people who or may not be struggling with either or both deserve the utmost respect. Not every overweight person wants to be skinny, and that’s fucking awesome. Everyone deserves to be what they want to be and not to be held under a fucking microscope or be judged because of it. New research (and common sense) tells us that just because you’re overweight doesn’t mean you’re healthy, just as being skinny isn’t an indicator of perfect health.

As the band The Avett Brothers once wrote “decide what to be and go be it”.  

I’ve done a bit of that myself this month. I’ve decided to take a job in Halifax, Nova Scotia in July and thereby start a new chapter in my life. I don’t know many folks there, but I’m excited to spend time stumbling down their harbour front and trolling the farmer’s markets. 

As for Mike and The Energy Company, I plan to train every day from this moment onward until I leave.

Operation: Kick My Own Ass begins today. 

And, oh yeah before I go — once more for old time’s sake, say it with me —Fuck The Biggest Loser.

Yeah. That felt awesome. 

15 thoughts on “F*ck The Biggest Loser

  1. Dave, can’t wait to read the next phase of your journey. Enjoy Halifax! And take the ferry across to the Alderney Market once in awhile – there’s a whole world over on the Dark Side that many Haligonians never bother with.

  2. Couldn’t agree with you more on The Biggest Loser thing. What a farce! So proud of you for speaking your truth and the truth of many more of us who’ve been struggling with weight loss and body image issues for, well, ever. Compassion and unconditional love are paramount in the process of recovering from any food addiction, not shaming and silly rituals orchestrated for TV. As with any addiction, there is no magic “cure”, just a daily reprieve, one day at a time. It is by far, the biggest , fiercest, most cunning and powerful adversary I’ve ever faced in my lifetime (I think partly, because for me, it all started at such a young age.) Thank you for sharing your journey with us Dave. It’s so important, this work that you’re doing. Enjoy your next adventure in Halifax!! You’ll be missed here!!

  3. Wicked job Dave. Your musings are always entertaining, if not informative! I suffer from depression and anxiety and constantly have to remind myslef how important exercise is for my mental health. It’s not easy man, kudos for kicking your own ass! 🙂
    I’ve also recently started a blog surrounding mental health, I’d love to hear your feedback!
    http://www.groundandanchor.com

    Stu

  4. Ok so without sounding like a condescending douche I am going to say this because I feel like it needs to be said.

    I am an obese person. I have watched these shows and EXPLOITING INDIVIDUALS is exactly what this show and other weight loss shows do.

    I also went to HARVARD where, as an obese person I had access to a multitude of medical journals, periodicals, books, and colleagues who specialized in the study of obesity and weight related issues.

    One thing is for certain, which most medical doctors know about fat cells to begin with: Children born over the 8lb mark, are likely going to become obese adults. They are genetically pre-dis-positioned and can easily slide into weight gain during puberty due to the increased amount of fat cells already existent.

    What gears me about these programs is individuals who come with an obese blueprint cannot physically reduce fat cells …. they can only reduce their multiplying by starvation or reduction. An obese individuals fat cells never disappear or shrink, they simply remain in place until the constant adulation and manipulation of extreme dieting is over.

    The “medical” experts on the show should be ashamed of themselves for this is not effective treatment of a serious health issue.

    Furthermore, Jillian, Bob, and the others who get rich off exploiting the contestants are knobs.

    I can only say that most effective way to treat obesity is surgical at this point with a significant amount of support albeit, physical, emotional, counselling, or nutritional and followed thru for several years.

    Ok, rant over 🙂 Thanks for posting this.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. On my own journey of major fuck ups. I’m ready to decide what I want to be and on the path to being it. It has nothing to do with Skinny. I’m so ready to be healthy in my body…at any size. Fueling it and working it. No end destination…just daily work. And getting on with fuck ups quickly. I love the saying “Messing up and eating poorly is the same as if If you get a flat tire , you don’t get out and run around the car to flatten all three other tires. You change the flat and get on down the road.” I try to reduce the damage and let go and get on with it. I don’t always win, I’m fantastic at slicing my tires 😦 But you helped me remember today that it’s about learning from every one of those times and resilience, it takes practice to do something different…so I’m grateful for all my fuck ups. I enjoy your Blog posts and I wish you great success in your move 🙂

  6. You said all that needs to be saidl!! Good luck in Nova Scotia. Oh…also I think you meant “just because you’re overweight doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy (you said healthy) , just as being skinny isn’t an indicator of perfect health”

  7. Dave. Sent you a comment on the 24th as my “concern meter” was moving to the other side of the scale…:(.

    This new post came like a sunshine ray hitting you but not “in the face”….:) Every word is true…those shows “suck beyond words” and you highlighted every “cringe factor” to the T dude!

    Your blogs are powerful and very appreciated. All the best in your re-location next phase. You have ALL of the tools to succeed with a few tool boxes you haven’t even opened yet.

    Take care and thanks for your insight and giving myself and others strength in the manner of small fractions that form and have grown in time.

  8. I have never watched the show. But I recently read a few articles about how they have followed several of the contestants from the show and discovered that (a) most of them gained a fair amount back and (b) that their metabolisms seem screwed up. I’m not sure exactly why they are screwed up, but there is some implication that it maybe because of the unhealthy regimen they followed to lose the weight. Anyway, google “biggest loser metabolism” and you’ll see the article.

    Anyway – some interesting science that proves people who fail with diets aren’t necessarily just “weak willed”. That idea is glib, and life is more complicated than that.

  9. Great blog entry, Dave! Inspirational, in fact…
    Keep on fighting the good fight. Going public with your struggle is definitely a strategy that is serving you well.

  10. Thank you for these words,

    “Because, in weight loss (or anything for that matter) learning to fail and recover is not only more important, but much more attainable than learning to be perfect. And, it’s what life is all about — screwing up, and then unscrewing and learning from it.

    Perfection is a fool’s errand.”

    Trying to be perfect is one of the key weapons in my depression’s arsenal. I’ve been practising gentleness and acceptance with compassionate mindfulness meditation. Letting go of societal expectation and living healthy with who I am take tremendous practice and regular failure. Failure means we’re trying 🙂

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