Talking Fitness Thursday: Biggest Isn’t Always Best

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that NBC airs a weight-loss boot-camp-slash-competition called The Biggest Loser. Season after season, we’ve watched as contestants drop hundreds of pounds, transforming themselves from couch potatoes to healthier, fitter, happier versions of themselves. It’s an inspiring, motivating program to watch, and I applaud NBC for keeping it on the air.

That being said, I can’t say I’m happy with the message being sent by the winner that was crowned on Tuesday night. (Quick disclaimer: I didn’t watch live — I haven’t watched the show live in a while — but this news was all over the internet this morning and I was too curious to avoid it.)

Twenty-four-year-old voice artist Rachel Frederickson started her journey on The Biggest Loser weighing 260 pounds. By the time she left the ranch to continue her weight-loss work at home, she weighed a much healthier 150 pounds. I have no issue with all of that. My issue arises with the knowledge that, in the three-month period between the day she left the ranch and the day of the finale, she dropped another 45 pounds.

45 pounds. In three months. Twelve weeks.

I’m no health and fitness expert, but that sounds really off.

Add to that the fact that this 45-pound loss brought Rachel down to a final weight of 105 pounds — she’s 5’4″ — and it doesn’t just sound off anymore. It smells funny. It feels weird. It tastes strange.

And it looks uncomfortable.

Photo via On the Red Carpet

Here’s what she looked like at the final weigh-in (which was live, by the way).

Photo via The Daily Mail

I may not be a health and fitness expert, but Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels — two of the show’s trainers — are. Their reactions said it all:

Photo via US Magazine

Now, I understand that it’s a competition and that the person who’s lost the greatest percentage of body weight wins $250,000. I get that Rachel probably has a very competitive spirit and felt that she’d do whatever she had to do in order to win the money. But this? A 155-pound weight loss is great, but when you find yourself underweight as a result, it’s obviously not so great. I’m left wondering how she managed to get to this weight. Mainly, I worry that she ditched healthy methods (I mean, wouldn’t you plateau at some point?) in favor of something more extreme to help her shed as much weight as possible. Honestly, I just wanted to feed her a cheeseburger. Slender is good, but Rachel at the finale was a step beyond slender.

This leads to one more problem, this one with NBC: while it’s wonderful that they reward significant weight loss with a hefty check, I think there should be a line. Rachel dropped 60% of her body weight and was underweight, and the network is rewarding that by declaring her the winner? That really sends a terrible message to prospective competitors on the show: “lose a shocking amount of weight — an unhealthy amount of weight — and you’ll still be eligible to win the prize!” The producers today released a statement expressing their support for Rachel…that’s fine.

I just hope she’s going to put a little weight back on now that the competition is over. I also hope that, in the future, she feels that it was worth potentially sacrificing her health and well-being just to win some money.

Becca from Glow by Beauty Gala also shared her thoughts on the finale for Talking Fitness Thursday! You can check that out here!

  • I’ve had concerns about competitive weight loss for awhile. There’s a lot of concern that anorexia & bulemia are under diagnosed in overweight patients because the weight loss is lauded. Losing 100lbs in a year is risky regardless of starting weight. I am always interested to see how long the weight says off.

  • That is concerning, she’s FIVE inches taller than I am, and 105 is a healthy weight for me… and I can tell you that it’s not for anyone over 5 foot.

  • readathomemama

    Agreed! It makes me nervous that such drastic weight loss would be laudable. Fortunately, the American public knows better and has expressed concern about Rachel!