ASK A TRAINER: 'What Do You Think of THE BIGGEST LOSER Controversy?'
"I have to ask. What is your opinion on the controversy surrounding The Biggest Loser winner being TOO skinny?" - Paige C., Mount Pleasant, SC
For those of you that don't know what controversy Paige is referring to in her email, let me briefly explain. The popular television show crowned 24 year-old, Rachel Fredrickson, as the winner of its 15th season on Tuesday night. When "the new Rachel" was revealed on the live broadcast, jaws dropped, whispers filled the auditorium and all in attendance were shocked at the incredible transformation the formerly obese young woman had undergone since the show began filming. She, as has been the case for every previous winner in the show's history, looked like a different person. But, according to many that saw the broadcast, not in a good way.
Criticism on the Internet was rampant with the consensus being that she looks too thin and prompting many to speculate that she has an eating disorder.
Here are the stats on Rachel's journey: She shed nearly 60% of her initial body weight going from 260 to 105 pounds. At 5'4", Rachel's body mass index is 18, which is considered underweight. Beyond that though, I cannot begin to comment on what Rachel has or has not eaten since the show broke before the finale or as to the frequency and intensity of her workouts. All any of us can do is speculate. I will say this: people need to lay off Rachel. She willingly participated in a competition in which the winner was decided based solely on the basis of who lost the largest percentage of their initial body weight and that is what she did. Those are the rules of the game and, in this particular case Ice-T said it best when he said, "Don't hate the playa/ hate the game."
And if it is true that Rachel has simply exchanged one eating disorder for another, and I am not saying she did, than it is unfair for anyone to shame her for her illness.
Seeing the finale inspired did force me to reconsider my already ambiguous feelings about the show. On the one hand, I have enjoyed the show as entertainment and found the stories about people setting and reaching goals through developing a healthier relationship with food and exercise to be inspiring. Further, I know so many others have been inspired by the show to make changes to their lifestyles. The show humanized a segment of the population that has been marginalized and showed that behind the layers of flesh, these people were human beings with stories, and that their battles with weight went well beyond reducing their plight to a lack of willpower.
The inspirational power and truth of these messages led me to disregard some of the more troubling aspects of the show despite the fact that I, of all people, know better. I even thought my experience with helping clients lose weight coupled with my experience in front of the camera would have made me an ideal trainer on the show. After watching the finale, I won't even be able to watch the show again.