I've been a fan of the Biggest Loser since day one. I started watching for the weight loss transformations, but like a lot of us, over the years, the personal stories of the contestants became the bigger draw for me. Some seasons no one really resonates with me, and I skim through the shows to keep up. This season, while for me, some of the contestants were really hard to like, there were some really compelling personal stories, and I was invested.
Now I know in real life, people don't lose 16 pounds in a week or 100+ pounds in four months, and I know we see what the producers want us to see, and it's ENTERTAINMENT. Still, the message has always been positive - be healthy, be strong, be the best you possible. It takes work, it takes commitment, it takes, for lack of a better word, understanding what makes you tick.
I like the trainers and truly think they are good people who mean only the best, but this is a job and they have an employer. The Biggest Loser is a multi-faceted money making machine.
As with life in general, the show has produced successes that have endured, giant relapses, and the majority, people who just went back to their lives and disappeared. We all know that it's very hard to maintain weight loss and that the majority of people who lose a large amount of weight gain some, if not all of it back over time.
I'm not walking in any of these people's shoes.
I'm throwing out all these disclaimers so I don't appear judgmental, but in fact, I have an opinion about how this season went, and how it ended up.
All three of the finalists had compelling personal stories. My personal favorite was Bobby, and I was pulling for him to win, even though I knew David was almost impossible for him to beat. David had a heartbreaking story, and not to take away from it, but we heard it so many times, and he was so stuck in it, that I felt very sorry for his current wife, who had to be a saint (or a masochist) to marry a man so mired in the memories of his deceased first wife. I could identify with Rachel, since I've also had a few of my life goals and dreams sidelined because of a man.
Over the course of the season, Rachel blossomed and found herself again. I could see her going the way of some of the women in earlier seasons, becoming a strong athlete and really finding her way. In the triathlon episode, though, there was a scary change, when she won and said something to the effect of she kept telling herself she was running for her life, and I knew she had become obsessed with winning and proving a point. At that point I was pretty sure she would make sure she showed everyone and win the show.
She sure did.
Nothing could have prepared me for the scary skinny woman who walked onto the stage and dissed the image of her old self. Her arms and legs looked like toothpicks and she was unrecognizable. The other contestants shined and sparkled in their dresses and her unfortunate dress choice only highlighted that she was emaciated. The beautiful girl with the glossy hair that was so proud of herself in the makeover episode was completely gone. I can only imagine what Bobby and David thought when they saw her, because they were robbed of their own moments of glory and accomplishment and of a fair chance at the win. I CAN imagine what Jillian and Bob were thinking, because their expressions have been memorialized all over the internet.
She stumbled on her way up the stairs to the scale and she appeared to be so out of it that Allison Sweeney had to actually tip her off that she had won. (I saw a picture of Rachel standing next to Allison this morning, and Allison, who is fit, toned and sleek like a seal looked positively chunky next to Rachel.)
There's a lot of talk about healthy BMI's on the internet this morning, but here's the deal: the girl looked way too skinny by any rational, commonsense standard. She looked frail, sickly and unhealthy. She did what it took to prove her point and I hope she didn't do some real harm to herself in doing so. She went too far and deprived herself of the accolades she was going for. It will be interesting to see what damage control NBC does, and what changes are made in future seasons.
I applaud Bobby and David and wish their moment had been better. I applaud all the contestants who worked so hard and improved their lives. Way to to Tumi for winning the at home prize! You all look great, healthy and happy.
Rachel, not so much. I hope she will be ok.