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Why I'm Not a Fan of "Biggest Loser" Extremes

By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD

weighing

“The Biggest Loser” has been all over the news and blogosphere since its season finale earlier this week. The 0,000 winner, Rachel, lost 59% of her body weight. That’s a totally staggering statistic.

On the whole, I’ve been disappointed in how the show features extreme weight loss and suggests that the measures contestants go to are “healthy” and realistic. And while I’m not sure what goes on behind the scenes, most of the focus of the show is on excessive exercise. In any other circumstance this would be classified as an eating disorder (compulsive exercising).

So let’s talk about realistic weight loss for a moment. At Foodtrainers, the private practice where I work, we aim for a rate of weight loss of 1-2 lbs per week for our clients – and this is for ALL clients, regardless of whether their long term weight loss goal is 5 lbs or 150 lbs. This might seem slow, but that can add up to 8-10 lbs per month. In the beginning, if you have more weight to lose, loss can be faster, sure. But when I have people coming in losing more than 4-5lbs per week, truth be told, I am not happy and don’t feel like I am doing my job correctly. Starvation and restriction are NOT nutrition.

Then there is the question of scales, something I could have a field day on. In a given day, the scale tends to fluctuate around 4-5 lbs. This is not actual “weight gain”. Food, vitamins and minerals, hydration, exercise and bathroom habits all affect this number. At Foodtrainers we weigh everyone backwards – we literally make them turn around so they don’t see the number. While we do discuss numbers, this is on an individual basis. We find that for too many people, focusing on the numbers can effect their entire day and how they feel about themselves. We would much rather you focus on your energy and how your clothes fit and the great changes you’re making –  because at the end of the day, that’s what will get you to your goals.

So do you watch “The Biggest Loser”? What are your thoughts?

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