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Monday, October 22, 2007

Biggest Loser Not Realistic

new york times biggest loser
I received an email from an editor of the New York Times (NY Times) regarding an article they were doing about the television show "The Biggest Loser".

They wanted my opinion about the show and it’s impact on the general viewing public.

Do I have an opinion about "the Biggest Loser" ?

Yep

First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to all those who have been on the show and have dropped the weight they have. Well done. I would love to hear from them and find out how they’re continuing in their lives after the show.

My biggest issues with the concept of this show is that it isn’t realistic.

The healthy way to lose weight is through a combination of

  1. Change in eating habits to whole foods

  2. Increase in movement, both cardio and weight training

  3. A change in belief systems

It’s an entire lifestyle change. In my opinion, doing this for the sake of losing weight is not the correct approach. I believe that we have to make changes in our thinking and being a program of health.

A goal of becoming healthy includes a change in eating habits, television viewing habits, eliminating smoking, drinking responsibly, improvements in water consumption, food supplements like the (the cornerstone of my health program), movement like walking and beginning a weight training program. The goal of becoming health has the same effect but lasts a lifetime, not just until you’re 50 or 100 pounds lighter.

The NY Times quoted me in their article about the biggest loser where I suggested that someone with a healthy continued weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds a week may become disillusioned about their success after seeing the contestants dropping 10 or more pounds a week.

A weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds a week is fantastic. It’s healthy and it proves that you’re making gains on your goal weight. It’s important to know what kind of weight you’re losing though as you want to keep your muscle.

If there’s one thing I could impress upon you it would be to keep track of your body composition, not your weight.

I think you’d agree that 180 pounds at 12% body fat is healthier than 180 pounds at 25% ore more body fat.

Muscle helps you burn fat even during sleep, increases your energy levels and makes you feel better about yourself.

2 to 3 pounds of fat loss is fantastic, realistic and doable for someone who’s committed to their new lifestyle.

Here’s a quick little list of what I’d recommend


  • Turn off the TV.
  • Get out of that chair, get active
  • Do something physical every day even if it’s just a 20 minute walk. Do this every day regardless of rain, shine, sleet or snow.
  • Read a book on natural health or fat burning, learn what others who are successful with their fat loss program have done and duplicate it. I recommend Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle as a great resource.
  • Read another book and work the teachings into your new lifestyle, don’t take one book as gospel. Atkins may work for some body types, but throw others out of balance.
  • Learn about Food Combining
  • Consider a short stint of vegetarianism to reset your digestion and give your digestive system a break
  • Learn and create some Whole Food Recipes
  • Learn about detoxification which includes Probiotics and pure water such as Distilled

This is just a few suggestions of where to start. I will go into more detail about each of them over time.

The New York Times article on the Biggest Loser got picked up by another writer and appeared in the entertainment section of MSN as well and then a fellow blogger went on a rant over at Elastic Waist. We both agree, even thought the contestants get results, they’re not necessarily sustainable, nor healthy and show the viewers unrealistic results.

Focus on your health, you’ll be a great role model for your family and kids and get the results you want 2 to 3 pounds at a time.

Be Well

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Rob Coopers Fat burning tips In 1990 Rob weighed 475 pounds and was able to burn almost 300 lbs of fat in just two and a half years. Rob does weight management coaching from his office in Edmonton Alberta Canada. Rob's diet is based on a "System Specific Organic Whole Food" line of foods along with various fat burning, muscle building tips from Tom Venuto. Tom's Philosophy is very similar to Rob's and he's happy to recommend them

Rob is currently using the Seven Minute Muscle Workout program.



16 Comments:

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Hey Rob,

Congrats on getting a quote in the NYtimes. I agree that the biggest loser is not realistic, 15-20 lbs a week lost has got to be unhealthy, but you do have to admit 2 things.

1. It gets people interested in losing weight and that is at least a small step in the right direction.

2. The contestants still take off the weight at home and have managed to keep it off.

My issue is that while at the ranch they have trainers to push them and a fully functional gym that they can workout in for 5 hours a day. The average Joe doesn't have that.

Not to mention that they have none of the real world temptations or people involved during the process. That is the real reason they became heavy in the first place.

At the end of the day it's about entertainment and that is all it should be viewed as. NY Times you can quote me on that. :)

 
At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Thanks for the comment Steve

I agree with both your points.

Honestly? I dont watch the show and have never heard about the contestants "post show" results. The fact that they got great education during the show, advice from trainers and know it's possible would surely have them keep the weight off.

Yes, it's entertainment and quite interesting to see the people actually do it.

if nothing else, it serves to show people that "it is possible" when you have the time, the commitment, the coaches and the drive to get the job done.

 
At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Pete Thomas said...

Lets see, the NY Times uses a quote from someone that has a limited understanding of the show and does not watch it. Hmmm.

How about using the 'all boats rise' principle and actually become educated on what we do on the show and realize that as more people come to believe that obesity does not require surgery then more people would become attracted to your own story and the products your hawking. Hmmmm. Maybe that makes too much sense.

Also here is a question for those smart people out there. Why is losing weight quickly and keeping it off unhealthy? If you can't give SPECIFIC conditions (which I can) then please stop repeating this mindless non-sense. It reminds me of the old adage that ulcers come from stress. No eveidence to support it, just uneducated people repeating it.

When some super-obese people go in for weight loss surgery some are actually put on HIGHLY restrictive diets to help them lose weight before the surgery and then the surgery causes them to - guess what - lose weight quickly. Hmmmm. I thought it was unhealthy?

I guess I need to re-start my blog and start spreading some truth/facts.

http://Flickr.com/photos/winningman/sets/

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

Pete, I know about the show, I know the concept, I know what goes on in the show, I just don't watch it.

I have never said that quick weight loss is unhealthy. Never.

what was not quoted was my thoughts on the commitment involved for the results the contestants get

I too have dropped a lot of weight very quickly, however my lifestyle allows for me to put the effort into getting the results.

I have myself been in the gym 3x a day... cardio in the am, weight training in the afternoon and cardio in the evening.

I also have the ability (again due to my lifestyle), to shop 4x a week, prepare 6 meals a day, do the laundry from all the gym time, plus the gym time, plus the travel time to the gym.

there are very few people that can do that.

those that do what they can from home, on their own, with a family can indeed lose 1, 2, 3, 4 pounds a week or more.

What I was quoted as saying was that the show "can" depress some people because they dont get the same results. "could" would be a better word to use.

As for surgery, I completely 100% agree that it is not necesesary. Nor are weight loss drugs of any sort.

I promote weight loss without surgery by a change in lifestyle that includes exercise, a whole food diet, a reduction of processed foods, the removal of non nutritional dairy products and even getting a personal trainer.

I have done this for the entire lifetime of this website, so I could just as easily ask you "maybe you should look around my website to see what it is that I promote" and you'd see that we're on exactly the same page Pete

also, what mindless nonsense are you referring to?

In the post above I said

The healthy way to lose weight is through a combination of


1. Change in eating habits to whole foods

2. Increase in movement, both cardio and weight training

3. A change in belief systems


It’s an entire lifestyle change. In my opinion, doing this for the sake of losing weight is not the correct approach. I believe that we have to make changes in our thinking and being a program of health.


How is a health approach including exercise, whole foods and a change in beliefs nonsense?

is that not what you do on the the Biggest Loser?

 
At 3:36 AM, Blogger onesmartcookie said...

I'm not a fan of the show at any rate simply because I don't have the time to watch every episode. I have watched a few episodes and what I found was that it was inspirational in the fact that it can inspire someone to lose weight and yes, I CAN do it! This is an evangelical way of approach as I see it.

However, what is unrealistic is that as noted, the average person doesn't have a daily bootcamp to kick their butt into gear, a nutritionist or support like you see on the show. This could be discouraging to some.

Rob made a point in his post to say that his lifestyle allows him to do certain things that contribute to his healthy lifestyle that lead to his weightloss. That was his choice and of importance to him. There is value in those statements because we all have a choice in how we choose to feed and nourish our bodies. That may be through something as simple as eating more vegetables or incorporating exercise into our week. These may not be big things but they have a great impact on our general well being. That cannot be disbuted.

I prefer the tv program, XWeighted which is Canadian and a little more in tune with getting to the heart of why the person is overweight including the emotional side of the issue and their lifestyle. That is more 'real' to me.

My two pennies.

 
At 4:09 AM, Anonymous Fitness Health Zone said...

Oh yeah congratulations and you are right it always interesting to listen to how ppl have worked out... its like an inspiration....

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Pete said...

The overall tenor of the NY Times article is similar to that of your post and that is NEGATIVE toward the show.

My point is that the show inspires more people to lose weight naturally than it could/can possibly hurt. And the slant of the article is that it is damaging to viewers. Come on! Really? Again notice the tenor/slant of the article and your post.

Also 'can depress a lot of people' vs 'could depress' is still pretty close semantically but both slant toward the negative.

I understand that a positive slant/quote would proabably not have made the paper but a better way to phrase it may have been to say somthing along the lines of 'that as long as people understand that enviroment plays a significant factor is losing weight and as long as viewers realize that this is a secluded specialized environment then viewers can take from the show what it is intended to give - great motivation for those needing to lose lots of weight.' But that's me and again without the negative slant your quote may not have even been included. That is why the interviewers were probably fishing for the negative when they first started contacting people.

I know you did not say that losing weight quickly is bad but I was addressing the first comment posted here as well as the comments mentioned in the blog post you referenced. This is an oft repeated piece of drivel that no one ever challenges and that YOU contribute toward with this statement "We both agree, even thought the contestants get results, they’re not necessarily sustainable, nor healthy and show the viewers unrealistic results."

Again the main point is that when something comes along that changes lives positively (even if just through motivation) take it for what it is.

For example when I am asked about weight watchers I tell people that it is a good start and then explain how to broaden a persons focus to counting calories instead of just points. The same thing goes for gyms such as Curves. It is a good start and here is how to improve upon it. Why be negative toward something that is having a positive impact (unless it leads to unhealthy habits)?

Also I DO know the content of your site and regard it high enough to have it in my blog reader which I review daily. I have similiar beliefs when it come loss, weight maintenance etc.

My 2

www.WinningMan.com

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Darlene Hildebrandt said...

Well quite the discussion going on here on this post. I can say, knowing Rob rather personally - that he is all about helping people, being real, and being supportive.

I think that the point he is trying to make is that the average Joe or Jane don't have the kind of support in the show, nor the time to devote to that kind of fast weight loss. I don't have stats or proof, but I've heard that fast weight loss can be hard on your health.

I don't think his comment was negative, just realistic. Reality is just that, not necessarily negative - just another perspective.

I'm about the least negative person you could meet and don't associate with them.

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Matthew Corgan said...

Yes 2-3 pounds a week is excellent. Even the slightest excercise gives you confidence and burns calories. Very nice on getting in the new york times. I believe you would enjoy my fall themed diets at my blog www.matthewcorgan.blogspot.com

 
At 4:48 PM, Blogger onesmartcookie said...

My comment: Re: Discouraging.
However, what is unrealistic is that as noted, the average person doesn't have a daily bootcamp to kick their butt into gear, a nutritionist or support like you see on the show. This could be discouraging to some.

I will explain my viewpoint. I watched a few episodes of the makeover shows. Oh, there were four or different five ones at the time. I got discouraged because more then anything I personally wanted veneers and hate my teeth! That means, big bucks, folks! Denists are brilliant moneymakers. The contestants of these shows are awarded luxuries and expenditures that only celebrities are fortunate to have. I would hate to think of the maintenance of the veneers or the cost of one of these trainers/hour!

What I liked about shows such as XWeighted is that they got people to do real things. Bike riding, dancing, etc. Things they liked to do and quite affordable if not cheap! Not have their ass dragged through a desert or a bootcamp.

I understand that you were on the show Biggest Loser so of course you are trying to promote/protect something that worked for you. I see the value that it has for some, I tip my hat to you for making the changes you have but you have to realize that these are not methods for everyone. You were one of the chosen and it was your choice.


This is me, then.

OSC

 
At 9:59 AM, Blogger Thad Johnson said...

Hey Rob,
Kudos on the article quote. As another former 'fat guy,' I can totally relate to your story.

I won't get into my details, but you can find my story here:

http://healthyover40.blogspot.com

Thad

 
At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

Pete,
On my comment the quote:

"biggest loser is not realistic, 15-20 lbs a week lost has got to be unhealthy"

I don't think that is drivel at all. I never said that it is definitely unhealthy. I haven't seen studies proving or disproving that rapid weight loss is healthy. If you have please send me the links.

I think that dropping that amount of weight in such a short amount of time is unlikely to be healthy for your body.

I think that the opposite would be true as well. I hope you wouldn't advocate that gaining 20 Lbs a week as being healthy?

The strain on your liver, kidneys, heart as well as your blood pressure etc.. might be dangerous especially in very obese people who's organs may already be inflamed and swollen.

I may not be a doctor myself but I am definitely not uneducated. My views are shaped by my experiences as well as by talking to countless trainers, nutritionist, doctors and people that have lost a lot of weight themselves.

I have also lost almost 40 Lbs and changed my lifestyle for the better. That is what I promote on my blog.

I still believe that the biggest loser is unrealistic as it relates to the average viewer. I don't believe that is a "negative" thing.

Like I said the people the tools and the shear amount of time devoted to losing the weight and learning to change your lifestyle that was available to you, in my opinion just isn't feasible for the average person dealing with daily life. (in the amount of time it takes the contests anyway, 6 months I think) If it was then you wouldn't have needed to go on the show.

I never said that the show isn't inspirational, motivating or entertaining. I am a loyal viewer as well a fan of yours Pete.

I agree that it is a good starting point as it gets people thinking about and motivated to lose weight, and that is much better than doing nothing about it at all.

I would be interested to know how you handled the transition from the ranch to home life again.

Off topic:
When linking your website in blogger you need to include the http:// otherwise the link won't work. I just figured that out a week ago myself.

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Chief Wahoo said...

Hey Rob-

The biggest Loser is in the end just another unreal "reality" show.

I am struggling to remind myself that slow and healthy weight loss - based on realistic life-style changes is the way to go.

We can not all take a few weeks off from our jobs and have a personal trainer at our beck and call.

We struggle to find that healthy lifestyle, with the support of friends and family, while squeezing our workouts in between our jobs, our families, and all of the other commitments of our modern lives.

On the upside - they are promoting a healthy diet and exercise instead of gastric bypass!

http://achingknees.blogspot.com/

 
At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Rob said...

@Chief, well put.

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Jason Struck , RKC said...

great points;

has Shaqs similar show with kids come up on this blog?

that is another interesting topic!

 
At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Rob said...

No, I'm not familiar with Shaq's show Jason. I don't watch TV, so I rely on the net for alerts to that sort of thing.

Have a link for me?

 

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