The Biggest Loser Complex

Steven recently started watching The Biggest Loser, but I never could get into it. Mostly because the weight loss was so extreme I could never achieve that on my own, and therefore felt all the more the failure because of it.

Turns out I’m not alone in my opinion about this show and the message it sends. When you’re told all your life that you can’t lose more than 1-2 pounds per week, to see someone drop 100 pounds in seven weeks puts it in the head of people who are already desperate for unrealistic options that this is a safe, natural process.

It’s not.

Study after study shows that slow weight loss tends to be more long lasting, and while I would love to drop 100 pounds in seven weeks (that’s less than two months… can you imagine?), I know that there’s a reason and a purpose for it taking longer than that.

I have to undo a lot of damage done, physically, emotionally and psychologically.

In other words, I didn’t gain it in two months, I’m not going to lose it in two months.

Trite? Maybe. But nevertheless true.

Now that article did more to me than just reaffirm my original beliefs about The Big Loser.

Specifically this part:

“Seventeen of the 22 contestants have a body mass index (BMI) over 40, meaning they are severely obese. In the “real world,” more than one-third of U.S. adults, or 72 million people, are considered obese with a BMI of 30 or higher, according to the CDC. But research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the number of Americans with a BMI over 40 is just under 6 percent. In other words, the show’s claim that the contestants are the “epitome” of American obesity is a bit like saying that VH1’s “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels” epitomizes the American dating scene.”

Out of curiosity I went to check out what my BMI might be, since that number of “severely obese” was such a small percentage of Americans.

You know what they say about curiosity, right?

Well it turns out that I am in that 6%, and will be even when I lose that 50 I’m aiming for. I won’t break through the plateau for merely “obese” until I’ve lost another 42 pounds. It’ll be another 102 pounds until I’m simply “overweight”.

To be a “normal” weight? We’re looking at 132 pounds.

To admit this to all of you is harder than the work to actually lose the weight.


Per my commitment to not abuse myself, I’m not going to beat myself up for this. That’s what I used to do. I used to base my forgiveness of being this heavy on how much weight I’d lose. That validated me and made it okay for me to like myself. When those plateaus comes and the weight loss slows, even despite the deprivation and the exercise, then I would get frustrated. Not seeing that needle on the scale go lower meant I no longer had permission to like myself.

And what happens when I don’t like myself?

Which I think brings us back full circle to the negative message from The Biggest Loser. If I don’t lose what I think I should lose every time I step on the scale, I vote myself off. If I was going to be fat (and let’s face it, I will be for a long while), then consistent, significant weight loss was the only way I could accept that.

The reason this blog comes now is because I really want to address these issues head on without fear (or maybe with only a smidgen of white knuckle terror) to avoid these pitfalls in the future. Especially with my commitment to love myself enough to accept myself – unconditionally.

So I accept myself, no matter where I am, because one: I know it isn’t where I have to stay. Each new day is a new opportunity to turn it all around.

Two: I know my value is more than a BMI rating, more than some numbers on a scale, more than a dress size.

Forget being the Biggest Loser…if you ask me, this process is a win/win.


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