Finale spoiler alert!
I have documented my issues with The Biggest Loser here over the years. In short, I auditioned twice and when I didn't get on, I thought my life was over and it was the only way that someone like me (over 450 pounds) had a shot to lose weight. I thought in order to lose it I'd need to work out for several hours a day until I puked and eat 1,200 calories. Sure, I identify with the stories of the contestants, and their change is inspiring. But the way the show goes about grinding the contestants down for hours at a time just sets up an unrealistic picture of what needs to be done to lose weight. It celebrates extreme weight losses, where if people don't hit a double digit loss for a week, they're disappointed.
I've been watching off and on this season even though I swore I wouldn't. I wanted some sort of kick in the pants, and I really liked the contestants this season. They weren't game players and had wonderful stories of triumph. Then I watched makeover week a couple weeks ago and just felt like crap about myself. These people had transformed physically so much in a matter of a few months, and I am still rolling around the same range on the scale. Then I have to pull myself out of it and tell myself that it's not about comparison (they're so right – comparison is the thief of joy.)
For tonight's finale, I watched in awe (and with a little jealousy) of the transformations. Then we got to the final 3 contestants who were vying for the grand prize. Bobby came out and he quipped that he has thought about the other contestants and their potential progress way too much. He then said on the scale that he never wanted to weigh again. Both of these might have had funny intent, but it speaks to disordered thinking that comes into play when you're trying to lose weight for $250K. You're thinking about the scale number, not a healthy, strong body.
When Rachel came out, I audibly gasped:
Photo used with permission from http://instagram.com/melbjork
At the end of her time on the ranch, she had won the triathlon and looked completely healthy, radiant, and strong. Tonight, she looked like she aged 15 years and was so tiny. She tripped going up the stairs to the scale, which I hope was just nerves and not being sick.
Photo courtesy of instagram.com/
Photo courtesy of http://instagram.com/melbjork
Rachel started the journey at 260 pounds on her reported 5'4 frame. She lost 155 pounds to end up at 105 pounds. This is a BMI (the Biggest Loser's measure of obesity) of 18, which is underweight (18.5 and under). Jillian and Bob looked shock, and it was a weird celebration as confetti rained down on her.
Biggest Loser talks about the obesity epidemic and how we have to fix it. (I call it the “save the fatties!” mission.) But then they roll out the winner of this season who appears to have gone to extremes to lose the weight needed to win. It's the complete opposite of promoting health and wellness – it's strictly rewarding whomever has the lowest weight – no matter if it's dangerously low or not. She got the $250K prize, so mission accomplished, I suppose. Funny – I thought the mission was to get healthy.
I hope that Rachel is healthy and that the dehydration and starvation most contestants do before the finale can get remedied even at tonight's after party. Going from one extreme to another so quickly just seems so dangerous.
We should all focus on being our best selves, healthy and vibrant in our own way, despite what the scale says. Your weight is not your worth, no matter what The Biggest Loser says.