TBD11-1: Fresh Puke —
Trigger warning: This post thoroughly discusses an episode The Biggest Loser, including the abusive bullshit as well as the weigh-ins.
As you read this, the end is in sight. Tonight, the final episode will air and this season’s Biggest Loser will come to a close just in time for Biggest Loser commercial season to begin, including the much-anticipated Subway commercial featuring this season’s Biggest Loser and a former contestant as well. Subway is probably one of Biggest Loser‘s biggest corporate partners if exposure is any indication.
Why Subway would want to associate their sandwiches with the Pukefest that is Biggest Loser is beyond me. Perhaps they’re hoping fans of the show will say, “Boy, watching these contestants regurgitate the contents of their stomach makes me realize just how empty mine is. I sure could go for a sammich!”
Now that’s what I call synergy!
But those are just the early days of Biggest Loser. Maybe Subway increases its exposure on the show as we get into the later weeks, when contestants stop puking. I mean, even Jackson has finally put his vomitous ways behind him, having told the camera last week, “You know, I look back at the days when I was passed out on the ground and, you know, bent over a puke bucket, and I can’t believe that that same kid has now almost lost 100 pounds. Like, I still surprise myself every single day.”
I don’t know, I can’t think of Biggest Loser without thinking of puke, so I’m not sure how that helps Subway. But they’re clearly on board with everything Biggest Loser is about, especially considering the visits from Jared, the Subway worship, and the upcoming commercial:
The main reason Subway founder Fred DeLuca hitched his wagon to Biggest Loser is for Week 11, when the contestants are near their final goal, looking thin and active, sounding happy and confident. This is the payoff of all the blood, sweat, tears and vomit. This is what makes putting up with Jillian and Bob worth it. Now Jillian can be mostly happy with the contestants and Bob can get all sentimental about how awesome everyone has always been. This is the last mile of the marathon, on the brink of victory, and Subway is there to hand you a sandwich as you cross the finish line!
Subway is banking on you coming away with all the good time fun of the last three episodes, from Makeover Week onward. They’re counting on the good times eclipsing the verbal abuse, injuries and bodily fluids that comprise 75% of the show.
And so far, they’ve been pretty successful. But it’s still a gamble. Will it pay off?
Time will tell.
Defending Your Life
The “Previously” segment includes Danny crying as she says, “I never thought I would look like this or feel like this.” There’s a bunch of other stuff that happened last week too, which we already saw, so fuck that noise and let’s roll this shit.
The contestants are sitting around the kitchen table joking about how Danni doesn’t always win or something. Then they talk about the red and yellow lines with red being the smallest loser being automatically eliminated and the yellow being the two smallest losers who get voted on for elimination. This week, the contestants would first face a red line, then a yellow line with the six million viewers voting for who to eliminate.
Gina says to the camera, “Danni is my biggest competition. Danni and I both lost the same amount of weight [last week]. We didn’t lose any extra weight, so we both have some pounds in us that we can lose this week. The boys went balls to the wall” Oh did they? “and, um, they probably lost a little bit more than they should have being that this last week is the most important.” It’s cute how Gina acts like the weight loss on this show is strategic. Like they’ve been plotting each week how much they would lose in because they know how weight loss works.
Not one week went by where some contestant lost a disappointing amount of weight and a trainer said, “This does not reflect your effort” or, conversely, another contestant lost more than expected causing Jillian to sigh heavily and dismiss their results. That’s why it’s so hilarious that Gina makes it sound like she and Danni intended to lose 10 pounds over two weeks so they could lose an even greater amount during the episodes that really counted.
“This is the last week,” Jackson says to the other contestants. “We have seven days to pull it out.” Seven days, more or less. Depends on the weather.
“Honestly, after day one,” Jackson says to the camera. “I never thought I had a shot at it, and now I’m this close to clenching that title, and I want it more than anything in the world.” Actually, Jackson has very little shot at it. Danni and Gina have lost the most by far. Joe is slightly behind. But Jeff and Jackson would have to lose ridiculous amounts of weight to beat them.
We then see the contestants walking up to the gym on the first day.
We hear Jackson say, “I remember day one I couldn’t even walk up this hill and now we’re just charging it like animals.”“Can you believe it’s been 11 weeks?” Bob asks the contestants.
Joe says, “No.” Me neither, Joe. Me neither.
The contestants learn that “some friends” are going to join them for the week.
“They look so good and fit,” Danni says. “We’re here to challenge America and childhood obesity is an epidemic, and we need to stop it, and these are the kids that are gonna get it going, and I am so proud of them.” Yes, clearly childhood obesity has just been waiting to be solved by Lindsay, Sunny and Biingo. No pressure, kids.
“Before we start our first workout,” Jillian says, “we’ve got a little surprise for them.” It’s a movie theater where they’re going to watch footage from the past “11 weeks.”
“We thought it would be really nice to show them the progress that they’ve made from day one,” Jillian says.
Then they rigged up the kids with their special “thinking helmets.”
Then Sunny says to the camera, “When me, Biingo and Lindsay started the show we were so unhealthy. We were the poster child for childhood obesity.” Cut to posters of them being childhood obesity.
“So, just to see where I was in the past, that’s not going to be easy,” Sunny finished.
The movie begins with Sunny in that red dress that has now been used umpteen times to drive home the point that being fat is a terrible, terrible curse.
She says to the camera, “Sometimes I wish I could enjoy being a kid and, like, be comfortable and confident because I don’t feel like that.” Because fat causes lack of confidence naturally, don’t you know. It’s not like it’s a consequence of stigma or anything.
We then see Sunny reacting to herself in the red dress.
Then we see Biingo saying, “I love to play baseball with my friends, but I can’t throw as fast as they can, I can’t run as fast as they can.”
“And it just really hurts me because I really feel like I can be this good athlete but my weight’s just holding me back so much,” Biingo says. Then we hear him talk about bullies. “With being heavier, I do get the insults. I just want to be a normal kid of normal weight that doesn’t get made fun of.” Kids get made fun of all for all kinds of thing, so he’s not out of the woods yet, but right now the atmosphere is such that being fat is the worst thing a kid can be. Bullies not only reflect that national contempt for fat people, but they even get to feel morally superior and justify that they’re tormenting fat kids for their own good.
Which bring us to Lindsay, who quit her gymnastics team because she was bullied for her weight.
“I’ve always loved gymnastics,” says Lindsay as we see the clip of her watching the cheerleaders practice.“I was always dreaming that I would one day do flips in the air, but I just can’t because of my weight.” I can see how weight would affect the kind of flips where other cheerleaders catch her, to a certain extent, but if she were actively cheerleading still, and not bullied off the team for being fat, she would be able to do plenty of the same things.
In the cases of both Biingo and Lindsay, we’re led to believe that it was their fat that kept them from being good athletes. But it isn’t the fat itself that keeps a kid from being a good athlete. Being inactive can keep you from being a good athlete, but more so, innate talent. I wasn’t a fat kid by any stretch of the imagination, I was extremely active, and I sucked at sports. I was a terrible athlete without any fat holding me back.
And yet, I had a great time playing sports because playing sports is fun. We don’t need to teach kids that being fat holds them back from playing sports. If anything, we should be promoting sports because they’re just good for all kids, not as an inducement to lose weight.
But the major difference between my childhood and Biingo’s is that in this day and age, sports are not considered a fiscal priority for most schools, since we aren’t investing in them (but that’s another post for another day). Biingo does play sports, but I’d be curious to see a kid like Biingo play live, not just in clip form, before and after his weight loss to really be able to grasp how his ability is improved. Finding footage of Biingo screwing up or Lindsay being terrible at cheerleading is easy when you’re recording a lot of footage. Could the footage of thin Biingo playing be edited to look equally doofusy? I’m betting so.
We then see Dolvett asking Lindsay, “Tell me when you tried out for the cheerleading squad and when you used to be bullied.”
“They would just say really hurtful names,” Lindsay says. “I would get really sad in class and, like, I would just hold back the tears sometimes.”
Then Sunny says, “I always feel like people are looking at me and judging me for my weight.”
Lindsay says, “When you pass by and they say something and everyone starts laughing.”
And Jillian says, “I promise that when you choose to stop believing in the things they say is when it will all stop.” It’s called the Neener Neener Defense (NND) and it’s clinically proven to stop bullies 93% of the time.
“We have a responsibility to give the younger generation every opportunity to succeed,” Jillian says to the camera. “Right now,” cut to those clips of Biingo stuffing his face with ice cream and Sunny with M&Ms) the odds are stacked against them. This is not going to be easy for any of the kids. Being obese is real hard, emotionally and physically.” Yeah, Jillian knows what she’s talking about because of that one photo in Redbook of her being morbidly obese.
We then see Bob in the theater wearing this shirt.
It’s another Crossfit shirt that has to do with the training schedule some trainers recommend. Ironically enough, the recommendation they make for “Overweight Orville” are significantly different than what Biggest Loser does.
So Biggest Loser contestants are treated like Firebreathing Frank from Day 1, which explains all the puking and injuries and this photo that Biggest Loser posts proudly on it’s Pinterest page:
We then see footage from Lindsay’s bullying lecture in episode 6′s challenge. Then Lindsay to camera: “I do feel a change in my life right now. It’s been a very hard journey, but my journey has been getting easier and easier. I’m just happy that I’m a new teenager, I can start all over again.”
“Being on the Biggest Loser I’ve changed a lot, not just physically, but mentally,” Lindsay says to the camera, portending a weight cycling future as well.
We also see the footage from episode 4 when Jillian suggested that the overworked Sunny join the Pittsford crew club with it’s two-hour daily commitment, five days a week. We also see her
We then see Sunny says, “I’ve always had this little voice in the back of my head telling me, ‘You can’t do this.’” Halfway through that statement, we see footage from episode 7 when she took a Bollywood dancing class. As you hear Sunny say, “You can’t do this,” we cut to footage of Sunny laughing, presumably at the footage of her dancing. Jillian is laughing too.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Happy Jillian scares me more than Mean Jillian. Mean Jillian just makes me laugh because she takes herself so damned seriously. Happy Jillian often seems really, really, really trying for Jillian. Case in point:
I’ve created a double-time version as well. But if you want to see some good ol’ fashioned nightmare fuel, check out this glimpse into my own personal hell.Right now, you’re thinking. “Shannon, I can’t unsee that.”
I know. I feel terrible, and yet I must spread the pain or else the image consumes my soul. The same will happen to you unless you share it with someone in the next 15 minutes.
Mua ah ah ah ah ah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Then Sunny says, “I shut that voice up and I did exactly what I wanted to.”
We then see footage from the reunions again. Sunny says, “The journey so far hasn’t been easy, but I have been making these changes and I feel great. I feel healthy, I feel fit, and active.” Relatively speaking, losing weight isn’t the hard part, which I’m pretty sure Sunny already knows. Her mom does too.
Then Lindsay says, “I guess the old Lindsay was never confident in herself.”
“She never thought that she could do anything,” Lindsay continued the old me/new me metaphor that dieters love. “But now the new Lindsay is like, ‘Guess what, old Lindsay?’” She makes a whooshing noise. “‘I just kicked you in the butt.” It’s a cute moment and we immediately see Dolvett cracking up.
Then we see them laughing more proportionately together.
We’re then transported to Biingo’s reunion, where somebody tells him, “You’re such a stud!” which is the boy equivalent of “You’re so beautiful!”
“No more being the largest kid in class,” Biingo says to the class. “No more being the kid in the class that gets made fun of. When I look in the mirror I see Biingo. that’s all I see. And I’m happy to see me.” Bullying as motivation for weight loss. Bloody brilliant.
“I really think that I’ve been missing out on this happiness in my childhood,” Sunny says to the camera. “So you’ll be seeing a lot more of my smile in the future.”
“That was emotional,” Sunny says. “What I see of myself right now is that there’s nothing that can stop me from doing what I choose to do and not what other people want me to do.” I think that’s a good message to get out of it. And I hope that’s what she really takes out of this whole experience, and not just the diet mentality.
“It’s great to look back and to see not only physically have I changed,” Sunny says, “but I’ve grown so much emotionally and mentally.” Unless and until she regains the weight, that is. In other words, it’s a bandaid contingent upon one of the most difficult things a person can do: long-term weight loss maintenance. Real emotional and psychological change needs to withstand a damn-near-inevitable regain. Focus on healthy behaviors, not weight loss, and you can find a balance between weight loss diets and sustainable long-term lifestyle changes.
“All I’ve really wanted to get you to do is get out and be more active with your friends,” Bob says to Biingo. “You can do so much when you put your mind to it.” It’s true and it’s a nice sentiment. But it sounds like Biingo was being active with his friends before, he just felt like he wasn’t very good at sports. According to Dr. Splenda, the solution to his problem wasn’t to practice to get better. It was a diet, plain and simple.
“I’ve learned so much here on The Biggest Loser,” Biingo says. “You can’t just give up, and you gotta keep working towards whatever you want. But you gotta eat healthy and push yourself as hard as you can.”
“Eat healthy’ is code word for diet. I know lots of thin people who eat healthy. My mother-in-law the hummingbird, for example. And she certainly doesn’t follow some dumb rule about eating “bad food” only two times a week. She eats a healthy balance, which includes something tasty every day. Telling a kid they can eat one slice of pizza and one slice of cake per week is a diet, whether you teach them about calories or not. Whether the kids speak the lingo, their bodies are still subjected to caloric restriction in an attempt to lose weight (aka a diet).
How long will 13-year-old Biingo be able to push himself as hard as he can? How long will Lindsay avoid the cruel words of life’s inevitable off-camera bullies? How long will Sunny keep her schedule light enough to maintain her rigorous workout regimens, particularly when she goes to college?
“Lindsay, I have to tell you something,” Jillian says. “Watching you get up in front of your entire class and bare your heart and soul about how hurtful being bullied has been for you, it brought me back to that place of being a kid and feeling that way, but never having the strength to say so. And to see you is inspiring. I mean, it inspires me as a 38-year-old woman. I mean, you are a force to be reckoned with, sweetheart.”
Yeah, maybe someday Lindsay will grow up to be a personal trainer who gets her own reality show and the opportunity to pay forward all the bullying she endured as a child. It’s the Circle of Bully Life.
“These kids are heroes,” Jillian says to the camera. “They are improving the quality of life for other people as well as themselves. And they can be so inspiring to so many.” Until they aren’t, and then what? They’re children. They aren’t role models. Telling a teenager, “You are a national role model for healthy behavior” is a huge burden to put on them. It’s irresponsible to say the least.
All it means is that their diets were successful and some parents are going to try putting their fat kids on diets and be surprised that they can’t get it to work forever, and the kid regains more weight. A lifelong cycle begins.
Everyone hugs in the movie theater, and the segment ends. Then we’re told what’s coming up by Alison Sweeney. “The contestants push it to the limit, but at what expense?” You’re only asking this question now?
Gina’s running on a treadmill, wincing in pain, when she doubles over in pain and crying, “Ow, God. My foot snapped.”
Then, we see a picture of a young, thin girl playing baseball. Brianna used to weigh “almost 200 pounds,” accompanied by a photo of her being fat in a swimsuit.
Then her mother says, “I knew I just had to step up and do something about it.”
This should end well.
“You’ve come a long way,” Dolvett says. “You got a long way to go.” The contestants are working out like all the times they’ve worked out before. Exercise montage, exercise montage, inspirational phrases. Jillian doing wheelbarrow with Danni on the treadmill.
“We’re in the final week before the finale,” Bob says. “I’m really proud of these final five. I mean, they have worked really hard, deserve to be here.”
We then see Jillian doing her motivational speaking thing as Danni jumps rope.
Wait a second, who is that back there?
Wait a second, that gait looks familiar. Good thing I’m using SuperComputer.
SuperComputer, enhance photo of this mystery man.
Goodness gracious! Photographic evidence of Big Fat Foot! I’ve heard he wanders the campus of Biggest Loser Ranch looking for the weak and pitiful to drag back to his lair where he cocoons them in a layer of his saliva and smegma to devour through the winter months. That’s what happened to season 2 contestant, Kathryn Murphy, who disappeared after the second week without a trace.
“Are you going to lose this weigh in.”
“Have you come this far to lose this weigh-in?”
“Are you gonna stop?”
And then Jillian walks to the side where she says in one of the weirdest voices I’ve heard from her, “Faster, dude, go! Faster!” Not only that, but she hunches up her shoulders until she looks like she has transmogrified into her true form: a troll. It made me laugh so hard that for the first time of these recaps, I’m creating a video capture of it to commemorate the moment.
But just in case my fair use claim doesn’t hold, I’ve created animated GIFs for all. Hooray!
It wasn’t until extracted this video and created the gifs that I noticed that Jillian wasn’t just turning into a troll. She was straight up staring at Danni’s boobs!
It becomes really obvious with a troll-only gif.
Which led me to one obvious conclusion:
“Danni’s come really far,” Jillian says to the camera. “Week 1, I could barely keep her in motion.” Cue the first of the Week 1/Week 11 shots of contestants in the gym before and after the weight loss.
And as Jillian says, “And now there’s nothing today this girl can’t do” we see her do this:
As if that weren’t enough, they show Jillian in her spiffy leather jacket saying, “I am going to give this girl everything that I’ve got.”
Jillian is openly gay, so either she’s got the hots for Danni or else the editors are fucking with us. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
When Jillian says she’s going to give Danni everything she’s got, they show us this.
“When all is said and done,” Jillian says, “I want to know that I did everything I could and I want her to know that she’s done everything that she could. And I want to finish this with her.” I’ll bet she does.
We then see Dolvett with Joe and Jackson who are doing some kind of rowing machine.
“Grand total so far that you’ve lost Jackson Carter?” Dolvett barks.
“Grand total –”
“One two zero,” Joe interrupts Dolvett’s mojo, but Dolvett keeps talking over Joe. “– pounds you’ve lost so far?” Then he says, “That’s what I’m talking about.”
Then we see Dolvett talking to the camera.
“I see a tremendous difference between the contestants that were here Day 1,” Dolvett says as we see a shot of Jackson’s before and after gym shot.
“Day one, I saw fear, I saw doubt,” Dolvett says. “Today I see power, strength, belief, determination. Now I can do things with the contestants I haven’t done.”
“And I’m going to test to see how strong they are,” Dolvett says.
Then we see Jackson say to the camera, “The fact that, not only do I have to survive a red line, but I have to survive a yellow line to guarantee myself a spot on the finals is weighing heavily on my mind.” And the reason Jackson says that is because he’s about to manifest that concern in a physical way.
First, he makes a hoerking noise, as you would if you were in danger of throwing up.
“Easy, easy,” Dolvett tells him. “Breath for me.”
“All of the sudden, I start to get really nauseous,” Jackson says as we see a shot of him jumping up and down, because that’s how you stop yourself from puking, I guess. “I step away for a second thinking, ‘Nope, it’s not going to happen. It’s week 11, I am done with this.’”
Then as Jillian watches Danni workout, she hears Jackson starting to retch.
“Oh no, Jackson,” Jillian laughs as he pukes into a sink.
“I’ve been throwing up since I’ve been here,” Jack says to the camera. They show a picture of Jackson throwing up Week 1, which made me think that Jackson’s before and after exercise picture should look like this.
They also show this awesome pic of Joe trying not to smell Jackson’s puke while he works out.
“My body is really acidotic,” he says. “Any time I have an intense workout, I’m just going to throw up. I have to look at that in the face every single time I work out.” There’s a couple things to unpack from this.
First, he’s referring to lactic acidotisis, which is caused by the blood cells not getting enough oxygen due to vigorous exercise. The simple solution is to engage in moderate exercise. Of course, you can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop busting your ass on the ranch lest Big Fat Foot comes after you. And so Jackson has resigned himself to a vomitous, but thin, future. That raises the question of whether that’s really sustainable.
It turns out that it is. And do you know why?
Because if getting fit means throwing up every time you exercise, then you may as well make the best of your lactic acidosis. And what better way to enjoy some hard-earned regurgitation than to excrete a meal that’s as good coming up as it was going down.
Or maybe it’s the Subway sandwiches that are doing Jackson in. I mean, there was this photo from last year.
And, of course, there was his brief career as a sandwich artist.
Turns out, other dieters soon requested Jackson’s services to help them dress up their meals in a way that helps reduce their caloric intake significantly.
Like Jared, Jackson’s sandwich-and-puke diet spread like a virus until DeLuca himself was getting “The Jackson.”
And of course, there was episode 8 when Jared came to visit.
Now with his successful run on Biggest Loser, Subway has replaced Jared with Jackson for their new campaign:
When you think Subway, think vomit. Jackson’s fresh, warm, chunky, acidotic vomit. If you do, and I hope you do, then my job here is done.
And here’s the kicker about this whole Jackson puking thing: it isn’t even the grossest moment. You want to know what’s grosser than Jackson throwing up in a sink?
As we hear Jackson gagging, we see Jillian smiling and laughing. But the camera barely catches her mirthful cheer at Jackson’s ongoing nausea.
Long-time readers may remember this similar picture from this post, where Jillian grins big after a contestant pukes on the first day. This is also the post where I quote Jillian as saying, “A lot of times they throw up and it’s because they have a lot of toxins stored up in their body.” This is also the one where she tells the camera, “I”m proud that I made him vomit.”
Jillian Michaels is one sick and stupid individual.
So Jackson groans in frustration, and Dolvett, who has to reassure him that everything’s going great, tells him, “I remember sitting right there with you and I remember you spilling your guts. Remember that conversation?”
“Oh, like it was yesterday,” Jackson says.
“I’m so sick of just throwing up all the time,” he says. “I feel like I’m letting my team down when I can’t finish workout. I feel like I’m letting myself down when I can’t finish workout.”
Dolvett today says, “He’s a ghost to me now.” A ghost who pukes, of course.
“Yeah,” Jackson nods.
“How does he compare to this guy?” His puke is more translucent.
“I’m — I know I’m worth it,” Jackson says. “I got this opportunity going into it for all the wrong reasons. I was doing it for the kids, I was doing it for my family. Never once did I think about myself, because I didn’t feel I was worth it. I didn’t feel like I was good enough for it. And…” we see Dolvett looking sternly at Jackson “those feelings are… gone forever. I’m worth it.” Dolvett’s face contorts gradually into this weird smile.“I’m good enough for it, and I’m gonna do it,” Jackson says, then he growls, which on closed captioning is spelled “Rrr!” Then Jackson and Dolvett give each other a high five, or technically, a high ten.
“When your body fights you every step of the way, it really makes you have to become stronger,” Jackson tells the camera, as we cut to this bizarre shot of Dolvett swooping in on Jackson like he’s a tough guy while Jackson wobbles a big bar..
“I have worked so hard for this,” Jackson says. “I have to keep moving. And no amount of vomit in the world is gonna stop me from doing that.” Yeah, because that’s a completely normal response to something causing your body to puke. Geez, Jackson, just go for a walk instead of busting your ass for six hours a day. Honestly, is this really worth it?
We then see Bob say to the camera, “Jeff has struggled up and down the scale throughout the whole season. And this guy could win the whole thing.”“Gina’s come so far,” Bob continued. “In Week 1, she was just a mess and now here Gina is.” “She’s been the biggest loser in the house for many, many weeks. I mean, this woman has come so far.”
We then see Gina running on treadmill, grunting and wincing.
We see her from the front, clearly in pain.
Remember, this is the woman who was mocked in episode 8 for falling and saying her “hamstring snapped,” thus inconveniencing the rest of the team in the contest. You may also recall she was mocked on Twitter for complaining. She’s always told to push through the pain, no matter the pain, but now, the completely thinkable happens.
“Ow, my foot snapped!” she cries out.
“Gina doesn’t complain about things,” Bob says. “This girl will work through anything.” Oh really? What about that huge tantrum Jillian threw about Gina being a terrible slacker? “This is the week that will determine who our finalists will be. The stakes couldn’t be higher. This could not be happening.” It would happen if you continually pushed Gina further than her body could handle for weeks on end.
Commercial break, of course, to squeeze every last drop of drama out of Gina’s injury.
When we return from commercial break, we see Gina hunched over and wailing “My foot snapped. Sandy will you come here? I’m sorry.” Remember last episode when Gina was bold enough to send back the wrong order at the restaurant and she said she would no longer be accommodating or gracious? Remember how she said “I’ve been gracious my whole life and look where it’s gotten me”?
Well, Gina apologizing for snapping her foot on the treadmill and needing medical attention is the epitome of being accommodating and gracious to a fault. This is supposedly one of Gina’s flaws, in that she’s so accommodating and gracious that when people don’t respond in kind, then she gets mad and ruins that relationship. Or at least that’s Jillian’s theory. The death/rebirth ceremony with the coffin was supposed to cure her of that, which enabled her to send back the wrong order.
One message that’s repeated throughout this show is that the reason The Biggest Loser works, and all those other fad diets don’t, is that TBL solves the psychological issues. The things that got them “there,” meaning to their fatness. Solve that psychological problem and VIOLA! your Fatty Magic Bullet.
Except TV shows don’t solve lifetime psychological issues, let alone potentially unpleasant personality traits. It’s all hocus pocus, smoke and mirrors, or, what I like to call it: bullshit.
What the reality of this show is in moments like these.
When I got this screen cap, I noticed something else. What the hell does Gina have on her foot?
Because here’s the thing: remember that photo above with Gina lying on her back with her foot elevated in the recoup room? She’s elevating her right foot, and that’s the foot he’s looking at. it’s also the food that seems to have some kind of wrapping or additional sock there. It’s not just a sock, though. Also remember that in episode 8, before Jillian’s epic tantrum directed at Gina, there was this incident at the very beginning of the episode:
Dolvett’s charges are on their machines and he tells them, “I walked into this gym extremely calm today, but I could switch to anger very quickly. Do not piss me off. It’s a nice, light little jog, right Gina? How about you start?”
Gina says, “I have very slick tennis shoes on. They’re brand spanking new, I haven’t had the chance —”
“Do me a favor,” Dolvett cuts in. “Don’t run on your heel, run on your toes.”
“I can’t do that,” Gina says, and Dolvett gives her a dirty look. “I can’t.”
Then Dolvett says to the camera, “I don’t like quitters and I don’t like excuses. Gina gave me an excuse. I don’t condone that,”
Dolvett then punished the rest of the contestants he was working with for Gina’s “excuses.” I thought it seemed odd that Gina had new shoes in the middle of the show. But here it is, another foot-related issue with Gina.
I’m not a doctor. I can’t diagnose what really happened to Gina, but I do notice patterns and these three incidents revolving around the foot suggest that she’s struggled with foot issues of one kind or another since the beginning. Which makes this next part really interesting to me.
Slightly muffled, but clear enough, Sandy the paramedic says, “You’ve just had a sprain.” But then there’s an unintelligible part. If you want to go to Hulu and listen figure it out, go for (no link love, though). It’s just after the second commercial break (indicated on the timeline by a white divider). After repeatedly rewinding, what I vaguely make out (and I invite Biggest Loser to clarify) is, “You’ve gotta control it.” Don’t get pissed, because it’s probably not what he says, but it’s something about control, I think.
Gina says to the camera, “Of all the times to have an injury, I’ve remained virtually injury-free this entire time, and now here at the last week when it all matters, I have injured myself.” To be fair, it’s Biggest Loser that injured you, Gina. If you had a foot injury from the beginning and it continued throughout the show, then their medical team is responsible for okaying the kind of treatment that would lead to a sprain.
“Right there it snapped,” Gina says.
“What snapped?” Bob asks, gawking.
“My foot,” Gina tells Bob.
On the treadmill, we get a rare glimpse at what the contestants do on the treadmills.
When Jillian threw her tantrum, she was made that Gina hadn’t run a 6 for 5 minutes. Here, Bob has them running a 6.3 (or slightly less) for five minutes at least. The red bars indicate the intensity of the run. The total time is 15:44. Each bar on that screen indicates a minute or so. It just gives you a small glimpse of what level at which the contestants are expected to perform.
“I had some problems with my foot,” Gina says to the camera. “I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed in my body.” Which is utterly ridiculous, but further evidence of her accommodating nature. Everything is her fault. Her body at 47 should be as resilient as, say, Danni’s at 26. It’s such an unrealistic expectation on a show chock full of them. “I am the smallest person in the house. It’s getting harder and harder for me to lose weight and I absolutely will have to adjust my workouts. But I’m not going to let a foot injury define my journey here. I’m going to work and I’m going to do everything I can do and hope that I can burn enough calories to make a difference when we weigh in. I’m certainly worried.”
You should be worried, Gina. The producers of this show do not care about your health. They care about one thing: ratings. Fortunately, their ratings have generally sucked, placing fourth among the networks for the majority of the season. Makeover week brought them up to third, but their initial blockbuster ratings from the first two nights quickly dwindled.
Gina, if they really cared about your health, they would not have driven you to a sprained foot. It would not have happened. I hope you understand that.
So much bullshit in a single segment. This is why Biggest Loser gets exercise wrong every single time. Shame on them for this gladiatorial dieting. And shame on Subway for supporting it.
After exposing us to their extreme methods, guess who returns. That’s right, it’s our old pal Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, aka Dr. Splenda.
I’m here today to give the kids an update on their health and their progress. They’ve been working so hard at home. We’ve cut the junk food out of the house, they’ve been eating right, they’ve been exercising, making lots of changes and today we’re going to see if there are any results yet.
But remember, this isn’t a diet. You know how you know it’s not a diet? Because they kids don’t talk about calories or weight goals. Dr. Splenda’s plan replaces calorie counting with red, yellow and green lights, which are based on caloric content. The theory is that the real problem with putting kids on diets is that calorie counting puts kids at risk for eating disorders, while colored stoplights solves the issue (nevermind the fact that it’s still teaching kids to obsess over “good” and “bad” foods).
But even more than that, Dr. Splenda told reporters leading up to the show that the kind of weight loss she promotes in kids is far more modest and reasonable than what is expected of the adults on Biggest Loser.
They’re going to come — go online, fast weight-loss methods. And those are the kids who are going to starve themselves. And then they binge because they can’t keep up the starving, so then they purge. And these are the kids that are really at risk for disordered eating. So you have to address it. Even I know parents don’t want to but they have to… and also the weight-loss program, there is not a crazy weight-loss program. It’s a safe program for them to lose weight at an appropriate rate that’s healthy for their bodies… And they’re getting a very healthy amount of calories. We have not lowered it anymore that we would for any of my patients. We’re not treating these kids any differently. We are supporting them nutritionally… And they brought me on to make sure that we do this in the safest way possible because they wanted to be sure that they weren’t exploiting the kids in any way. [emphasis mine]
So these kids aren’t going to be treated like the adults and they are going to lose weight at an appropriate rate. Of course, the definition of appropriate rate is in question, which is why it’s so enlightening that Dara-Lynn Weiss, the mother who put her 7-year-old on a diet, was using Dr. Splenda’s “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program.
Due to the controversy, Dr. Splenda responded, explaining that Weiss had not followed her plan exactly.
While her daughter ultimately loses a significant amount of weight from her initial 6-year-old, 4’4″ 93-pound frame (after one year, she has grown 2 inches and lost 16 pounds), Ms. Weiss’s methods have received much backlash from readers, bloggers, and pundits alike who have derided her efforts as draconian and severe and point out that her child, despite her fondness for her healthier appearance, was miserable throughout the yearlong exercise.
Dr. Splenda herself defines “a significant amount of weight” as 17% of this girl’s body weight after one year. She goes on to explain how Weiss did not follow her plan as outlined in her book:
While I do commend Ms. Weiss on certain aspects of her approach (such as limiting her daughter’s overall intake of junk food and promoting the consumption of fruits and vegetables), I believe she did fall short of carrying out many of our program’s core attributes. The success of my program is based upon its promotion of flexibility and sensitivity… not severity and emotional distress
You see? Dr. Splenda has a rational plan, while Weiss was irrational. She was too severe. Dr. Splenda goes on to explain the difference in severity:
In the Vogue article, Weiss states, “She (Bea) almost never got dessert.” However, on the “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program, every week, two red light foods are permitted for children to enjoy, such as, a piece of birthday cake or a dessert when dining out with their family. Our program also allows for one small treat every day, such as a 100-calorie-pack or a cookie; after all, we want kids to feel like kids!
You see? Even Dr. Splenda says fat kids can have treats, like birthday cake! Except, as Dr. Yoni Freedhoff pointed out, Sunny blogged about her “healthy” 17th birthday foregoing birthday cake and, instead, received from her trainer a tiny mandarin orange with a candle in it.
Sunny wrote of the moment, “After an exhausting workout, I ate the orange and it was, hands-down, the best birthday cake I’ve ever tasted.”
Let’s assume for a moment that Dr. Splenda really does mean what she says, and that she doesn’t want the kids severely restricting or losing weight too fast. Let’s say that Dr. Splenda directed these kids to follow her flexible, sensitive plan and promoted health over weight loss. Even though this may be true, the question is what did Biggest Loser do when Dr. Splenda wasn’t around to enforce her “our program’s core attributes”?
Well, to be honest, Biggest Loser has not mentioned the current weight or goal weight of the kids in any way throughout this season. But that does not prevent both Biingo and Sunny from talking about calories like adult dieters. Like during the challenge in episode 1 when Biingo says, “I feel like I’m burning more calories than ever. This is awesome.” Or the trivia game in episode 8 that had kids speculating on which foods have more calories. Or the last episode where Tim Gunn talks about Lindsay’s “slim, gorgeous legs.”
Rather than focus on calories and weight overtly, TBL turned to keywords like “healthy eating” to talk about caloric restriction and “improved confidence” or how beautiful the kids have become to talk about weight loss. Even though they aren’t speaking explicitly about weight loss, visually you can see the kids losing weight and the fact is acknowledged by pointing to these other results of losing weight.
But this episode is where they throw all those pretensions out the window and start straight up talking fat kids’ gettin’ thin. But first, Dr. Dolgoff has a major victory to tout with Lindsay.
“You look great, I want to know how you feel,” Dr. Splenda says, because how you feel is what really matters, right?
“I’m feeling really good, more confident in myself,” Lindsay says. “I feel like a new kid.”
“Yeah,” Dr. Splenda smiles. “Let’s bring us back to where you were when you came here.”
We see Lindsay say to the camera, “Last time I saw Dr. Joanna, it wasn’t pretty.”
Flashback to Dr. Splenda informing Lindsay and the whole world that she has pre-diabetes. We then see Lindsay tell the camera today, “I just wanted to lay in bed and just cry all day. It was devastating. It was something a teenager shouldn’t have to hear.”
Now, today, Dr. Splenda says to her family, “Lindsay doesn’t have pre-diabetes anymore!” As she tells her this with a huge grin on her face, Dr. Dolgoff does this bizarre, patronizing head shake that makes me really dislike her even more than before.
Lindsay squeals and jumps for joy and shrieks, “Yes!”
“Gone,” Dr. Splenda says. “Normal.”
“Right now I feel like a normal teenager,” Lindsay says. “I feel that I did a good change in my life.”
At the time, I noted that the diagnosis of pre-diabetes is tenuous at best:
As I summarized in my post on the work of Dr. Gerald Reaven, the man who brought metabolic syndrome to the forefront, pre-diabetes is essentially a worthless diagnosis. It’s predictive powers for either metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes are incredibly low, as the fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels can vary widely.
And then I stumbled across a study of Hispanic children with pre-diabetes. Lindsay is Hispanic, so this study seems particularly apt to Dr. Splenda’s prime time diagnosis. Their conclusion?
In this group of Hispanic children at high risk of type 2 diabetes, 1) pre-diabetes is highly variable from year to year; 2) the prevalence of persistent pre-diabetes over 3 years is 13%; and 3) children with persistent pre-diabetes have lower [β-cell function], due to a lower [acute insulin response], and increasing visceral fat over time.
In short, although the diagnosis of pre-diabetes may point to some issues, the actual state of being “pre-diabetic” fluctuates so wildly as to be essentially worthless at predicting the future state of the child. But being called “pre-diabetic” has become such almost a substitute for diabetes. If you’re pre-diabetic, you may as well be diabetic, even though that’s not actually the case.
Caloric restriction and exercise can definitely improve your blood sugar, but is this the huge reversal that Dr. Splenda treats it as? Consider how unpredictable a pre-diabetes diagnosis can be in free-living Hispanic kids, it seems questionable. But, hey, let’s act like we just cured Lindsay’s diabetes and call it a day, right?
“You can easily go back,” Dolvett tells her. “It’s actually easier to slow down than it is to speed up, right? Don’t go back to that behavior. Behavior defines your life.”
And recall what Dr. Splenda said in her article I quote above on “fast weight-loss methods”:
[T]hose are the kids who are going to starve themselves. And then they binge because they can’t keep up the starving, so then they purge. And these are the kids that are really at risk for disordered eating.”
This is referred to as the restriction/disinhibition cycle, and it’s widely seen by ED experts as a critical link in why diets fail so consistently and why weight cycling is so prevalent.
So it’s kind of important to know what kind of “diet” these kids were actually on. Which brings us to Biingo, who tells the camera, “Dr. Joanna gives harsh news sometimes, but, you know, it’s for the best and hopefully today we’ll hear some good news.”
Dr. Splenda definitely has good news… for Biggest Loser at least.
“I have here a body mass index curve,” Dr. Splenda says. “It’s a way to measure levels of body fat.” NO IT’S NOT!!! GARGH!!! The BMI chart does not measure body fat. It creates a height-to-weigh ratio. That’s it. That’s why parents of athletic, healthy children are getting so-called “fat letters” from their schools when their child has very little body fat. The fact that Dr. Splenda grossly oversimplifies this fact makes me dislike her even more.
“And when we first met you, you were in the purple and at a real risk for medical problems,” Dr. Dolgoff says, pointing with her pen. “In just a few months of making healthy choices, you hvae gone from the purple all the way down to the yellow.”And now comes the most wonderful news of all: “Biingo has lost 25% of his body weight.”
“Oh gosh,” Biingo says, giving the thumbs up.
“Twenty-five percent of my body weight?” Biingo says to the camera. “That’s just insane to think of me cut into a quarter and then just, like, thrown away. It’s awesome.”
If I had just one question for Dr. Splenda, it would be this: You recently described a 6-year-old losing 17% of her body weight after one year as “a significant amount of weight.” How would you describe Biingo’s 25% weight loss after “11 weeks”?
To put that amount in perspective, at this point in the game, Jackson had lost 28% of his weight and Gina, the biggest loser of the house, had lost 29%. In order to achieve 25% in this amount of time, Biingo would have to be performing at a level similar to the adults on the show. The only difference is that we don’t see the intensity of his daily workouts or the severity of his caloric restriction. But the biggest difference is that, until now, nobody has mentioned his weight loss at all.
Is this somehow better? NO!
Dr. Joanna Dolgoff has sold out her “patients” to Biggest Loser, allowing them to push the kids to turn in equally impressive results in equally gob-smacking amounts of time.
Dr. Splenda is 100% responsible for the results of this tragic experiment in gladiatorial dieting for kids. If Biggest Loser decides to do another season with kids, it is Dr. Splenda who gave them the legitimacy to proceed in exchange for promotional considerations for her books and products, which includes the Splenda brand she is a paid spokesperson for.
And an interesting sidenote on that fact: in my very first post on this season’s Biggest Loser, I shared a link to Dr. Splenda’s literary agent’s page which read the following:
Dr. Dolgoff also participated in round table discussions for the National Institutes of Health and Subway Restaurants’ We Can! Childhood Obesity Prevention Program and is a spokesperson for Splenda.
Guess what… that page is now gone.
Chew on that.
We then see Biingo’s mom say to Dr. Splenda, “I see him every day. It’s like, oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize he was really that big.”
“Seventy percent of parents of obese children think that their children are normal weight,” Dr. Splenda says. “We look at our kids with love in our eyes — as we should — so very often parents don’t realize it’s an issue.”
I pointed it out before and I’ll point it out every time I hear it: that statistic is utterly mythical bullshit. You want some simple proof? That same initial post included a quote from Dr. Splenda’s intro video to Biggest Loser, where she said, “They did a study, 75% of parents of obese children think their children are either normal weight or even underweight.”
That rapidly changing statistic comes from the Strong4Life campaign, which I pointed out in this post, was entirely made up. There is no study that says this. But Dr. Splenda seems quite willing to say anything to justify her appearance on Biggest Loser because it gives her an even bigger platform to hawk her diet books and Splenda recipes.
“I think of the old me that would play multi-hours of video games a day, not exercise, not do anything, eat a lot of crappy food,” Biingo says. “You know, that’s just not me anymore.” Yeah, because 13-year-0ld kids can totally make these commitments and stick to them for life.
Then Biingo’s mom offers up the obligatory, “I went down five dress sizes, so —”
“Five dress sizes?” Dr. Splenda gasps?
Flashback to fat mom, but I’m not going to post a photo and encourage her.
“Wow,” Dr. Splenda says.
“If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be doing it,” his mom says.
Then Bob tells the camera, “Biingo has created a ripple effect and it has affected his mother. It really shows. You live a healthy lifestyle, and your body will respond in the way that you want it to.” Because that’s exactly what this season’s Biggest Loser has proven, right folks? Your body will respond the way you want it to if you just do the right shit… oh, except for the weeks upon weeks upon weeks of disappointment and surprise at the results which they then have to explain away with psycho-babble and theories on strategic weight loss.
And here’s the other nightmare created by all this foolishness. What happens if Biingo or his mom regain the weight? If Biingo is responsible for them losing weight and causing this ripple effect, where do you think the guilt will fall in Biingo’s mind when the results become unsustainable?
Thanks Dr. Splenda!
Finally, Dr. Splenda meets with Sunny, who she says has “borderline high triglycerides and you had borderline high something we call non-HDL cholesterol.” Of course, we have no idea how “borderline” that is. But I’m sure the honest brokers on TBL wouldn’t mislead us on the severity.
“Losing weight for me was always about just looking better,” Sunny says to the camera, reflecting the content of 75% of her weight loss blog on Seventeen magazine. “And what I realized on the show is that there are so many terrible health problems that come with being overweight. I mean, that’s a scary thought.”
“How would you feel if I told you right now that your cholesterol panel is entirely normal?” Dr. Splenda asks.
“Wow,” Sunny says.
“Every one of your health problems that you had before you came here — gone,” Dr. Splenda says.
“I’ve never been happier in my life,” Sunny grins. “I am so thrilled right now.”
Then Jillian says, “This is a 16-year-old kid. The happiest day of her life should be the prom — should be, you know, the first time she kisses a boy. By making subtle and consistent lifestyle changes, you can turn everything around, and that’s the great news.”
“Subtle and consistent” being the keyword, right? Sunny’s mandarin orange birthday cake? And about that whole prom thing: we’ve already been reminded repeatedly that Sunny is too fat for prom, let alone a prom dress. God help her if she hopes to kiss a boy.
But now, Dr. Splenda has helped these kids enact safe, healthy methods for losing weight at an appropriate weight, right? And that’s why we’re treated to yet another shot of a rainbow — nay, a DOUBLE RAINBOW — after her meeting with the kids.
Coming up, Sweeney teases, “The contestants face an uphill battle and their toughest challenge yet.” SPOILER ALERT: They’re going to climb a snowy mountain.
And later, Bob’s crying as he talks to Jeff. “Something in your story that really touched me…”
“Bob breaks down,” Sweeney says, “showing a side of him never seen before on The Biggest Loser.”
All of this happened within the first 23 minutes of a 90 minute show, and it’s a lot to digest. So in the interest of sparing your sanity watcher’s points, I am going to divide up my recap for the first time ever. The next segments should go much faster, as the contestants spent a good chunk of time watching footage from the first 10 episodes, which we’ve already seen. Plus, the challenges that the contestants must face are pretty quick to recap.
I will have a followup either tomorrow or Wednesday. So I hope you will forgive me for breaking it up like this, but it is for the best.
- Prequel — Paging Dr. Dolgoff
- Episode 1 — The Biggest Dickweed
- Episode 2 — Reclaiming Worth
- Episode 3 — Crossfire Hurricane
- Episode 4 — Cognitive Dissonance
- Episode 5 — Abracadabra
- Episode 6 — Mystery Tramp
- Episode 7 — Valentine’s Day Massacre
- Episode 8 — Queen Bee
- Episode 9 — Fear and Loathing
- Episode 10 — Half Baked