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TBD2: Reclaiming Worth —

January 11, 2013

Biggest Dickweed

Trigger warning: This post thoroughly discusses the first episode of The Biggest Loser, including the abusive bullshit as well as the weigh-ins.

Previously on The Biggest Dickweed, we met the three kids who would be the inspiration for a nation to stop childhood obesity (no pressure kids!), and we got a firsthand look at how Jillian Michaels planned to surpass her notorious history as terrible human being. But will she maintain control over last week’s stunning victory and be crowned once against as the Biggest Dickweed?

From the opening sequence, we see the entire show hard at work to overshadow Jillian’s spiteful attitude. A background of video clips features 400- and 500-pound fat people running on treadmills, all without shirts, while Allison Sweeney narrates. “An obesity epidemic is attacking our nation,” she tells us, possibly referring to a vindictive Adipose creature from Dr. Who. “It will kill over 300,000 Americans this year alone.”

Why am I not surprised that The Biggest Loser can’t get basic shit right? As I explained in the timeline of this post, the claim that obesity and overweight combined is responsible for 365,000 annual deaths was thoroughly debunked by Dr. Katherine Flegal of the statistical arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is blamed for 112,000 deaths, while overweight has a negative mortality rate of 86,000, giving a comparable, combined mortality of 26,000.

But when have facts ever stood in the way of TBL’s unhinged rhetoric?

Sweeney also informs us of the “notorious week two curse.” Of course, she doesn’t explain that all weight loss attempts start with a drastic drop in weight because you shed a lot of water at first. Couple that with TBL’s fondness for dehydration and over-exertion, and it’s not surprising at all that contestants lost between 15 and 30 pounds the first week.

The second week, the water weight is no longer as significant a factor, so the numbers on the scale begin to level off and look less dramatic. Rather than explain this totally natural and expected response to weight loss, TBL refers to it as a “curse,” as though some evil sorcerer of fat has put a hex on everyone so they can’t lose weight as fast as they want.

It’s kind of stupid, but it makes sense.

You see, if TBL explained that water weight makes up the significant amount of pounds lost that first week, then they may destroy the illusion that a little hard work will lead to the fat just “melting away.” People watch TBL to see enormous fat people shed their disgusting fat, not to learn that in reality they’ve just sweated and pissed themselves down 20 pounds.

Custom Ordered

So with the second week “curse” looming over their heads, the contestants are taken to their new workout facilities. Each team gets it’s own outdoor gym designed by their trainer. While Jillian and Dolvett stock their facilities with interesting and unique equipment, Bob stocks his with bronzed and ripped 20-somethings.

Outdoor Gym
Why was I not surprised that Bob Harper (the most smug, insufferable douchebag this side of Walter Peck) took this opportunity to design a gym for his team and squandered it on showboating his “friends” from Central Casting. My guess is, after this scene, all the hard-body actors went home and Bob spent the evening singing karaoke Journey songs with his cats.

At this first workout of the day, we learn that after passing out the week before, Jackson has been medically restricted to just walking. “I’ve been throwing up everything,” Jackson explains. “So I’m working with Dr. Rach to try and figure that out.”

Hey Jackson, tell Dr. Rach that the reason you’re throwing up is probably because they put a 300-pound sedentary person straight into bootcamp and told him that if he brutalized his body he could win a quarter million dollars.

And the pressure is even greater on contestants because, once again, the person who lost the least amount of weight for the losing team would be sent home after the weigh-in. Whereas previous contestants got to vote off the “weakest” contestant, this new “red line” approach punishes the body’s response to the caloric deficits created on the show. And, of course, in a calories in, calories out world, the person who loses the least amount of weight is the person who didn’t try hard enough, right?

So, the trainers are pressured to push their team harder. “Because of the red line these are not going to be average workouts,” Bob says, delighted with himself. “They’re going to be your workouts on steroids.” Oh, you mean like some of your friends, back there?

And, of course, shortly after Bob commits to pushing his team even harder, one of his blue team members, Mike, the heaviest contestant at 444 pounds, collapses.

Mike Falling

We also learn for the first time during this segment that David (another from Bob’s team) suffered a stress fracture to his right knee the week before on the treadmill. Hey Bob, maybe with a little more steroids you can snap Dave’s leg clean off!

Then we peek in at Jillian’s white team, which lost two members the week before (one due to the red line and the other due to Jillian being an asshole). Jillian’s working on losing another, as she barks, “It’s not that hard, dude.”

We see a brief bio on Danni, the woman whose motivation for coming is to lose enough weight to have a baby. She tells the camera, “I let my weight speak for myself.” That’s a pretty common sentiment among self-conscious fat people, but it’s grounded in a belief that being fat confers some mystical force that holds you back, weighs you down and prevents you from being the person you want to be (aka The Fantasy of Being Thin). “If I could get that confidence back,” she continues, “I could do so much more with my life.”

Danni, if by chance you read this, I just want to assure you that the confidence you’re so desperate to get back does not depend on the scale beneath your feet. Your confidence does not fall inversely to how much you weigh. The confidence you seek can be reclaimed now without subjecting yourself to Jillian’s capricious whims.

You know, like when you were sitting on the ground with a paramedic by your side, when Jillian comes up to you and says, “Danni, wake up,” before pouring a red bucket of water and rags on your head. Is that the kind of treatment that is likely to build your confidence? I seriously doubt it.

Danni Soaked

Of course, Jillian explains the incident differently. “I’m being so hard on Danni because I have to light that inner fire in her,” Jillian tells us, holding aloft her noble intentions. “We can’t afford to lose another weigh-in.” And there we have it in a nutshell: this isn’t about lighting Danni’s inner fire so she can kick ass in the gym and build her self-confidence, it’s about Jillian’s fear that she’s losing the game. And by “game,” she means the manipulation of real, vulnerable human beings for ratings.

No satisfied with humiliating Danni, Jillian sets her sights on Pam who, of all the contestants, seems to be among the toughest and most resilient contestants. But when she’s told to do the crab walk (or bear walk, as they call it), Pam is unable to go as fast as Jillian wants.

“It’s not that hard Pam,” Jillian sneers as Pam sobs. Then, just to make sure everyone knows she’s Queen Dickweed, Jillian demonstrates how easy it is for a thin, physically active person to do the fucking crab walk.

Jillian Douche

Wow, Jillian, you’ve really clarified the issue here.

Finally, Jillian loses her shit and screams, “What the hell is wrong with you three!?! And what the hell was wrong with you five!?! What is it!?!”

Of course, the problem isn’t with Jillian’s method of humiliation and intimidation, it’s her team that is flawed. They’re the ones who are failing, not her.

Pam attempts to answer Jillian’s rhetorical question by saying, “I’m scared.”

“Of what?” Jillian asks.

“Failing,” Pam answers simply.

Once again, we are reminded of all that is wrong with The Biggest Loser.

You see, if you have an unhealthy lifestyle and you decide to eat better and get active, there is no such thing as “failing.” If you go to the gym every day and you only lose five pounds, that is not failing. If you work more fruits and vegetables into your diet, then enjoy a slice of cake for dessert, that is not failing.

The only way that you can “fail” at making healthy lifestyle choices is if you define “success” by how much mass you carry.

That’s it.

That’s the failure Pam fears. That’s the failure that TBL contestants fear. That’s the failure that most Americans fear when they start a new health regimen in the pursuit of some arbitrary weight goal.

Fitness is not a game that you win or lose, it’s a pattern of behavior that (hopefully) adds up to a long and enjoyable life. And even if your life is not that long or enjoyable, you still aren’t a failure. And if anyone makes you feel like a failure, then you need to ask yourself “What’s in it for them?”

Shifting Gears

In this second episode, we get to meet the man I once dubbed the Biggest Asshole, which is distinct from the Biggest Dickweed.

Dr. Robert Huzinga, brother of actor Robert Z’dar, is the Biggest Loser‘s resident quack who also worked with a company called BioSignia to develop the Know Your Number system, which is essentially BioSignia’s only product:

The company’s primary business is its patented Know Your Number tests. Know Your Number, which for three seasons was featured on the NBC reality TV show “The Biggest Loser,” uses blood samples, family history and other data to identify an individual’s risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Poised as the expert on the country’s favorite weight loss reality show, Huzenga  introduced Know Your Number on The Biggest Loser just in time for the 2010 Diet Season (aka right now). Dr. Huzunga explained the system, as he rubbed his hands greedily:

“I’m quite excited by The Biggest Loser Know Your Number HealthScore; knowing the years being robbed by excess fat, inadequate diets and cigarettes is- as evidenced by contestant’s reactions- both eye-opening and motivational,” says Dr. Robert Hizunga, Medical Advisor on “The Biggest Loser” and one of the leading health and fitness experts in the country. “I believe accurately communicating risks in this powerful fashion could wake up America and save lives.”

Hey guys, remember that time Dr. Hazanga woke up America and saved lives by reversing obesity with his Know Your Number HealthScare? That was awesome.

The system allowed Dr. Huzonga to predict that by the age of 36, Stephanie Anderson would develop diabetes like her mother. It’s the perfect racket because if she develops diabetes he gets to take credit and if she doesn’t, then she obviously made the necessary changes to avert disaster.

And now, you too could use the same patented Know Your Number HealthScore for just $89.99, Visa or Mastercard accepted.

As of December 1, 2011, The Biggest Loser no longer offered Hezenga’s scheme, but you can find it elsewhere for 8 bucks a pop. Just Google Hyzynga and you should find something.

This season, he’s back, and for a second, I honestly thought he was having a stroke after he made this face for a good 10 seconds.


Is that supposed to be sympathy? Is he forcing a bedside manner through his skull? Does he have to poop? What the hell is going on?

Anyway, Dr. H, as they call him on the show, couldn’t wait to get back to work. “I think this is a great time to really scare, motivate, reawaken even one of these contestants.” I tell ya, if Dr. H’s day is not complete until he makes a fatty cry. “Eighty percent of the country right now is overfat.” Of course, he’s talking about our nation’s vast untapped adipose reservoirs that could supply this nation’s energy for the next 10,000 years. “If that statistic doesn’t scare you, nothing will.” No, what scares me is that you have a license to practice medicine.

Because here’s the thing: all of these contestants get a medical exam prior to going on the show. The producers aren’t going to risk having a contestant die in the middle of the show. But clearly they do not inform the contestants until airtime, when Dr. H gets to break them the bad news on camera.

Like when he tells Mike, the heaviest contestant, that the arteries in his neck are calcified. And just to make sure that there’s a sufficient reaction, Dr. H reminds him of his baby at home. “You’re not going to be there for little Mikey if you don’t put time into your disease.” Mike then sobs as he talks about how horrifying it would be if he died and his son called another man daddy.

While Mike’s health may be at risk, what sickens me is the fact that they throw all this at him on camera. They are exploiting a personal health crisis for good TV. And it’s bullshit, as evidenced by the following analogy: “If I told you you were dying of lympoma, would you take two hours out a day for chemotherapy?”

You know what the difference is between lymphoma and obesity? Most people would have an easier time adjusting their work schedule to treat lymphoma than to “treat” obesity. Plus, lymphoma treatments are finite, while obesity “treatments” are for the rest of your life.

And this is the main problem with Dr. Hozonga’s role in this show… he is treating obesity as a means of improving metabolic dysfunction, but since the vast majority of Biggest Loser-sized weight loss attempts will fail after one year, the weight comes back on and the metabolic dysfunction returns.

But if you treat the metabolic dysfunction directly, and ignore the effect it has on your weight, then you’ll find that the lifestyle required is much more sustainable than the one Dr. H prescribes.

Have You Ever Been Mellow?

The way that Biggest Loser attempts to redeem the trainers from their gym tantrums is through the occasional pow-wow. Typically in a show, we see the trainers giving contestants about 85% grief and 15% buddy time. Buddy time is when one of the trainers wants to “rap” with their team or an individual contestant. It’s when Bob and Jillian want to make it look like they really give a shit about these people. It usually ends with a hug.

This time, Jillian wants to talk to Pam and Danni, and she tells Nathan, “You are not a part of this conversation right now. Couldn’t be happier with you.” Wow, Nathan is doing everything right. I bet that’s a load off his back.

“The issues we are dealing with are life-threatening issues,” Jillian says to the women. “Do you know how exhausting it is for me to get in your face and scream and push?” Okay, can I stop you right there, Jillian?

Did you really just ask those women that question?


You’re exhausted from getting in people’s faces and screaming and pushing them? How sad for you. You have my pity and all of my salty, salty tears.

But I hope I can cheer you up a bit when I quote a certain popular television personality who once said, “It’s not that hard, dude.”

Tell you what, Jillian, next time you feel exhausted from screaming at fatties, just let me know and I’ll call you a Waaaah-mbulance.

“I am trying and I am failing at making you angry enough.” Because anger is the Swiss Army knife of emotions. “And I think what you are sensing is my disappointment, is my fear. I’m afraid that if I cannot find a way you’ll go home.” And why is she afraid that Pam or Danni will go home? Is it because she cares for them and will miss them? Not likely. It’s because she’s playing a game and she’s worried about losing.

When Pam explains that she’s afraid of failing, Jillian says, “The only real failure you can have is to disengage.”

Pam says, “And I started to disengage yesterday.”

“Yeah, sure,” Jillian says. “You’ve been disengaged your whole life, too.”

Hey Jillian, just shut the fuck up. You don’t know this woman, and you certainly haven’t known her long enough to know whether she’s been “disengaged” her whole life. What the fuck does that even mean? It would be like me telling you, “Jillian, you’ve been redeployed your your whole life.” It’s nonsense you’re spewing because you want to give the impression that deep down you’re this caring, empathetic person who only screams at fatties for their own good.


You scream at fatties because it gives you some sort of sick satisfaction to treat people like shit, but you know that if you don’t “connect” with contestants once in a while, you’ll be seen as a colossal douchebag, so you throw in these moments to “soften” your image.

Danni then chimes in with her motivation. “I just want to feel confident walking out the door every morning.” Once again, Danni’s problem has nothing to do with her body, and everything to do with how we’ve been trained to feel about fat bodies. If Danni wants to feel confident walking out the door every morning, she doesn’t need the Biggest Loser, she needs to work on accepting herself the way she is. And if she wants to get healthy too, then she needs to exercise regularly and improve her diet. But lifestyle changes are not prescriptions for lasting confidence.

So, Jillian then asks an interesting question: “What can I do to help you?” In this, she seems to genuinely seek the input of her team because, quite frankly, she’s frustrated at their performance and clearly her hissy fits aren’t helping.

Pam answers first. “When it comes to the workouts, the thing that freaks my out is when you’re in the face and your like [IMITATION GARBLE OF JILLIAN MICHAELS]. I just think that panics me more.”

Ya think?

Gee, how could it not be helpful to have some wannabe drill sergeant ripping you to shreds every moment of the day?

And yet, surprisingly, Jillian agrees to back off. Of course, I’ll believe it when I see it.

She then asks Danni the same question and Danni says, “I guess I could just use a reminder that I’m not pathetic.” Again, an issue of confidence. “I just hit a wall yesterday where I felt like a piece of crap that didn’t deserve to be here and —”

“Stop,” Jillian interrupted. “I’ll do that. I promise you. I will do that for you. You need to do something for me then.” Oh, this should be good. “I cannot hear fat piece of crap, disgusting, pathetic. Just don’t say it, okay?” Yeah, that’s Jillian’s job.

It absolutely amazes me that Jillian can spend the first two weeks of the show cranking up her asshole quotient to 11, only to intervene when a contestant engages in self-loathing. So it’s okay for Jillian to belittle and degrade them, but somehow degrading yourself is worse? Bullshit. Take your own advice, Jillian, and back the fuck off.

But, of course, Danni doesn’t see Jillian’s hypocrisy. “You know, I’m really seeing that other side of Jillian.” The side that stifles the cognitive dissonance. “She really does care and she really does want us to do well.” Of course, what she cares about is that you do well so she can win the competition.

Evolving Metrics

Every show features a “challenge.” Like most reality show challenges, it’s supposed to be a unique exercise demonstrating the skills of the contestants. In this challenge, The Biggest Loser brought them to a football field where they would drill like a football player.

One interesting thing that I noticed is that in one of the establishing shots we see a bunch of young people running and working out. One of the people who caught my eye seems to be relatively large, as evidenced in the photo below.

Fat Runner

Now, she’s not quite Biggest Loser material, but that woman seems significantly heavier than the other kids on the field, yet she has no problem running. It’s amazing what a heavy person can do with a little training.

At this challenge, the kids return to root for their team. The team that wins the challenge gets a bunch of money for gym equipment for their kid’s school.

So when they divide up, Pam (on the white team, which lost two players in the first week and Jillian describes as “unravelling”) says that “Sunny is like our good luck charm.” Poor Sunny.

And with the kids returning to the show, we get more revealing bios, like how Biingo sneaks food by the side of his bed. Of course, sneaking food is typically a sign that a kid is embarrassed by his eating habits and feels compelled to indulge in private, which can be a signal of an disordered eating.

“I just want to be a normal kid at a normal weight that doesn’t get made fun of,” Biingo says, once again implicating stigma, not a desire for health, as his motivation.

Sunny takes it a step further, as we see her trying on formal dresses. “At this point, a lot of my friends are dating and theyThe Biggest Loser - Season 14 have boyfriends. And I haven’t gone on a date before, and it can be really tough at times because, you know, I want to go to prom with a date. And I feel as if I need to lose weight and feel attractive myself before I can find somebody who will find me attractive.”

Sunny is like Danni: her motivation is superficial. But it isn’t Sunny’s body that is holding her back, it’s how her body makes her feel. And as anyone here can attest to, how you feel about your body is not some objective response we are forced to internalize. Both Sunny and Danni could feel more confident and more attractive if they began on the inside, rather than on the outside. Because as we are fond of saying around here, you don’t take care of something you don’t love.

After the depressing bio segment, we also learn that Pam has not been cleared to participate in this challenge. Apparently, “It’s not that hard, dude” doesn’t really cover the medical complications that arise when you push people beyond their limits.

And yet, with only two people on their team to compete against two teams of five people, the White Team wins the challenge for the second week in a row.

We then return to the gym, where Dolvett explains the week two curse. “You lose so much weight the first week as a person here on the Ranch, then your body quickly plateaus.” Though insufficient, it’s not a bad explanation of what happens. He just leaves off the part about what kind of weight that first week is.

Then we switch to the White Team, where Jillian seems to have seriously mellowed the fuck out. Rather than pacing back and forth screaming epithets, she’s sitting and watching the contestants work out.

Of course, that doesn’t stop her from pushing people too far. She tells Pam to go faster on one of the machines, but Pam begins sobbing and gasping for breath and saying she can’t. Then they cut to a bio clip of Pam eating pasta at a restaurant with her daughter and talking about how she has to make changes for her and her daughter. We then get a gratuitous shot of Pam in her white bra and panties, turning around so we can see every inch of her flesh.

After that, we’re back in the gym, where Pam asks for a 10 minute break while struggling to breathe. “I promise you, I will come back,” she begs. “I give you my word, I will come back and do the 10.”

Jillian shakes her head and says, “Do the 10. You can do the 10.”

“I feel like…” Pam begins, but Jillian interupts her.

“This is the part where you don’t get to have the input, in the workout part.”

And this is the part where I call bullshit. I don’t care if you’re the world’s best trainer, the person doing the heavy lifting always has the right to input in the workout part. But it’s because of this philosophy, that the bodies of the contestants belong to the trainers alone, that is responsible for every single person who passes out, throws up or suffers an injury in the gym.

The trainers do not have the immediate feedback of your body saying “I’m dehydrated, I’m exhausted, I’m on the brink of collapse.” But once again, this isn’t about the health of the contestants, it is about the game that Jillian Michaels is playing against Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince. And when you are using people as pawns in a game, you do not care how their body responds. You can push them over the brink, they recover, then you push them again. It’s bullshit and it’s wrong.

And so, Pam begins sobbing, but starts on the machine again, saying, “I can’t do this again. I suck at this. I suck at this.”

Then, as we’re supposed to be inspired that Pam is continuing despite her exhaustion, we hear a voiceover of Pam saying, “I wanted my daughter to see that I’m strong and what is she seeing? She’s not going to see a strong mom. She’s going to see a mom who’s a mess. I just don’t want her to be embarrassed of me. My weakness.”

Pam, if you read this, I want you to know that you are not weak. You are clearly a strong person who has been placed in an impossible position. The only person in that room who is weak is Jillian Michaels because she is willing to exploit the health and welfare of people because she’s afraid of losing a damned game. The fact that you are have endured Jillian’s wrath so far is a testament to your strength, and I hope your daughter can see that.

At this point, we return to the kids. In the first two episodes, we don’t see a lot of them. We really don’t see much of them making the lifestyle changes. In the first episode, they play some baseball, but it’s this point that we see the regimen for kids taking shape.

Bob explains. “It’s not about getting you guys on a scale, right? We’re not going to be weighing you guys. We’re just trying to get you healthy.”

First of all, I find this sudden eschewing of weight as a metric of health to be laughable coming from Bob’s lips. But it also made me curious: what will their new metric of health be?

Turns out, they’ve created the Biggest Loser Fitness Test, which is remarkably similar to the Presidential Physical Fitness Test we all remember, and dread, from grade school.

The test includes measuring their ability to do situps, speed drills, a one-mile run, pushups, and pullups. In this episode, they established their baseline abilities with a promise to compare them at the end of the season.

Now, this is fascinating to me because as metrics go, this one isn’t terrible. Focusing on the improvement in abilities rather than weight? Seems pretty legit to me.

So, why can’t The Biggest Loser use this metric for it’s adult contestants? Simple: people watch for the dramatic weight loss, not the improvements in health. If the producers and the audience were really interested in the health of the contestants, then the first episode would not have been the pukefest that it was.

Last Chance

At the weigh-in, we learn an interesting tidbit from Gina, who lost 7 pounds. She says, “I got a pound a day and that’s what Bob wanted us to do.” Even the CDC defines “healthy weight loss” as 1 to 2 pounds per week, and warns that losing more than that is unsustainable.

But Bob isn’t interested in healthy weight loss. He wants big numbers to keep his team on top. And so the audience gets to see that losing 7 pounds a week is what Bob Harper recommends. Given that the Michelle Obama disgracefully endorsed the show last season, this gives the illusion of legitimacy to Bob’s strategy.

And yet, we see that Bob’s strategy does not always work. When Jeff, the guy who lost 29 pounds the week before, stood on the scale, he learned  that he lost 0 pounds.

That’s right: a week of busting his ass and starving himself yielded zero results. So much for calories in, calories out. Jeff hangs his head in shame as Jillian says “Week 2 is an enigma.”

No. No it’s not. What is an enigma is how you people continue to get away with this shit AND get treated as the foremost experts on weight loss and health.

After Mike (the heaviest contestant) weighs in, Bob, who is not above exploiting insecurities for personal gain, reminds Mike of something he said to Dr. H. “Every day that you’re here in this house away from little Mike, the longer he’s going to have you to call father.”


Then we get to Jackson, the guy who blacked out the first week and has had his activity restricted because of his health. As a result, Jackson loses just four pounds. His response epitomizes the problem with a weight-centric view of health.

I worked really hard this week and I was pushing myself, constantly pushing myself. It’s a little disappointing. I gave it 110% and then some. To see that it doesn’t pay off, it blows my mind.

Of course, the only way that pushing yourself and giving 110% doesn’t pay off is when you have unrealistic expectations of what that effort will yield. In this case, Jackson (and oh-so-many others) believe that for every ounce of effort you put into fitness, you’ll be an ounce lighter. But time after time after time, we find on The Biggest Loser that this isn’t the case.

Finally, we get to the white team, who has to lose 18 pounds collectively (or 6 pounds each) to stay in the game. Pam weighs in first and she loses one of the greater amounts that day: 8 pounds.

“I’m happy with that number,” Pam says with a grin.

“I have mixed emotions right now,” Jillian interjects. Of course you do, Jillian. “I’m happy for her for the 8 because she’s shown herself that she can pull it out, that she can be successful, that she can get vulnerable. But I also need you to understand that if we get out of this thing in one piece it is by the skin of your teeth because screwing up one, two and three days is unacceptable here.”

Yes, even when you lose a significant amount of weight, Jillian still thinks your an asshole for not being her devoted pawn.

Which brings us to Nate, who, as you may recall, has been Jillian’s favorite of the White Team. He’s doing everything right and Jillian “couldn’t be happy” with the effort he has given. And Nate feels the same way.

Allison Sweeney asks him, “Do you feel you did the work to put up a good number on the scale today?”

Nate responds, “I’ve been pushed harder this week than I’ve been pushed in my entire life. I got to train with Bob and that was awful.”

So Jillian is happy with Nate’s work and Nate is happy with Nate’s work, and yet, when he gets on the scale, he’s lost just 5 pounds, less than Pam and the same as Danni, the team fuckups. And because he lost the least percentage on the losing team, Nate was sent home.

And this is why The Biggest Loser makes no sense. The people who supposedly try the hardest and put in the most work and get the most praise, have nominal weight loss, while those who are the slackers and the screw-ups manage to lose just as much, if not more, than them.

The reason is because, yes, you can induce significant caloric deficits that produce weight loss, but you can’t predict how the human body will respond. That’s why calories in, calories out is a joke. That’s why using weight as the metric for your health is a joke.

But when Nate goes home, he continues to focus on losing weight and gets down to 299 pounds from his starting weight of 359 pounds. Of course, this is enough for him to declare victory.

I felt like, if I couldn’t get myself healthy and focused that it wasn’t fair to ask Maddie to spend the rest of her life with me. And I know now that I’m the man now that she deserves. Now that I feel like a better man, I feel like I absolutely deserve her now.

Nate, you’re still technically obese with a BMI of 38. So, what has actually changed? You just had to get to a lesser degree of obesity first?

Bullshit. Hopefully, Maddie loves you whether you’re obese or not, and you didn’t have to change a single thing to ask her to marry you. You don’t have to change your body to deserve the love of another person, and if you do, then they aren’t worth loving.

But in the TBL fairy tale, Nate proposes to Maddie and she says yes, all because he lost 60 pounds.

This is The Biggest Loser‘s favorite narrative arc, as evidenced throughout this episode: your worth is determined by your weight. Through selective editing, these are the messages being sent to the families who watch this show together. Until you lose weight, people are allowed to scream at you, demand your obedience and control your body for you. Until you lose weight, you don’t deserve respect or dignity or decency. Until you lose weight, nobody will love you and you don’t deserve to be loved.

All of that is bullshit, and we know it, because there is no small army of fat folks who are demanding, and receiving, respect, dignity and decency; who deserve love and are loved; and who have shut down those who would treat us like pawns in their game.

You don’t have to put any of this off until you lose weight. It’s all available to you now. You just have to ask.

And so, thanks to Jillian’s relative mellowing out, this week’s winner is Bob Harper, who stocks his gym with cookie cutter gym rats to prove he has friends, sets unhealthy goals for his team, and yanks on Mike’s deep-seeded fears. Congratulations Bob, you are The Biggest Dickweed.

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44 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2013 1:14 pm

    Perhaps most disturbing is this:
    Typically in a show, we see the trainers giving contestants about 85% grief and 15% buddy time.

    You or someone on here has probably mentioned this before, but that’s a classic abuser tactic. As in, yell, berate, scream and belittle someone, then when they’re crying their eyes out, adopt a gentler tone and say ‘I’m only saying these things because I care about you and want you to be happy….’ Yeah, been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and no, that person does not care about you, and your happiness is the last thing on their minds, but them yelling at you is like hitting your head against a brick wall – it feels soooo nice by comparison when it stops.

    Thank you so much for watching this so we don’t have to, because I don’t think I could stomach it. No, strike that – I’m pretty sure I couldn’t.

    • January 12, 2013 10:52 am

      It’s pretty noxious and depressing, to be honest. And I think what bothers me is not only what is happening on the show, but the fact that so many people take this show seriously. What really bothers me is that Jillian and Bob are role models for so many people, with the blessing of Michelle Obama. And this season, immediately following her endorsement, is one of the most brutal I’ve seen. And that’s what we’re teaching people is the appropriate way to treat fat people. It’s disgusting, which is why we need to document it. And although it’s not the funnest project I’ve ever worked on, I think it’s a necessary one.


      • Lindsay permalink
        January 13, 2013 2:10 pm

        I think what you’ve stated here is what exactly makes me so sad about this whole thing – not that the show exists (it shouldn’t, but at the rate we’re going with the weight loss industry, it doesn’t surprise me at all that it’s out there) but that SO MANY people think there is nothing wrong with what’s happening, that TBL is a great/inspirational thing. Whenever I tell people I don’t like the show, even those who know I have ED history and am into body acceptance give me this deer-in-the-headlights look and say “Really? Why would you not like it?” – And at that point I don’t know what else to say. If they don’t understand what dehumanization and exploitation is when they see it, if they see the treatment of contestants on TBL as a good thing, then I don’t even know what I could say that would change their minds…I haven’t seen the show in a very long time but from your recaps it sounds like it’s gotten even worse in later seasons 😦

      • BBDee permalink
        January 13, 2013 9:44 pm

        like my brother says when he watches a certain news channel diametrically opposed to his political beliefs, “Opposition research”… Shannon, God bless you and your cast iron stomach!!

  2. January 11, 2013 1:19 pm

    Whups – italics fail! It’s Friday night, that’s my excuse.

  3. January 11, 2013 1:33 pm

    I honestly have no idea how you get through this, Shannon. Just reading these recaps make me shake from the illogic and the cruelty. All these excuses for human beings need are a few fancy helmets and we’re back in the Roman coliseum.

    • January 12, 2013 10:54 am

      It is astonishing how we have not come much further as a society that we still take great pleasure in watching others suffer. But as long as we justify the behavior as necessary for “health.”


  4. vesta44 permalink
    January 11, 2013 1:50 pm

    Kudos to you, Shannon, for being able to watch this shit and report back to us logically and sanely. I’m afraid that if I had to watch this travesty of a program, I wouldn’t have a TV left (I’d have thrown something through it in righteous anger).
    I think the saddest thing about this show is that fat people are still willing to go on it, even after all the seasons where they’ve seen that they’re going to be bullied, shamed, humiliated, and pushed into doing things that harm their health, all in the name of supposedly getting “healthy” just to try and escape the stigmatization that they face every day. And in the long run, for most of them, it’s not a permanent “fix”, it’s temporary.
    Ever wonder why there are fewer and fewer “success” stories from past seasons the longer it’s been since people have been on the show? We all know it’s because diets don’t work to keep lost weight off forever and that exercising past endurance doesn’t work either – none of it is sustainable forever. But these fat people are so desperate for acceptance, for a way to escape the bullying and stigmatization that they see the bullying, shaming, humiliation, and downright abuse as something to be endured, something they deserve undergoing, in order to become “acceptable”, to become “normal”.
    I long for the day when being fat is just another body type and nothing unusual or worthy of being bullied over. Sadly, I think that day is still decades away. 😦

    • January 12, 2013 11:06 am

      Thanks vesta. I think the fact that people want to go on it is because there’s the promise of “fame,” if not recognition; their idolization of Bob and Jillian; and the mystique surrounding the show that makes it appear possible to turn from superfatty to supermodel in a matter of weeks. But one thing you don’t see on this show is what these people are eating. In the first two episodes, there has been nothing about nutrition or diet. Not that I think they have anything of value to say, but as Dr. Robert Lustig said on Science Friday this past Friday, exercise is not how people lose weight. It’s through caloric restriction. Now, if you do 4 to 6 hours per day like TBL contestants, then maybe it would contribute more to weight loss, but I guarantee they’re restricting their calories severely. And since most Americans don’t have 4 to 6 hours per day, they’re not getting close to the caloric deficits created by this show.

      So, yeah, weight loss works when you offer a $250,000 prize and pay people a stipend to be locked in a fat camp with sadistic drill instructor who don’t care whether you puke, pass out or injure yourself, so long as you keep your team in the lead. And how many Americans are ever going to be in that position? At best, you can pay to go there for a week or two, but I’d love to see a research study on their long-term success rates. I’m sure they’ll be publishing that in the near future.


  5. The Real Cie permalink
    January 11, 2013 3:07 pm

    First of all, glad to know I am in the company of a fellow Who-vian. Me and the Doctor keep company frequently. I am a massive geek, I know.
    Now, I am going to get my cuss on.
    What the fucking fuck.
    First of all, making people work out till they pass out?
    Way to drive folks away from exercise FOREVER!
    Second of all, working out with weight loss as a goal?
    Way to encourage huge let-down. Exercise in a person who has never worked out previously may initially lead to SOME weight loss. But then the person will be disappointed because they plateau and may well stop working out.
    Exercise should be for the sake of feeling better, not even necessarily for health. We’re all gonna die sometime. Might as well feel your best while you’re here.
    It would be easier to feel my best if I didn’t have a brain full of anti-fat messages against my fat body that I am now trying to combat after more than half my lifetime spent hating myself.
    I would not cry if everyone affiliated with “The Biggest Sadist” ate flaming death today.

    • January 12, 2013 11:11 am

      Sadly, I’m just a pseudo-Whovian. I know about the Adipose from Bree’s badge, which features the little guys. They’re so cute, I had to know what they were.

      And you’re absolutely right. This show sends all the wrong messages about health and the whole point of exercise, which is to build muscle and improve cardiovascular health. And making it a weight loss tool devalues exercise.


      • lifeonfats permalink
        January 13, 2013 10:41 am

        Me and several others in FA have adopted the Adipose as our mascots. They didn’t get a good response from a lot of Whovians because they were cute. In the Whoniverse, the uglier the monster, the cooler it is. 😉

        • The Real Cie permalink
          January 15, 2013 10:01 am

          I like the Adipose as a mascot!
          I have this insane fanfic mashup blog. I can see incorporating the Adipose into it somehow.

  6. January 11, 2013 3:46 pm

    “You see, if you have an unhealthy lifestyle and you decide to eat better and get active, there is no such thing as “failing.” If you go to the gym every day and you only lose five pounds, that is not failing. If you work more fruits and vegetables into your diet, then enjoy a slice of cake for dessert, that is not failing.

    The only way that you can “fail” at making healthy lifestyle choices is if you define “success” by how much mass you carry.”

    This. So much this. Thanks, Shannon.

  7. January 11, 2013 3:53 pm

    Ugh, sounds like this is one awful season. I just hope the contestant you mentioned who’s restricted to walking because of throwing up hasn’t caught a bad virus or something- THAT would be a life-threatening condition.

    One thing I have to disagree about, though, is the anger. I believe it’s a valid strategy for most- anger in sports tends to make people push harder, especially when on a team that is under threat of losing, as evidenced by most team trainers railing at their athletes. Doesn’t work for me, but I’m told I’m an aberration in that regard (I go turtle when someone screams at me and do nothing/the absolute minimum required).

    This is one show I’m GLAD to be missing, just as long as I get to read your recaps.

    What was that doc guy called again? How did you come up with so many variations on a name?

    • January 12, 2013 11:15 am

      I agree, but I don’t like that this is the way Jillian motivates people to push their bodies past their limits, particularly in the early stages of the show. And the fact that she is using it shows that this is just a game to her, while these are people’s lives they are risking. So, the strategy, to me, seems immoral in this case.

      I think it’s Huizenga. I just swapped vowels and tried not to repeat myself. 🙂


      • January 13, 2013 5:44 pm

        Your names are better. My favorite is “Hyzynga”- sounds like something from Legend of Zelda 🙂

        Thanks for clarifying my “anger=good” assumption. I’m always thinking of moderately fit/basically willing persons who WANT to surpass their bodies’ limits and WANT that push, not reality show victims being abused by the scariest eyebrows on the planet*. When establishing a fitness regimen, fun should definitely be the most important thing to have, not being angry and scared of a maniac pf a personal trainer- the anger thing shouldn’t play into THAT at all, you’re right.

        I suffered through a yt clip to check out the trainer- she’s definitely a little unhinged, or is it just me? Anyway, kudos to the white team contestant who called her on it!

        *personal opinion. There might be scarier eyebrows out there

  8. LittleBigGirl permalink
    January 11, 2013 5:24 pm

    Confession: I used to watch TBL. I actually *auditioned* for it. I have spit out the fucking kool aid. I knew deep down that it never made sense because I was bullied as a kid and seeing how the trainers bullied the contestants triggered a huge red flag for me – they could not convince me that was a good thing to do to anyone.
    I never agreed with the “temptations” crap they pulled and the way they seemed to love sabotaging the contestants that they claimed to want to help.
    Working until you are sick? Working until you are injured? Being tortured? Torturing yourself? Having vomiting and collapsing as a side effect/goal? No.
    No. No. No. No.
    No fucking goddamn way. That is not healthy in any universe.
    Where was the damn record scratch when contestants started talking about how their lives will suck until/unless they are thin? How can we live like that? How can we let ourselves believe that we can’t do fucking anything unless we’re thin? How dare anyone suggest it.
    TBL makes me absolutely blind with fury.

    Watching TBL = hours of my life I won’ get back. Thank you for your sacrifice Shannon.

    • January 12, 2013 11:19 am

      The temptations are bullshit. It really is sadistic.

      And it’s not a sacrifice. Watching a show and blogging about it? It would be wrong to compare true sacrifice to that. I’m happy to do it.


  9. castingpearls7 permalink
    January 11, 2013 6:17 pm

    I joined a nationally known gym that endorses (or is endorsed by, I can’t nail anyone down on it) TBL and everything in the entire place is emblazoned with the logo and quotes from it. I got the free (as in, I got it with my membership so no it wasn’t free, pal) tee shirt which had it all over it but I had no workout gear so took it anyway and intend to cover it up with patches and appliques. I went back the next day after signing up for a noob class and asked them if they didn’t have any TBL endorses tees in my size and they said no. I asked them if they could order them and they said no. They only had it in one color and I said, well I’m screwed but I need the shirt so it’s $10 right and he said yeah, looked in the drawer and found two different colors and then thought about it and said…You know what…just take them…no charge. At first I was thrilled (free gear) but then I realized, I’d be a walking talking billboard so the appliques are being ironed on as we speak.
    Speaking of trainers, I met my first and he was a truly nice person. He doesn’t believe in the abuse crap and also does personal training and has his own biz on the side and offers nutrition and diet advise and programs. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary and we discussed it a bit and then he tried to work out a program for me that was exactly the same as it was for the 150 lb. guy who wants to gain, the 170 lb. guy who wants to have muscles, the 180 lb. woman who wants to lose and is very active. In fact, I’m the only relatively sendentary one so what’s wrong with this picture? He said he wants me on the treadmill. I threw up after five minutes. I said…enough. My goal is to get fit and your job is to help ME. Don’t give me any TBL bullsh*t. I’m not doing the treadmill until I have more stamina. I’ll do the bikes. It’s my body and you’re going to have to learn how to deal with disappointment until I’m ready to do what I think is best for me. I’ve come this far in my body and take full responsibility so if you or your associates can’t handle that, tell me now. He said, Gotcha. Totally clear. No problem.
    Someone I love once suggested I audition for TBL because I’d be the ‘perfect contestant’. They and many others don’t see it as abuse and I was taken aback. I didn’t consider it a compliment although they meant it as one. I truly do think that if I ever made it to the show, I’d probably be a sacred cow (pun fully intended) and would try to knock Jillian’s lights out live and unedited. Until then, I got bigger fish to fry. And eat.

    • January 12, 2013 11:24 am

      Was it Planet Fitness? That’s who works with them now. And the people who are sent home from the show are shown working out there until they lose a large amount of weight. And you don’t need a trainer to get healthy. You can do the treadmill at your own speed. You don’t have to run. Walking does just as much good for you as running. Start out slow and if you want to build up to running, great. But walking is still exercise. It really doesn’t take much to do incredible good for your body. It just takes time and some commitment, and you can get healthy. Stick with it, and do what is best for your body. Trust your body and you’ll do okay.


  10. January 11, 2013 8:44 pm

    HAES should start a reality show, and show America how it’s done; Deprogramming the contestants from our collassal societal brainwashing and helping them to feel good about themselves, teaching intuitive eating, and moving in a way that is pleasing to feel good. They could have cut aways to real experts that can tell the viewers the truth about the statistics, truth about how our bodies really work, and the truth about what’s important in life. They could get sponsors like Buick, Cadillac, (and other fat/size friendly companies), and they just might have success blatently marketing to fat people. That is what I’d like to see. I would sign up to be a contestant on that show.
    I can’t end here without a shout out to Shannon. Gotta hand it to you man, you are awesome, and I get alot of laughs from your insights, ie, “My guess is, after this scene, all the hard-body actors went home and Bob spent the evening singing karaoke Journey songs with his cats,” Hilarious.

    • Ann Mouse permalink
      January 11, 2013 8:54 pm

      Can you elaborate on what makes Buick and Cadillac size-friendly? I love buycotts.

    • LittleBigGirl permalink
      January 12, 2013 12:36 am

      OMG YES. Hmmm… “The Road to HAES”?

      Who could host it? Cameron Manheim? Melissa McCarthy? Queen Latifah?

      Adele could do the theme song… 🙂

      Instead of Bob and Jillian we could have Jeanette DePatie and Ragen Chastain! XD

      Every week they could have examples of people who didn’t wait to be skinny before they went after their dream…and have them help the contestants do the same.

      I would watch that! We need that!

      • January 12, 2013 11:32 am

        Damn, me and Golda can’t hold a candle to them. Michael Moore seems to be a good pick now.

        I like the idea of having some exercise and then some parts where they do something they never thought they could do because they’re fat. That would be awesome.


      • BBDee permalink
        January 13, 2013 9:51 pm

        and don’t forget Kelly Bliss!

      • The Real Cie permalink
        January 15, 2013 10:03 am

        I would watch that too, and even participate. And I’ve been hiding myself for years.

    • January 12, 2013 11:26 am

      Awesome idea, Tracey. I call dibs on host! Ooooh, me and Golda can co-host!

      And we should have a pool for water aerobics and running. We could get aquashoes for sponsors. Somebody fly us to Hollywood!


    • January 13, 2013 5:35 pm

      I want to be a contestant on that show so I could get to spend time with all you awesome people in person while also learning a lot. Perfect fantasy world! *dreams*

  11. Ann Mouse permalink
    January 11, 2013 8:53 pm

    President’s Fitness Test, ugh. I found it unfair. We spent PE class doing things like jumping jacks and dodgeball, not sit-ups and mile runs. The first time I ever hung from a pull-up bar was when the class was laughing at my flailing during the test. Either PE should reflect the contents of the fitness text or vice-versa. Surely I’m wasn’t the only 10 year old who didn’t know how to do a proper push-up.

    • Marilyn permalink
      January 11, 2013 10:43 pm

      I hated them when I was a kid. I only did them one year since I moved to a school that didn’t do them, fortunately. I had the worst scores outside the long distance run and flex arm hang. I did those two tests great. By the way, I was a skinny kid. I put on weight during puberty. I got my freshman fifteen early in junior high. I didn’t gain weight in high school or college.

    • LittleBigGirl permalink
      January 12, 2013 12:24 am

      The flexibility/reach test was BS – flexibility has nothing to do with “health” or “fitness.” I could always touch my toes and my skinnier friend can’t to this day. You can improve with practice ie yoga, etc. but being really flexible (hyperflexible) can actually put you are risk for injury.
      I hear you about the freaking pull-ups. I couldn’t do one. Why do they insist on testing you on things you have to train for to be any good at? It tells you nothing. What does relative upper arm strength have to do with measuring health? Not one damn thing.

      Funny story: As the official “fat kid” at my school, I remember my only win in P.E. was a sit-ups competition. I CRUSHED IT. I outdid the skinniest, most muscular boy who played every sport the school had. And I outdid him by a LOT. The teacher basically had to tell me to stop because “you’ve done enough.” Now granted, I was sore for two days afterward…but totally worth it. Every time I felt a twinge in my abs I would think “everyone can suck it, I know what I can do.” Not that I advocate exercising to the point of pain…but I was inspired to do it and I was satisfied with the result – if someone like Jillian “The Superbitch” Michaels had forced me to do sit-ups until I puked while she screamed at me, I would probably hate sit-ups and vow to never do them again. Funny how that whole motivation thing works…

    • January 12, 2013 11:29 am

      I hated running. I wasn’t a fat kid in the least, but I have always, ALWAYS hated running. And they didn’t want you to walk, so I had to do that run/walk shuffle the whole time, which was irritating. I could run for short bursts, but I loathed long distance. I think gym class should revolve around track and field, because not everyone is a runner, not everyone is a shot-putter. But everyone can start the season being an amateur in his or her sport and you can track their progress as they “train” to improve their skills. Those improvements only happen when you’re improving your fitness, so it would be a perfect metric to measure success, rather than weight.


    • BBDee permalink
      January 13, 2013 9:54 pm

      Hi Ann, I don’t know how old you are (to gauge whether things have changed in kids’ PE since I was a kid) but I’m 50 and that’s how I remember gym classes. Nothing there to ever get me in any kind of “shape” as us less-coordinated people got eliminated from the dodgeball games, etc. pretty early and spent most of the class period sitting on the sidelines!

    • The Real Cie permalink
      January 15, 2013 10:04 am

      I ended up being humiliated because I was the only girl who couldn’t do gymnastic moves beyond a somersault. A girl unable to do cartwheels and backflips? So not a real girl!
      I had multiple ear infections as a child and it messed with my equilibrium. To this day I still can’t read in a moving vehicle or I become nauseated.

  12. Kala permalink
    January 12, 2013 4:52 am

    I was in the supermarket today getting some groceries, and was about to pick up a bag of baby carrots that had a big “The Biggest Loser” logo on it, I guess it was some kind of licensed product. I was like “Fuck no” put that shit back, and picked up the store brand instead.

    I don’t have cable so I think I’ve seen all of one or two episodes of it when I was still in High School, but it seems to have gotten even worse than it was then.

    • January 12, 2013 11:38 am

      It has gotten much worse. I think they feel like they can do whatever the fuck they want, particularly since Michelle Obama gave them the thumbs up. It’s pretty disturbing.

      I think a boycott is the only way to send a message straight to NBC that this is unacceptable. I need to check with Yoni and see if he got a comprehensive list of TV sponsors so we can make a no buy list. Keeping any eye out for logos on products is a perfect way, though.


  13. vesta44 permalink
    January 12, 2013 11:56 am

    I just read the most awesome post from nudemuse, and she sums up why TBL and society’s obsession with thin=healthy is so wrong. You can read it here.

  14. January 12, 2013 6:10 pm

    Well Ann Mouse, I just thought that Buick and Cadillac would be good sponsors because their cars are roomier. Those companies may not be “size/fat friendly” at all, but you get the idea. I’m sure we could all put our heads together and come up with some great sponsors for our show. I loved Shannon’s idea of showing fat people doing things (I’m thinking para-sailing, or sky diving, something like that) they never thought they could do because of their size.

  15. Rubyfruit permalink
    January 12, 2013 7:46 pm

    Thank you for these recaps. I cannot force myself to watch any season of Biggest Loser, mostly because of the sheer…grossness this show gives me, even more than any other reality TV show. And these two recaps have illuminated why some of my righteous indignation regarding TBL has given way to…it’s not quite being grossed out, or being creeped out, either. It’s a strange mix of both. Kind of like the sensation of a slug crawling on my forehead. That’s what TBL is. A slug on the forehead.

    I apologize to any slugs that may have heard such an insensitive remark.

  16. lifeonfats permalink
    January 13, 2013 10:38 am

    The show is a pile of dog turds and I wouldn’t watch if you paid me. But until we realize fat people are people and should be treated with dignity no matter what their size, this show will continue to be popular. When networks do show somewhat size-positive programs like Big Sexy Style, Say Yes to the Dress Big Bliss, and even Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo (in the sense that the family seems happy in their own skin), the reaction is negative because the majority doesn’t want to see fat people happy. They want them miserable and being humiliated until they get thin and socially attractive. Positive fat people means a loss of power for fatphobes.

  17. Ally permalink
    January 14, 2013 7:18 am

    Would you like to comment on the concerns about the body-shaming you demonstrated in this post? It doesn’t lend credence to your cause when you violate one of its premises.

    • January 14, 2013 10:34 am

      Let me ask you a question. Does this woman look like she’s on steroids?

      Woman on Steroids

      Because she is.

      What about Marion Jones?

      Marion Jones

      Or Tim Montgomery?

      Or Floyd Landis?

      Because all of these people were caught using steroids in their respective sports. The problem is that we have this stereotypical image of females on steroids looking like this:

      But that isn’t the case. There are many different types of steroids and their effects are varied. But women in particular are not nearly as susceptible to looking muscular without the use of steroids. And when you watch the actual video and see these bodies up close, you’ll see the musculature (particularly on some of the women) is much greater than this photo does justice.

      And I did not say that they were all using steroids, I said some, because the likelihood that a few of these people are using performance enhancing drugs is statistically pretty high. And just compared some of the women close up to Olympic weightlifting women (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), and you’ll notice a distinct difference in the amount of arm muscles between the two.

      Personally, I just thought it was an interesting observation that Bob makes the steroid comment while boasting about his friends, some of whom seem to defy the typical look of a “natural” weightlifter.

      If you found this offensive, I’m sorry. It was not my intention to body shame, but to turn Bob’s comment around on himself and the people he has chosen to use as “examples” for the contestants. Perhaps you believe those people are capable of achieving such low body fat and large muscles without chemical assistance, but I find it difficult to believe.


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