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TBD12-3: The Quickening —

April 29, 2013

Biggest Dickweed

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

This is it.

It all comes down to these last 20 minutes or so.

Soon, Jackson, Jeff and Danni will weigh-in to see who is the biggest loser. My money is on Danni if only because of the mullet.

Oh no.

Whoever did that to her hair should be ashamed of themselves, along with every single crew member who didn’t say, “Excuse me ma’am, but you look like Joe Dirt.”

Joe Dirt

Everything’s gonna happen for me,
just so long as I never have no in my heart

But Danni’s in the running for far more than Queen of Arkansas. There’s a $250,000 cash prize up for grabs and with Gina out of the way, Danni was the next front runner.

And more importantly, there are three trainers in the running for the title of The Biggest Dickweed.

Fantasy Land

Hey, you know who we haven’t seen yet? The medical staff behind this farcical atrocity. After all, they’re the ones who deserve all the credit for the successful weight loss of the adults and children. And Sweeney introduces them, thank their “world class doctors,” Dr. Splenda and Dr. Hyzongi.

The Doctors

Why does Dr. Hozanga always look like he just sat on a strategically-placed cactus?

Thanks, Dr. Joanna Dolgoff (aka Dr. Splenda) for teaching these kids, and the countless children in the real world, that losing 40-50 pounds in four months is healthy. Way to go, you shameless, hypocritical fraud.

And so we bring on the third and final child, Sunny, who has seemed to be favored by the editors this season, just like Danni. Now, maybe that’s just because Danni and Sunny are the two most likable “characters” on the show. Or, maybe it’s because the one-month delay allows the editors to generally know the trajectory of weight loss and whether certain contestants would make it to the end or not. Either way, Danni and Sunny were definitely the favorites.

“She’s a beautiful young woman that wants to fit into her prom dess —” and yes, she says “dess” “— and more importantly, wants to fit in with her friends.” Remember kids, if you’re fat you can’t fit in a prom dress and you won’t fit in. “Here’s a look at Sunny’s story.”

Flashback to that shot of Sunny studying in the library, which they have repeatedly used to illustrate Sunny being lonely and pathetic. I guess it’s because she’s looking down, which is what happens when you read books. “I wish that I could feel comfortable and confident because I don’t feel like that.”

This is followed by the single most recycled piece of footage of the entire season: Sunny and the red dress. It was used in at least four episodes (2, 5, 10, 11), but this fifth time you actually get to hear what she says in the dressing room: “Maybe when I lose some weight it will look a bit more flattering on me.” Now, imagine you’re a young girl watching this show. Imagine if you’ve seen all 12 episodes, and this footage has been replayed five times. Do you think that would have an effect on you?

This is why Sunny and the red dress is a recurring symbol in the show; it exemplifies to a T the body anxieties of young girls everywhere. It’s not that Sunny’s experience in the red dress is bad. It’s neutral. It’s life. Few 16-year-olds are in complete control of their body image. It’s something taught to them, and here is The Biggest Loser teaching it to other little girls, like this one from the audience who looks bored out of her mind while Dolvett interviewed an audience member.

What Will she Take

Can we go now?

She’s seeing these messages, and what will she take away from them?

“The problem is nobody wants to talk about teenage obesity,” Sunny’s voiceover says as we see her eating M&Ms for the fourth time, “because it’s just a touchy subject and nobody wants to go there. But I think it’s time we went there.”

We then see Sunny say to her friends, “The problem is, like, nobody ever talked to me about it. It’s something that maybe we are shoving under the rug. If you approach it in the right way and let them know what’s going on, I think that what being a good friend is.” Here’s the weird thing about this segment. The way it’s edited, it’s clearly about weight loss, but in episode 10 when this conversation took place, the context provided was that Sunny was talking about the time she tried purging a meal and how she was glad she didn’t develop an eating disorder.

We’ll never know the full context, but it’s fascinating how a single phrase can be moved beside a different clip and the context changes entirely.

“And my mom happens to be very overweight and right now I’m making the decision to talk about it rather than suppress my feelings,” Sunny says to the camera.

Sunny says to her mom, “If you continue to gain weight, my biggest fear is that you’re going to die” and Sunny’s mom says, “You know, I really hear your fear and we’re going to do it together.”

Of course, what they left out of this segment in episode 9 when Sunny shed a fascinating light on her mom’s weight struggles:

It’s hard to explain, but throughout the years you’ve gone on one fad diet after another and you end up kind of putting the weight back on and again and just a bit more weight as well… My mom steadily throughout my life has gained and gained and gained and gained, and I really think that’s why I gained weight. I don’t want to see her miserable like this.

Is her participation on The Biggest Loser just the start of the same lifetime struggle she has witnessed in her mother? Where will Sunny’s weight be in 20, 30, 40 years?

Pish posh, why are we fretting over such unimportant details, we’ve got a finale to celebrate!

We get to Sunny’s inspirational exercise montage, including Sunny running a mile for the kid’s challenge from episode 8, where they compared their initial physical fitness results with their latest. “This is just the first step to the new me and I’m going to run with it,” Sunny’s voiceover says.

We see Sunny say to the camera, “I’ve always had this little voice in the back of my mind telling me, ‘You can’t do this.'” As she says this, we see from the footage episode 7 of her dancing at the Bollywood dance studio Jillian set up just for Sunny. “I shut that voice up and I did exactly what I wanted to.”

Cut to the reunion footage and we hear Sunny say, “So you’ll be seeing a lot more of my smile in the future.”

Sunny-Montage

Click to see Sunny’s montage.

Sweeney can barely contain her excitement as she says, “America, prepare to be dazzled. Here she is rocking that prom dress. It’s Sunny!”

Sunny-Entrance

Click to see Sunny’s entrance.

“Sunny you look so beautiful,” Sweeney greets her. “Sunny has lost 51 pounds. She’s down four dress sizes. This girl runs 5ks now. What is your life like, Sunny?”

Allili and Sunny

Sunny is the ultimate Fantasy of Being Thin come true.

“My life is completely different,” Sunny says, latching onto the “new person” motif dieters love. “You know, it’s never too early to lose weight.” WHAT!?!?!? Yes, it can be “too early” to lose weight. I don’t think kids should be trying to lose weight. We’ve seen this movie and it doesn’t end well. “And I feel like I have a fresh start and a new beginning and I’m just so excited for the future. I mean, my life is so complete, I’m so happy.” Once more, that happiness is there only so long as the weight stays off. Her happiness now depends upon successful maintenance.

“There are so many kids that look up to you right now, the journey you are on, the changes that you have made,” Sweeney says, outlining exactly how fucked up this situation is. “What do you want to say to all those kids out there?” Sweeney gestures to the audience.

Sunny Close

Be like Sunny, kids. Lose 50 pounds in four months.

“I just want to say that all it takes is a step in the right direction and a lot of perseverence, and I promise you that being in good health is the best feeling that you can ever have.” And by good health, she obviously means being thin.

Sweeney then brings out all the kids and the trainers.

Trainers and Kids

Take a good long look. The trainers own this moment, today and for the rest of kids’ lives.

Sweeney asks Bob, “What do you want to say to Biingo?”

“Biingo, I want to tell you you look stylin’,” Yeah, Bob would say that, what with his geek chic and flannelmania. “You’re a really good role model to a lot of boys out there.” After more time spent praising Biingo, we move on to Dolvett.

“When I first met Lindsay I was saying that this girl was an athlete from the very beginning, and you got on stage here, you became the cheerleader you always wanted to be.” Actually, she already was a cheerleader until she was bullied off the team. “You’re a beautiful young lady and you’re inspiring others just like you, girls your age. You’re an inspiration not only to them, but to me as well.”

Finally, Jillian gives the final message, which is should really be the goal of all teenage girls everywhere, “I don’t know that I have a message for Sunny, but more to her father. I would get a baseball bat, but not for baseball. You’re going to need to beat the boys off the porch. Holy cow.”

Hey parents, put your fat daughter on a diet so they’ll have a bunch of teenage sex zombies raiding your home like Night of the Living Dead. Great job, parents, you’ve helped sell America on the idea that putting kids on a Biggest Loser-style weight loss program is healthy and normal. Of course, that’s without much evidence that this is either healthy or safe.

And that’s per The Endocrine Society:

Although good-quality pediatric and adolescent data are scarce, there is sufficient evidence that intensive lifestyle modification programs, as in adults, can be an effective tool for pediatric weight control. Furthermore, implementation of a formal maintenance program after the treatment phase is completed can be of added importance in maintaining achieved weight loss. This fits into a concept of obesity as a chronic disease.

At first, this sounds pro-weight loss, rah rah rah. But you have to bear in mind that this is what passes for optimism:

Although the long-term outlook may appear bleak, some studies report long-term success in a significant subgroup of patients. The results of population surveys indicate that 25% of adults who had lost more than 10% of their body weight maintained their weight losses for more than 5 yr. In another population-based study of individuals who had completed a commercial weight loss program, 18.8% maintained a weight loss of 10% or greater for 5 yr, whereas 42.6% maintained a weight loss of 5% or greater for 5 yr; 19.4% maintained their weights within 5 lb of their original goals. In both papers, the authors opined that patients who seek out a health care setting have already tried and failed to lose weight through other means and may represent a more refractory population.

The question is, how many people actually lose more than 10% of their body weight or more? Or, better question yet, how many people lose 20% or more and keep it off for more than five years? That’s more like the kind of weight loss that people think of when they tell fatties to lose weight. The concern trolls who tell a 300-pound fatty to lose weight aren’t suggesting that they lose 30 pounds. But how many lose 60 pounds or more?

Well, one study says that “among US adults who had ever been overweight or obese, 36.6, 17.3, 8.5 and 4.4% reported [long-term weight loss maintenance] of at least 5, 10, 15 and 20%, respectively.” So, two-thirds of formerly fatties have lost 10% or more, but just 4% have lost 20% ore more. And that’s just the people who attempted to lose weight and succeeded. Do you see what I’m getting at?

Saying that a quarter of that two-thirds managed to keep more than 10% off after five years is incredibly optimistic when compared to those who try and fail and try and fail and try and fail, all the while pushing their weight higher and higher, like Sunny’s mom. This is primary problem with weight cycling, even if you ignore the metabolic issues, which are somewhat controversial. Our unrealistic expectations for what weight loss success looks like plays a huge role in the most severe weight cyclers.

And The Endocrine Society agrees:

Weight loss should be encouraged in patients with severe obesity and significant comorbidities. In this regard, a decrease in BMI of 1.5 kg/m2, as reported in the meta-analysis commissioned by the Task Force, may seem trivial, but if it is maintained over a longer term, overweight or minimally obese growing children and adolescents without comorbidities may benefit by simply maintaining weight; BMI will decline as linear growth proceeds, and lifestyle modification may reduce fat mass, increase lean body mass, and improve cardiovascular fitness. In the more severely obese or in physically mature patients, moderate weight loss of only 7% was associated with a decrease in the incidence of T2DM. This may be a more realistic goal for the severely obese. [emphasis mine]

Although there is a dearth of long-term research on teenage weight loss attempts, I found this one with severely obese kids aged 8 to 12 years. The kids were divided into three groups who received a range of daily calories: 1,200–1,400, 1,400–1,600, and 1,600–1,800. All in all, it’s a pretty comprehensive program:

Families were taught behavioral strategies to increase physical activity and to decrease sedentary behaviors, such as watching television and playing computer games, with a goal of limiting those behaviors to <15 hours/week. Behavior modification techniques included self-monitoring, environmental changes, stepwise goal-setting, stimulus control, and positive reinforcement for meeting prescribed goals. We also included instruction in setting realistic expectations, promoting body image, minimizing emotional eating, and coping with teasing. Participating adults were instructed to set goals for and to model healthy changes in eating and physical activity. Overweight adults were encouraged, but not required, to lose weight.

As for the control group, this should sound familiar:

Adults and children in the usual care condition were offered 2 nutrition consultation sessions to develop an individual nutrition plan based on the Stoplight Eating Plan. There was no additional contact between assessments. Usual care participants were offered the intervention after completion of the 18-month assessment.

So you’ve got two approaches: low calorie diets or the Stoplight Eating Plan (i.e., the program Dr. Splenda supposedly used on the show). And how’d this experiment turn out?

The changes in percent overweight were not well maintained in the period after intervention in the current study. Child participants in the intervention group exhibited increases in percent overweight and BMI in the 1-year period after weekly intervention, whereas children in the usual care group maintained a stable degree of overweight, such that the study groups did not differ significantly in percent overweight at the 12- and 18-month assessments. This finding is in contrast to results reported in the literature, where, on average, the effects of family-based interventions were sustained over follow-up periods ranging from 1 month to 5 years after treatment. Weight loss maintenance in severely obese children is of particular importance, given their level of medical risk. Results of the study by Savoye et al also raise concerns about weight loss maintenance in severely obese children. In that investigation, the BMI among participants in the treatment group also increased during the second 6 months, despite ongoing biweekly intervention sessions.

Or, to put it graphically:

Kid Outcomes

The only other relevant long-term research I could find for the red light, green light program was “Two-Year Internet-Based Randomized Controlled Trial for Weight Loss in African-American Girls”:

As reported earlier, in comparison with the control condition, adolescents in the behavioral treatment lost more BF and parents lost significantly more body weight during the first 6 months. During the next 18 months, parent and adolescent participants in both groups gained weight, and at 2 years, the weight/fat of the two treatment groups did not differ.

The only difference between those studies and The Biggest Loser is that the scope of the research is randomized and limited. The researchers give their subjects a lifestyle prescription and they study the effects. TBL has branded these three kids “ambassadors” of the show. They have tasked them with “inspiring” other fat kids to lose weight just like Sunny, Lindsay and Biingo, whose every dream came true in front of America after they lost a shocking amount of weight in a brief period of time.

All of this makes me wonder what kind of long-term commitment these kids are expected to have with the show.

Jerry-Rigged

After commercial break, we get one of the biggest surprises of the night. And it couldn’t be more apropos.

“This year marks the 15th anniversary that our friend Jared lost 245 pounds thanks to Subway,” Sweeney says. Then she explains how tonight’s biggest loser would star in a commercial with Jared, along with one former contestant. We learned of the contest from Jared himself on episode 8, after Jackson puked on his traveling fattypants.

“Well, you certainly haven’t had any Subway today, Jackson. What is that, beef stew?”

To vote, you would visit TBL’s site:

Subway Commercial

At the top, you may not have noticed (I didn’t the first time), there’s a description of who these 10 former contestants are:

In 2013, Jared Fogle will celebrate 15 years of staying fit with SUBWAY® restaurants. To honor this milestone, SUBWAY®restaurants and the Biggest Loser are teaming up to highlight our favorite “Biggest Losers” in a new TV commercial starring Jared, this season’s Biggest Loser winner and a Biggest Loser Ambassador — as selected by you!

It turns out, the Biggest Loser Ambassadorship is an actual thing, and these 10 former contestants are the only members.

TBL Ambassadors

Okay, am I the only one who noticed the cult-like header?

TBL Cult

You should look at the original again.

The Ambassadors page is on their membership site, which, I had thought, was a two-tiered system: freebies and premium. But nope, it’s all premium. And what a premium.

For just $13 a month (for the first six months, then $20), or $198 for the first year (and $260 for each subsequent year), you can get a bunch of recipes and weight loss advice, as well as access to their community.

Premium Login

See, it’s just like being on the show, where everybody holds hands and wears bright Biggest Loser shirts (which has inspired me… we should make some Biggest Dickweed shirt).

The site doesn’t actually say what the Ambassadors do, let alone how much they’re paid. But you’ll notice they have a few things in common. See if you notice what I noticed:

Profiles

Click to see all the profiles if it’s not already cycling.

There are four motivational speakers, two National Spoksepeople, and one guy (Mike Messina) works with Dr. Hozonga at a “radical treatment center for obesity, and obesity-related diseases located in Los Angeles.” One of the four motivational speakers (Sione Fa) is a trainer at the The Biggest Loser Resorts in Utah and Malibu.

Seven of the ten contestants have a financial stake in staying thin. And that’s without even knowing if they are paid to be ambassadors of for the show. The fact that they are making their living, at least in part, by staying slender is relevant since most dieters don’t have that luxury.

As a result, eight of the ten Ambassadors looks more or less the same as they did at the end of the show:

BnAs

Click to see the eight Ambassador before and after photos.
The after photos are from 2013.

And then there’s the other two.

The first is Danny Cahill.

slide12-biggestloser-5transformations-04-DannyCahill-jpg_021735

One is before and one is after. I forget which is which.

According to the December 2009 People, Danny won big on the show:

Land surveyor and musician Danny Cahill, 40, of Broken Arrow, Okla., became the biggest Biggest Loser of all time when he dropped 239 lbs., going from 430 to 191, to best his rival and show roommate Rudy Pauls, 31, in the season 8 finale Tuesday night. [emphasis not mine. It’s People, people]

The People profile includes a photo of Danny dressed more fashionably and looking even thinner.

Danny People

I keep getting a Jason Segal vibe.

According to the Tulsa World from February 2011, Danny’s resume changed to motivational speaker, author and musician. In the article, 12-year-old Isaiah Black watches Danny give his motivational speech about how he lost weight. We also learn that Black has lost “approximately 50 pounds in the YMCA’s Graduate Oklahoma, or GO Program, an after-school program for low-income children.” After his speech, Cahill finished by “singing an inspirational tune and playing acoustic guitar” and after all the other kids left, Cahill and Black had a moment alone.

“So, uh, I was wondering how I would go about dehydrating myself to dangerous levels
and subsisting on unsustainably low caloric levels, all while working out 46 hours a week.”

After Black left, the reporter asked what happened:

After their brief conversation, Cahill said, “Him losing 50 pounds is like me losing 150 pounds. That’s awesome. I told him to keep going and that I was proud of him, and that he can do anything he puts his mind to. If anybody tells him he can’t, they’re lying to him.”

Not only did Black get this thoroughly generic advice, but he also received “an autographed card complete with a picture of Cahill before and after he lost 239 pounds.”

“If he loses hope,” Cahill said, “he can look at that and say ‘I can do it.’ ”

Oh, he can do it all right. But the real question is can he keep doing it for the rest of his life?

Two years later, the Herald-Sun in North Carolina profiled Cahill in an article titled “Biggest loser inspires Durham church.”

Danny Smashing Paper

Cahill looking noticeably fleshier.

Curiously, the article says that Cahill “shed 239 pounds from his 460-pound frame in a little more than six months.” Bear in mind that season 8 lasted 13 weeks, and if we’ve learned from this season, it’s that Biggest Loser is willing to mislead its viewers on how long the weight loss actually takes. During episode 10 we were told that the contestants went home for two weeks, but during the weigh-in Sweeney said “Jackson,since America first saw you weigh in 10 weeks ago, you have lost 93 pounds.” And it was during “week 11” that Dr. Hizengy told us that 101 days had passed.

My best estimate for the “12 weeks” of season 14 is 129 days, or 18.5 weeks. And now we learn that the “13 weeks” of season 8 was really over 24 weeks. It’s mind-boggling how they intentionally mislead viewers into believing Biggest Loser results are achievable within a matter of weeks. Of course, that’s only if you can commit to 1,200 calories per day and 46 hours of exercise per week.

After the chronological details, the article quotes Cahill as saying, “I tried to lose the weight dozens of times. I lose 10, 20, 30 pounds, then I’d quit.” What is this, like, the 50th person on Biggest Loser to talk about their multiple weight cycling attempts? Why is nobody connecting that this is what has been pushing their weights higher and higher? And yet, the mantra  continues to be, “Never give up! Never give in!”

[W]hile he talked about his weight loss and his current struggle to lose 20 pounds he gained after his father’s death last year, his large message was about faith, renewal and leaving the past behind.

“If they can get one thing out of it, I just don’t want people to ever give up,” Cahill said.

He said he continues to fight his food addiction.

“It’s very difficult,” Cahill said. “I have issues with food and it’s a daily struggle.”

“It’s an inspiring story,” [Ron Lewis, the founding pastor and senior minister] said. “We call it a God story. Those are the kinds of stories that provide oxygen to people and help them in their journey.”

No, that’s what we call it is a Sisyphean story. Those are the kinds of stories that provide delusions to people and help them believe that this time, this diet will be different. But they aren’t. Even the ones they call “permanent lifestyle changes,” which don’t get even remotely close to Biggest Loser results, even after two years. Eating sensibly and exercising does not typically result in 430 pound man losing 239 pounds. What is required is something far more draconian and far less effective, as evidenced by this February 24, 2013 video of Cahill:

Danny Cahill 2013

Maintenance is the hardest part.

Despite his budding career as an author and motivational speaker and possible paid position as Biggest Loser Ambassador, Cahill is struggling to maintain his weight loss. Of course, this regain puts him in greater company.

Danny Cahill 3 Years Later

And yes, odds are that his regain is being triggered by his father’s death, which is a stressful situation. When under stress, the body releases cortisol, and leptin inhibits cortisol, which is why many people turn to food when they’re stressed. When you’re dieting, you have really low circulating leptin levels, which (along with ghrelin) is responsible for the gnawing hunger during caloric restriction. So, step one to maintaining successful weight loss is to never face stress.

Good luck with that.

So, as you may have guessed, the previous nine people were not chosen by Biggest Loser fans to star in the Subway commercial. That honor went to season 11 contestant, Courtney Crozier.

CourtneyBut this wasn’t Crozier at her heaviest. She once weighed 435 pounds.

Biggest Loser April 8

This was Crozier at 21, when she auditioned twice for Biggest Loser, but was never picked.  So, Courtney loses 112 pounds on her own. Marci’s mom summarizes the media response to her.

Marci said Courtney tried out unsuccessfully twice for The Biggest Loser. Only 22 can be accepted from 300,000 applicants. “It feels like rejection when the phone doesn’t ring. Then the same producers called her about the ABC show. She met  awesome people. They were going to follow eight for a year, then do a documentary. She finished ninth. I would have gone in my room and cried but she actually got mad on her 21st birthday. When she lost 112 pounds, the producers following her on social media started calling her. She hung up on them five times.”

She was, however, chosen to attend The Biggest Loser finales for seasons 7 and 8. It wasn’t until she lost the weight on her own, however, until she was chosen (along with her mom) to be a contestant in season 11. This time, she lost 110 pounds. According to Courtney’s blog, this process took 18 months. But the May 2011 finale, where she weighed in at 213 pounds, wasn’t the end of her weight loss process, according to Courtney’s Ambassador profile.

Courtney's Profile

It seems that her final, ultimate goal is around 183 pounds.

But in a March 2013 Post-Tribune profile of the Crozier’s participation in the Subway contest, her mom seems to hint at something.

“Yes, Courtney represents our family and friends but represents so much more,” she said. “She’s not at her ideal weight quite yet allowing her to represent people who struggle everyday with their weight. She also represents those with healthy lifestyle success since she has had so much of her own.”

And indeed, when Sweeney introduces Jared and Courtney Crozier, it totally caught me by surprise.

Contest-Winner-Twofer

Click to see the Courtney Crozier twofer.

And yet, how apropos, ya know? How absolutely perfect that the audience’s pick for favorite contestant would be the one person who has regained the most amount of weight.

Contest Winner Behind

Sweeney is biting her tongue right now.

So then, along with Danny Cahill and the rest, Courtney Crozier joins the Hall of Weight Cyclers.

Courtney Crozier 2 Years Later

And in the Ambassadors section, we also get a glimpse of exactly why it’s virtually impossible to maintain Biggest Loser weight loss from none other than Gina, who explains that she has to work out 1.5 to 2 hours per day and eat 1,500 calories per day. And this is if she only gets 7.5 hours of sleep per night.

Now, if she loves this lifestyle and sticks with it until the day she days, good for her. But most contestants seem to struggle to maintain such a rigorous lifestyle and schedule for many years. The ones who seem to do best are the same ones who make their living off staying thin. All of this makes me wonder what exactly the children of Biggest Loser are up against. Are they being compensated to stay thin or are they on their own? And will it matter in two, three, four years from now?

Royal Coronation

Here it is, the moment I’ve been waiting for.

THE END

And there  they were, the final three contestants, all Spanxed up and ready to weigh.

Last Contestants

I can only imagine the space-age girdles at work here.

Which reminds me, there’s an animated gif I completely forgot to post. I don’t recall what part of the show this comes from, but it’s kind of bizarre. Jeff looks like a deflating balloon, I swear. And it all takes place before a fluttering American flag.

Amazing-Deflating-Jeff

Click to see the Amazing Deflating Jeff!

God bless ‘Mercuh.

Sweeney gets us back on track for a tight few minutes. “First up, the man who won your vote, America. Now let’s see if he can win the grand prize. Let’s get Jackson up on the scale.”

Jackson gets on the scale and it beeps 9 times to build the sufficient amount of tension. He began at 328 pounds and when the scale finally stops, it hits 190 pounds, for a loss of 138 pounds, or 42.07%. Jackson’s happy.

Hooray Jackson

“I’m happy!”

“That’s awesome,” Jackson laughs. “Are you kidding me?”

“Jackson, we have more weigh-ins to do, so you come stand here with me,” Sweeney says, her back against the clock. “We’re going to watch Jeff next, we’re going to get him on the scale. At our very first weigh-in, Jeff lost more than anyone else on campus. Let’s see if he can finish that way. Jeff, step on the scale.” Yeah, Jeff, let’s get you up there so we can determine your worth as a human being!

Jeff has to lose more than 163 pounds to beat Jackson. Jeff gets 11 beeps worth of tension before we finally see that he has gone from 388 to 207 for a total of 181 pounds, or 46.65%.  Jeff takes the lead. Jeff is now happier than Jackson.

Hooray Jeff

“I am happier!”

Brief hooray before Sweeney pushes on with her preloaded quip. “After months of blood, sweat and Jackson throwing up all over the place, we have just one player left to weigh in.” Ha ha ha! Puking is fun. “We will crown our winner right after this.” That’s right, Sweeney. Squeeze every last penny out of ’em!

Before we cut to commercial, we finally get to see Sweeney’s mullet in all it’s glory.

Danni Mullet

Jillian’s dreamboat.

And I am still absolutely gobsmacked that they let her go on stage with that hair. Seriously, she looks like Mrs. Billy Ray Cyrus.

Mr and Mrs Billy Ray Cyrus

I shore do.

Was it some kind of sitcomesque snafu where they took the Hair-O-Matic® off her head just two minutes before she was set to go on? Was Jillian all like, “I’ve always pictured you as business up front/party in back”? What is happening?

After commercial break, Sweeney says, “Well, it all comes down to this. All that training. All that sacrifice.” All that puke? Don’t you want to get one more puke joke in, Sweeney? “It is down to Jeff and Danni.” A battle to the death.

“Danni, I’m looking at you up on that scale, standing there next to Jeff.” Your mullet flapping in the studio breeze. “I mean, 46.65 is tall order.” Not as tall as your hair, but still… “I know you laid it all out there.” Hair! “How are you feeling as you stand on that scale?” Top heavy?

Danni Eyes

The goal was to make Danni’s head taller than the 8.

“I am just trying to make sure I don’t trip and then I feel amazing,” Danni says with a grin. “I know that no one can take this away from me and that’s how I feel. I feel great. And that’s a tall order, but I worked so hard and at the end of the day, look at me.” Oh, I’m lookin’, but not at the area you want me to be lookin’. I literally cannot stop focusing on her hair. For me, Danni’s hair is the biggest loser we’ve been waiting for.

“And from where I’m standing, you both have already won.” But the rest of you are pathetic. “You both look incredible.” The others? Meh. “I can see this is anyone’s game.” Can you, Sweeney? Can you really? “This is so, so close.” Allison Sweeney: NBC’s Chief Carnival Weight Guesser. “We need to get you on that scale one last time Danni.” Well, America does, but Sweeney doesn’t.

At the age of 11, Allison Sweeney discovered she had the ability to guess the precise mass of all living creatures (no inanimate objects). She was a natural replacement for Biggest Loser‘s first host, Caroline Rhea, who, at the age of 8 discovered she had the ability to actually like fat people.

Another little known fact? Allison Sweeney does all the math in her head live on the show. They call her the Human Abacus.

Danni has lose 120 pounds to beat Jeff. Can she do it?

I… really gave up caring a long time ago, honestly. I could tell that she was the editor’s favorite a long, loooooooooong time ago and figured something was going on. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday we learn that one or two of the weigh-ins were actually rigged. I’m not accusing NBC or anyone of actually doing this, I’m just saying that if that news ever came out, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least.

To adequately build the tension for this moment, the weigh-in to end all weigh-ins, Danni gets a full 18 beeps’ worth of tension. Starting at 258, the scale finally, finally, FINALLY stops at 137 for a total loss of 121 pounds, or 46.9%. Danni is so happy that (in the hands of a skilled gif editor) she explodes.

Danni-Explodes

Click to see Danni explode.

Oh, and now the real moment to end all moments:

Meaty Hug

It’s the great, big, meaty hug that Jillian’s dreamed of.

With the final fluttering confetti, Sweeney wishes us well. “Until next time, I hope you stay happy and healthy.” And by “healthy” she means skinny and bemulletted.

And just like that, it ends. Suddenly, Sweeney’s behavior made sense. They barely had time to weigh Danni at all, let alone give her fans time to bask in the moment. One fan’s blog I read (but am not going to link to because I don’t want people to troll her because she likes the show) said, “I just wished they didn’t end the show so abruptly — maybe let Danni or the trainers talk for a minute? It’s just confetti. The End.”

Yes, after 11 weeks of hard work building up to this one, special moment and it’s wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Roll credits.

And what should pop up before the credits, but this:

Fine Print

NBC reserves the right to rename any of the contestants at any time.
Any children resulting from carnal relations between
two former contestants becomes the property of Biggest Loser.

You may recall that earlier in the show Jillian Michaels had her spastic traffic cop moment after Danni comes out and says she wants to give her a hug. “Not yet,” Jillian says . “Wait, I have this moment. I’ve been picturing it. You wait. I’ve been picturing this moment for months now and I’m not ready yet. It’s gonna be when the confetti comes down no matter what and you promise I’m the first hug.”

Jillian clearly knew that Danni was going to win in advance and she had pictured her hugging Danni after her glorious victory and the confetti shower and the camera capturing this very, very dramatic moment. There wasn’t any “no matter what.” There was a scripted moment planned in advance that Danni wasn’t quite aware of, but Jillian certainly was. And Danni nearly ruined Jillian’s perfect ending with her eagerness.

To be honest, I don’t think the contestants know the results of the weigh-ins, because otherwise their reactions would be more canned. But the producers obviously know because if they didn’t then they could accidentally front-load all  the biggest losers in the first round, and there’s no tension building in that.

So the producers know and, more likely than not, so do the trainers. I would bet dollars to donuts, and you know how much fatties love donuts.

I think this disclaimer sums up The Biggest Loser nicely: total control (bonus points to all the MSTies who read that like Bob Evil from “Time Chasers”).

Nothing is left to chance in this show, including the injuries sustained by the contestants. There are at least two instances (David and Gina) this season where a contestant suffered an early injury that was essentially ignored and it led to a more serious injury.

There is nothing real about the “reality” of The Biggest Loser. First and foremost, it is a game show, but at its core it is both a rudimentary, uncontrolled lab experiment and an untested social experiment in promoting unrealistic expectations for weight loss.

The biggest problem is that we, as the society experiment upon, don’t have access to the results of this decade-long lab experiment in making people lose between 35%-50% of their body weight in a relatively short period of time. I was able to find some long-term evidence of TBL’s failure with a little effort, but more information is needed. There are 200+ contestants in TBL’s history. Ideally, we would know where all of them are today. Odds are, most have regained some, if not all, of the weight they lost.

Yet, here we are pushing this same restrictive, unsustainable program onto three still-developing children.

And odds are that season 15 will feature three more kids, if not more.

Is this what we, as a society, really want?

Sadly, there is a sizable audience renders that question nearly moot.

Smoking the Competition

And now, the moment we’ve been waiting for.

The End.

The end of season 14 and, we can only hope, The Biggest Loser franchise. It’s unlikely at the moment, but I have hope that before too long people will realize what a thoroughly toxic and unhealthy show this is. This is particularly true for children, whether they’re on the show to lose 30% of their body weight or not.

This game show only works if the public remains ignorant of the truth behind it all. What they need the public to believe is that through a healthy, balanced diet and a lot of hard work, any fat person can get thin and (presumably) stay thin. They’ve employed 10 “ambassadors” whose job is, presumably, to stay thin. And even then, two of them have begun regaining the weight.

But that’s the reality they are able to control. Then there’s the reality they can’t afford to control indefinitely. The former contestants who regain the weight and remind society that eating 1,200 calories a day and exercising 46 hours per week is not healthy in any sense of the word. As this season has repeatedly shown, The Biggest Loser formula leads to vomiting, injuries, frustrating results and, ultimately, after the cameras stop recording, the weight regained.

Health does not require anyone to lose 40%-50% of their body weight. People do manage to lose that much and keep it off for one, two, three, four years, but not very many. Just 4.4% of people who had ever been overweight or obese have lost more than 20% of their body weight. If you watched the second part of the much-touted Weight of the Nation, you’ll hear one of the premiere weight loss experts, Dr. Sam Klein, extol the virtues of losing just 7% of your body weight.

The Biggest Loser is gross misinformation that misleads millions into  believing what in something that is neither broadly possible or even necessary. This is why people attempt all kinds of drastic and unsustainable lifestyle changes in the pursuit of Biggest Loser-sized results and only find what millions of dieters who came before have found: weight loss diets don’t work long-term. But what few dieters ever come to realize is that being healthy does not result in huge amounts of weight loss.

And the three greatest obstacles to educating the public on realistic health advice are the trainers from this season’s Biggest Loser.

Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels have made a career out of humiliating and degrading fat people on television, as well as hocking their books, videos and diet plans, as well as a really disturbing quantity of diet pills and supplements. At least Dolvett Quince isn’t exploiting his role on Biggest Loser with diet pills yet.

And although Dolvett Quince does have a tendency to scream at and vaguely intimidate contestants, when such motivation is “called for,” the fact is that Dolvett doesn’t seem to have the unbridled disgust for the contestants that the others clearly have. Rather than humiliate contestants until they’re in tears, Dolvett prefers to coin inane platitudes like…

Pain Meets the Pain

Just in case, I thought I’d help Dolvett out by adding context to his quote.

In Painville

So it’s no surprise that in my final tally, Dolvett was only selected as Biggest Dickweed after one episode, week 3, when he ignored Cate’s complaints of the shin splints she was experiencing and, instead, blamed it on some kind of psychological issue. This was one of the earliest Biggest Loser Moments (BLMs). As I first explained in episode 5:

BLMs give the trainers (particularly Jillian) a chance to pretend they actually care about the people they’re running into the ground. It starts out critical, they ask for the ultimate meaning behind their behavior. Tinkly music as the trainer softens their attention, until the problem has been identified and/or resolved. Then there’s a hug and onward and upward.

Cate was screaming in pain due to shin pain, which was most likely caused by “increasing training too quickly.” Dolvett’s response? He tells her that the problem is “what’s going on inside there and inside there” gesturing to her head and heart, unable to uncross his arms.

Click to see Dolvett being too cool for school.

“My job isn’t to help Cate lose weight on that scale, my job is to help her lose weight in how she perceives herself.” During the BLM, Cate tells Dolvett that every “Fat Tuesday” after meeting with her trainer she would go to McDonald’s and eat a bunch of junk food, and she sobbingly tells him that she’s wasting her trainer’s time. “Cate, you’re not wasting her time,” Dolvett reassures her. “You’re wasting your time. And you’re wasting your life.” And he hates you.

So, yeah, Dolvett has the capacity to be a dickweed for sure, but he earned one vote along with Allison Sweeney, Tim Gunn, and everyone involved in the production of The Biggest Loser.

On the other hand, Bob Harper is one of the most condescending, self-absorbed piss-ants on television today.

He also fancies himself quite the Beau Brummell, while simultaneously being President of the Hooray for Flannel Club. And now, thanks to his unique style and popularity on Biggest Loser, I’m proud to formally announce Bob Harper’s new fashion line for men.

BH Fashion

Bob’s roll on the show is to be the hardass with a heart of gold. He’s absolutely brutal in what he expects of his contestants, and will say some pretty nasty shit to get the results he expects. For instance, when Alex had yet another disappointing week and said she felt like giving up, Bob told her, “You are 24 years old. You stood on that scale day one saying that you were disgusting and that you don’t want to feel this way any more. Are you going to let this place defeat you?”

Bob says shit like this a lot. Bob is not afraid to twist the knife, or to exploit his guru role to sell you whatever shit he can. I will have to return to Bob  Harper at a future date, but suffice it to say that he is a snake oil salesman at his heart. And like Dolvett, he too offers bizarre words of advice to the contestants.

Bob Motivational

Of course, given Bob’s sponsorships, I thought a bit more context might be helpful.

Quaker Oats

But in the end, not even Bob Harper could snatch the title of Biggest Dickweed from his prime rival, Jillian Michaels. Including the grand finale, when Jillian turned down Danni’s hug in favor of a more dramatic moment (which nearly didn’t happen), it was just the icing on the dickweed cake. In a final score of 3 to 5, Jillian Michaels is clearly the Biggest Dickweed.

Jillian Biggest Dickweed

She’s mean, she’s spiteful, she’s irrational, she’s sadistic, she’s phony, she’s conniving, she’s indifferent, she’s crude, she’s crass, and she spent the first four or five episodes driving one contestant after another off the ranch by being the biggest, most deliberate, most hateful dickweed she could possibly be. For me, the one gif that sums up Jillian’s role on the show is this from the first episode:

Jillian watches as Nate falls again and again.

There’s no concern on her face. Never does she take a step forward to see if they’re okay. She knows that at a certain speed, someone’s going to fall, and she makes sure they hit that speed until, sure enough, they fall. There’s no surprise on her face because it is purely intentional. Jillian Michaels wants somebody to fall, wants somebody to fail, wants somebody to humiliate themselves on national television.

Of all the people connected with this show (all of whom are a very special kind of terrible), Jillian Michaels is the one person who I feel is doing this entirely for the opportunity to humiliate and degrade fat people. Anything else she says or does is secondary to the way she behaves on this show, episode after episode after episode.

Like an overgrown toddler, she stamps around the gym throwing tantrums at whoever is unfortunate enough to cross her path. Twice this season (here and here) Bob has given Jillian a look of complete astonishment at her behavior. When your own skeezy, douchey partner-in-crime is giving you the stink-eye, you might have crossed into an alternate reality entirely.

Jillian Michaels is a terrible, terrible human being. Everything she touches turns to tears and suffering with just a brief moment of glory as the confetti falls. But the further you get from that moment, either in the past or the future, the closer you get to seeing the path of destruction that Jillian Michaels leaves in her wake.

My only hope is that America soon falls out of love with this emotionally-stunted hatesack who wouldn’t know health if it kicked her in the teeth.

And so it is on my 34th birthday at 11:46 p.m. that I am finally able to conclude for the first, and only, time that Jillian Michaels is the Biggest Dickweed.

Be sure to congratulate her.

If you think this is wrong, sign the petition to stop Biggest Loser and join our boycott.

Previous recaps

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2013 9:32 am

    Reblogged this on The Cheese Whines and commented:
    There is nothing quite as amazing as these recaps by Shannon, and nothing quite as mind-bogglingly WHAT THE FUCK as socially sanctioned bullying. A Biggest Dickweed t-shirt would be awesome.

  2. Theresa permalink
    April 30, 2013 9:49 am

    Well done, Shannon!

  3. Lindsay permalink
    May 2, 2013 8:12 pm

    Thanks for doing these very thorough re-caps. +

    I cannot help but feel sorry for those contestants who are contestants and experiencing re-gain – especially the “ambassadors” Courtney and Danny. It is painful enough going through that process, never mind doing it when it is has become literally your job to stay thin. I am sure they are conscious of every pound and terrified of people noticing. Maybe at some point some of these contestants will speak up about the dark side of the show and their weight loss (such as Kai Hibbard did). Unfortunately I’m sure they mostly blame themselves as the show teaches them to.

  4. Dizzyd permalink
    May 6, 2013 2:33 pm

    I thought the ‘D’ in TBD stood for ‘dumbass’.

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