Column: Why I Don’t Do ‘Biggest Loser’

July 7, 2020

[Opinion column written by Hafid James]

Firstly, this is not in any way shape or form to bash or pull down anyone that does or has partaken in these types of competitions. This is simply why I don’t do them. I get asked regularly to do one or if I’m helping with a particular one and the answer is always no.

When asked why I don’t, I avoid really giving an answer to anyone that’s not a client of mine because I don’t want to discourage them from doing it if they wanted and/or I might not be able to go into details and fully express my opinion. So this is simply me answering why I don’t.

Anyone that has talked to me about health or achieving a goal knows I feel one major reason people fail is because they go into a goal with the wrong mindset. The Biggest Loser reality show is always an example I use. These competitions focus on doing extremes to achieve a goal, the goal being lose as much weight as soon as possible.

Sound familiar? And the way they do it is by extreme training and low calorie dieting and they get results. One contestant named Ali Vincent lost over 100lbs! But how long do you think you can keep up with extremes before you just quit cause of the toll it takes on the body/mind or more importantly the health ramifications that will occur?

That same contestant regained most of her weight back and was quoted saying “I feel like a failure.” Another contestant is quoted saying “NBC never does reunions. Why? Because we are all fat again.” And it honestly hurts my heart to think of the mental toll that must take. To suffer for months, lose the weight, just to regain it. Must be hard!

The Biggest Loser Bermuda July 2020

And this is my major problem with these competitions. Too much attention is put on weight loss and rapid weight loss over health and creating a healthy lifestyle. I’ll be honest when someone tells me they lost 20-50lbs: I’m more interested to hear how you lost it.

Was it by doing a crazy amount of cardio, the latest trendy diet, or making lifestyle changes focused on health? We all know someone that lost a lot of weight then a few months later it was back on, if not more, just like Biggest Loser contestants.

Some people I talk to rationalize it by saying “it’s just a jump start.” Okay, I can understand that, but a jump start to what? Teaching yourself extremes and thinking, okay, if I just train two hours every day, I’ll be okay.

How many people can or do keep up with their contest regiment? Very very very few. I actually heard of some people that won those contest more than once; that means you’ve lost the weight put it back on in about a year or so to lose it again to put it back on. To me that’s not a healthy or desirable pattern you want to be on.

Another one is “well, it’s better than nothing”. Yes, this is true to some extent, generally doing something is better than doing nothing, but research has shown that yo-yo dieting [frequent and drastic changes in weight] does more harm to your health then just staying at the same weight, even if you are overweight.

For example, the stress you put on yourself from extreme training and dieting, to the level that you are overtraining – you’ll loss a few pounds, but now your stress hormones are not balanced, which can affect your thyroid hormones, which can effect this and then that and that too.

I like when people realize the more you focus on your health, the less work you actually have to do. I’ve had numerous clients do less physical work but get more results. How? By focusing on their health and making incremental lifestyle changes, thus optimizing their health, which will optimize their results because they’re giving the body what it needs instead of fighting against it.

And by doing that, I feel you’ll optimize your chances of success.

We live in a society of quick and instant gratification and we want weight loss to be that way, but I’ll bring up the tortoise and the hare story. Quick doesn’t mean success; sometimes we have to take our time and go through a longer slower journey in order to succeed. I’d rather lose 20lbs in a year through lifestyle changes and keep it off versus losing 50lbs in a few weeks to put back on 50+ a few weeks later.

- Hafid James


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Comments (8)

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  1. Monica says:

    Very well written and thoughtful- is everything stated in this article was what I learned in my final year of my dietetic studies. Small incremental behavior changes add up Over time for A sustainable healthy lifestyle. ALSO this article briefly touches on the concept that BODY WEIGHT is NOT INDICATIVE OF HEALTH!!!!! health is not a weight, size or “look”- we need to stop equivocating weight with health. By focusing on behavior changes and lifestyle management versus a goal weight we are more likely to make meaningful and lasting progress along our health journey.

    • Hafid James says:

      Absolutely agree! You can’t go wrong on focusing on your health

  2. Julian says:

    Great article, its all about balance

    • Hafid James says:

      Yup absolutely. And knowing balanced isn’t pizza at lunch and salad for dinner. lol

  3. Action Now says:

    Lovely reading and he’s absolutely correct. Slow, steady, and maintainable.

  4. Amelia says:

    Great work Hafid!
    Awesome read. Instead of bashing the practice you gave comprehensive reasons as to the positive and negative effects of the “competition” method of losing weight. We all see it time and again, where we see individuals lose so much weight during these competitions and then it bounces back worse than before (personal experience). It had to be a lifestyle change, slow and gradual. Keep up the great work

    • Hafid James says:

      Yes most definitely gotta keep it positive. Understanding it can be hard best thing I find it to just step small steps to improve health. Over time small steps and make it a lifestyle add up.