Exactly what do you have to do?

I recently heard/read a whole heaping steaming dung pile of commentary on latest winner of The Biggest Loser, Rachel Fredrickson who lost 155 pounds on the latest season of the show.

To be clear, I do not watch The Biggest Loser.  In the entire time the show has been on the air, and I have no idea how long that has been, I have watched perhaps 5 episodes.  I watched zero episodes this season.  The whole concept of the show gets on my nerves*, as does most so called reality TV, so I don’t bother with it.  If I were to watch it, I would need to have a bag of chips, some chocolate and a bottle of wine at the ready to get through it.  Of course, those things help to get through any show.

So, guess what all the commentary about Rachel’s victory was?  Congratulations for losing so much weight?  Way to go for winning $250,000?  You’re awesome for sticking with a plan to achieve your goals?

No.  Nope.  Not at all.

The commentary is:

  • She looks anorexic
  • She can’t be healthy
  • She lost too much weight
  • That doesn’t represent health or fitness
  • She looks weak and unhealthy
  • So disappointed how far she took her weight loss
  • She looks so sickly, she shouldn’t be able to win

Some of the comments focused on the fact her BMI, at 5’4″ and 105 pounds is 18.0, below the so-called healthy bottom end of 18.5.  So therefore, she is unhealthy.  To this I say:

  1. BMI is bullshit
  2. Yeah, I got nothing else, except that BMI is bullshit.  It is a very rough approximation of appropriate weight relative to height.  A BMI of 24.9 is considered in the healthy range.  A BMI of 25 is considered overweight.  At my height (5’6″), losing one pound would take me from an overweight BMI of 25 to a healthy weight BMI of 24.9.  Not that I’m anywhere close to a BMI of 25, but just the same, it’s bullshit.  I pee out at least 1 pound a day.  Bodybuilders often show up as obese according to BMI charts.

You know how much weight Rachel would have to gain to be at “healthy” BMI of 18.5?  3 pounds.  Yep, just 3 more pounds, and she’d be considered healthy.  I don’t know about her, but I can gain 3 pounds in an hour.  So I think she’ll probably be able to make it into that healthy range without too much effort.

So what exactly do you have to do to win here?  What should Rachel have done differently?

Figured it out yet?

Nothing.  It is not possible to win.  No matter how much weight she lost or didn’t lose, she can’t win.  Someone will always be there to criticize her for not losing enough weight or losing too much, or working out too much or who knows what else.

Folks, this was a competition for $250,000.  It is entirely possible that she deliberately lost a bunch of weight just before the show to try to secure the win.  I would have.  The rules are the person that loses the biggest percentage of body weight wins.  If Rachel would have weighed 120 pounds, which almost everyone would probably find to be quite healthy (and a few would no doubt consider to be too fat), she wouldn’t have won the competition.  And like it or not, it was a competition, for an awful lot of money.

All of us out here in internet land are not doctors.  And if we are doctors, we are very likely not the doctors of the people we are commenting on.  We are not qualified to say whether Rachel, or any other person we see pictures of on TV or the miraculous interwebs is unhealthy, has an eating disorder, needs help, needs to lose weight or needs to gain weight.  We do not know them.  We do not know whether they have an eating disorder.  We do not know whether they exercise too much, the right amount (whatever that really is) or not at all.  We do not know what their latest bloodwork results were.  We have absolutely zero real facts on which to judge the relative health of the people we see in the virtual world.

As I said, I watched zero episodes of the show this season.  So when I saw Rachel, I didn’t think she looked unhealthy or anorexic or anything.  She looked thin.  No thinner than many people I see on TV and online all the time.  Certainly not thin enough to spark any thoughts of unhealthiness.  When I saw the before/after comparison photos, she looks like a different person.  Losing 155 pounds will do that to most people.  I thought she looked pretty before she lost the weight.  And she looks pretty now.

To Rachel, I say, congratulations on your win.

* The reason the show gets on my nerves is the underlying premise that it is necessary to lose weight to have a happy life.  A lot times people think that losing weight will make them happy.  Truth is, that while it might make you happier (as opposed to happy) or more confident or whatever, chances are that everything that’s wrong in your life isn’t going to be magically fixed because you lose weight.  Let’s have a show about creating a kick ass life for yourself, no matter what your body looks like.  That’s reality TV I’d watch.

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