Takeaways From The Biggest Loser Week 3: A Treadmill Is Not A Psychologist

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This week we begin with the contestants rolling around in mud (obviously) in a dehumanising challenge that has now spanned two goddam episodes. We GET it. It’s overweight people clawing their way through some mud pit, which has literally infiltrated every orifice of their bodies, given that it appears they have now been in the pit for, like, a week, as some divine punishment for eating too much cake.

Everyone gets mud in their mouths, the Red team wins and everyone is (legitimately) pissed off because they just spent a week in a mud pit for no reason.

With the maximum level of humiliation reached for the week, the contestants then have their ‘last chance’ training session – a high intensity, very conceptually flawed work-out that occurs just before the all important weigh-in.

Okay, we have come to expect very little from these personal trainers, but SURELY these four KNOW that last chance training just…isn’t a thing…that works.

We have all gone for a run and come home only to feel cheated, because we’re not thinner yet and there is still no six-pack. We agree that it’s bullshit and we’re not happy about it. But we have definitely learnt the hard way that running on the treadmill a week before summer starts really does not do the trick.

The contestants are seriously led to believe that the kilojoules they burn will be reflected in their imminent weigh-in. It is heralded as their ‘last chance’ to make up for all their (inevitable) failures of the week. This just isn’t how exercise works. It’s more likely that the trainers go from 0-100 during last chance training in an attempt to make them sweat profusely, to the point where they are severely dehydrated, and thus get rid of all their water weight. A sauna would have the same effect.

Given the ridiculousness of these workouts, we have recognised a lil’ strategy that contestants use during last chance training. We would go as far as to call it pure genius.

All of the trainers are shouting, “bla bla fatty give me more, one more kilometre, you’re so, SO, fat, do it for your kids, I just CANNOT believe how fat you are, you better exercise eight hours a day or I’ll throw you back in the mud pit bla bla”.

But if a contestant starts ‘opening up’, for example talking about how bad they feel about themselves, how they’re a bad parent, etc., they get to momentarily stop. The trainer then listens and sympathises (because it makes for good television) and lays off the whole ‘putting their bodies through trauma’ thing.

The things we would fabricate in order to get out of doing exercise have no limits (“Oh uhh..my rabbit…he ah, has the ah, measles”). We are sure that nine times out of 10 the contestants are absolutely fine, but they have just learnt that this is the only way to avoid the rower, so they plan their story in advance.

They might be overweight, but can we just pause for a moment and acknowledge the extent to which they are outsmarting their trainers? Eh, guess it’s not that hard.

Seems like a nice enough guy, but does NOT seem difficult to outsmart.

During Tuesday’s episode, we thought we were watching Kayla employ this genius strategy when boxing with her coach Tiffiny. That was until Kayla revealed that extremely recently, she lost her partner of five years in a car accident. She described how she doesn’t “feel anything more” and she felt like what she lost was a “once in a lifetime love”.

Um what. We were just…not emotionally prepared for that kind of revelation. You don’t expect this kind of content when it’s placed in-between a full blown fight in a mud pit where Cliff shouts at Ali that she is “just a stupid mole”, and tempting overweight people with junk food as some kind of sick social experiment. Oh, and just in regards to the mud pit fight – Fiona (host) reflected that she sensed some “hostility” among the contestants. OF COURSE THERE IS HOSTILITY YOU THREW 10 ADULTS INTO A MUD PIT AND THEY ARE ALL HUMILIATED.

‘You’re acting like animals. You’d think we had put you in a mud pit or something. And no. I don’t have to get into the mud, I’m not fat anymore…’

Anyway, mid episode we have this heart-wrenching story of loss, which would be enough to throw anyone into a serious depression.

Luckily though, Kayla has Tiff. Good ol’ Tiff. While Tiffiny does have a Certificate in Fitness and a Diploma of Sports Coaching, she does not have a degree in Clinical Psychology. She is in no way qualified to counsel Kayla through this period in her life. In fact, not one of the trainers is equipped to deal with any psychological issues.

Tiffiny’s response to Kayla was “Through training and the challenges of being here, you’re gonna get stronger, and you’re gonna be able to deal with this grief a little bit better at this hard time in your life”.

Nope. Nup. Nuh-uh. Of course exercise provides endorphins and is great for mood, but someone who has experienced the death of a loved one isn’t going to be cured after a few bloody burpies and a (sickening) jog on the treadmill.

“Just jog it off babe”

Just to make the contestants’ psychological journey all the more tumultuous, this week they introduced Temptation. It was part of ‘The Game’ (reminder: it’s a game), and one by one contestants were taken to a location with three food trucks, full of ice cream, crepes, hot dogs, food that gives life meaning, etc.

The winner is the person who eats the most calories.

Sorry, we’ll just repeat that. You may have misread it because it makes no sense.

The winner is the person who eats the MOST calories.

Understandably, the contestants seem rather confused.

“But…you told us to eat only healthy foods, and we are in a competition to lose the most weight? You said that when we were eating this stuff we weren’t really ‘living’, that we weren’t ‘mothers’, and that our existence was very, very ‘sad’. But now we may be at a DISADVANTAGE if we DON’T eat the crepes?”

The idea of temptation is problematic for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it’s the final straw in destroying the contestants’ relationship with food.

Eating well requires us to have a good relationship with healthy food, but also requires us to maintain a balanced relationship with unhealthy food. The difference between a diet and a healthy lifestyle change (and the reason diets fail) is that you are going to eat unhealthy foods from time to time. There are birthdays and weddings and, you know, Friday nights where somehow you end up with a large frozen coke, KFC, and 3 packets of m&ms. All these things happen, and are out of our control.

If Channel 10 suggests that eating an ice cream is ‘failing’, then they have created the perfect environment for a problem with binge eating. What causes binge eating is flawed cognitions about having eaten something ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, which leads to guilt, and ultimately abandoning one’s ‘diet’ for the comfort of emotional eating.

In our opinion, it is Channel 10, and not Ali (who ate an ice cream) who failed us this week.

It was another jam-packed week (mmm jam), so special mentions go to:

  • Sylvia who seriously injured herself during the challenge and had to be taken to hospital. We’ve been playing Biggest Loser Bingo, and after ‘vomiting’, ‘tears’ and ‘mud’, we were worried we weren’t going to be able to check ‘hospitalisation’ off the list. Phew!
  • The winner of this weeks challenge got to allocate food groups to each team. Nothing about just eating seafood (…breakfast? Ew) is conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Ahh, eliminating entire food groups, labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’… they really want to screw up these peoples eating habits.
  • Contestants were disappointed when they had only  lost three kilos this week.
  • Commando shuts down all jokes about temptation. Sorry Commando, but it’s pretty funny. All you do is talk about weight loss and given the first opportunity to eat all these ‘scary’ foods, 10/14 of the contestants did. THEY DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT THE PRIZE WAS. Ha – if that’s not a kick in the face to you and your (silly) show, we don’t know what is.
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