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  • Biggest Losers. Losing weight, gaining illness.

    By Travis Steffen on Friday, May 14, 2010in Help & Motivation, Weight Loss  

    Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook which eventually leads to success.

    - Bryan Adams

    blWhen the infamous weight loss reality show The Biggest Loser premiered in 2004, I will admit I was a huge fan. I loved the premise, the trainers and the motivational inspiration. As a trainer myself I found the weight loss expectations and the workouts to be realistic and contestant appropriate…in season 1. Fast forward 6 years and my opinion has changed dramatically, so much so that I know entirely discourage my clients or anyone else for that matter from watching it and feeding into the propaganda. Over the years the show has completely lost it’s focus and has gone from being a positive, health conscious public service announcement to an overly dramatized (Jillian), sponsorship sick, dangerously unhealthy hour of unrealistic expectations based solely on shock value.

    I’ve always stressed that healthy, responsible weight loss should happen gradually at a rate of approximately 1 to 2 pounds a week. In recent seasons contestants on the Biggest Loser have been expected to provide weekly weight loss numbers in the double digits. Ludicrous! In addition, when someone is beginning workout routines it should be conducive to their abilities. I’m not saying it should be easy at all, but it should be safe, addressing any possible limitations in order to prevent injury. This is not the case on the Biggest Loser. Every year the contestants get heavier, the workouts become longer and more difficult and the calories are reduced further. In some seasons the competitors have been on diets of 600-700 calories per day (less than half of what is recommended for a 10 year old child) and have been working out for 6 hours per day. Add to that having to endure the excruciatingly annoying  Jillian and her over the top dramatics and you can imagine how absolutely exhausting this would be.

    Every season the show experiences more injuries and health mishaps. Recently two contestants have had to be treated by emergency personnel after collapsing during a run, one woman suffered severe cramps while on a stationary bike, having to be pulled off by EMTs and yet another man was hospitalized for exhaustion. If these things happened to any one of my clients I would be sued, and rightly so. As a trainer I know better and so should they.

    Extreme exercise aside, a 700 calorie a day diet is not sufficient to maintain adequate health, especially factoring in the length of the diet (13 weeks). Risks include bone and muscle loss, malnutrition, cardiac abnormalities, bowel and intestinal issues, liver and kidney disease, vision problems and numerous other undesirable side effects.

    Having said that, I should clarify that obesity certainly has it’s terrible side effects and health risks as well. The point here is to be mature and responsible about your weight loss. Just because you want to lose 100 pounds before this years bikini season doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Believe me, the cons outweigh the pros. Face it…it took you time to gain that weight and it’s going to take you time to lose it, especially if you want to feel decent while doing it. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 1 to 2 pounds a week. That way you will salvage precious muscle tissue, supply your body with the nutrients it requires to sustain life and you won’t drive your family and friends away with a nasty (I’m starving) attitude. As far as exercise goes, if you’re a beginner, start there. Be consistent with your workouts, perform them to the best of your ability and keep challenging yourself. Stay positive and remind yourself that slow and steady really does win the race!

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    About Travis
    Travis Steffen is a Master Trainer and founder of WorkoutBOX. After years of experience training professional athletes and thousands of others just like you, he knows exactly what it takes to get you in serious shape. Follow his expert guidance and you're guaranteed to get amazing results.
    Want to hear even more of what Travis has to say? Keep in touch with him on Facebook and Twitter!

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