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Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Biggest Losers...and Regainers?

The statistics on weight loss are not heartening. Most who lose--yes, the vast majority--regain lost pounds, and even add some. Oh-oh, I feel dragonfire on my neck!

No, no, let's hurry into the castle and drop the portcullis.

Oooh, better.

There was some comment chatter not too long ago on some FatFighter Blogs about how watching the rebroadcasts of old THE BIGGEST LOSER shows had a beneficial (ie. motivating) effect.

And I agreed. Watching those folks just change and change, lose and lose, and struggle, well, it was like a coach saying, "Get off your couch and move and then plan a healthy meal."

It can also be discouraging, if you don't have a personal trainer there with you for hours a day, and you're not living in an environment structured to focus solely, consistently, obessively on diet and exercise. In other worlds, a world created for weight loss (which is what THE BIGGEST LOSER ranch is).

Anyway, I had mixed reactions--sad, cheered, discouraged, encouraged--while reading an issue of TIME magazine recently that had various diet/appetite/obesity related articles. One included an update on some of THE BIGGEST LOSER contestants, including Ryan Benson, the guy who had such a drastic change in weight, so drastic that he won the first season's big prize of 250 thousand smackeroos. (I remember him, because he started out as a real unlikable dude I wanted kicked off the show, then morphed into a more softie, weepy dude I was able to cheer for, though I wanted Doc or Kelly to win, honestly.)

Bad News Brute Alert:
Ryan has regained all but thirty of his lost pounds.

Let me break that down:

Original Weight: 330
Winning Weight: 208
Current Weight: 300

He's managed to keep 30 off (which is better for his health than NONE), and just goes to show that even with total pro assistance, it's not easy maintaining. Here's hoping Ryan can get the numbers down again. Hey, his winnings can help hire a trainer and get some good diet food delivery if necessary. Good luck to you, RB.

The TIME article goes on to mention some disturbing behind-the-scenes activity:

The Biggest Loser achieves rapid transformations—contestants often drop more than 9 kg in a week—through calorie restriction, endless exercise and no small amount of dehydration that occurs behind the scenes. Ryan Benson, 38, an actor who works for a DVD distributor in Los Angeles, lost 55 kg to win the first season in January 2005 but says he regained 14.5 kg within five days simply by drinking water. Matt Hoover, 31, a motivational speaker based in Seattle, had a 7-kg rebound within a day of winning Season 2. Last season's runner-up, Kai Hibbard, 28, an aerobics instructor in Alaska who says she spent the night before her final weigh-in hopping in and out of a sauna for six hours, consumed only sugar-free Jell-O for several days and wolfed down asparagus, which is a natural diuretic.

Okay, I understand. Big money is at stake. They're taking crazy measures to win.

I remember a high school boyfriend who used to take water pills and used to spit--actually spit and spit and spit into a cup--as well as make himself sweat (wrapping himself in plastic wrap and exercising in the sun), in order to make weight for the wrestling team competitions. I knew that had to be unhealthy. (It certainly was creepy.) It was all about DEHYDRATION for weight loss, for a weigh-in, which is not about losing fat or gaining health, that's for sure.

There's some good news in the article and some difficult but sobering news.

The good news: One of my fave contestants, the pretty dark-haired Kelly Minner, has not only kept her finale fat loss, she's lost even more and is down to 140 lbs. Go, Kelly!

But she does it in part by heeding the sobering part, she exercises up to four hours a day for six days a week.

No, that's not a typo. And here's some factoid on that, emphasis mine. And know what, let's make it a SPARKLY FACTOID, because at least it offers some hope (though, hey, I'm not feeling all that cheered or sparklesome):

The U.S. National Weight Control Registry, which tracks the habits of some 5,000 successful maintainers, cites a study showing only a fifth of dieters with a history of obesity sustain a loss of 10% of their body weight for a year or more. "The best predictor of the ones who are not going to regain are the ones who are doing the most physical activity," says Dr. Holly Wyatt, an obesity expert at the University of Colorado. She says most registrants exercise, on average, at least an hour a day.

To read all of the weight/fitness related articles in that TIME issue, go to "The Way We Eat--The Science of Appetite" and More Stories.

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Lora said...

OMG! - I dated several wrestlers in high school (don't know why...they just happened to be into that sport) and I SO remember the spitting thing to lose weight! I can't believe the coaches condoned that sort of thing. The guys had to be so weak by the time the meet cam around.

Anyway...just had to connect with you about that old memory!

***CCC*** said...

Oh, oh, oh...how sad to hear some of the Biggest Loser folks haven't been successful in keeping their weight off. But I truly understand their plight.

I lost 60 pounds 4 years ago while prepping for my wedding; within two years of being married, they were all back, with some extra pounds to boot. It was awful and disheartening.

But what WAS heartening was reading about the ones who've kept the weight off and their exercise. This go-round I have been adding exercise like there is no tomorrow. And I get upset on the days I have to miss my workout. I'm hoping adding this habit to my life will help.

Time will tell.

Nice to see you posting again, your highness!

Cat said...

Oh man, the exercise is the harder thing for me, over the eating. I do get pretty motivated by The Biggest Loser, but really it just makes me want to be in that kind of environment. Good info!

Zanitta said...

Another confirmation of what I already know - I need to start exercising. Bah.

Lady Rose said...

It is definitely tough to keep weight off - I used to be a professional yo yo dieter (I have resigned!) The last time I dieted I lost over a 100 lbs, gained it and more back. This time I am not dieting - I am making a lifestyle change permanently - over 80 lbs lost so far only 60ish to go. Lady Rose

Once Upon A Dieter said...

Man, losing 80 lbs. I've never come CLOSE to that. The most I ever lost in one concerted effort over months was like 30 lbs. I'm impressed, Lady Rose.

You're more than HALF the way there. Whoa! :)