While The Biggest Loser inspires many viewers, I don’t watch it because there is so much focus on quick-weight loss and not enough on what it takes, psychologically and emotionally as well as with exercise and nutrition, for long-term wellness. Have to admit that even I was shocked when all of the articles ran yesterday, like this one in Entertainment Weekly, that showed the season’s winner, Rachel Frederickson, losing 155 lbs. to land at 105 lbs., which on her 5-foot 4-inches frame is well below the body mass index of a healthy range. Her emaciated arms contrasted greatly with the joyous smile on her face and it broke my heart. That’s why I wanted to share three lessons we can learn from Rachel’s experience:
- Look for encouragement in other ways. When I slowly but surely took off 50 pounds over 20 years ago, getting compliments from people helped fuel that journey. I hadn’t gotten much positive attention for my appearance before and it was thrilling. After that 15-month process though, others got used to the new healthier, fit version of me and compliments slowed down to a trickle. So if you’ve come to rely on the lovely feeling of being cheered on and then it dissipates, that can be hard. Finding encouragement from other means, including yourself, is essential in maintaining a healthy balance with your weight and overall wellness.
- There can be too much of a good thing. Losing pounds at some point should stop when you reach a healthy weight with strong muscle mass. Rather than continuing with behaviors that focus just on shedding pounds, consider consulting certified nutrition and exercise professionals or a physician to find the right balance for your individual body. Weight loss maintenance actually takes a different set of skills to thrive in the long-term. Many successful weight losers deal with “course corrections” along the way, in the form of gaining back a few pounds to reach a healthier, more maintainable place or having to shed extra weight that might return as habits shift in life.
- Get realistic role models. Rachel is a voice-over actress in Los Angeles, where many women in the entertainment industry are encouraged to be as thin as possible. If she has been working in an environment where trying to emulate runway model skinny is seen as success, then the weight she landed probably seems delightful to her. And I know there’s a whole argument out there that Rachel could be absolutely healthy and is beaming in the media interviews when describing her experience. But given the importance of emphasizing being fit over being skinny to others looking at Biggest Loser winners as their role models, I wonder about the negative impact this could potentially have.
What are your thoughts? Does she look too skinny or should we all shut up and let her be thin in peace? Have you ever had to consciously regain a few pounds for better health?
Photo Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC