Thursday, February 6, 2014

Team S.J.G.R. Thursday Huddle: The Biggest Loser and other reasons to riot.

Yeah, so check it. This woman Rachel pictured below just won the $250K purse on "The Biggest Loser." That's that show where people work out and overhaul their diets on national television. They also wear, like, sports bras in front of the whole-wide-world and step on a ginormous scale each week. Talk about no shame in your game. Dang. 

Yeah. So Rachel literally lost over 150 pounds. Which was nearly 60% of her body mass. She started over 250 and got down to 105 pounds. Yes. 105 pounds.

Okay. So before you ask--she's 5'5". That gives her a body mass index of like 17 and some change. Which, yeah, is kind of low. And sure. I'll go with the masses and say she looks a bit gaunt-ish in the face. And I'll even say that getting down to 105 pounds in I'm not sure how much time (but less than a year) is kind of extreme. 


Let me tell you what has me the most bothered about all of this. It's this accusation that she is "anorexic." As a matter of fact, if you type "anorexic" into a search engine right this moment, HER PHOTO is the second hit. Not even kidding.

Now that? That's not cool. Because anorexia -- as in anorexia nervosa -- is a big deal and a serious diagnosis. Shame on America for wagging their fingers and using that term so loosely! It's disrespectful not only to her but also the many, many people who struggle with eating disorders every single day. 

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is hallmarked by a combination of restrictive eating, an irrational fear of weight gain and ESPECIALLY something called "body dysmorphism." That's where you look in the mirror and see FAT when what is actually there is, well, skeletal. 


I saw how that woman Jillian Michaels and the other trainer dude looked when she walked out. They looked like, "Daaaaaaaaamn!" and not in the good way. But I also saw how Rachel looked at her body double hologram and how she seemed to feel about herself. There was nothing I saw that made me think she was irrational about gaining more weight or unhappy with not being thin enough. I didn't catch her restricting food or running in place burn calories either. In fact, all I saw was a previously heavy woman who may have crossed the line a bit. 

Did America recall that this woman used to be competitive swimmer? She knows how to chasten her body and probably did. And, look. I'm not a huge fan of TV weight loss shows or those creepy plastic surgery makeover ones, either. But calling a woman "anorexic" so much that she is the SECOND FREAKING HIT on Google is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. 

I've seen people look like her after gastric bypass. I think sometimes that "gaunt" appearance can come after a face and arms that once had more skin is no longer filled out. Maybe. But my point is that sometimes when a person has gone from one extreme of heavy to thin, it doesn't look as. . .well. . ."normal" . . .as usual. That's just my opinion.

Imagine if YOU were going to come onto national television to the finale of a weight loss show. How hard would YOU go? I bet she did get a bit extreme. But I doubt any more extreme than some of you have gone in preparation for a wedding day or some other very public thing where you wanted to slay the onlookers with your diva-ness. 

So really? I think it's bullshit to call her anorexic. It's mean, too. And shame on America (and every other country) for thinking it's okay. Because it's not. 


I didn't say she DIDN'T have an eating disorder. But I am saying that we don't have any real evidence of that. I'd rather people say "she went too far" or that "she's a bit too thin." Hell, I've felt the same way about Al Roker before. And you know what? If Rachel is anything like Al, she's a carbohydrate and a refined sugar away from having you all off of her back.


Leave that woman alone. And as for how they threw her trainer under the bus? That was just wrong, too. But more than I can even unpack before my kids wake up. 

So that's it. That's my take. And if I was Rachel the lady on Biggest Loser? I'd probably be saying some really inappropriate things to the world on Twitter right about now.

But that? That's just me. 

Whoops. I hear Zachary. Weigh in, y'all.

Get it? WEIGH in. Hee heeeeee.

Random sidebar: I kind of think the thin Rachel favors the late Karen Carpenter (who famously passed away from anorexia nervosa.) Perhaps this is what's evoking that word. I'm just saying. What do y'all think?

Happy Thursday.


  1. I'm the poster who asked for this. Thank you for accommodating me. Will weigh in with my thoughts on the piece later today. But I agree that girl does not appear to be anorexic. She just went hard. And I would too for 250k. Hell I would for 150k. Tee hee.

    1. I'm glad you read the post. Looking forward to your input!

  2. People just can't nice things about other peoples success.. Of course, they probably found the worse pic of her etc. Here is my story...when I was 42 I trained for a year to run a marathon...I ran ...slept...ate...ran...lifted weights. I probably lost 20 pounds but was all muscle and so I was a size 3 to 5. I was eating everything I could because I could. Do you know not ONE person ever told me I looked great (and I did !..ha!) ...even my family. Rumors of me taking drugs etc....and all I was doing was getting in the best shape of my life. So I feel for the girl too...people are just jealous. And for $250.000 I would probably do whatever I needed to do ....I imagine that was a fortune for her!

  3. Jillian gives her contestants diet pill (at least she did in the past) and no one through her under the bus. I may be sensitive about Dolvett...but I think Jillian and Bob are really jealous of his immediate success and that's why they issued that joint statement.

    She did go too far but she won and it is a competition. She was a competitive swimmer so she will go hard. I a thinking she will gain 10-20 lbs just to have something she can realistically maintain. I wish her luck and hope she didn't develop a disorder in order to win.

  4. I am not sure how I feel about it for these reasons... Disordered eating is a negative whether it's binge eating and food addiction, or anorexia. I don't think she's grossly underweight, but I do worry that she might have swung the pendulum from one sort if disordered eating or addiction for another, as often happens after gastric bypass as well. Food addiction can become an addiction to working out, which I have actually tried to achieve. I am hoping she is a fierce competitor and wanted to win that money and now she will move forward happy and healthy.

  5. Dangit, I just typed a response and deleted it. First of all, I would go hard for 10K at this point in my life. Rachel looks healthy and overall (I said overall), Americans are overweight and lazy, so of course, they gotta hate on the healthy folks. Rachel and everyone else on the reality shows signs up for hate, it just is that way. Rachel gets to go to bed knowing that she saved her life and she is 250K richer for it, suck it haters!

    1. lol Jill...I would do it for 10 thousand right now too!

  6. I definitely agree with you on the anorexia thing. That's just wrong. As someone who has watched TBL all 15 seasons, I had never seen someone walk out looking flat out unhealthy. She DID look like Karen Carpenter-- and not in a good way. Part of the problem is that those of is who watch regularly saw her looking fit and healthy at 150 the week before. The next time we saw her she looked like skin and bones. She wasn't the strong, fit, powerful Rachel we just saw win the mini triathlon. That was what disturbed me so much.

    As for Bob & Jillian... I don't think they threw Dolvett under the bus. Pictures and gifs of their shocked faces made the rounds & they had to eventually say something. They weren't Rachel's trainers. It's a true statement. Dolvett was her trainer, but people familiar with the show should know that the additional 45 pounds she dropped after leaving the ranch was all her doing.

    I just think it was bad for the show to have her come out on the stage looking so thin & gaunt. And it didnt help that she looked like she was going to fall over & tripped up the stairs! I'm sure she'll put on some more pounds now. It just wasn't a good look for the show. I suspect they'll go back to the format where the trainers visit the finalists at home between the time they leave the ranch & the finale.


  7. Just wanted to tell these Thursday posts are and were a huge encouragement for me to get back to the gym and serious about heart health and healthy eating for weight loss. I'm 9 mos. post-partum with twins and we are planning on trying to get pregnant so baby 3 would be born when our girls are 2. I'm committed to getting to the gym for at least 150 minutes of cardio a week and losing 25 pounds before we start trying for another baby. So, good on ya Dr. Manning, changing lives for the better all over the world (I live in Guadalajara ha :) Rebecca

  8. There are some people who are just thin, and I don't believe in calling something anorexia when I am not in fact an expert on eating disorders. However. There is a lot of very fair criticism about the Biggest Loser, and I wish very much that it stopped existing.

  9. I didn't see the show, nor the finale. And I have purposefully not read any of the other comments. Grady Doc, I truly respect your and your medical knowledge. You graduated from Meharry and that alone trumps my early childhood teaching degree from Florida Bible College. But I just have to think you are wrong on this one. Obesity is just the other side of the eating disorder coin from anorexia. I have been living with one or the other from the day I was born. My mother was anorexic. She weighed 61 pounds on the day she died. I struggled with it until I was in my 30's when I just flipped the coin and started enjoying the cake. I have been battling with my daughter over it since she was 12.

    To begin with I think the healthiest thing on that show is the medical exam the contestants supposedly go through to be on it. There is nothing healthy about pushing someone to exercise until they throw up or pass out. Every doctor in the world will tell you to start slow. Pushing your body to that extent causes a kaleidoscope of medical dangers including prolonging of the QT interval, reset orthostat and rhabdomyolysis. I have watched that show in the past and marveled that they have managed to not kill anyone. Losing 60% of your body weight in 8 months, there is no way to do that without becoming obsessive about it. There are only so many calories that you can cut and still maintain a healthy diet.

    I truly think that this woman has just flipped the coin. I hope she will understand healthy before she does harm to herself.

    1. Okay--real talk. She very well could have an unhealthy relationship with food. I give you that. But that does NOT mean that she is "anorexic." The long history you describe in your family is so unfortunate. I must ask--when your mom weighed 61 pounds did she express feeling fat? If she did--then indeed that's anorexia nervosa. No where did Rachel express feeling like there was more work to be done. So...we can agree to disagree somewhat on this one. I say the pendulum may have swung but I maintain that calling her anorexic with nothing more than her appearance on television is totally inappropriate.

      My dos pesos.

  10. Sixty one pounds was my mother's weight in the morgue after they'd drained all the acites. In that she'd mostly been comatose for the last week of her life, I doubt that she knew it. Though I'm absolutely sure that she would have taken a secret delight in the number.

    I think we can agree to disagree on this one.


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