Do you know the reality/competition show “The Biggest Loser”? Since its first airing in the US in 2006, there have been versions of the show broadcast all over the world. The basic premise is that overweight people compete to lose the highest percentage of weight — making them big “losers” — during the months the show films. The results are really dramatic. The winners of the UK series tended to lose 40% of their initial body weight. Forty per cent!
The numbers are staggering, but the real reality, after the show, is that most people can’t keep the weight off.
Last week, The New York Times reported on a study released in this month’s edition of the research journal Obesity looking into why. It was the first time an effort was made “to measure what happened to people over as long as six years after they had lost large amounts of weight with intensive dieting and exercise.”
Do you have any theories? The most obvious seem to be:
- Without the supervision of the film crew, contestants stopped exercising as much
- The pressures and stresses of normal life made it difficult for them to maintain their regimens
- Back at home, they found it too hard to say no to all the unhealthy foods and habits they indulged in before
The research done on the Season 8 (2009) contestants indicates that none of these are correct.
The article, which is much easier to read than the study, says (emphasis added) that
“…what obesity research has consistently shown is that dieters are at the mercy of their own bodies, which muster hormones and an altered metabolic rate to pull them back to their old weights, whether that is hundreds of pounds more or that extra 10 or 15 that many people are trying to keep off.”
This suggests that once you gain and maintain excessive weight, your body adjusts itself, considering this new, higher weight to be “normal” and it’ll work hard to keep you there.
The US version of the show’s doctor says that he recommends past contestants to exercise nine hours a week in addition to watching their diets. That’s almost two hours of exercise a day, five days a week, a more punishing schedule than most people can manage.
The good news is that the sooner you start taking the weight off, the more time you’ll have to retrain your body to defend your improved self.
So, step one is deciding to regain control of your body. Step two is to get in touch with Your Personal Trainer to make it happen. I’ll fight with you!Tags: exercise, fitness, keeping weight off, medical study, obesity, The Biggest Loser, The New York Times, weight loss secrets