She had just completed her final weigh in at our most recent challenge and wasn’t happy with losing almost 20 pounds in 8 weeks. When I asked my client what she thought she’d lose, she said, “At least fifty.”
As a personal trainer one of the things I have to work with s is setting realistic expectations for my clients. Expecting to lose 50 pounds in eight weeks is not only unrealistic but unhealthy. Add to it that every reputable study out there shows that those who rapidly lose weight are not only likely to gain it all back, but gain even more than they lost.
So, I asked why she thought she’d lost 50 pounds.
“Well, people lose 10, 20 pounds on TV shows every week,” she said.
Therein lies the problem. Too many people compare themselves to something that is not only out of the norm but something that is largely a fallacy. I call this the “Biggest Loser” mentality, because people see huge weight loss numbers during a “week” (note the quotes). They think they too should have the same results, or even better. When they don’t match up to expectations, they feel like failures and give up.
I’ve researched the production on this particular show, and I’m of the opinion show producers should post the following disclaimers on every episode:
A week in “Biggest Loser” is not always seven-days time. The time between episodes can sometimes be multiple weeks.
Of course they never tell you that. So, when someone loses 38 pounds in a week, as happened this most recent season, it took more than seven days to obtain those results. Also, understand the primary focus should really be on fat loss.
Training to obliteration
Each week show producers want to show someone training to the point of throwing up, followed by trainers providing a never ending stream of profanity, yelling at the top of their lungs.
This saddens me because it creates a serious misconception on what we trainers do.
In all my years of training people, I can count on one hand the number of clients I’ve yelled at.
The one time was only because they specifically requested I do so. Even then I didn’t resort to profanity laced screaming.
No reputable trainer screams at their clients.
Then there are the injuries that many of the contestants suffer.
There are two reasons for it. First, the contestants on the show workout as much as 12 hours a day, often to the point of exhaustion. Second, the type of training. Should morbidly obese people lift weights or do cardio? Yes. Should they have a trainer climbing on top of their knees while doing a wall sit? Not a chance! Of course you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone especially if you really want to see changes in your body, but pushing to the point you fracture a bone? No.
Shaming the contestants for not losing enough, this is the cause for unrealistic expectations. Those that don’t lose what is expected, for many “double digits,” are shamed and made to feel like they failed.
A study done by Oxford University showed that 80 percent of those who lose weight gain it back within five years. Other studies state a rate as high as 95 percent. To combat against weight gain, focus on changing your lifestyle and set a goal to lose an average of one to two pounds per week.
Eat right, workout and set your goal to lose one to two pounds a week. Instead of trying to be the “Biggest Loser,” try to be best you, you can be. And, remember, the “Biggest Loser” is just a TV show where the bottom line is ratings and sponsors. Sure, you can be inspired by it, but see the show for what it is; show business and entertainment. Not reality.
Dan Romand is a certified personal trainer (AFAA), yoga instructor (AFAA and Golden Hearts Certified Senior fitness trainer. He is also owner of Full Circle Fitness NY in Albany.