I may have said it before, but I'll say it again, I hate The Biggest Loser. While I'm all for encouraging healthy eating and exercise, this is not the goal of the show. Instead, contestants are put on low calorie diets and required to engage in extreme exercise, a combination that is simply unsustainable. A recent issue of Us magazine profiles three former contestants:
1) Hollie Self: Self is reported to eat 1,200 calories a day, run four times a week (up to 20 miles per run) and engage in strength training three times a week. Self completed the NYC marathon (5:08) and is training for a Half Ironman next year. For the uninitiated, that's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run (yes, all in one day). But, on a 1,200 calorie/day diet?
2) Alexandra White: It's reported that White eats 1,300 calories a day and works out for four hours a day, six times a week. This type of overtraining is likely to lead her to burnout and injuries and again, isn't sustainable on 1,300 calories a day.
3) Nicole Brewer: Brewer reportedly eats 1,600 calories a day, as she trains for the Philadelphia Marathon and teaches spinning and strength training classes.
My concern about these lifestyles is that they're unrealistic--the general public is led to believe that it's possible a) to function long-term on low calorie diets b) and to do that while engaging in frequent, rigorous endurance exercise. For most people, it's a set-up, at best, for failure and low self-esteem (If they can do it, why can't I?), and at worst, for illness and malnutrition.