An Exercise Psychology Student’s Thoughts on The Biggest Loser

The season premier of The Biggest Loser is tonight. As a professional in the field (or soon to be anyways), I have some conflicting emotions surrounding the show, that I want to share with you.

Biggest Loser Banner 2013The show has some positive qualities that make me supportive of it and excited to watch tonight.

MOTIVATION: I think that it can be inspiring for people who are also struggling with their weight. They see relatable people on TV losing weight and it causes them to think, “Hey maybe I can do that too!” The show has the capacity to reach MILLIONS of people- the impact it can have on people’s lives is huge!

REALITY CHECK: I think that the show serves as a wake up call for overweight individuals. While discussing the show with friends, numerous people have made comments such as, “I watched this HUGE person on TV with a myriad of health issues struggling to do basic exercise, and then I realized, ‘wow he/ she actually weighs less than I do’.” It has the power to make people realize that they may be in a more drastic situation than they realize.

PROMOTES NATURAL WEIGHT LOSS: I love love love that the contestants lose weight without diet pills, liposuction, or gastric bypass surgery. In an era where people are constantly on the lookout for quick fixes, and instant gratification it warms my heart to watch a reality TV show about hard work, and how that effort pays off in the end.

PROMOTES UNDERSTANDING: Finally, we live in a society where anti-fat bias is rampant. Without even realizing it people are judgmental of individuals who struggle with their weight and treat them differently and negatively. By showing the background story of contestants (WHY these people struggle with their weight), I think it can make us more sensitive and empathetic as a society.

Now that I’ve hit on some of the better qualities of the show, let’s talk about the things that make me less than enthusiastic about it.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: I can’t say for certain the truth of this statement (I’m not a producer, nor have I spoken to one), but I have read that a “week” on the biggest loser is not necessarily seven days; their “weeks” are a longer time frame. This explains how the contestants are able to lose so much weight so quickly. While this does make for more dramatic television, it gives people unrealistic expectations. I can see a situation where  someone watches the show, decides that they want to get healthier, and makes dramatic lifestyle changes. Our theoretical friend is very diligent with his new lifestyle changes. At the end of the week he is excited to step on the scale, but he is met with disappointment. You see he has “only” lost three pounds (a pretty standard amount). He gets frustrated and gives up. I don’t know anyone who this has happened to, but I can see how it very well could give people the wrong idea about how weight loss works, and backfire.

UNNECESSARILY HARSH: It makes me cringe to watch the begining of the season. The trainers push the contestants to the point that they become physically ill. They do this because it makes for dramatic and exciting television. From a health perspective, there is absolutely no reason for workouts to be so intense that it causes nausea. Aside from the fact that I feel badly for the people on TV, I think that the negative repercussions are even more extensive. I imagine viewers at home, who would like to get into better shape seeing these bouts of exercise and feeling completely intimidated. As a result they don’t attempt to become more physically fit. On the other side of the same coin, someone could witness these intense workouts, and think “Well I need to push myself like that.” They workout at an extremely high intensity one time with the best of intentions. The next day they feel like total crap. They are sore, achy and miserable. They decide that they just don’t have it in them to exercise after all and end up not following through with what could be a life altering  experience. Along this same line of thought, why do the contestants have to wear nothing but spandex and sports bras? I’m sure it is humiliating for them. I wouldn’t want to wear that attire in public either. We could just as easily see how heavy they are in fitted tanks and more flattering pants. I know that it’s because the show wants for the viewers to see the physical changes, but c’mon.  

I could go on (looking at both positives and negatives), but I’ve mentioned the aspects that I feel most passionate about. As someone who works with overweight/ obese adolescents I am especially interested to see how they integrate the teens into this season. I started watching some of the teenagers’ audition videos, but then I started crying in Starbucks (red face, tears, the whole shebang), so I had to stop before I drew too much attention to myself.

I will be watching tonight. Will you? What are your thoughts on the show? Love it? Hate it? Do you think I missed any important points? If so, please share I would love to know your thoughts!


***Disclaimer: I am not associated with the show in any way shape or form. All of the above information is my own personal opinion. Others in the field may (and likely do) disagree. I am just a student and have plenty to learn about these topics.***




Looking Back on 2012

hot yoga

January: I started regularly attending group fitness classes, and tried hot yoga for the first time.


February: I ran two 5Ks. One was FANTASTIC; one sucked.


March: I decided to apply to Grad school and started studying for the GRE.

April: I took said GRE and kicked it’s butt!

graduationMay: I graduated from college!!!


June: I went to my sister’s dance competition in Charleston and while at the beach I found out that I had been accepted to Grad School.

July: I was hired to teach undergraduate classes, and group fitness classes. I moved out of the apartment that I’ve called home for the past two years, and I said good bye to my best friend when she moved ten hours away.

family portrait

August: I started teaching and met a ton of incredible new people.

calicoSeptember: I rescued this precious kitty, which started a war with my roommate.

sams5kOctober: I set a new PR in my sorority’s 5k.

IMG_1345[1]November: I celebrated my birthday, reached my goal weight, and participated in a Turkey Trot with my sister.

ready set run

December: I helped these adorable kiddos complete their first 5k.

This year has involved a lot of adjustments. I’m living in the same town, but I feel like everything else has changed. I miss my best friend, and my sorority, but I love my new jobs, classes, and friends.

Popcorn Epiphany

Let’s start off by talking about what I did today (hint:exactly what I wanted to do). I went to bed without setting an alarm, and woke up when I was “good and ready”. I took my sweet time preparing for the day, and lingered over my coffee this morning. I spent the majority of the day in the library working on a project and being completely self-absorbed. Once I was satisfied with my work, I went to the gym for an hour. I came home, threw in a load of laundry and prepped my lunches for the week. I intended to eat what I as cooking, but decided I was not in the mood. You know what I was in the mood for? Chocolate and popcorn. That’s right, for dinner tonight I had popcorn with chocolate chips thrown in the bag. They were melty and gooey and delicious.

As I was enjoying my “well-rounded” meal I had an epiphany- Most people cannot do this. Most people are not free to just live their life and do what ever they want all of the time without any regard to anyone else. If I had a husband, or children, or even a serious boy friend I could not eat popcorn for dinner. I would have to be responsible. But guess what, I’m young and independent, and I have the freedom to do whatever I want all the time. And that rocks!

The green monster might have gotten to me a little bit when everyone was posting pictures of their babies dressed up as dinosaurs or princesses or whatever on facebook, but at the end of the day I am thrilled that I get to look at those cuties and then close my computer and not have to deal with any of the nonsense that comes with motherhood.

I may complain about my relationship status, but I’m full of bologna. Don’t let me fool you, I love being single. I can be selfish and self absorbed and irresponsible and no one can judge me for it. This is an incredible time in my life and I want to enjoy every last second of it.

Thankful Thursday

Holy Thursday!

Did today sneak up on anyone else? Nope? Just me? Whatever. This week has been intense, and I am writing another last minute post, but I’m okay with that because it is always a good time to be thankful!

Mainly I’m thankful for this…

That to-do list is what we call to-done. I know there are  a COUPLE of things left, but it’s nothing stressful or critical. Productivity feels so good!

I taught a lot of group fitness classes this week (seven if you want an exact number) and while I am very sore, I know that each class was a learning experience and will ultimately help me to become a better instructor.

I’m thankful that I found these pictures on the ECU Campus Recreation and Wellness Facebook page!

Oh look! Here I am teaching group fitness classes, and wearing a microphone, and making funny faces. The fact that I am not mortified is reflective of my high self esteem.

I’m thankful for my self esteem.

I’m thankful that I am meeting with my advisor tomorrow to  create an outline for my thesis… Geeze I need to get to work on that!

I’m thankful for Chinese takeout.

I’m thankful for Michelob Ultra.

I’m thankful for balloon animals. I realized yesterday that someone who I know is a master balloonist. She made giraffes, weiner dogs, flowers, pirate swords, and bears. I was obviously impressed… Maybe I will add “Learn to make balloon animals to my list of goals”.

I’m thankful for this blog. It’s nice to have a tiny corner of the internet that I can call my own!

Football & Family

My weekend was so busy that I have spent the better part of the day trying to recover and not being productive. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why don’t you get your act together and do some work then Lazy Layne?” And to that I would reply, “Thank you for your concern, but writing a blog post actually is my to-do list, so I don’t feel guilty about taking a few moments to share all of the fun I had. Thanks.”

My family came to visit me, which meant I spent the better part of the day on Friday in a cleaning frenzy. I swept, vacuumed, windexed. It was intense.

Then they arrived, and immediately whisked me away for a delicious dinner (don’t you love that about parents) and margaritas. My siblings stayed at my house, so we were up pretty late Friday night chatting. They stayed up way later than me- you know I have grandma tendencies.

Saturday we had a cookout and several of the people in my program came over for the pre-football festivities. I was thrilled to prove to my mother that I do in fact have friends (maybe that’s a joke, but maybe not). My kitchen is still stocked with party food (stuff I won’t eat), and enough alcohol to last a month.

We walked to the game. The stadium is about a mile from my house, so it wasn’t bad at all. Walking was much easier than dealing with the hassle of parking, and manipulating crowds.

Here we are at the game!

I have not made it to a football game since the season before last, so I was pumped! Maybe this is lame, but my favorite part is when the band plays the fight song at the very beginning, and the team runs out. It’s so exciting!

Unfortunately, in the second quarter the stadium had to be evacuated due to severe thunderstorms.

Once we were confident that we were not going to be hit by lightning we went home. Call us fair weather fans if you must, but we were drenched, cold, hungry, and tired.

They took off this morning. Something about my sister being a dancing superstar… usually I get upset when our visits end, but I am actually headed home for fall break next week, so I’m doing a pretty good job of holding it together emotionally.

Thankful Things Thursday

Well Thursday is almost over, but I haven’t done a Thankful Things Thursday post in way too long, so here is some last minute gratitude!

  • My family is coming to town this weekend! I am totally PUMPED! We are going to tailgate in my yard and walk to the football game. It is going to be a freaking BLAST. I foresee veggie burgers and Michelob Ultras in the near future!
  • Coupons are baller. I am not one of those crazy grocery store coupon ladies, but pretty much anytime I make a major purchase I use one. I have saved a lot of money recently by pulling up coupons on my phone in the store.
  • I thought I was getting sick yesterday, but I may have dodged it. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am sooooo thankful that I am feeling better than yesterday. Gah! I hope I continue feeling well.
  • I love things that smell good. I recently purchased some new candles and body wash and I am all about it. (I used the previously mentioned coupon.)
  • I am currently planning on running in some cool races in the upcoming weeks. I’m thankful for races. I’m thankful for having free weekends to run races. I’m thankful that I am capable of running races. I’m thankful for RUNNING!!!

Happy Weekend!

The Great Cat Saga of 2012

This has absolutely nothing to do with running, or working out, or healthy living, or sparkles, or anything related to the regular content of this blog, but it’s too funny and dramatic not to share.

Last Friday, I went to Starbucks to reward myself after a long week with a skinny caramel latte made with soy milk. I intended to do some reading, and it was a gorgeous day, so I decided to spend my morning on the patio.

I was just sitting there minding my own business when this adorable kitty jumped into my lap. Now, I am the kind of person who thinks that when a stray animal comes your way, you help it out. I brought the cat home and my roommate (who I hadn’t been getting along with anyways was LIVID). I tried to assure her that I had no intentions of keeping the cat, but she was more interested in yelling.

I went to class and told everyone about the stray cat that was currently in my room. Everyone agreed that I am a sucker. Later that afternoon I posted the cat on Craig’s List, called four different no kill feline adoption agencies, had my sorority e-mailed to see if anyone wanted her, and I posted her to facebook. I did not get a single response… for a week.

On Saturday, I decided that obviously this cat wasn’t going anywhere and I had better take her to the vet. At this point my roommate has not spoken to me for a week, and I was scared that the cat had worms.

The vet tells me that the cat does not have worms; she is pregnant. I start crying. Hysterically. In the vet’s office. I cannot even find a home for one cat. What am I going to do with a whole litter of cats? I leave the office $112 poorer still crying. The receptionist calls me as I’m driving home. She has the contact information for a lady who works with all these adoption agencies who is willing to help me.

I call this cat lady, and she assures me that we will be able to find homes for the kittens. I make her PROMISE me that it won’t be a problem. She tells me all about what to expect with a litter of kittens, and gets me calmed down.

On Sunday, I go to the library and check out the entire section of cat books. if I am going to do this, then I want to be prepared.

TODAY, I receive an e-mail from someone responding to my Craig’s List post from a week and a half ago. I have their cat. They said that she has been missing for awhile, and they are completely relieved that she has been well cared for. I’m taking her home in the morning.

On the one hand,it’s a relief to not have to deal with all of this kitten business. On the other hand, I have gotten kind of attached to this cat, and I am not too happy about giving her back.

I kind of want a kitten…