3 The Show Has Absolute Power Over You
During Season 3, the gimmick was having contestants from all 50 states. To get to the core cast of 14, they flew us to LA, put us in church vans, and drove us off to somewhere in California. The entire time, we were not allowed to talk to the other contestants. Then we were essentially locked in our hotel rooms, being let out only to do shoots or doctor visits. They confiscated all of our stuff -- no TVs, books, magazines, nothing. We weren't even allowed to call our families. My parents didn't know where I was until three weeks later.
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"We were a day away from sending Liam Neeson to come find you."
They make the fat women walk out in sports bras and spandex shorts. That's only for the ladies, of course -- guys don't have to stroll out in nothing but the classic jock-'n'-socks combo; they get normal exercise clothes. On the "plus" side, once you dumped a bunch of weight, you got to wear a tank top again. Once we're skinny, we've "earned" the right to wear a tank top and dress like a human being who might like to have sex someday.
The obese are already seen as something less than normal humans, so the show-runners thought it would be perfectly acceptable to put us in horse stalls and make us run on a horse track, because hey, maybe that small percentage of personal trainers that believe yelling in your face while you're on a treadmill are right and shame does burn calories. To protest, I simply walked the course, refusing to run until they asked me to at the end, hopefully ruining the competitive spirit of the challenge (and, of course, they called it like a horse race all the while). I felt like maybe I'd be able to preserve a little dignity by not running. But in retaliation, they acted like I was just too fat and exhausted to finish. Later, fans on the Internet threatened me because HOW DARE I NOT RUN FOR THEIR AMUSEMENT? CAESAR OF THE FATTIES IS DISPLEASED.
I have a great suggestion for what to do with those thumbs.
That happened to other contestants, too. If you didn't act grateful enough, or you had the audacity to demand to be treated like a human being, they made you look like a huge jerk on TV. That is the mighty power of the television editor: With enough time and a copy of Adobe Premiere, you can make Mr. Rogers look like a blood-drinking psychopath. One woman in my season was one of the kindest individuals I have ever met in my life. Five years after the season ended, she even donated a kidney to save a complete stranger's life. That's the kind of nice we're talking about here -- the full Ned Flanders treatment.
But she injured her leg during filming and couldn't run much, so she refused. The people on the show told her, "We don't care -- run," and she said no. Because she didn't comply, they edited the footage to make her look like the biggest bitch in the world. Without the whole "threat of injury" thing, she seemed like a big ol' entitled wussbasket. And guess what? She got death threats. She got so many death threats that NBC had to disable the messaging function on her part of the show's site. All because she had been injured the previous week and physically could not do what they were asking.
"You misunderstand; those were death threats of encouragement."
2 You Are Physically Ruined Afterward
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Losing that much weight in such a short amount of time is not healthy, especially for morbidly obese people. The healthy way to do it is to lose weight slowly by eating well and exercising. But turning down the second slice of pizza and going for a walk doesn't exactly make for dramatic TV, does it? So we did things the other way: They frequently filmed us vomiting because they wanted the viewers to think that working out until you threw up was somehow admirable. It makes good TV, but it can also seriously harm you.
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"No pain, no gain!" isn't so great when the gain is more pain.
Everyone got injured at some point. It's a virtual guarantee that when you take a bunch of out-of-shape people and suddenly throw them into a Christian Bale-esque workout routine, somebody's back is not going to be up to Batman caliber. For example: My knees are fucked at 35. They should not sound like cellophane whenever I walk up and down the stairs. Can I prove the show did it? No. All I know is that I had no knee problems, and then I got on the show and started running up mountains at 260 pounds.
"Hey, losing meniscus still counts as weight loss."
At the end of the series, my immune system shut down due to the effects of losing too much weight too fast. My hair fell out. I can't say I was in better health at 260 pounds than I am now, but doctors told me that everything I did to my body on the show was a physician's nightmare. Before the final big weigh in, I lost 19 pounds in two weeks. That's pretty good progress for half a year of eating well and working out. Doing it in a fortnight is madness. It's only a matter of time before some contestant's over-stressed heart gives out during ... I don't know, a faux-dog sled race with fat people instead of huskies. And when someone finally does die, I'm sure they'll edit him to look like another lazy fat bastard stealing a nap.