#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.
#1. You Are Mentally Ruined Afterward
When you're young, you don't always realize what the ramifications of your actions will be. The Biggest Loser had a huge impact on millions of viewers. All of the horrible things I did to try to "win" my health had consequences, and not only for my own body.
Once, during a speaking engagement in Colorado, an overweight teenage girl came up to me after my presentation. She was a fan and desperate to emulate the weight loss results she saw on the show. She did everything she'd seen on the show, even the stuff we didn't actually do (like *gasp* drink the milk). Obviously her results weren't as drastic as ours had seemed to be. She didn't have careful editing and outright lies on her side. She was so crestfallen that she resorted to anorexia and bulimia. At one point she felt like such a failure that she tried to kill herself and wound up in the hospital. That's at least one life horribly impacted in the name of more compelling reality TV. But I've heard from lots of other people who tried the same unhealthy techniques to replicate the weight loss results shown on TV -- more than you can imagine.
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"What if I change my name to Jillian? That's got to be worth a couple of pounds, right?"
What I have come to realize is that I am, at least in part, personally responsible for this damage, because I participated in the show while not even considering the impact it would have. Looking back, I'm disgusted at the whole thing. There's no other show based on the concept of "competing for your health!" The public wouldn't stand for it if we, say, pitted cancer patients against one another to see who The Biggest Cancer Survivor was, but since we associate obesity with comedy, it's perfectly fine to turn overcoming it into prime-time television.
Related Reading: Cracked has a habit of getting real experiences from real people. We've talked to a Mormon missionary and one of the models from a weight loss infomercial. Our writers have talked to a woman raised in a Christian fundamentalist cult and even an escaped Scientologist. If you've got a story for Cracked, message us here.