Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is It Possible A Woman Could EVER Win 'The Biggest Loser'?

Bill Germanakos is the fourth man in a row to win "The Biggest Loser"

When the hit NBC reality television series "The Biggest Loser" debuted in 2004, it was roundly ridiculed and scorned by critics who didn't understand the allure of a show dedicated specifically to helping obese people fight the battle of the bulge. That didn't stop people from tuning in by the millions week after week cheering on these people seeking to go from flab to fab and it has continued to grow in popularity every year since. There's really nothing else like it on TV and, unlike most reality programs these days, nobody has been able to replicate the success of the original. I LOVE THIS SHOW!

However, there is a bit of underground controversy happening now after Bill Germanakos became the fourth straight male winner of the title "The Biggest Loser" on Tuesday night winning the $250,000 grand prize. Men have dominated over the years with their weight loss success and it may be an inevitability that will always be the case. So you can't help but wonder the obvious question:

Is it possible a woman could ever win "The Biggest Loser?"

Before we ponder that question a little deeper, let's take one last look at the final weight loss results of each of the 18 contestants on "The Biggest Loser" 4. You can see pictures of what they looked like BEFORE they began their weight loss journey training with Bob Harper, Kim Lyons, and Jillian Michaels at this preview post I wrote back in September and catch up with what they're up to today by checking out their personal web sites featured in this recent post.


ISABEAU MILLER--From 298, lost 113 pounds (37.92% of starting weight)
JULIE HADDEN--From 218, lost 97 pounds (44.50% of starting weight)
HOLLIE SELF--From 255, lost 105 pounds (41.18% of starting weight)
BILL GERMANOKOS--From 334, lost 164 pounds (49.10% of starting weight)
JEZ LUCKETT--From 345, lost 150 pounds (43.38% of starting weight)
JIM GERMANOKOS--From 361, lost 186 pounds (51.52% of starting weight)


NEIL TEJWANI--From 421, lost 211 pounds (50.12% of starting weight)
JERRY LISENBY--From 297, lost 110 pounds (37.04% of starting weight)
KAE WHANG--From 225, lost 97 pounds (43.11% of starting weight)
NICOLE MICHALIK--From 279, lost 105 pounds (37.63% of starting weight)
RYAN RODRIGUEZ--From 374, lost 133 pounds (35.56% of starting weight)
PATTY GONZALEZ--From 280, lost 64 pounds (22.86% of starting weight)


"B" WASHINGTON--From 346, lost 122 pounds (35.26% of starting weight)
LEZLYE DONAHUE--From 255, lost 55 pounds (21.57% of starting weight)
DAVID GRIFFIN--From 368, lost 140 pounds (38.04% of starting weight)
PHIL HAWK--From 403, lost 145 pounds (35.98% of starting weight)
AMY ZIMMER--From 297, lost 126 pounds (42.42% of starting weight)
AMBER WALKER--From 295, lost 84 pounds (28.47% of starting weight)

CONGRATULATIONS to each of the contestants for putting forth the effort to finally do something about their weight and radically alter their lives for the better as a result of this experience. I've been there myself after starting out at 410 pounds in January 2004 and losing a total of 180 pounds--or 44% of my starting weight. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself and I'm continuing to reap the benefits of that pivotal year in my life ever since. WOO HOO!

As a pretty big fan of "The Biggest Loser" since Season 1 aired back in 2004 in the midst of my own weight loss path, I now have a few post-Season 4 comments to make before getting into answering that question about a female's chances at winning the title of "The Biggest Loser" in the future. You won't want to miss my opinions about how to make the show more fair for the gals. Stay tuned!

First, isn't it interesting how noticeably LOW the weight loss percentages were with Kim Lyons' Red Team. I hate to say it, but they were all underachievers with their weight loss and most of that onus has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of their trainer. Aside from Amy, who did a remarkable job of losing over 42 percent of her starting weight thanks in large part to the influence of her training with Jillian and the Black Team about halfway through the season, the weight loss percentages for the Red Team overall were underwhelming compared to the other two teams.

Yes, the total weight loss by "B," David, and Phil was impressive, but can you imagine how much MORE weight they could have lost had they received quality nutritional advice along with their physical activity? I was looking at "B" during the finale and thinking he could have EASILY lost another 30-40 pounds if he started livin' la vida low-carb rather than listening to the simplistic low-fat message that Kim was indoctrinating in him. I credit her for telling him he needed to eat more calories during the season, but those calories should come more from FAT sources and less from CARBOHYDRATES!

By contrast, look at Jillian Michael's Black Team. They had all four finalists competing for the grand prize (the first time that's ever happened on "The Biggest Loser") and the Black team as a whole totally rocked with their weight loss success! Keep in mind, these were the rejects at the beginning of the season and none of the other teams wanted these players. So they were thrown aside and left to their own devices before Jillian swooped in to whip them into shape and make them the most feared team on "The Biggest Loser" ranch. And what a job she did!

Except for Julie, who only missed it by a mere 3 pounds, all 6 Black Team members lost triple digits! INCREDIBLE! And their team average for percentage of weight loss was around the mid-forties--an astonishing accomplishment since the Red Team members ended up averaging in the lower-thirties and the Bob Harper-led Blue Team was in the upper-thirties. If this season didn't prove anything else, it showed that the trainer you have working with you DOES make a difference in the amount of weight you can lose. And unequivocally Jillian Michaels has the Midas touch when it comes to producing weight loss!

Jillian not only played a major part in the grand prize winner of "The Biggest Loser" 4 with Bill Germanakos, but she also had the at-home $100,000 winner in Bill's twin brother Jim. Actually, Jim ended up losing more weight as a percentage than anyone else in the game--although it was close. Neil Tejwani, the Blue Team member who lost over 50 percent of his starting weight, was a mere five pounds away from two things: 1) beating out Jim Germanakos for the consolation prize AND 2) establishing a new "Biggest Loser" record for total weight loss. But Eric Chopin's 214-pound weight loss in Season 3 still stands with Neil's 211 coming in a close second.

What's most amazing about Neil coming away from this competition empty-handed is that he would have been crowned "The Biggest Loser" of Season 4 with the quarter-million dollar cash prize had he made into the final group because his percentage of weight loss was greater than Bill's. But leave it to karma to come back and bite him in the booty when Bill's brother Jim of all people kept Neil from winning anything which many see as sweet revenge for the devious "game play" that happened in the middle of this season when Neil purposely gained weight to throw a monkey wrench in the competition. And despite losing 10 pounds in the last weigh-in, Neil fell below the yellow line and was voted off. This should serve as a warning to any future contestants who may try to pull a stunt like this--it WON'T pay off in the end!

Back to the Red Team and Kim Lyons for just a moment. With all due respect to her for being a professional personal trainer and willing to use those talents she has to help people change their lives, can I just say what a spoiled brat and self-absorbed trainer she is? When "B" was the last member of the Red Team for a period of several weeks before being eliminated, how many melodramatic scenes did we have to endure with her pleading with "B" to stay above the yellow line so SHE didn't have to go home, too? UGH! Did she even care if "B" stayed or not? What a freakin' egomaniac she is and I'm beginning to wonder if Season 4 was her swan song on the show? I don't know, but if NBC wants to know my vote about it, I say let Kim go and GOOD RIDDANCE! I don't think anybody will be crying over that decision.

Now what about this female enigma we find ourselves in with "The Biggest Loser?" Not only has a girl never been "The Biggest Loser," but we haven't seen one win the at-home competition either! Can a woman EVER break through the glass ceiling that has been dominated by the guys since this show began? From Ryan Benson, Matt Hoover, Eric Chopin, and now Bill Germanakos, men seem to have a firm lock on the ability to become "The Biggest Loser." And this is merely confirming a long-held belief many people (especially women!) hold about weight loss--men can lose it faster than women can!

And it's true for the most part since women's bodies were created by God to carry around a little more body fat, especially in their mid-section, for the purposes of nourishing a baby during pregnancy. Plus, the extra hormones in women make it a lot more difficult for them to shed the pounds like us male folk can seemingly at the drop of a dime.

Before I lost my 180 pounds on the Atkins diet in 2004, losing weight fast was fairly easy regardless of the diet plan I was on. When I lost 170 pounds on a low-fat diet in 1999, I did it in about 10 months. But the problem men face is KEEPING IT OFF and that's where low-fat failed me and caused me to balloon right back up again...and then some!

The contestants on this show, both male and female, who implemented a low-fat strategy for weight loss will be in for a rude awakening at some point if they don't continue to keep up with that hunger-inducing plan over the long-term. That's why livin' la vida low-carb has been such a godsend to me because it has become a permanent part of my life now and I don't even think about it anymore. I just live this way and let the plan keep working in maintenance for me just as it did during weight loss.

Don't get me wrong, weight loss is NOT easy by any means as all of these "Biggest Loser" contestants past and present will tell you. But the payoff for that hard work when it is continued long after the television experience is over is vastly improved health and a brand new lease on life. Just look at Pete Thomas and how his "Biggest Loser" experience continues to motivate him to become the catalyst in other people's lives to help them change for the better like he did! His is a model for success that other former "Biggest Loser" contestants would be wise to follow.

This season, it was Julie who lost the most weight among the ladies with 44.5 percent of her starting weight trailing behind only Jim, Neil and Bill. That was quite impressive from a woman who began the season at only 218 pounds. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the bigger the woman is, the better chance she should have to lose weight and be competitive. And in Season 4 that was Isabeau who became the heaviest woman to ever compete on the show beginning at 298 pounds (although Amy was right behind her at 297 pounds).

But even Isabeau's 113-pound weight loss was only good enough for losing just under 38 percent of her total weight. AWESOME TOTALS, but not good enough to beat the men. I bet Isabeau and the other larger women were reeling when they saw double-digit weight losses from the "big guys" like Bill and Neil while they only had modest weight losses of 5-6 pounds. It can be intimidating for bigger women to go up against that both mentally and physically.

So then we have people like Julie who weighed the least among her competitors and only needed to lose about 100 pounds total. Since she didn't have as much weight to lose, each pound she burned was worth about double or more than that of the heftier contestants. And for much of the season she did well losing just enough weight to stay above the yellow line and avoiding elimination. In the end, she came as close as any woman to winning the whole thing--even more so than Kae who started at 225 pounds and also lost 97 pounds while losing more weight on campus as a percentage than any previous contestant.

Had Julie only lost an additional 8 more pounds, then she would be $250,000 richer today and would have made her mark as the first female winner in "Biggest Loser" history (don't you know she's probably kicking herself about it today!). But it didn't happen and so you have to wonder if it ever will. Maybe future female contestants should be more along the mold of a Julie or a Kae rather than an Isabeau or Amy so they can have a better chance at winning.

That's not to say the unbelievable transformations that Isabeau, Amy, Nicole and the other larger and medium-sized women made while being on "The Biggest Loser" is diminished in any way because all of them are better off now than they were when they began this journey. But if "The Biggest Loser" is going to continue being promoted as a weight loss competition with the monetary prize at the end of the season, then something is gonna have to give to make this fair for the women who sign up to be on the show.

Sure, there's some fame that comes with being on a reality television show like this as well as the chance to work with a high-class team of some of the world's best health and nutrition experts to almost guarantee you will lose weight--and some people would consider that plenty of payment enough. But the carrot the show dangles in front of you is that big wad of money. Any woman who is considering trying out for future seasons of "The Biggest Loser" should keep in mind that there is a strong probability they won't be the big winner--or even the consolation winner.

During the season, there are opportunities to win some cool prizes like a free vehicle and cash prizes like the $5,000 Isabeau won on the last show of the season before the finale. But that's all just chump change in comparison to the big money that's become the drawing card for many who come on the show. What can be done to make "The Biggest Loser" more appealing for women who would like a serious chance at winning the $250,000 prize? I think I have the solution.

Why not have a male AND female winner? Start the show with say 15 men and 15 women with one man and one woman voted off each week. This would give you 13 weeks worth of competition for the television show before having a grand finale featuring two men competing against each other for one $250,000 prize and two women battling head-to-head for another $250,000 prize. The at-home competition could be exactly the same as it is now with all of them duking it out for the $100,000.

Couldn't this resolve the whole "it's not fair" argument against the current format of "The Biggest Loser" which seems to favor the men? I certainly think so and hope the show's producers will consider my proposal. It would give all the women a lot more incentive for trying to do the best they can without the constant worry that they could never compete with the men. It's the only fair thing to do as long as the men continue to dominate as they have and will continue to do.

What are YOUR thoughts about this? Should there be a separate competition and prize for the men and the women or do you believe the current format for "The Biggest Loser" is perfect? This should be a fun topic of conversation and I look forward to reading what you think in the comments section below!

I'll be blogging about the upcoming "Biggest Loser: Couples" season starting on January 1, 2008 real soon and will predict right now that the winner of that show will consist of two men. I have no idea if that'll actually happen, but it would definitely NOT surprise me at all.

If you'd like to read all of my commentary blog posts about "The Biggest Loser," then you can access them all by clicking here.

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Blogger blog nerd said...

Yes! I think your idea is a much more just way to deal with this issue.

I've never seen the show but I've caught some episodes of that Celebrity Fit Club on Vh1 and I'm floored that they ignore the male female problem. (I think one season even did the men vs. the women--who won?)

At any rate, all things being equal men will always lose faster than women, not only because of the extra fat--it's really the extra muscle on men. More muscle means higher metabolic rate.

Fluid fluctuations in women are problematic on the scale, too.

I'm also amazed that these shows use scales and not some other form of body fat measure.

I'm fascinated by them--and would watch them if I had time (I Netflix and DVR everything so it's hard with these shows where the winners become ubiquitous. It sort of ruins it for watching later.) but they seem to promote all the wrong messages, yeah?

Good tv, I bet, though.

12/19/2007 9:39 PM  
Blogger JD said...

I don't watch this show like I used to. I flip in and out and catch the last 15-30 minutes. But I do watch every week. So I didn't catch all of Kim's whining. And frankly I don't care as she is HOT!! And Jimmy watch out that Kim's boyfriend don't come calling on you. He is big and ripped. He looks like Arnold in his heyday only bigger and badder.

My only real complaint with this show and even their website is that there is so little practical information for the average viewer. How long do they exercise? What types and how often are they doing the different types? Interval, plyometrics, etc. They also give scant info regarding how many calories they eat in day. What the composition of their diet is. Things that could really be of value to their viewers. But this is Hollywood production values and not weight loss 101.

12/20/2007 2:47 AM  
Blogger Diamondwife said...

I like your idea. Water weight is a big deal with many women. My weight can fluctuate on average within a 5 pound range, but up to 10 pounds depending on hormonal issues and sodium consumption. I've always thought men had an unfair advantage in weight loss competitions. Don't know if BL would like to give 2 prizes though I'm sure they could afford it with all the 100 calorie pack endorsements they do. :)

12/20/2007 8:04 AM  
Blogger pottedmeat said...

Do it by body fat mass. Create an acceptable body fat goal, by height/gender/etc and then judge the contestants by % toward goal. It wouldn't be the absolute perfect way to do it, but it would be a million times more fair than the current situation.

12/20/2007 10:13 AM  
Blogger Loretta said...

But a woman has won the at home prize~Poppi Kramer from season 3. She lost 50.43% of her body weight. Not as much as Jim this season, or Eric from season 3, but more than Bill and Neil this year.

12/20/2007 4:05 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

That's right, Loretta! But she's the only one. All the rest were men.

12/20/2007 4:46 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Are there before and after photos of all the latest contestants, if so,can you direct me to the site. Thanks.

12/21/2007 3:14 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

If you go to this post with the Season 4 contestant's web sites, then you'll see a BUNCH of before and after photos of most of them. ENJOY!

12/21/2007 8:01 AM  
Blogger valereee said...

Every married woman knows that men lose more quickly than women. My husband gives up beer and loses twenty pounds in a few weeks. I cut out all carbs, average 1000 calories, and walk three to five miles daily and lose twenty pounds in ten months. That's fine; life's not fair. But contests should be. They need to have a female and a male winner each year. I suspect the audience is primarily women, and if women go too long without seeing a woman win the prize I think they'll stop watching.

12/24/2007 5:49 AM  
Blogger ChadDarnell said...

I'm still stumped that they spend months training for this and for only $250,000 when there is another show on the same network where people win A MILLION DOLLARS for picking a suitcase.

12/31/2007 2:55 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

True enough, Chad. But it's not just about the money, although winning a quarter million dollars is indeed a lucrative prize. More than anything, "The Biggest Loser" WILL help bring about lifechanging weight loss for the contestants when all else has failed them in the past. That's worth more than all the money you could ever win on "Deal Or No Deal." :)

12/31/2007 7:41 AM  
Blogger ChadDarnell said...

Oh, no, absolutely!! Sorry, I just read my comment again and realized how it sounded. I love this show. I love the transformations each week. I dread the elminations, because I hate losing them.

I really love the new season. I didn't think I was going to like the couples idea, but it's really great. But with only 10 couples, this show is going to be over in a flash, no?

1/02/2008 1:29 AM  

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