Olivia Ward is the 35-year-old contestant who became this season's Biggest Loser winner by melting off nearly 50 percent of her body weight. She lost an astonishing 129 pounds, and as a result, gained a brand new body and $250,000 in prize money.
At 5 feet 9 inches tall, Ward was 261 pounds when the competition started. This Tuesday night, she weighed in at 132 pounds.
That is a jaw-dropping transformation to have happened over the span of eight months, and Ward obviously deserves some major congratulations for the amount of hard work and dedication she's put into this effort.
The last thing I want to do is detract from her amazing success story, but every time I see one of these Biggest Loser makeovers, I wonder if the show is doing more harm than good.
The theme of the show seems to be that hard work pays off, and as someone who's put a lot of effort into my own fitness routine, I love this message. It's empowering, and for most of us, it's absolutely true—results don't come easy. You have to make the time for exercise, you have to have discipline when it comes to food.
However, it's pretty unrealistic for the average person to expect they're going to see the same kind of spectacular weight losses as The Biggest Loser contestants. Unlike the folks on the show, we all have families, jobs, and busy lives. We don't live on a fitness ranch, we don't have a personal trainer constantly yelling at us FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY, and even if we did, we definitely don't have time to work out for six hours a day.
This year each of the three Biggest Loser finalists lost between 116 and 129 pounds. Unfortunately, in the real world, weight loss typically happens at a much slower rate over a longer period of time.
So is the show an educational way to show viewers what's within their reach? Not really. According to Bill Germanakos, Biggest Loser winner in 2007:
Of course it's not real, it's television. It's not meant to teach people what to do ... it's entertainment. It's meant to inspire and motivate, not to educate.
I get that. I also wonder how many people find the show more discouraging than motivating.
What do you think about The Biggest Loser? Do you think it ultimately sends a good message behind all the TV glitz?
Image via NBC