The Biggest Loser, being the dramatic reality show that it is, has aired some real shockers over the years, but perhaps no bigger jaw-dropper than what occurred last night. When the season 15 winner Rachel Frederickson stepped on stage, the utterly stunned looks from coaches Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper said it all. The 24-year-old, who is 5-foot-4, is reportedly now 105 pounds with a BMI of 18.
Although those stats are a bit worrying in themselves -- a BMI of 18 is technically .5 point below "normal" -- it bears noting that they may very well be acceptable for some women who fall into that range naturally. But for someone like Frederickson, who started at 260 pounds and lost 155 pounds over the course of the show, for a 60 percent total body weight loss, it's definitely somewhat disturbing.
As someone who has struggled to maintain a healthy weight due to hormone imbalance for my entire childhood and adult life, the concept behind The Biggest Loser never sat 100 percent right with me. I love Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper's individual philosophies as trainers and how they inspire their contestants to get fit. But I struggle with the idea of health and fitness -- especially measured primarily by success on the scale -- being treated as a competition. And now, Rachel Frederickson's extreme weight loss being touted as an achievement on the show only serves to make me question not only the competition aspect, but the safety and ethics of an extremely high-intensity, short-term weight loss program.
I'm not alone. If it wasn't enough to see Jillian and Bob have to basically pick their jaws up off the floor upon seeing her, the masses on social media responded in kind, tweeting up a storm that Rachel's shocking weight loss is "not healthy, by any definition," but it is "hard to celebrate." Others lamented that it is "just unbelievable how far she took her weight loss with so many young girls watching her every move." Some are calling for NBC to make a statement, distraught that they may otherwise be endorsing unhealthy behaviors and methods. In other words, one woman's weight loss journey has pretty much spawned a full-on cluster@$&* of worry, confusion, anger, and disillusionment.
Make no mistake: Experts will come out swinging, taking sides. Who knows if NBC will get defensive or not? I can't wait to hear what Jillian and Bob have to say, because their faces in that screenshot already gave away exactly how they felt about it. I do feel bad for Rachel ... Maybe where she is now is where her body is meant to be, but judging how fast and furiously she dropped the weight when slow and steady is usually the wisest way to go, I can't help but worry that something isn't right here.
The Biggest Loser was always supposed to be about achieving greater vitality. Perhaps Rachel has found that, but if there is something that is out of balance, let's hope she gets it straightened out, because it isn't extreme weight loss but balance and wellness that should be the ultimate goal.
What do you think about Rachel Frederickson's controversial weight loss?
Images via NBC