Fitness first

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 15-Jan-2016

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By Eric Hocking

Owner of Performance Massage Bendigo

Anyone who knows me knows I do not endorse The Biggest Loser.

Why?

Due to an unsustainable approach to fitness, exercise, food and a basic disregard for human psychology.

1. Contestants who are physically unconditioned and overweight with no background in fitness get pushed beyond 100 per cent within the first episode leading to a subconscious dislike for high intensity exercise. It’s a self-coping mechanism that the body puts in place for pain so it does not injure itself.

2. Then get tempted by foods that are made by the producers to make them fail only to have their trainer come in and yell at them for making a wrong choice and then pushing them harder in the next session as punishment for their decision.

Yes, this show is made to get people to watch it – we get that. But it sets a standard for people who are looking to perhaps get a little fitter, lose a little weight or to improve their quality of life that if you’re not sweating your butt off or throwing up, exercise is useless.

Here is what leading scientists have found out about the show: 

The show promotes negative attitudes about overweight people, while at the same time sending confusing messages to viewers at home about the best ways to lose weight.

It’s teaching viewers the wrong way to lose weight. According to the general consensus in scientific literature, exercise alone is not the best approach to weight loss.

Psychological factors:

“The depictions of exercise on shows like The Biggest Loser are really negative,” University of Alberta researcher Tanya Berry, wrote: “People are screaming and crying and throwing up, and if you’re not a regular exerciser you might think this is what exercise is – that it’s this horrible experience where you have to push yourself to the extremes and the limits, which is completely wrong.”

What about the body’s metabolic state?

A stint on the show is enough to cause long-term harm to a person’s metabolism, according to a 2012 paper co-authored by Dr Robert Huizenga, who has appeared on the show. 

That study tracked contestants after they left the show, and found that their metabolism was slower than what you’d expect in people who’d just lost a lot of weight.

 The researchers suggested that unless the former losers stick to the extreme exercise and caloric restriction they were introduced to on the show, they would probably regain the weight they had once lost.

Tips for sustainable exercise and fitness:

1. Make it enjoyable. Do things you enjoy doing. Don’t like cycling? Then don’t. Go for a walk, run or swim instead.

2. Stop exercising when on a positive note, not when you are totally exhausted.

3.Surround yourself with like minded people.

4. Train with a friend.

5. Set some goals such as a fun run and work towards them.

6. Most of all as I said – enjoy it.

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