Monday, May 2, 2011


Hey, Biggest Loser fans! Who is going to win this season? I'm hoping this week's makeover is a good episode, because I'm getting bummed. More players are trying harder to get off the show than to stay on it.  

The latest case in point was last week’s exit of Rulon Gardner, former Olympian and the last Utahan of four who started out the season.  Without bothering to weigh in, he told everyone he was leaving for “personal reasons,” and then walked off the show. 
Gardner did not participate in a media exit interview as the other eliminated contestants have done. But he did issue a press release thanking the show and the trainers who helped him get his health back, and mentioned that he is considering a return to competitive wrestling.  
 Maybe I'm just disappointed that all the Utah contestants have left "the ranch," and the two Idaho Mormons are gone as well. I'll admit, I like having someone "local" to cheer for. 
But Rulon's defection was just one more in a string of contestants who, instead of begging to stay, asked to be voted off. Or who deliberately gained weight to fall below the “yellow line” and be sent packing.  Are the grueling workouts, the months of isolation at the ranch, the screaming trainers, just too much for people?  Are these folks well-off enough that the $250,000 grand prize doesn’t matter? Perhaps they feel that they are well on their way to regaining their health, and the prize money doesn't really matter.
Near the beginning of the season, identical twins Dan and Don suddenly gained nine pounds each. Although both brothers claimed they didn’t purposely try to gain, it sure seemed suspect when other contestants were posting double-digit losses, and the twins had hinted that they wanted to go home. 
A few weeks later,  Deni Hill of Bountiful, Utah, and Jess Wornum water-loaded, gained weight and got  voted off to save their "kids" from elimination. It was puzzling because neither Sarah Nitta or Arthur Wornum seemed in imminent danger, as long as they worked hard to lose weight. And really, the best way to “save” your partner is to stay on the ranch yourself and garner support from other players. But, it appears that it was a game-playing tactic on the part of Marci Crozier.
In an interview published in Reality TV magazine  Deni said Marci promised to protect daughter Sarah if Deni threw the weigh-in and went home. Marci also talked parent Jesse Wornum into gaining weight as well, telling him it was his duty to sacrifice himself to save his son,. But after Jesse went home, Arthur was left vulnerable, and was booted off the next week. Deni’s daughter,  Sarah, was eliminated the week after that.  So much for Marci’s “saving the kids.” Of course, she was more interested in saving her own daughter, Courtney.
At  week 12, Kaylee Kinikini (a Mormon from Idaho) decided her “journey” was over. She purposely gained weight in an effort to be sent home. But it backfired, and the choice ended up between another Utahan, Justin Pope and Courtney Crozier. Justin asked the group to vote him off to save Courtney, since she was young and still had a lot of weight to lose.  It seemed that someone was falling on the sword nearly every week to keep Courtney. When she was finally eliminated after losing just one pound in a week, Courtney seemed more relieved than sad, making one wonder if she appreciated the sacrifices made by her elders.
Then two weeks ago, the vote came down between Moses Kinikini (Kaylee’s dad) and Olivia. Moses asked to be voted off, after Olivia said she wouldn’t be able to have children if she didn’t lose more weight. At around 170 pounds, Olivia’s plea seemed a bit stretched. But at least she showed the desire to stay. 

Moses’ elimination meant one less vote to save daughter Kaylee when she fell below the yellow line last week.  But she had already tried to go home several weeks before, so it wasn’t a heartbreaking good-bye.

To  their credit, most of these players who went home have shed an impressive amount of weight after going home, so they didn’t give up on their fitness goals. Justin  Pope, respected by his peers as a leader, continues to “call out” people in his Logan hometown to get in shape. Deni has said she considers herself “The Biggest Winner,” for the show’s opportunity, and I hope sometime I bump into her in a local Zumba class.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them win the $100,000 at-home prize.  
In the midst of greedy, ruthless reality shows, it can be refreshing to see people willing to sacrifice themselves for others instead of the win-at-any-cost mentality. As much as we like a villain to cheer against, I don't think I'd like to see a replay of  Tracy or  Vicki from past seasons. 
But many fans tune in to “The Biggest Loser” to get inspired by players’ determination to win their weight battles. It helps us go the extra mile on the treadmill or pass up a dessert to better our own health. It’s disillusioning to watch them throw in the towel, especially when thousands of other obese people audition every year for a chance to be on the show.  
So who do you think will win this season? I've thought that Irene was a strong competitor, just flying under everyone's radar. But now she weighs less than 150 pounds, so she can't really lose too much more, can she?  Ditto for Hannah and Olivia.  Plus as a 55-year-old grandma who is trying to lose weight, I didn't like their entitled attitude that the older players should sacrifice themselves.  My guess is either Jay or Austin. 

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