Jillian Michaels, ‘The Biggest Loser’ and the myth of One-derland

Written By Sarah Gibson, Co-Opinions Editor

I’m a little late on this story, but Jillian Michaels needs to shut up.

Allow me to provide some context. Jillian Michaels used to be one of the three hosts/coaches on a television show called “The Biggest Loser.” She just went on a show talking about how people shouldn’t idolize Lizzo because her weight could lead to health problems.

TBL was a show where a bunch of overweight people are taken to a ranch, forced to work out for hours a day and also starved. I’m not going to explain all of that in depth, because it’s easily found online. They frame it like a competition to see who can lose the most weight. There are times when the show has claimed that certain contestants have lost 20 or even 40 lbs in a week. According to past contestants, this is because they worked out for five to eight hours every single day.

I know what you’re thinking. “If you want to lose weight, why not go all in?” The problem with this mentality is that it’s not sustainable. If you work out like this for the rest of your life, if backbreaking work at the gym is a lifestyle change – as forms of weight loss should be and not a quick fix – you will probably face more medical problems than if you never worked out. Quick, brutal regimens like “The Biggest Loser” aren’t healthy for the body and they almost never work, even for people on the show.

“The Biggest Loser” is also a race to the finish. There are some contestants that get toward 100 lbs while on the show, and they can’t stop, even though being at any weight below 100 lbs is unhealthy. “The Biggest Loser” does not prioritize health. It prioritizes being skinny. They are not the same thing. Ask Bob Harper, “The Biggest Loser’s” longest-running coach, who had a heart attack during a crossfit workout.

“The Biggest Loser” likes to steal lots of stuff from CrossFit, namely, how it breaks you down mentally. Coaches love breaking their contestants down until they cry by reminding them how they could be dead in 10 years and miss little Timmy’s wedding. Contestants are supposed to work past their body’s natural reactions telling them not to do so. Need I remind you, those reactions are there for a reason.

CrossFit enables a very similar concept called “The Dark Place,” which is a state of mind that every CrossFit novice years to achieve where they are able to ignore every ache and pain in their body, every sign telling them to stop, so they can get the next best score on the workout that day. (Crossfit is also a very competitive workout regimen, much like the larger concept of “The Biggest Loser”).

What I’m saying is that bodies are smarter than Chads. They know what we can and can’t handle, and they send those signals to us for a reason. I could talk more about Cultfit – oh, I mean Crossfit – forever, but I’ll save it for a different article.

“The Biggest Loser” has also always toted the goal of “One-derland.” One-derland is the state of being between 100-199 lbs. “Call her Alice, she’s in One-derland!” they say. Whenever a contestant, especially a female one, achieves One-derland, it’s such a celebration. It’s like they’ve finally reached the pinnacle of health. I’m here to say that One-derland is a myth. When “The Biggest Loser” begins to make a clear hierarchy on the value of certain weight classes, it no longer is about being healthy. It’s about being skinny. I managed to lose 20 lbs in a month when I was in high school by doing Crossfit four to five days a week and barely eating anything until dinner. Was I healthy? No. I was anxious, cold all the time, and I had cut myself off from everyone else. Now, I go to the gym three to four days a week, eat what I want, and I feel super healthy. My doctor thinks so, too. I’m not even in One-derland.

“The Biggest Loser’s” only mission in its entire existence was to make you laugh at, hate and find disgust in fat people. They disguise it through a concern for the health of those who are fat, but it is very obviously not that, since the biggest loser has never discussed the health complications that come from being anorexic or too skinny. If you’re looking for a show that will teach you about what it means to be really healthy, avoid this one like the plague.

When Jillian Michaels talks about not idolizing Lizzo, it’s not because she cares about Lizzo’s health. It’s because she wants you to want to be skinny so you buy her products and workout videos. She wants you to get skinnier so her pockets get fatter, and she doesn’t care about Lizzo.

If you want to lose weight, be smart. If you don’t want to, then don’t! You are perfect as is. And if you’re Jillian Michaels? Stream “Truth Hurts” and shut the hell up.