January 6, 2011

Debunking the magic of Bob and Jillian

Since my days of being a cardio queen are over, I have a lot of free time on my hands. This week I’ve spent every night staying in my room, ordering (healthy) takeout, and lounging around watching TV (well, with 45 minutes of weight lifting Monday and Wednesday nights, but that’s nothing compared to the long cardio stints I used to self-impose). Yesterday was my rest day, and having nothing better to do at night, I tuned in live for the Biggest Loser season premiere.

For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, I’m not going to spoil the whole episode; I’m just going to tell you what the twist in the challenge was: the contestants got to choose who they trained with for the first month of the show. They could opt to train with Bob and Jillian, or choose to go with the two new, unknown trainers… and get a shiny bonus of four weeks of immunity. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer: go with the unknowns and guarantee yourself extra time on the ranch to learn your stuff. However, a lot of the contestants opted to train with Bob and Jillian… because they’re the big famous stars.

That and the salad bar incident yesterday made me realize how little so many people know about weight loss. A coworker today commented on what a passion I have for all things health and fitness, and it reminded me that I’m not your average American. I read everything I can find on diet, health, and fitness, and I do my own critical thinking to figure out which plans are awesome (Rachel Cosgrove, I worship you!), which are reasonable (Weight Watchers can be a great way to take the guesswork out of it, but it seems to me that a lot of people on that plan eat a lot of processed junk that’s engineered to be low in calories instead of just opting for natural, whole foods), and which are utter nonsense (as I’ve already said, you will not get healthy eating salads when your salads consist of iceberg lettuce, blue cheese dressing, and bacon bits).

While watching the show, it occurred to me that many Americans might fall into the same trap: they might think that working out with Bob and Jillian is the only way to lose weight. SO NOT TRUE! While I would personally love to work out with Bob and Jillian and hear what inspiration they have to share, I don’t think they’re anything super special in terms of weight loss. You don’t drop weight just because you’re with the magic Bob and Jillian; you drop weight because you’re doing what they say… which is working your butt off. Likewise, you’re not going to lose weight on the Biggest Loser because you’re working out with Bob and Jillian; you’re going to lose weight because your focus is on weight loss and you’re working out with trainers (any trainers, no matter what their names are) who are pushing you to keep working harder. Period.

If you’re reading this out there and you need to lose some weight, you don’t need to wait till you’re big enough to be on the Biggest Loser because you think only Bob and Jillian know the magic secrets to weight loss. There’s no big mystery; almost all diet and workout plans are based on principles of eat less and move more. If your trainer isn’t that effective, it may be that they are just not the trainer for you… so go find a new one. But who’s to say that either Bob or Jillian is right for you either? The truth is, you don’t need a trainer to lose weight – you just have to want it badly enough to push yourself to do the things a trainer would otherwise push you to do.

Check out some diet books (personal faves include The Beck Diet Solution and The Female Body Breakthrough), read some health and fitness blogs (see links to the right), and maybe subscribe to a fitness magazine or two (I like Self, Shape, and Fitness). Head to your local library and browse the shelves – some diet/exercise books on the shelves may be junk that’s barely worth the paper it’s printed on, but the more you read, the more you’ll learn to recognize the fallacies and quick fixes. Just please, don’t think that there is only one solution to weight loss. There are as many different methods out there as there are success stories of people who have lost the weight, gotten healthy, and kept it off (that is to say, thousands).

I will say, I was thrilled to see that later in the show, the contestants who had chosen Bob and Jillian were starting to regret their decision. Yeah, it was a boneheaded move! Now instead of 4 weeks of unknown trainers, you might get one or two week of Bob and Jillian… and then you’re on your own the rest of the season because you got kicked off. But hey, at that point, you can just read my blog and follow the advice above 🙂


7 thoughts on “Debunking the magic of Bob and Jillian”

  1. I’m with you on this. So true about Bob & Jillian, and so true about Weight Watchers!!!! (I’m a WW lifetime member that hasn’t been to a meeting since ’04).

  2. I completely agree with you! I was talking to a friend of mine and his wife is the general manager of a big gym in our area. She said that people like us are only 3% of the population. “Us” meaning people who are motivated to workout on their own and don’t need someone telling them what to do.

  3. I had the extact same thoughts when I saw the season premier and also wrote a post about it… If you think that a trainer is going to make or break your success, you already lost.

  4. I did my time in the trenches at Weight Watchers (that’s how I got started on losing weight and ultimately lost 65 lbs, so it does work) and I totally agree that they push, push, PUSH processed “short-cut” foods to the extreme. At every meeting I went to there was some discussion about some snacky low-cal food that we could eat or some ingredient to substitute in recipes. None of it sounded very appetizing, and the one time I did try something they were CONSTANTLY talking about (Walden Farms salad dressing) it was really gross. When something has no calories, no fat, and no sugar…guess what, it’s not going to taste like anything but ass. I’ll drizzle my salad with a bit of straight up olive oil instead, TYVM.

    Also, if you consume an entire box of WW brand chocolate snack bars because they’re “low calorie,” guess what…that’s not healthy eating.

    An apple is still the best snack ever created.

  5. I love Bob and Jillian. I love watching “the Biggest Loser”. But I don’t like the unhealthy ways people lose weight on the show. And that Jillian pimped diet pills.

    And as for Weight Watchers, I’ve lost 115 pounds with them. Eating clean. So it’s really about the person and what they pick to eat. But Weight Watchers didn’t tell me to eat that way, I did it myself. They just changed their program, trying to get people to eat healthy without processed food. But it look how many years? Eating 100 calorie packs isn’t going to teach you the right way to eat.

    I totally agree with you. I workout on my own at the gym. And even though I follow weight watchers, I follow online, so it’s my own call really.

  6. It seemed more to me that people were looking for the familiarity of Bob and Jillian to help them, rather than believing that ONLY THEY CAN HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT OMG. Knowing what to expect from watching them on TV, I think, could in some ways be comforting in the whole process.

  7. It really bothered me how Allie reacted when people were picking immunity. She said something like “B&J are super stars” or something.

    Fame doesn’t equal best trainer ever. Clearly they are good trainers, but did anyone think that the Biggest Loser would stick the “Others” with crappy trainers?

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