May 29th, 2010

The biggest biggest loser

I must say, this is pretty frickin impressive:


Even his facial features look completely different, don’t they?

He’s Michael Ventrella, champ at the TV weight-loss game, who had a lot to gain by losing a lot: “By the final show, he had lost 50.19 percent of his body weight, a total of 264 pounds.”

Weight is difficult to lose. But what’s even worse is that it’s notoriously hard to keep off. The “Biggest Loser” TV show features mega-overweight people who undergo a very public process of huge and speedy weight loss, supervised by physicians and trainers and filmed almost every painful soap-opera-ish step of the way. Perhaps that public exposure gives them an extra dimension that will keep them from backsliding; perhaps not.

Speaking of backsliding—which is easy to do, because the body defends a certain weight, and strives mightily to achieve its former bulk—here’s an article from last September that tracks former winners of the show. The basic trend is to gain some amount of weight back, but not to return to close to the original gargantuan size.

Some have kept all the weight off. But either effort requires extraordinary willpower and almost total dedication. These people cannot just live normally and expect to be thin. The most successful ones become professionals, quitting their day jobs, running marathons or other extreme forms of exercise, writing cookbooks, becoming trainers, and/or joining the inspirational diet speech-making circuit. The specter of the humiliation of weight gain (which, after all, cannot be hidden)—of yo-yo-ing like Oprah or Kirstie Alley—understandably haunts and goads them.

11 Responses to “The biggest biggest loser”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Amateur. I managed that in the last two weeks.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    And now….. cake!

  3. Sergey Says:

    Of course his facial features changed. Lots of fat at his cheeks have gone, and on forehead too. At this advanced stage of obesity fat accumulates everywhere, face included. Is it hard to keep weight low? Just as hard as for person who was smoking for decades to quit – and keep it this way. Fat is not something passive, it secretes hormones-like substances into bloodstream facilitating gluttony. That is, obesity is an addiction, with physiological component in it. It should be treated as disease, like alcoholism or narcomania.

  4. Nolanimrod Says:

    I can do that.

  5. Alex Bensky Says:

    I am in a position to say something about this topic. I got chubby…euphemism for “fat”…at about age eight and from the time I reached my full six feet I generally weighed 2110-220 lbs. with gusts up to nearly 240. I have been about 160 now for three decades and I can say, at least from my own perspective, that losing and keeping off the weight may be hard, but it’s simple: Eat less and get some exercise.

    I am not discounting the psychological factor, which I had and for that matter still have up to here. But eventually I realized that no one actually forced me scarf that Snickers.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    Alex Bensky: not to discount your efforts, but the type of mild overweight you are describing is light years away from the experience and physiology of the truly obese.

  7. Beverly Says:

    I think that Overeaters Anonymous is the best bet for those of us who really struggle with food addiction. I cheer for the folks on the show, but I know that, once they’re out of the protected confines of the Ranch, they’re in for it. Big time.

    OA is free, and it works when willpower isn’t enough. They follow the same model as AA, in turning to God (as you understand God) and their fellow sufferers for help.

    I find it most interesting, really, that Oprah has never, to my knowledge, mentioned OA on her show. She talks about every gimmick and program on the planet, but not that one. I suspect she’s as leery of it as alkies are of AA, and for the same reasons. The great dream is that one day we’ll be able to “manage” our cravings, and still have that occasional dessert/glass of liquor. Trouble is that one is too many, and a thousand is never enough.

    Have a blessed Memorial Day, folks, and for our veterans and active-duty folks, thank you for your service.

  8. ethos Says:

    Koli was robbed. Koli would have been the “biggest loser” winner had he been selected by “America” to move on to the final 3.

    Poor Koli, he was robbed!

    Koli lost a higher percentage of body weight than Michael.

  9. br549 Says:

    I have come down from 225 to 190, just by avoiding Klondike bars and other assorted junk food i ate while watching the tube. I avoid the tube now, too.

    At 190, I have hit a brick wall. To do better, wil require………..exercise. Rats.

  10. Capn Eddie Ricketyback Says:

    I will attest to the fact that obesity is physiological as well as psychological. During my military service as a pilot I was forced to maintain an appropriate weight if I did not want to lose my career. Then when I left the military I gained 50 lbs. over the next 20 years. I got rid of that weight in about a year, but apparently my body liked that extra 50 lbs., and has been struggling mightily for the past 25 years to put it back on. I have been mostly successful in thwarting that attempt, but on one occasion when I got a stress fracture and was unable to exercise for a couple of months I put on 17 lbs., which I then spent the next couple of months taking off.

    One of the dumbest things I hear fat people say is something on the order of, “I would rather be happy than thin.” Although it’s a daily struggle, I am happiest when I am at a normal weight, and very dejected when I slip up and gain enough weight for my clothes to be too tight, feel self-conscious in public, etc.

  11. Wright Says:

    Hey, have been searching for answers to my questions of people who have tried this out first hand, and after looking aol, I came to this blog, it is lovely blog. Sad I took long to get to your blog. Bookmarked you already. Will come back pretty soon. Keep on writing people like me will follow you.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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