Trending: “The Biggest Loser” Scandal, Set-Point Theory & Healthy Carbs

There’s a common thread among many of the hottest topics in fitness this week.  And, while some of the news is disturbing, the rest of it is refreshingly positive.  And, I don’t mind declaring, the take-away good news mirrors my own philosophy on fitness.

“The Biggest Loser” Scandal

The Biggest LoserLet’s begin with the bad news regarding the extreme weight-loss reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” on NBC.  A brief synopsis for those who aren’t familiar with the series.  It’s a competition of obese contestants living on location for twelve weeks, put on strict diets, guided through grueling exercise regimens and subjected to on-camera weekly weigh-ins.  The person who loses the greatest percentage of body weight at the end of the twelve weeks wins a cash prize.

I’ll admit to catching glimpses of it here and there.  But, I never could stomach watching more than a few minutes at a time because the strategies utilized by the doctors and personal trainers assigned to help the contestants lose weight go against everything I’ve learned about healthy weight-loss and safe exercise practices.

It, therefore, came as no surprise to me when I saw the results of a study done by Dr. Kevin Hall at the NIH (the show’s on-site physician, Dr. Rob “H” Huizenga, collaborated).  The study followed the contestants from Season 8 for six years to see if they were able to keep the weight off.  They couldn’t.

But, this may not be the worst news to come from alumni of the weight-loss reality show.  The New York Post has written a scathing article claiming some former contestants have come forward alleging stories of contestants repeatedly passing out, being rushed to the hospital, inducing vomiting before weigh-ins and representatives from the show encouraging the use of illegal weight-loss drugs.  If these accusations prove to be true, bad publicity may be the least of NBC’s worries.

Set-Point Theory

Countering this, a wonderfully optimistic article at Greatist written by Adam Bornstein: “Set-Point Theory: The Fat-Loss Secret No One Talks About.”  Adam has used this theory to fight against a life-long struggle with weight and now coaches others on how to achieve safe, permanent weight-loss with an eye to health, fitness and body acceptance.  A beautiful, encouraging message for all of us.  The gist of his message:

“You can transform your body.  Most people do it the wrong way.  Too fast.  Too impatient.  Too generalized.  And too unrealistic.”

If that quote sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you’re a regular reader of my blog.  The words and phrasing may be slightly different but Adam’s theory reflects a common theme here at Fit & Happier.

Healthy Carbs

GrainsAnother of my common themes – don’t give up eating entire food groups, just give up on processed foods – was running through a hot topic over the weekend.  Elizabeth G. Dunn published “Can You Carbo-Load Your Way to Good Health?” in the Wall Street Journal.  Bakeries around the country are turning to milling their own whole grains on premises (or sourcing them from local millers), shunning stripped-down flours and making breads and pastas the way our great-great grandmothers used to make.  My favorite quote:

“Ask Adam Leonti…who grinds his own flour for pasta, bread and pizza dough.  Mr. Leonti shed 15 pounds eating sourdough breads made from wheat pulverized by the 10,000-pound stone mill at his Brooklyn Bread Lab.  ‘There’s fiber in there, which is missing from people’s diets altogether,’ Mr. Leonti said.  ‘You have all these enzymes that are alive and volatile, extracted from white flour to make it shelf stable.  Those are the things your body is searching for to make digestion happen, to make nutrition happen.’  The farm-to-table revolution has transformed most of the restaurant pantry, but even sophisticated kitchens still largely craft baked goods and pastas from lily-white commodity flour, an ingredient short on flavor and nutrition.”

Right now, only a handful of bakeries are milling their own grains.  Luckily, most ship their products nation-wide.  I expect – like many other artisanal foods that have caught fire recently as more people are willing to pay more for the less processed real deal – this emerging trend will continue to grow.  I, for one, am already scheming to place an order to try what is sure to be the best – in every possible way – bread I’ve ever eaten.

If the old ways of looking at body image and weight-loss (a la “The Biggest Loser”) disgust you and the Set-Point Theory and bakeries milling their own grains intrigue you, you may want to check out my Small Steps program.  It’s a sensible, healthy path to fitness for a lifetime.  And, it turns out, pretty trendy too.

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