I recently read a blog post about the Biggest Loser show, which was posted on facebook by the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Thinking back a few years ago, I remember writing a similar post (yet not as detailed) on the Biggest Loser show. I have not watched the show since 2009 but I assume that not a lot has changed and if anything, it has likely gotten worse in terms of more dramatic weight loss, more sponsors and more yelling....I am only making an assumption because this is likely what people want to see and the Biggest Loser show is open to anything to gain more attention.
I do not like to waste my energy on issues that I can not directly control. As an educator, however, I have knowledge and licensed ability to offer nutrition advice to those seeking weight loss/maintenance and performance changes. Therefore, I believe that my voice is most useful for inspiring others to make balanced choices on a daily basis and to get excited about food for fuel and for wholesome nutrition.
One thing that I love about blogging is the ability to go back to old posts and re-read my thoughts at one point in time. Amazingly, as my journey with food and exercise continues on with no finish line in sight, many of my personal views with how we choose to live our life (in terms of food and exercise) have not changed.
I wanted to share two posts that oddly enough, were written TO THE DAY, 2 years apart. The first being my decision to go back to school to become a RD. Yes, as you can see, that was 4 years ago!!! The other post was written about the Biggest Loser show, just 2 years ago in 2009....at this point, I had not started (or been accepted into) a dietetic internship and still had less than a year left before I was able to apply for internships.
Life is a journey. I was taught at a very young age by my amazingly supportive and wonderful parents, that everything in life requires hard work and the ability to not want to give up. You can not be afraid of the length of time it takes to complete something because the focus must be on the person you will become throughout the journey..not necessarily on what you will be like at the end.
I'm not sure if I want my blog readers to hold me accountable but I decided to talk about my decision to go back to school. I've been wanting to be a registered dietitian for the past 2 years and it wasn't until my last semester of graduate school (6 weeks before the stressful exit exams to graduate) that I questioned what I would do in my life. I love exercise physiology and anything science/medical but the subject of nutrition really fascinated me. During my Junior year of college I decided to read about nutrition and how be healthy as an athlete. Being a vegetarian and a swimmer in college was becoming tough and I felt rather heavy for my small frame. I just didn't know how to eat healthy as a vegetarian and in my mind, cheese, pasta, pizza and more cheese was the plan for fueling my 20 hours of swimming a week. I collected a library of nutrition books and just started reading. Although I wasn't concerned about losing weight, my old habits were out the door and so were the extra pounds I was carrying. During my senior year my healthy body was feeling great and I decided to run cross country (which was my first experience with running fast) in addition to swimming. When I graduated college, I knew that eating healthy was my new lifestyle and haven't gone back since. I don't see food as bad or good but I definitely emphasize certain foods in my diet. I love it all from thin crust pizza, bread, yogurt ice cream, nuts and more bread but being in control of what and how much I eat has really allowed me to enjoy nutrition as a competitive athlete. After aspiring to be a pro triathlete for the past year, my goals have changed and I find so much joy in helping people with their nutrition. I was never after the pro status for the money but I always seek avenues to getting my name out to the world in order to help as many people possible. I can't tell you how many clinics, articles and advice I have give for no fee and I will continue to offer my free services as long as need be While my exercise physiology background has given me the tools to understand research, speak and write professionally and understand the body during exercise I am finding that I just don't have the connections that I need to be that sports nutritionist that I am aspiring to be one day. I have decided that this is the time for me to continue my education and become a registered dietitian. I am enrolling in courses at St.Pete college (Undergraduate, non-degree seeking student) for the spring and I will be taking online courses at an accredited online university in the summer. I was accepted to UNC (colorado) last summer when I applied and I decided that I would go ahead and start the program this summer. In a couple years (after I fulfill the requirements and complete the internship) I can take the exam and hopefully have the R.D. after my name. I am excited to learn new information and becoming a better nutritionist but my philosophy and ideas about sports nutrition will always be the same. I believe in helping people with their nutrition so that it becomes a lifestyle and performance improves because the body is using the right fuels at the right time. Thank goodness for my master degree because I think I would struggle with nutrition if I didn't know what the body was doing under stress during exercise. I am not sure where I will end up after I finish my degree but as a sports nutritionist in the multi-sport world I can guarantee that I will write a book dedicated to triathletes, cyclists and runners who see overall nutrition as the missing link in their training program. Oh-and I am sure I'll have a smoothie cook book out as well :) And for my blogger readers, don't worry....I would never stop my triathlon training. Perhaps Ironman may have to wait a year but who knows....I am too in love with swim, bike, run to hold back any bit of energy that I have.
Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.
I've watched every episode of Biggest Loser this season. I typically catch up on my DVR'd shows on the weekend, as I relax after my enjoyable long weekend workouts. I know there are a lot of die-hard Biggest Loser fans out there but I don't mind waiting 4 days to see who is "not the next biggest loser".
My favorite show right now is Top Chef and in a close second, I'm really enjoying this new show called Chopped on the Food network and Chef Academy on Bravo. Come to think of it, I love every cooking show but nothing beats Top Chef.
As I watch Biggest Loser, I keep a very open mind. I think there is a lot more that I don't agree with during this season, compared to other seasons, and because of it I am really worried about the general public who watches the show. At the beginning of the season I wanted to blog about what I didn't like about each episode but as my notes exceeded two pages as I watched each show, I figured my blogs would take forever to read.
I try to not get too offended when I see TV personalities giving out nutrition and exercise information. As you know, I am not a registered dietitian but I am well on my way to getting those two letters behind my last name. I feel confident with my coaching abilities because of my extensive graduate education in Exercise Physiology. As far as nutrition, I have successfully completed the required dietetic courses for a dietetic verification statement to apply for accredited dietetic internships. I have been really involved with the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) for the past 4 years and I hold a certification in Sports Nutrition by the ISSN. This is a very difficult certification to obtain and you must have a formal education in exercise science in order to sit in for the certification exam. Just recently, as you know, I wanted to learn more about weight management so I decided to travel to Denver, CO. for the American Dietetic Association Adult Weight Management certification course which included a pass/fail pre-test (before you could attend the conference), followed by a pass/fail post-test after the conference. There's no need for me to brag about my certifications and education because there are many other people out there with way more credentials than I could ever afford. Yes-these credentials come with a hefty price. I am not jealous of others who have 5+ credentials behind their names but I am more inspired to continue to learn as much as I can in order to try to keep up with the most current research available to professionals. I really appreciate all of my blog readers for inspiring and motivating me to help others and to continue to pursue my dreams, goals and ambitions as I continue this long educational journey. I pray that I don't decide to pursue my PhD because I can only imagine my life as I dive into another 4 years of formal education.
The reason why I talk about these credentials is because it is very important for the people in your life, which you trust to help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals, have the right education to keep you motivated with realistic health and fitness suggestions. There are a lot of people out there who have exceptional speaking and writing skills but lack the formal education to allow them to be a "professional" in their field of choice. Then again, there are many people who have the credentials but are very strong-minded in their opinions and have an all-or-nothing approach to health and wellness. Often, confusing and misleading the consumer.
I think it is very important that we realize that the "professionals" we see on a weekly basis on the Biggest Loser are not trained in nutrition or fitness. Sure, one of the two trainers has two certifications in fitness but anyone can get a certification in personal training. Back a few years ago I had a few personal training certifications from AFAA and IFPA. I think I payed between $150-$300, attended a one day or three day course and then passed the exam. I thought my certification was appropriate because my under grad major was exercise science and I felt really qualified in my field once I was certified. But, it didn't land me on a talk show or TV program.
I think it is great that there are many dedicated professionals out there who want to learn more about personal training (or are currently fitness professionals and want an additional certification) but a certification is quite different from a formal education such as an undergraduate degree, masters degree, PhD or registered dietitian degree. But then again, it is never too late to obtain a formal education if you really want to learn more about your true passion.
If you go to the Biggest Loser main website, you can find out more about the Biggest Loser Staff.
There is a team of 8 people who help out with the Biggest Loser contestants.
There is a Registered Dietitian, two personal chefs, a certified athletic trainer, a clinical psychologist, two Medical Doctors and a physician. It looks like the Biggest Loser contestants are in great hands there on the Biggest Loser campus.
As for the rest of us, who just watch the show for inspiration and a few great exercise and nutrition tips, we have learned that we should eat Lara bars for snacks, use zipp lock bags, eat Subway, drink Brita water and chew Extra Sugar Free gum to curb cravings. Oh yeah, we have also learned that in order to lose weight we must be screamed at, pushed beyond our limits (unless you die you probably aren't pushing hard enough) and must overcome our inner demons which are causing us to fear the success of weight loss.
Tonight you are going to see dramatic results. Biggest Loser will not disappoint us, that's for sure. However, it is important that we all realize that the Biggest Losers have a team of qualified personnel to jump start a dramatic weight loss program. After 12 weeks on the ranch and 60 days at home, the contestants are now competing for $250,000. Sounds like a good incentive to be 100% committed to a lifestyle of healthy eating and disciplined exercise.
As I was reading the bio's of the Biggest Loser team, I started to think about the life of an Olympic triathlete (or any Olympic athlete for that matter). There is typically a chef to prepare healthy meals and registered dietitian to ensure that the meals meet the athlete's daily needs. There is a psychologist to help overcome fears or negative thoughts. There is a coach to provide workouts. A trainer or massage therapist to prevent or heal injuries and perhaps several other teams members to keep each other motivated and inspired.
In my mind, the Biggest Loser Contestants are trained athletes competing for the big day....aka, the big weigh in. If the hard work pays off, the purse prize is worth every sweat, tear and obstacle. But for the many people sitting on the couch as they watch the show tonight, typically eating (hopefully healthy foods, but I've heard from many people that pizza and biggest loser go quite well together), it is important that you realize that the Biggest Loser Contestants have created a lifestyle, supported by trained professionals, which supports their quest to be the next Biggest Loser winner.
As you watch the finale tonight, remember that your weight loss and/or fitness goals need to be realistic. Depending on your lifestyle, your support system, your personal goals, your income, your job responsibilities you have the rest of your life to lose weight. However, let it start today. Although there are lots of books out there, from fitness experts who want you to eat this and not eat this, in order to reach your goal weight in 6 weeks, listen to the qualified experts and stick to a plan that works for your lifestyle. If you have an unrealistic exercise routine, or a strict diet regime, which is going to help you achieve your "goal" weight, ask yourself if your unrealistic weight and fitness goals will allow you to truely enjoy life and your eating and exercise routine. Remind yourself that you are not competing for $250,000 and likely, you can't afford a team of 10 qualified professionals to help you reach your weight loss and fitness goals. However, you CAN start to enjoy life by learning to love nutritious food. You CAN stick to a realistic exercise routine so long as you don't set your expectations too high and start slow. You CAN lose weight to help you get to a healthy weight so long as you make healthy changes which are long-lasting. And most of all, you CAN keep reading my blog because I hope to help you learn to love the value of food and exercise and all of the wonderful things that a healthy and balanced lifestyle can bring into your life.