Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Biggest Loser- week 3- "It's not Catfish. It's Cupcakes."

Remember that one time? That time where we were all unified as a team and we walked across balance beams and called our families and nobody got eliminated from the competition? Remember?

Yeah. About that.

Welcome to week 3 of The Biggest Loser, where the gloves have come off! And introducing the villian of the episode- crazy eyes Tracey- or as one fellow tweeter named her- Trazy. Because she is a hot bag of crazy biscuits.

Trazy was the contestant that collapsed in the first episode and was rushed to the hospital. And her partner, the lovable Coach Mo, had to compete alone to keep them in the competition. I was with Trazy when Coach Mo came to visit her in the hospital, and she seemed so happy and full of hope. And I was with her when she managed to lose 10 pounds when she returned to the ranch.

But I was not with Trazy when she literally stepped over the line.

Ali presented the contestants with a choice- the episode was all about choices: They could choose to work out with their trainers as usual OR they could forfeit the trainers and gain a two pound advantage at the weigh in. Everyone chattered amongst themselves, agreeing that that would be a foolish decision- who would want to give up Bob and Jillian?

Then Trazy steps over the line of choice, going against the wishes of her partner Coach Mo, and forfeits her right to trainers. She says she can do it herself, and who wouldn't want the two extra pounds?

When Bob and Jillian hear of this craziness, they take Trazy and Coach Mo aside and ask why she would "play the game". Trazy states she is nervous about being sent home, and she thought it would give her an advantage over the other contestants. Tears are shed, and Bob and Jillian give her priceless words of hope and love and support. We think that Trazy has learned her lesson and that life is all good.

Then it's time for the workout montage, and the first injury of the season- Abby has a stress fracture. She won't be able to stand on it for prolonged periods of time, and will have to swim for most of her exercise. Bob is secretly freaking out, but I personally know that if swimming works for Michael Phelps, that Abby should by fine. Plus, she is so sweet and needs this so badly, surely NBC wouldn't chose to get rid of her the third week in. Would they?

The team challenge involves more choices- carrying 5 pound weights up a ramp from a shorter distance, or carrying 25 pound weights from a farther distance up a ramp. I would have chosen the 25 pound weights myself, but I forget that the contestants are not used to running. And carrying weights. And doing those things at the same time together. Dan the man comes out of the gate at a blazing speed, and I am so happy to see him working it out! Especially from watching him last season when he could barely walk up the hill on the first challenge. That is the part of this show that I love and why I love the fitness community. Seeing someone get healthy and achieve what they set out to acheive is amazing.

The winner of the team challenge is firefighter Alan from the green team- incidentally he was carrying the five pound weights. Slow and lighter but steady wins the race!

And then comes the TEMPTATION CHALLENGE- the first one of the season! This challenge essentially changes the entire way the show runs, and really makes it into a strategy game and not just a weight loss competition. Under their silver platters the contestants have a single cupcake. Each cupcake, Ali tells us, is 100 calories. Whoever eats the most cupcakes gets to have control of what team falls below the yellow line by chosing one member of the team's weight counts at the final weigh in.

We see the contestants smell the cupcakes, drool over the cupcakes, threaten to rub cupcakes all over their bodies, (Sean! Don't do it! What will your parishoners think?) but will they eat the cupcakes?

Only two contestants indulge themselves- Antoine from the red team eats one cupcake. Crazy Trazy eats FOUR. She wins the temptation. And now she has control of the fates of the teams!
This is classic reality tv magic. Gone are the warm and cuddly feelings of the last episodes- now it is an ass kiss festival. Who can appeal to Trazy and her sense of right? Does she even have one? Dan appeals to her that Shay should stay in the competition- he wants to weigh in for their team. The pink team's Amanda knows that Trazy has her back and isn't worried about the weigh in. All along, I am wondering is Trazy going to be able to lose enough weight without the aide of the trainers to make it even worth all this trouble?

At the weigh in, the first few teams weigh in with no issue, and then we learn that Trazy is crazy because she betrays Dan, making Shay weigh in, and Shay is under the goal weight by 1 pound. Two pound advantage not sounding so bad at this point. And then Trazy betrays Amanda, by making her weigh in even though she promised her she wouldn't. And Amanda rocks it and makes it above the yellow line. Unfortunately, for the red team, Trazy proves she's not just crazy, but a little mean. Instead of choosing fellow cupcake eater Antoine, she chooses Sean. And he falls below the yellow line by one pound.

Again, the two pound advantage could have come in handy. Trazy, on the other hand, did not need the two pound advantage as she lost a whopping 11 pounds. She riled everyone up for nothing!!! And now she is hated at the ranch and on blogs across America.

The Red Team bit the bullet because they thought Shay and Dan needed the support of the ranch to make it. Shay's impassioned speech about not needing Trazy to validate her totally moved me- she is taking control of her life. And that is what one needs to make a signifigant life change like losing weight.

So, we say goodbye to the Red Team. On the follow up, we see Antoine looking fit and healthy, cupcakeless but not girlfriendless! He has made a love connection with the first eliminated contestant, Alexandria. Sean has lost plenty of weight and has a new baby girl named Jillian. Life is good for the Red Team, and I am eager to see the results at the finals!

But Trazy? I feel like it's only a matter of time before we are shown more than the whites of her eyes. Or the yellow of her belly.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Naughty Chef- Episode 1- Better Bring Your Stretchy Pants

And no. I did not think of this title. It was on the info screen on my DVR.

The Naughty Chef is a new show on the Oxygen network featuring "celebrity" chef Blythe Beck, a larger than life, loud mouthed chef who is the executive chef of Central 214 restaurant in the Hotel Palomar in Dallas, TX. And when I say larger than life, I mean it- Blythe is a plus size lady who says she cooks "sexy new American cuisine" which is made with beer, bacon, cheese. And her "I'm not a skinny bitch" attitude is a snub in the face to the wave of "healthy" reality shows that have been hitting the tube. It's just a little ironic that Oxygen just finished the controversial reality show Dance Your Ass Off, which was called many things, none of which was particularly positive by the critics (I loved it, but then, I love almost anything that has dancing and weight loss in it), and now they are serving up this show.

And I am trying to figure out EXACTLY the message of The Naughty Chef.

It is from the producers of The Ace of Cakes, a reality show that follows a bakery of crazy folks in Maryland and the exotic confections that they create. So, is this show about the restaurant industry? Maybe. The opening montage shows a bustling kitchen and lots of praise from customer and co-workers alike for the over the top Beck, who uses phrases like a heart this and monkey and naughty this naughty that. She seems well loved by all that come into contact with her gregarious personality.

But then one customer says that Beck likes food and she is not a size 2 and she doesn't care. And Beck is large. After watching so many shows, I would say that Beck is at least 250 pounds, at least. Probably closer to 300 pounds. And with a menu that includes such healthful treats as Iceburg Babies (their number 1 best selling salad) and Chicken Fried Kobe, how couldn't she be? We see trays of steaming gravy laden dishes, mountains of cobbler, bowls of cheddar mac and cheese (and yes, I will admit my mouth is watering as I type this- I am not made out of lettuce). She is the foul mouthed Paula Dean who drinks and trash talks. Is the show abut her weight?

I think so. This show is not just about the restaurant and it's kooky staff of Door Whores and hated waiters. This show is about a female chef who hates being thin, calls her food naughty, and encourages all to accept the naughty with her. Now the show will lead you to think that this show is covering the trials and tribulations of a struggling new chef making her way in the world, and how bright she is, and how confident she is. But when I watch I see someone who isn't naughty- she is, well, mean. She berates most everyone she comes into contact with, and seems to despise the fact that anyone could be heathy and thin. When she gets 2 stars from a critic, I don't feel bad for her. I feel like she should suck it instead.

I am from Oklahoma, and I know first hand about the weight issues that plague the folks of the southern midwest. Texas does not need chicken fried Kobes, people. But the people LOVE it. They love someone that says "F you, steamed vegies!" and ladles up another side of mashed potatoes. They want someone to tell them that it's okay to eat this way. To tell them they are a skinny bitch that needs a chicken fried sandwich.

And every other show out there is the opposite message. I am so confused! What is Oxygen trying to establish with it's viewers when they preach eat what you want and then show ads for the Hollywood cookie diet and Slimquick diet pills?

The ironic thing is that everyone on the show keeps telling Beck that she is so full of life, and she looks as if she could die of a heart attack and not give a flip at any moment. And if she wants to live her life like that, she can live out loud. But I don't know why when obesity is so high in this country and people are dying from it, why we need a show that glorifies the naughty- and naughty means fat. The jury is out- I would like to say that it is okay to be anyway you want to be as long as you are happy. But if you are going to rub butter in America's face, don't expect everyone to want a taste.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Biggest Loser- The Dreaded Week 2!!!

On the sunny Biggest Loser ranch, week 2 of the competition is known to be one of the toughest weeks. Why? After week 1's monumental numbers, week 2's numbers are more. . . realistic. Dan from last season lost 30 pounds the first week, only to lose 3 pounds the second. Any contestant that watched previous seasons seemed to be quaking in their running shoes.

The show has changed the rules once again. Host Ali Sweeney tells the contestants that although they are divided into teams of two, they will all be working together to meet a team goal of 150 pounds- for 15 contestants, that would be 10 pounds apiece. If they reach the goal, no one will be voted off. If they don't reach the goal, two contestants will be eliminated. Knowing how tough it is to put up large numbers two weeks in a row, the contestants are certainly nervous .

Trainers Bob and Jillian are ready for the challenge, and team up to give the teams a solid nutrional foundation and working out. The focus of this weeks episode is Julio, who was under the yellow line last week even though he had lost 13 pounds. He is under fire from the other contestants, especially the biggest lady, Shay, for not trying hard enough. I was suprised to hear Shay do so much trash talking, especially since she quit last week and she had to be urged to continue working out by her partner, Dan.

Maybe it is just NBC being dramatic. Maybe Shay just has a big mouth. We will see as the season unfolds!

Celebrity Chef and cutie pie Curtis Stone comes on board to teach the contestants proper portion size and healthy ways to cook and make substitutions- did you know you can use juliened vegies as a substitute for pasta? Neither did I. Then the contestants had to answer a series of questions- and they all did really well! Especially since the show showed the contestants zoning out and saying things like it was so hard! How are we supposed to remember all this stuff? I mean, they are heavy, NBC. Not stupid. I actually did better on the couch answering the questions than I thought I would. And I am a fastitudious calorie counter, but still a human being. :)

Then the contestants are whisked back to the ranch for a group challenge- walking across a bunch of balance beams over a pool of water. Cruel television show! It is only the second week of training- are the contestants coordinated enough to walk across a 6 inch wide beam?

Apparently so! Not only did they earn phone calls home, they also earned valuable pounds off at the final weigh in. All the contestants worked together for a common goal- it was amazing to watch them not knock each other down literally and figuratively. I hope this unity and team work theme continues for the rest of the season.

Cue to emotional montage of the contestants calling their family members. Lots of crying. I joke that most of the weight lost on The Biggest Loser is water weight from all the crying everyone does!

At the final weigh in, everyone blew it out of the water. There wasn't even a need for the extra pounds the team earned- they lost a collective 155 pounds. Julio told Shay to suck it in a big way, losing 19 pounds- more than anyone else!

No tearful eliminations, no back stabbing or game playing. Overall, a great episode with a lot of heart.I also did my first official live web tweet fest, and it was so much fun watching The Biggest Loser with people all over America! Number one thing I saw on my tweet fest? People tweeting that they either felt guilty when watching the show or they enjoyed watching fat people cry. Being fat is polarizing.

And that is why I love my job- the chance to change this playing field! Watch out world!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Biggest Loser is back!!!! And bigger than ever?

Season 8 of "The Biggest Loser" has begun! As usual, I am thrilled to take the journey with these new contestants on their way to a healthier new life, and this season promises to dish out all the emotion and drama that one could hope for.

I'm especially interested in the contestant Shay, who weighed close to 500 pounds on the first day in. I give her so much credit for putting herself out there in the public eye. And I give Jillian Michaels even more credit for not coddling her and calling her out on her victim card! Shay tells the story of her heroine addicted mother who she always had to take care of, causing her to neglect herself and pack on the pounds. When she quits midway through the FIRST workout, Jillian lets her sit and stew (Trainer Bob want to go get her, because he is such a sweetie) and lets Shay decide for herself not to quit.

There are so many interesting characters- the woman who lost her entire family in a tragic drunk driving accident, the overweight firefighter, the woman whose husband is in the military and is absentee so she gains 100 pounds- she runs so fast in the beginning she collapses and ends up in the hospital for the rest of the episode- just to name a few. We also see Dan, the contestant from last season who has come back for his second chance. I am proud to see he is a motivator and hasn't given up even though he was voted off last season. I know his partner was a dissappointing factor last time- this time he is partnered with Shay. And I know she'll need his guidance to keep from quitting.

I am excited that they are testing out new medical equipment on the contestants to keep an eye on their bodies and see how obesity affects them. The public needs to see that being fat is not good for you- food can be just as strong a drug as alcohol, nicotine, and well, drugs. The part of the show where they did the brain scan to see what parts of the brain were stimulated when these contestants had impulses for food was so amazing.

The factor I find the most troubling with "The Biggest Loser" is where do they keep finding these overweight candidates? This season promises the heaviest contestants yet, but I keep waiting for the season when this show has motivated it's viewership enough that they aren't getting heavier and heavier.

Is "The Biggest Loser" working? I see all the commercials for all the different products- meal plans, books, equipment, online support. Is "The Biggest Loser" only entertainment? Or a true motivational tool?

We will see. . .