For those of you who don't know, Vienna, Austria is pretty much the nicest place a person could ever live. The public transportation system can easily and quickly get you anywhere inside the city, and it's simple and cheap to travel to the rest of Europe from downtown. There's sausage everywhere, kebaps when you tire of sausage, cheap drinks, hot Germanic women, badass architecture, and absolutely no evangelical Christians. Additionally, the city is incredibly pedestrian friendly, so it's very easy to get into the habit of shopping daily for groceries. Since moving back to the states I've continued the habit of shopping daily for groceries, no matter how ridiculous or inconvenient it might be to fight the teeming, unwashed hordes and their massive shopping carts overflowing with heavily processed, high-fructose syrup-filled foods.
Do we care? Neeeeeeeeiiiiigh, I tell you. Neigh.
Interestingly, those people seem to be extremely preoccupied with other peoples' weights, as the only thing I've ever seen an obese person reading is a magazine of some sort, and the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store are entirely preoccupied with who is too skinny, too fat, or who got skinny or fat quickly. The Kardashians, for some reason, get a free pass either way. I assume there is some sort of underground centaur fetish population in charge of People, The National Enquirer, Star, and other gossip rags, because I can't think of any other reason to have those horse-faced, pampered, useless, vapid, twats on the cover of a magazine unless the powers that be have a real hardon for people who look like human-horse hybrids.
Winner of BL season 1, fatter than he was when he first got onto the show. Success!
BL finally produced a hot contestant and they're treating her like a fucking leper. Way to pander to the saddies and fatties, guys!
Imagine my surprise, then, when the cover of every fucking magazine this week declared that the most recent winner of The Biggest Loser went too far in her weight loss pursuits. Yes, on a show when two American Olympic athletes failed dismally to win what essentially amounts to a sporting competition, no one made mention of their lack of heart, the fact that their only real option at this point is suicide, and the laughable state of American mental toughness on the cover of a magazine- instead, they lambaste a former fattie with the most cliche'd sob story on the planet for being too skinny. I don't think I'm alone in saying that a television show based around peoples' agonized decision between regaining human form or sliding into the ocean like the rest of the cetaceans did millions of years ago might be the worst idea since Paris Hilton's singing career, but if there's one thing worse than the show itself, it's the hand-wringing about the feasibility of the contestants' fat loss, their propensity for rebounding, and the fact that at least one of the contestants took the shit too seriously.
National embarrassment and stalling world champion Rulon Gardner two years after getting kicked off of BL for cheating. Olympic gold medalist returns to former glory!
We'll put aside the fact that I think that the show's hosts for The Biggest Loser and Hoarders should carry an elephant gun and a flamethrower rather than a mike, and that the only "help" the people on those shows should receive ought to come from the barrels of those aforementioned weapons. Instead, let's address the criticisms of the show, spurious as they are.
If there is one thing on Earth certainly designed to consign oneself to mediocrity, it's "realistic expectations." Realistic, in this context, is a euphemism for "average" and also serves as a pretty good benchmark for determining which people should be chained together at the leg digging fucking ditches in which they'll bury the reproductive organs forcibly removed from them. As an exercise in proving my point, I googled the following: "'reasonable expectations' and 'average person'", and behold, the first search result was written by a woman who should be sent to the camps:
"Chris Powell from ABC’s Extreme Makeover was asked “For the average person, what’s a realistic expectation for weight loss?” His answer was “Take your body weight and divide it by 100. That’s the number of pounds that you can roughly expect to lose each week.” This is interesting to me because it shows that as you lose weight I cannot expect to see 2lbs each week. In fact, I should really be losing about 1.3 to 1.5 lbs a week" (Weightwatchers).To this useless sack of doughy DNA, information about reasonable expectations jammed the idea into this woman's sad, formless, pathetic bit of grey matter that weight loss of two pounds a week was simply impossible, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT SHE ASKED A PERSON WHO HOSTS A SHOW THAT PROVES THE OBVERSE IS TRUE. Simply amazing. The only thing that is unrealistic, then, for a person who attempts to set realistic expectations is the idea that they will ever drag their troglodytic, gormless, honorless, meek selves out of subhumanity and into the light of actually being human.
Obese people will invariably blame their genetics for their fatness. Just as stupid people blame nonexistent diseases like ADD for their failure to learn, fat people like to conjure up their DNA as the bogeyman that sneaks into their room at night and stuffs Mega Stuff Oreos down their throat as they sleep. Their rationale for this is often the same as the rationale behind The Biggest Loser's primary criticism- no matter how aggressive or awesome a fattie's weight loss, the weight almost invariably comes back.
Fatties would probably still eat it though.
It might not surprise you to discover that they are, like the "sufferers" of the dreaded ephemeral malady ADD, full of shit. Obesity is not hardwired into one's DNA- for one, it's not a disease, and for another, there are very few diseases that are actually heritable. Certainly, all of humanity is genetically coded to store body fat, as it's necessary to survive famines. Despite that fact, obesity is hardly a natural state. And before the fatties start in about their thyroids, shut the fuck up- according to statistics, only 4.6 percent of the U.S. population age 12 and older has hypothyroidism. On the other side of the coin, about 1 percent of the U.S. population has hyperthyroidism, and you don't see 25% as many people who bitch about their evil thyroids bitching about how their thyroids are killing their gainz. The thyroid/genetic issue, then, is a non-starter.
Probably more of a genetic than epigenetic mutation.
So why, then, are fatties gonna fat? If you're dying to blame the genetic bogeyman, you can start by blaming fatties' parents, who very well might have epigenetically caused their children to have a predisposition to obesity. It is possible to cause heritable changes that are not the result of changes in the DNA sequence. Thus, it is possible to create a predisposition to fatness, like pregnancy during famine, or perhaps even by maintaining a significant level of obesity in successive generations of the same family line [the aforementioned epigenetic suggestion] (Lukaszewski). That stated, however, predisposition does not in any way equal predestination, no matter how vehemently some land beast might argue, wattles jiggling furiously as Cheetos dusts wafts off their orange-stained, wildly gesticulating sausage-like fingers.
I would have fucked a fat Anna Nicole Smith until my cock fell off.
This brings us, then, to the crux of it- fat people claim they can't help being fat because the couple of times they try to look like a human being, their weight almost invariably rebounds. Somewhere between 66% and 80% of all land beasts re-fat themselves within two years, which is a pretty staggering success rate for people whose central preoccupation seems to be eating themselves to death (Voss). The culprit here, however, is not a "fat gene" or their thyroid- it's homeostasis. All living organisms have their internal systems regulated by homeostasis, which is essentially a complex process by which your body determines what is "normal" and strives to maintain normality. The human body, it seems, takes homestasis incredibly seriously- an individual's weight tends to be fairly stable over time under most conditions, and lean muscle mass and body fat are similarly stable. Even across the entire population of adult white males, the average weight of a sixty year old is only a few pounds heavier than a thirty year old (Stark). Homeostasis, then, is the process that drives your body fat set point.
Feel free to hate me because I'm beautiful.
For those of you who've never heard of the term, a body fat set point is really nothing more than the percentage of total body mass in fat that your body considers normal. Establishment of this fat set point happens over fairly long periods of time, is an extremely important factor in weight maintenance, and is governed by a complex mechanism science does not fully understand (Harris). As a former chubby kid, I found it pretty difficult to get and stay lean, initially. What I found, though, is that the longer I stayed at a given body fat, the more dietary lenience I could have and maintain my physique. From my perspective, bod fat set points are fucking awesome, because having maintained single digit body fat for the last 7 years means that I can eat pizza, chicken fingers, cheesecake, and Baked Ruffles all day for weeks at a time and not notice an appreciable difference in my abdominal vascularity, which is more important to me than the lives of 99% of the people currently populating the Earth. Having reduced my body fat set point to 6-8%, my body is basically little more than an anabolic dynamo devoted to converting all available calories to power my big, gorgeous brain and build more muscle.
The fatties, however, suffer from exactly the opposite metabolic shift- over time, their sloth, shitty eating habits, hangdog expressions, and chinlessness has caused their bodies to become little more than a KFC bowl- they're just failure piles in bowls of sadness. Unlike my set point, which is my best friend, confidant, consigliere, and all-around good guy, the set points of fatties are pretty much mustachioed cartoon bad guys in overcoats, only they're so evil they're cutting off chick's heads and face-raping their corpses and diddling small children with their victims' severed toes rather than tying broads to train tracks. According to Richard Keesey, who's pretty much devoted his life to the study of body fat set points, fat people who've been fat a while are fucked for a variety of reasons:
- "The diet-induced increases in fat cell number were apparently irreversible"(Keesey). That sucks hard, because while you can shrink the fat cells, you can't get rid of them altogether without surgery. Fat cells shrink and grow due to a variety of factors, and once they hit critical mass the body creates new cells to hold more fat. Weirdly, those new fat cells are hungry, and researchers have noted it's much harder for people with more fat cells than average to lose fat and remain lean than it is for people who simply have big fat cells.
- "Obese individuals... display metabolic adjustments to caloric restriction that act both to limit the loss of weight and to favor its recovery" (Keesey)- their bodies actually turn into the fat factories I jokingly described above.
- Formerly fat people have to work much harder to lose fat than real human beings. Call it karma if you want (I do), but the former land beasts have drastically lower resting metabolic rates after losing weight, so they have to eat less and work out more to maintain their weight or continue weight loss (Keesey).
Sucks for them, right? It actually gets worse- by maintaining their fatness over time, fatties actually train their brains to keep them wrapped tightly in a cocoon of cellulite-
"long-term [diet induced obesity] creates a higher body weight set-point and that weight loss induced by [caloric restriction]... provokes the brain to protect the new higher set-point. This adaptation to weight loss likely contributes to rebound weight gain by increasing peripheral ghrelin concentrations and restoring the function of ghrelin-responsive neuronal populations in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus" (Briggs).
Not exactly a machine built for war, the Trabant.
So, by getting and staying fat, fat people take a body that could have been a nuclear munitions factory in the midst of all-out war and turn it into a fucking Trabant production facility. Then, they try to pilot their shitty little plastic and sawdust Soviet vehicle through a battlefield to take out packs of M-1 Abrams by shooting fucking paperclips out of their driver's side window. They sowed the seeds of their own destruction and seem to think it's the fault of black magic, bad luck, and shitty genetics.
One Contestant Goes "Too Far"
Given this information, it should come as no shock that the contestants on Biggest Loser fail to keep the weight off- their brain, their endocrine systems, homeostasis, their shitty life habits and long track records of failure at life and statistics are against them. Apparently one contestant realized this- Rachel Frederickson. Frederickson managed to lose 110 pounds on the show itself, going from 260 to 150 at a height of 5'4". In the succeeding three months, Frederickson appears to have spent a lot of time surfing pro-ana sites, because she carved off another 40 lbs and showed up at the reunion looking like a reanimated skeleton wrapped in tan cellophane. That sparked a hell of a lot of controversy in the tabloids, it seems, because it's all they seem capable of discussing when they're not carrying on about the somehow-still-relevant aforementioned family of equine hybrids Because they're dickless idiots with no conception of what these fatties are up against, people to think it's the fault of the show itself- a People survey of its vapid, housewive-filled readership revealed the four things needed to fix the show are:
- Set limits on how much contestants can lose.
- Slow down the weight loss.
- Scale down the intensity of the workouts.
- Provide long-term support to former contestants.
Obviously, if any of that shit was implemented, that show would be off the air before the first episode of the revamped BL finished. Those suggestions are obviously the produce of the minds of gibbering idiots, because that shit would make the show even more awful than it already is, and would do nothing to address the real issue- to lower quickly their body fat setpoint, land beasts have to take drastic measures. The only useful suggestion science has yet had is to pump former fatties full of fenfluramine, a much maligned and now hard-to-find amphetamine that seems to lower your set point by drastically raising seratonin levels (Hunsinger). Given that I've met more than one person who got and stayed lean by taking Ecstasy on a regular basis, seratonin management may well play a role. I'm not a doctor and don't really give a fuck about fat people anyway. What I do know, however, is that the entire concept that a Biggest Loser contestant could "go too far" is ludicrous. Even if they killed themselves, the world would still be down a fattie, so it's a net gain for the rest of us. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and from what science says, maintaining one's obesity could only be construed as a drastic time.
This brings us, then, to the rub- don't be fat. It's pretty much that simple. If you are fat, stop being fat. The bad news is it's going to suck trying to regain human form, but the good news is that once you do and maintain human form for long enough, your body will reward you by helping. I know, that was a hell of a throwaway conclusion after such a ridiculously lengthy and well researched article, but I don't give two shits about fat people.
Anorexic porn is apparently a thing.
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Harris RB. Role of set-point theory in regulation of body weight. FASEB J. 1990 Dec;4(15):3310-8.
Hyperthyroidism. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (NEMDIS). 26 Feb 2014. Web. 26 Feb 2014. http://www.endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/hyperthyroidism/index.aspx
Hypothyroidism. National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service (NEMDIS). 26 Feb 2014. Web. 26 Feb 2014. http://www.endocrine.niddk.nih.gov/pubs/hypothyroidism/
Keesey RE, Hirvonen MD. Body weight set-points: determination and adjustment. J Nutr. 1997 Sep;127(9):1875S-1883S.
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Tauber, Michele. The Biggest Loser: Four Ways to Fix the Show. 10 Feb 2014. Web. 27 Feb 2014. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20785180,00.html