Thoughts on the Biggest Loser

Jillian Michaels

I have a sad admission to make – I watch the Biggest Loser.

Well, I should preface that statement; I sort of watch it. I DVR it, and then end up watching about 30 minutes of the total 2 hour show.

I can’t tell you exactly why I do – maybe it’s because I work with fat/weight loss clients.

Maybe I’m interested in the psychology behind weight loss.

Or maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. 🙂

Anyway, on a recent episode Jillian Michaels (one of the celebrity trainers) called one of the girls out, saying she was throwing the weigh-ins.  Without getting into all the details of the show, the girl hadn’t lost any weight in nearly two weeks.

This is pretty rare, as they contestants are often on very low calorie diets.  Combine low energy intake with ridiculous exercise regimens that often include 6 or more hours of exercise per day, and you have a recipe for big-time weight loss.

Getting back to our story, the girl swore up and down that she was doing everything possible, and that she just wasn’t losing weight. This was just how her body was, and all it made her want to do was “go out and eat a cheeseburger.”

Jillian then proceeded to call her a liar.  She told her she didn’t believe she was doing what she was supposed to do, because her body wasn’t different from anyone else she had trained.

If others lost weight, she should be losing weight.

Even though I hate to admit it, I kind of found myself agreeing with Jillian on this one.

If you work with fat/weight loss clients, you’ve probably heard every excuse in the book as to why they can’t lose weight/fat.

They don’t have the time to exercise.

Their spouse isn’t on board with their diet/exercise routine.

They have a bad metabolism.

They’re an “emotional” eater.

And the list goes on and on.

Regardless of the excuse, it feels horrible when you’re 99.9% sure someone is lying to you.  They’re not getting any exercise on their off days.  They aren’t eating the way they should.

But what do you say to this person?  Do you call them a liar?  Do you give them another chance?  Do you fire them as a client?

I’ve had it happen to me, too – I’ve chosen to give these people the benefit of the doubt, only to have them tell me later on that they weren’t as adherent as they should be, and that’s why they aren’t getting the results they wanted.

So coming back full circle, I’m interested in your thoughts.  How do you address clients that may not be fully honest with you?

Do you take a hard stand, and possibly even call them a liar to their face like Jillian did?

Or do you give them the benefit of the doubt and let them figure out for themselves why they aren’t getting results?

Leave your feedback in the comments section below, as I think this could make for a fantastic discussion.

All the best



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  1. Hey Mike,
    I am a dietitian that works with diabetics, people with heart disease, kidney diseases, transplants, etc, and just weight loss patients sometimes.
    It might surprise you that even those that have their lives on the line would still lie sometimes. Yes, they mostly are easy to figure out but some are very talented liars.
    Whenever something does not make sense and adherence is questionable, I try not to be judgmental. I make them do more work or make them feel more responsible with things like:
    1) Ask them to give me daily food intake records for the entire week.
    2) Ask them for the doctor’s contact info
    3) Tell them that their medications need to be adjusted (which is needed with non-adherence)
    4) Use body language that conveys disappointment in them.
    I’ve had some break down and cry. Some admit lying right away. Others play along for a week or two and then admit everything. Only a handful adhere to the plan and fail with there goals, and yet a fewer minority feel comfortable lying through their teeth 🙂
    I guess those that don’t really care and have no responsibility about their health will continue doing their own thing.
    Thanks for all the good content.

  2. I’m with you Mike. Jillian was probably right, especially in a situation like this where there is a lot of money on the line. That said there has to be a better way to get the client to admit that she isn’t doing the work (for whatever reason) than getting in her face and calling her a liar.
    For me, if someone isn’t making the gains that I expect, I start asking about stress/injuries/programming. Let them know that I’m vested in their success, and “gee, this should be working, I can’t imagine why it’s not…”
    Usually they’ll fess up that “well, maybe I’m not eating what I should..”

  3. I must be one of those clients who suffer from terminal uniqueness…..I AM doing everything right and still the weight is not budging. yeah….whatever… all think I’m lying. Well, I’m not and quite frankly, it is irritating to hear from the ‘professionals’ that you don’t believe me (or us as the case may be).
    Trust me….there are those of us out here – (and yes, we may truly be in the minority) who ARE eating appropriately (including weighing and tracking our intake), we are exercising diligently (and smartly – heavy weights AND cardio AND recovery work) and we are still not losing weight.
    You probably can’t imagine the frustration in doing everything we are TOLD to do and still not having the results we are striving for. The thing I find with some fitness professionals….you’ve never been obese – many of you have never even been overweight – and so you lack a bit of sympathy/empathy. Many think it’s simply a case of calories in vs calories out.
    Just the perspective of a middle-aged post-menopausal woman who has removed 80 pounds but still has 50 more to remove and has had no results over the last year in spite of doing everything suggested to her.
    Oh, and I’m not looking for suggestions but thanks anyway. I’m currently following the PN program and I’ve given myself 6 months to do everything they suggest and IF at the end of 6 months, nothing has changed – I’ll re-evaluate then.

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