Men’s Health posted about 11 things you didn’t know about The Biggest Loser. Here’s what they got right and what they got wrong.
It was 5 years ago. I was 21-years-old, nearly 340 lbs, and desperately applying to be the next contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser (TBL). After months of auditions, producer meetings, sleep studies, doctors appointments, wardrobe fittings, and trips between Utah and Hollywood, I was finally going to find out who made the cut.
Alison Sweeney took the stage with an envelope in her hand containing 15 names; the season 14 cast members. She called them out one-by-one. “Gina Mcdonald!” she exclaimed. A sassy, blonde, southern belle leaped out of her seat and hollered as she ran through the aisles to the stage.
Panic started to set in as I realized, “this is it.” What if, after all this, I didn’t get chosen?
Luckily I didn’t have to wait long. Alison called my name next and to be honest, I blacked out a little. Before I knew it, I was on stage trapping Ali in a hug that was a little too tight and went on for a little too long.
“Start moving your body the second you wake up.” Hear more tips from our trainers: http://bit.ly/VuudCx
What ensued were six of the craziest months of my life. Super long workouts, blisters inside of blisters, and an awful lot of throwing up. Having made it through to the bitter end, I saw the best and worst of what TBL had to offer.
The childhood obesity quiz stumped a lot of our contestants. What were YOU most surprised to learn?
So, when I saw that Men’s Health posted “11 Things You Never Knew About the Making of The Biggest Loser,” I was intrigued (see the video at the end of the blog). Here’s their full list with notes from yours truly.
11) The weigh-ins were faked
This isn’t exactly true. Yes, the on-camera portion was methodically planned out by production and the scale you saw on TV was just a prop. But all of it was a shock to the contestants. On weigh-in morning, after extensive medical examinations, we would step on the scale in front of the athletic trainer, a producer, and a witness. However, we couldn’t see our weight. The scale was facing away from us during the medical weigh-in.
The producers then took those numbers into an office and put them in the most dramatic order. Hollywood producers LOVE drama and suspense.
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10) It was pretty hard for contestants to hide during filming.
This is VERY true. During productions days, every inch of the BL ranch was crawling with camera crew and we had a microphone attached to us all day. One particularly difficult day, when all of the contestants were totally over it, someone on the production crew told us to hide out in the bathroom until they all left. You can’t film in the bathroom.
9) Shooters got more than 600 hours of footage a week.
While I don’t know the exact number, that sounds about right. Production days were 12 hours long. Multiply that by a 200-person crew for 6-9 days and, yes, 600 could be easily attainable. 600 hours might even be a conservative guess.
8) Contestants had to write down everything they ate.
Again, yes. But that’s just good planning.
7) Sometimes, contestants were forced to workout in silence.
Sometimes? Try all the time. We were told before we came onto the show that we were not allowed to bring phones or WiFi-capable devices. We could bring non-WiFi music players, but were told that they might be confiscated upon arrival. Only a few of us decided to risk it. Remember, it was an INSANE, months-long audition process and we didn’t want to chance losing our opportunity for a music play. Also, yes. It sucked. You try working out for 4-8 hours everyday without music.
6) Applying to be on the show was intense.
Like I said above, the audition process was ridiculous. I went to the open call audition in my finest, pink blazer and bow tie. You know? Trying to peacock. Trying to get noticed. After waiting for hours in line with thousands of other SLC hopefuls, I got 1 minute to make an impression on the casting director.
For my call back, I had to meet two casting directors in a hotel room downtown, take topless photos, and go through an hour-long interview. That was the easy stuff.
Weeks would go by without hearing anything from casting. Then out of the blue I’d get a call from someone wanting more information. Lawyers doing background checks. Doctors scheduling sleep studies. Just regular Hollywood stuff.
After all that, I got flown to LA for two weeks. Which sounds awesome, right? As soon as I got to the hotel, they stuck me in a hotel room and took away the key. I was not allowed to leave without a production assistant nor could I say a word to any of the other applicants. They didn’t want us building relationships with each other before the show starts. If it didn’t happen on camera, it didn’t happen.
They sent me home with a film crew and it was radio silence again for 2 weeks. Then I got an email saying they didn’t know who they were going to cast, but they wanted to see me in LA again. This time though, if they chose me, I’d leave immediately to the ranch and to pack for 7 months. Pack as if I wasn’t coming home.
But it was worth it.
5) The experts were always on call.
I’m sure that’s true. But it’s awfully hard to call them when you don’t have a phone! Trainers typically showed up on production days, the doctor was there once every other week, and we only saw the nutritionist a handful of times. Luckily, our athletic trainer, Sandy Krum, was there every step of the way. Not only did he take care of our medical needs, he was basically our therapist and life coach as well.
4) A “Week” on the show wasn’t actually a week.
This depended on shooting schedules. Production tried to keep us as close to 7 days as possible. But sometimes it was shorter, sometimes longer. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the crew got a week off. So what looked like a week on TV was actually two. Gotta say, the break was severely needed.
3) On-set hookups happened, but you didn’t always see them.
Ah, yes. The hookups. Listen, they took a group of adults and locked them up together with little-to-no entertainment. So sure, it happens. Even though there was a strict “No hand-to-genital, mouth-to-genital, or genital-to-genital contact” clause in our contract.
But it wasn’t all sneaky, torrid affairs. In fact, my roommate Francelina fell in love with another one of our castmates, Jeff. They are engaged now and are living happily ever after in San Diego.
2) There were no chefs or maids on-site for contestants.
You can say that again. The stack of dirty dishes in the sink was quite a point of contention during our season. Luckily, that’s about as dramatic as we got. We did all of our own cooking and cleaning. Lemme tell you, nothing sounds better than a TV dinner after you’ve just been tortured at the gym. But still, you had to chop, peel, and slice every calorie you ate.
“I don’t see this as a diet anymore. It’s a lifestyle change!” Go behind the scenes with our contestants to learn how they’ve changed their eating habits: http://bit.ly/126Ngu3
1) They worked out a lot more than you realized.
You only saw a 2-hour episode every week. But remember, there were 598 other hours of footage you never got to see. We worked out every single day for hours. Not only did we have our on-camera sessions, we also worked with off-camera trainers and we always had homework to complete. Injured? Too bad. You better get to the gym. Don’t feel like it? Tough cookies. You threw up? Better wipe off your face and get back to it.
So why would anyone put themselves through this? I can only speak from my experience, but I learned a lot about myself on Loser. It wasn’t always perfect. Actually, it was rarely perfect. But I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat. I grew up poor and would never have been able to afford a traditional college experience. Living away from home, with people I didn’t know, learning new things everyday. It was my coming of age tale. Not only that, I found out how strong I am and how far I could push without giving up. In many ways, it turned me into the person I am today. Sometimes you need to broken to build yourself up again.
"Biggest Loser" fan? Here's what they don't show. (via Women's Health)
Posted by Men's Health on Monday, April 30, 2018
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