They get me every time. This time I was prepared. I had a box of tissues by my side. I used more than a few while watching the two-hour season premiere of “The Biggest Loser: Couples” edition (NBC Tuesdays, 8 p.m.) on New Year’s Day.
For the underinformed, “The Biggest Loser” is NBC’s immensely popular reality show in which obese and morbidly obese contestants shed the pounds with the help of personal trainers as they compete against one another for the ultimate prize, $250,000 which is awarded to the person who has lost the most weight. A smaller $100,000 prize is given to one of the dismissed contestants — those having been voted off by their fellow fatties — who loses the most weight. This past season, twin brothers, Jim and Bill Germanakos, who each lost over 100 lbs, won both the grand and secondary prizes respectively. This ultimate battle of the bulge takes place on a ranch in California where the men and women live, eat and compete.
In this, the fifth season, there is a twist — couples are battling — not against one another but as a team. And it’s every team for itself. The show asks the question: “Can people who got fat together lose weight together?”
One of the couples that had me wiping my eyes and blowing my snotty nose was a mother and son, Jackie and Dan. “The worse thing…I’m the one who drove him to the fast food place,” she says.
And there is husband and wife, Mallory and Curtis who have “three wonderful girls”. Everyone has medical insurance except Curtis who is ineligible because of his excessive weight and needs to lose over 150 lbs. to qualify for benefits. “… I have failed as a husband…I failed as a father,” says Curtis through the tears.
The couples’ trainers are Bob Harper a spiritual sort who believes that “God put [him] here to work with the contestants and that we are to “get the best of the life we’ve got”. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, there is Jillian Michaels, who hasn’t met a fat a** that should couldn’t kick, stomp, and terrorize into shape. Truthfully, Bob is just a brutal as Jillian as the contestants who chose him to be their trainer soon discovered and that Jillian acknowledged.
As for me, I’ve won my fight against flab having lost approximately 50 lbs over the course of several years. So, I can empathize with my brothers and sisters in the struggle. I admit that I no longer have the desire for fast food but still have to keep my weakness for mac and cheese and fried chicken in check.
I have the utmost respect for these men and women who are willing to strip away all of the pretense in order to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives even going so far as to weigh in in front of a national audience and one another in the most unflattering of outfits — biker shorts and a sports bra for the women and shorts and a bare chest for the men. I can barely stand to look at myself in the mirror, fully clothed….and alone.
And that damn theme song gets to me every time I hear its refrain, “What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
I’d like to personally thank all the contestants, both past and present, for allowing the rest of us, big and small, to share in the joy of their hard fought victory over obesity. Seeing you win always make me feel proud.
Damn, I’m tearing up again. Does someone have a tissue?