Jillian Michaels Reveals the One Thing She Regrets About "The Biggest Loser"
The celebrity trainer just spoke out again about the controversial weight lost show.
When the weight loss competition show The Biggest Loser premiered in 2004, viewers were introduced to Jillian Michaels, a no-nonsense trainer who used intense tactics such as yelling at contestants as a way to motivate them. She has become even more of a controversial wellness figure in the time since the show was in its heyday, but when it comes to what Michaels regrets about The Biggest Loser, it has nothing to do with the way she interacted with the contestants. Instead, in a new interview with Today, she explained that it's the format of the show that she takes issue with. Read on to find out how Michaels feels about The Biggest Loser now and where she thinks it went wrong.
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Michaels would have changed The Biggest Loser in this major way.
In her interview with Today, Michaels shared a couple of issues with The Biggest Loser but said that her biggest problem has to do with the way the series was set up. She doesn't believe that contestants should have been sent home.
"Nobody should have been eliminated," she said. "That was my No. 1 issue with the show. But the producers gamified weight loss. It was weight loss on a ticking clock."
The Biggest Loser has faced criticism and been studied.
Michaels is far from the only one to criticize the show. Former contestants have spoken out about the way that show was produced and how it prioritized the entertainment factor over their health and wellbeing. Plus, studies have been done about the fact that many contestants regained the weight they lost after the show, which found that their metabolic rates had slowed due to the extreme weight loss plan.
Michaels stands by her training.
While Michaels has an issue with the show being "gamified," she stands by her own training on the series. "You need them to feel the pain of the way they've been living," she told Today. "You need them to have a rock bottom moment where they're like, 'I can't take one more moment.' The ones I yelled at are the ones that kept it off."
She also said of the diet and exercise regimen, "The diet worked amazing. You eat less, you move more, and there you go. The contestants who were unsuccessful when they went home, they had unresolved issues with food."
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She thinks that there should have been more support for contestants.
In her Today interview, Michaels noted that there was a designated person who contestants could talk to during the competition about their mental wellbeing but that she believes it wasn't enough.
"The Biggest Loser needed a mental health professional," she said. "I think there was some random guy they could talk to if they needed, but these people needed deep work. When you have someone that weighs 400 pounds, that's not just an individual who likes pizza. There's a whole lot going on there emotionally. You need to deal with the demons. Otherwise you're just gonna gain the weight back."
Michaels has spoken out about her complaints before.
In 2014, when Michaels left the show, she told People, "[T]here were some fundamental differences [with the Biggest Loser producers] that have existed for a while." She continued, "In the beginning of the show it was tough love. You saw the tough, and you saw the love." But in more recent seasons, she claimed, "You saw none of the relationships, none of the bonds that I build with my clients." The trainer blamed that for "millions of people [having] this warped negative perception of [her]."
The latest iteration of the series offered more assistance to participants.
The last season of The Biggest Loser to air on NBC was in 2016. After this, the series took a hiatus and then returned on the USA Network in 2020. The 2020 season featured some changes, particularly when it came to support contestants would receive following the show.
At NBCU's TV Critics Association Winter Press Tour in 2020, trainer-turned-host Bob Harper, trainers Steve Cook and Erica Lugo, and USA Network SVP of Alternative Series Heather Olander explained that there would be more of an "aftercare package" for contestants following the show, including a nutritionist, gym membership, and "guidance toward a support group," as reported by E! News. Additionally, contestants were no longer voted off of the show; instead, the person who lost the least weight was eliminated each episode. The show also claimed to have more of a focus on a healthy lifestyle overall, rather than solely weight loss.
"For these contestants on the show, they primarily came to the show because they wanted to live a longer life," Olander said at the event. "They unanimously talked about the health issues that they're having because because of the weight and just beyond that, the message in the show is yes, being thin is great and fitting into skinny jeans, if that's what you want, that's fabulous, but that's not the end all be all. It's not about getting fit at all costs."