The Biggest Loser 3, Episode 6: Healthy Choiceby Brian Towers -- 10/26/2006
Welcome to the sixth episode of The Biggest Loser 3! This series focuses on teams of overweight contestants and their competitive struggles to lose weight and, in the process, regain control of their lives. Challenges and temptations bar their way to a $250,000 cash prize.
Plus… survey results! More on that later.
As the episode begins, we learn that so far this season, our contestants have lost 550 pounds together. Well done, folks!
Action begins as both teams are herded outside to find a challenge. As series host Caroline Rhea is nowhere in sight, instructions are all on placards, and the players take turns performing her emcee functions. This just comes across as cheesy, Caroline ought to be there.
At any rate, it’s a reward challenge. The teams must guess the number of calories in a series of meals. The winning team is the first to make the better guess three times. The winners get to saddle the members of the losing team with tee-shirts that say either “No Trainer” or “Eat Out Only.” For 72 hours, the wearers must do what the shirts indicate.
Pam of the Red Team is worried, because the Blue Team members are all dedicated calorie counters. Perhaps, but as things progress Bobby reveals that they only know the numbers for healthy foods – which these are not! The following table shows how it played out, with the item description followed by the team’s guesses, the correct answer, and the winner of that round.
Ouch -- the Blue Team loses the third round by only ten calories! But the Red Team wins, and in the minimum number of rounds. The Blue Team looks appropriately dejected. The decision is that “No Trainer” shirts are to be given to Bobby and Erik because they are perceived as needing Bob the most. By default, Marty and Brian must eat out.
Bobby is concerned that Bob will be upset that his team doesn’t know their calories. As Bob comes upon his team, at least they are working out. After getting up to speed with what happened, he is most concerned about Erik, because Erik is still learning much about how he should be working out. Bob looks at Erik and, in a fine bit of reality-TV editing says, “Wow, you’re really screwed!”
Erik is chagrined; he feels he will have to be without a trainer in the real world, so here’s a good chance to practice and to test his determination. Meanwhile, Bobby sees it as a test of his self-motivation.
It’s time to check in on one of our “ghosts.” “Ghosts” is my term for the 36 contestants sent home from the ranch but who are still in the game. This time, we meet Evelyn in Nebraska. She tells us she got off to a fast start, but then stalled. So far she’s only down twenty pounds over six weeks. There’s still time ahead, so you go, Evelyn!
Meanwhile back at the ranch, trainer Kim has a chat with her squad. She’s trying to drag their emotional baggage out into the open because she feels her team is holding back on her. Kai admits to using anger as a defense, and Pam confesses hiding her true feelings around others. I guess it was therapeutic, for Heather says they are now geared up for a big week.
With only two charges, Bob is working them hard. The other two are also in the gym at the same time, but of course must work out without a trainer. Bobby says, “Nobody wants to get their butt kicked to the point where they feel they’re going to die, but I’d have rather been in Marty’s place than be working without a trainer.”
Marty likes eating out all week so he doesn’t have to do any dishes. Brian admits to some concern that food may not be prepared in the manner in which it was ordered. Bob instructs them that’s it’s just like in the real world and to send back any food not delivered as requested.
It’s time for another challenge, and this time Caroline Rhea is on site. This one’s a little complicated, so bear with me. Envision a long wire strung over a structure Erik compares to set of football goal posts without the uprights. At one end, three team members are tethered in pulling harnesses. At the other end the fourth member of the team is in a supportive harness. I’ll call the former three the “pullers” and the later person the “flyer.” As the pullers walk away from the flyer, the wires raise the flyer up into the air. As the pullers return to where they started, the flyer is lowered to the ground.
The process is as follows – the pullers retrieve a flag, bring the flag to the flyer, then hoist the flyer so they can affix the flag to the “crossbar” of the structure. This is repeated until four flags are raised.
Each team has their smallest member as the flyer - Brian for the Blue Team and Heather for the Reds.
In a delusional interview, Heather feels the girls are as strong as the guys and they can win. No, the basis of this challenge is really just raw horsepower, and the other team has more of it. What IS an equalizer, though, is the 62-pound difference in the weight of the two flyers. So, all in all, it seems about fair.
The prize is choice of two activities in a posh Hollywood hotel… either a healthy gourmet meal or a workout in their pool. The winner also decides who on the Red Team will sit out the next weigh-in. Injured Wylie (who twisted his ankle while jogging the night before) sits out for the Red Team, so teams are even at four players apiece.
The challenge begins, and as the second flags are being posted it’s still neck and neck. However, Red Team’s Heather isn’t raised far enough for her to reach the crossbar and they must take the time to raise her back up again to do it right. Then on the last flag, Ken of the Red Team drops it on the ground while passing it to an invisible partner and no one notices until it’s far too late.
So the Blue Team wins fairly easily. Since trainer Bob is nowhere in sight they quickly choose the meal as their reward, meaning the lucky Red Team gets the pool workout.
Pam says, “I hate that the Blue Team has the power to sit someone out of our weigh-in. It really stings because it could make or break our weigh-in this week.” I seem to recollect it was OK when the shoe was on the other foot in weeks two and four.
At the hotel, the Blue Team finds their meal is set up poolside where they can watch the Red Team work out. Nice touch. Marty explains to us that they chose the meal because they had been working out hard and felt they deserved the reward. I have to admit that I’d have made the exact same choice.
The next day, trainer Bob happily announces the 72-hours is up and the limitations on his team from the first challenge are over. Marty mildly regrets the end of eating out; he rather enjoyed it. More importantly, Bob can also resume training sessions with Bobby and Erik again.
The next segment is terrific, and the kind of thing we see too little of on this series. Dr. Robert Huizenga has an important role on this show. He is the series doctor who measures and monitors the contestants. He has a series of very encouraging interim reports to divulge, and both teams are assembled to hear the news.
The first one to get good news is Kai, who dropped her cholesterol 113 points, and her blood pressure improved from 140/90 to 122/64. Also, Pam has had a 60-point drop in her cholesterol over the last six weeks. And, after Dr. Huizenga tells them that an insulin rating of over 13 is pre-diabetic, Bobby learns his insulin number changed from 30 to 1.8! As a result, he’s off his blood pressure and cholesterol medications!
In fact, NO ONE has high blood pressure at this time, though other risks are still present for heart disease. Family history is of course a big one, as is age. Those two are not possible to control, of course, but they must continue to eat better, exercise more, and take baby aspirin daily (actually, 81 mg doses of ASA).
Erik is kept behind to discuss his smoking. Erik says not only has he quit smoking, but also he wants his wife to quit so there are no cigarettes in the house. Erik takes the opportunity to ask about drinking alcohol on weekends, and Dr. Huizenga warns that it can be a trigger that can lead to smoking situations. He advises, “If you want to avoid a slip-up, stay away from the slippery slope.”
Dr. Huizenga adds, “It’s just a matter of a few months that some of the heart attack risks and some of the other negative effects of cigarette smoking start to go away.” Over clips of Erik and his cute young kids, we learn Erik had diabetes when he arrived at the ranch but his fasting sugar level has dropped from diabetic 144 to normal-level 93. “Nothing short of miraculous,” concludes Dr. Huizenga.
Wow, all good stuff! But now, we must get back into the game. It’s Last-Chance Workout time, when everyone gets extra serious. Kim is working Wylie hard in the pool. Ken is sure that if they lose, the guys are in trouble.
Marty of the Blue Team hopes that if his team loses again, he’s their biggest loser (and therefore immune from the vote). That seems like a rather negative thought to me.
It’s evening, and time for the weigh-ins. Both sides are nervous about how it may play out. Ken knows he needs to do well or he’s in BIG trouble. A still-concerned Marty feels he could be going home if they lose. Why, I’m not sure, as his percentages are high but not highest.
The Blue Team names Ken as the one whose weight loss will not count in the total. That seems like the right decision to me, as he’s the biggest of them by far. His name is flagged with an asterisk in the table below, indicating his numbers are excluded from all totals. Here’s how the weigh-in went.
So, the Blue Team wins the weigh-in! I have no idea why the numbers were so spectacular this week, but every single one of them ought to be proud. It didn’t seem possible that the Blue Team could win when we learned they needed to lose ten pounds apiece. Erik feels vindicated that he lost weight without a trainer for three days.
As the highest percentage loser on the losing Blue Team, Caroline Rhea announces, Kai is exempt from elimination.
As it seems to have worked out this season, again it didn’t matter which player sat out the weigh-in. Even if lowest loser Wylie has been chosen, the Blue Team still would have won.
As they file out, the Blue Team is confident again. I hate to remind them that traditionally the teams don’t last a heck of a lot longer, and the dreaded “Yellow Line” says a lot about who is safe and who is going home.
Back at the house, trainer Bob is so amazed to hear how well his squad did that he’s giddy. Over on the other side of the house, trainer Kim advises them to “Think wisely, think about what you really want to do.” In a cameo Heather tells us the girls are still united and a guy is definitely going home.
The Red Team files into the Elimination Room. Immune Kai also has her free pass, which of course she opts not to use at this time. It is interesting to note that Caroline called on Kai to announce her intention to use or not use that pass BEFORE the vote, not after. Kai votes first and votes against Ken, because he’s “a big threat in this game.”
Ken’s up next and votes for the person with the lowest number, Heather. Up next, Heather returns the favor, also saying it is because Ken is such a threat.
A bit surprisingly, Wylie steals Pam’s thunder by casting the deciding vote against Wylie. As usual, Pam’s unnecessary vote is not revealed, but it absolutely had to be another one against Ken.
Ken leaves in good spirits – obviously, he was not blindsided. In fact, he had to know his time was up. Ken is proud to have lost 68 pounds, vows to keep it up, and still supports the Red Team.
In his funeral video, Ken says he knows now that he has to push the envelope, and no longer use excuses to avoid doing what he knows is right. In more current video, we learn that Ken has lost another 70 pounds. Yes, that’s a total of 138 pounds in all! That means he’s almost pushing the 40% barrier. Additionally, Ken’s wife has lost 50 pounds herself and the whole family is more active together. Good for you, Ken!
The early-season poll results are in! Without further ado, here is a summary of your fellow reader’s opinions.
The first question asks if you were enjoying the season so far. 75% say they are enjoying the season and another 20% are undecided, with only 5% replying in the negative. That’s pretty good, so let’s move along.
My second inquiry was about the twist (the “ghosts.”) To my surprise, over 80% of you like it. Maybe I can’t get the distasteful memories of Survivor: Pearl Islands out of my mind, because I think it’s going to generate some serious bad feelings, but I’m willing to wait and see.
The next question was about new trainer Kim. A little over half like her about the same as Jillian, and 12% like her more. That leaves about 37% who preferred Jillian. Myself, I like certain aspects of both and can’t really decide if I have a preference yet.
When I asked who you would like to see win, I forgot to include Marty’s name. Doh! Perhaps that’s why over 15% of you skipped this question, for I know he is a popular contestant. Other Marty fans may have defaulted to their second choice, so the numbers for this question are a little suspect. I’ll just say that Brian led the way with a little over one-third of the vote, ahead of Bobby and then Wylie. The rest got very few votes, actually.
The next question asks the criteria you used to make your decision in the last question. More than one answer was allowed. Over half of you chose the “They seem like a nice person” option, while “Trying hardest to improve,” “Playing hardest,” and “Have the size to sustain future losses” are concepts that all received decent support. Five of you took the opportunity to chastise me for forgetting Marty’s name in the previous question!
The final question asks about possible show improvements, and again multiple results are allowed. I did not expect that over three-quarters of you would respond “More follow-ups on previous contestants!” Over half of you supported the idea of separate titles by gender, and about 30% like the idea of applying a factor to increase the ladies weight losses. Also, a quarter of respondents hope to see the prize money increased.
Some of your own suggestions were interesting, including not letting the trainers pick contestants and to have more older women in the process. A few commented that they’d like to see more focus on the process of weight loss, and less focus on the competitions and the overly dramatic weigh-ins. One respondent went further with a suggestion I like – to stop the fake scale from displaying all those equally-fake numbers, and just give us the result. I see it as annoying and artificial, and it takes up time that could be better spent.
In the general comments section at the end, several of you commented that you “can’t stand” the women of the Red Team, who are coming across as “unlikable and mean.” Take heart, they are three of the four the lowest-percentage losers to date and will be in real trouble when the teams are disbanded in a couple of weeks.
Well, that’s it. I want to offer my thanks to those who took the time to respond. I expect there will be another poll near the end of the season!
Join me here next week for a recap of all the action, sprinkled as usual with my own reactions and opinions. And don’t be shy about dropping me a line at the eAddress below!
Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at Uncle_bto@rogers.com. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email.