The Biggest Loser 4, December 4: “Would You Like Salt-Free Diet Pepperoni On That?”by Brian Towers -- 12/05/2007
Last week, we finally saw the end of the Red Team, as Bryan was eliminated. Or did he just depart to avoid hearing any more of Neil’s sanctimonious elimination speeches? Along the way, Bill won yet another prize and Nicole tested the show’s dental resources.
As the show opens, voiceover guy tells us we’ll be revisiting “the top ten Biggest Loser transformations of all time.” Oh, joy! Did they run short of more relevant filler? What that means is that after most every commercial break, we’ll be reminded of a previous contestant who lost a lot of weight. Video lasting less than ten seconds and generally not riveting (and not always new) accompanies each. So to avoid disrupting the silken flow of this recap, I’m just going to summarize them all at the end.
The six surviving competitors chat after the elimination. Julie says that the people she thought would make it this far are not here. A cameo from Julie expresses mild surprise that the Red Team is gone. She thinks it is “poetic justice,” since her team members were bypassed when the Red Team was selected. Neil thinks it’s weird that Kim and red shirts will not be around any more.
The next morning, Jillian has arrived really early – 6 AM. She wakes her trainees up by jumping on the bed and screaming, “Guess what? We’re going to work today!” Bob is also on hand early, and although he’s a lot more subtle (getting into the bed and cuddling behind Nicole), his arrival is no more welcome than Jillian’s.
The scoop is, they have to start thinking about adjusting to life when they get back into the real world. So today they are going out to work, to learn what it’s like to add the activities of their new lifestyle into their daily schedules. That includes a pre-work workout and making their lunch. Neil responds that he wants to call in sick.
No one is told quite what “work” entails. All will be revealed shortly.
Kim arrives, accompanied by sad music that she may or may not be hearing inside her head. Despite her best hopes, “B” is gone and all that remains is a video message. In it, he thanks her again for helping him regain his health. This leads to a lengthy series of Red Team flashbacks and Kim saying that she feels, “The Red Team deserves to be at the final.” They’ll be there… just in the audience! Red is dead, deal with it!
At 6:30, Bob is advising the team how to make a bag lunch. No, seriously – after months on the ranch, Bob is showing them how to make a lunch. Nicole looks semi-alert and responsive, but Neil is glazed and could hit the deck at any second. Some of Bob’s advice includes using portion-controlling bags, and to plan and make the week’s lunches on Sunday, then freeze them to use as needed. Those ideas make sense to me. Having the food ready to go eliminates hasty or time-constrained decisions.
It’s 6:45 and the setting is now the gym. Jillian’s advice is that when time is tight, the intensity of training has to be upped to get results. She’s asking questions to see if any of this is sinking in, and only Bill is responding. In a cameo, Julie seems to have recently figured out that life at home will be a rude awakening, what with a family to take care of. I’m guessing she’s got that one right. In a closing shot that scans the room, it does seem like Jillian has all her charges gainfully plugging away. At 7:15, the half-hour workout concludes and Jillian is satisfied how things are going.
Meanwhile, Bob has his duo out for a run. Bob tells us that his solution for a short workout involves a lot of cardio. Nicole also seems to just be realizing that life at home will be different. Shocking!
At 7:45, the Black Team has taken over the kitchen to prepare their food. Jillian reminds them to take something to snack on as well as a meal. For example, Bill takes almonds for his snack.
As they go to work, Bill jokes that he hopes it’s a desk job. Isabeau is hoping for an office job too, and doesn’t want to be in daycare. I’m guessing that due to the legal liabilities, they are probably safe from that one. She also hopes the job does not involve food. Of course, that’s exactly what it is! As we go to commercial, we see our contestants reluctantly entering the doors of the Stone Fire Pizza Company promptly at 9 AM.
Neil insists this is torture, because at home he ate pizza all the time. But by 10:30 he gets put to work, and for the first time since the show began, the others see Neil washing dishes. Julie is right alongside him, and no happier to be there. A popup tells us that washing dishes for an hour can burn a little over 156 calories. Julie tells us people shouldn’t eat so much pizza… because it makes for too much work for the dishwasher!
Tasks get worse as Isabeau and Hollie celebrate the noon hour by taking on washroom duties. Thankfully, no popup tells me the number of calories to be burned off by scrubbing out the crapper, but we do learn an hour of a more generic “heavy cleaning” can burn up to 250 calories. I’m guessing toilets fall into that category. Perhaps forgetting that they are on a TV show, Isabeau mutters, “If my friends could see me now…”
By 2:30, Julie and Neil are still doing dishes as Bill is chopping up food for toppings and sweeping up, while Nicole actually gets to dress some pizzas. Sweet!
I’m not clear if the dishes are finally done or they just bribed the boss for a reprieve, but Neil and Julie are now working as server/buspersons. At 5 PM, all six finally get a chance to sit down together and eat their pre-made meals.
Julie thinks she is too beat to work out when they get back. She then has the sudden realization that this is the life all the eliminated contestants are now facing. As they view it at home I’m sure that scene creates much enjoyment for her former competitors.
At 6:30 PM, the contestants drag themselves back up the Campus walkway. Expecting some couch time, they are instead greeted by their discouragingly cheerful trainers. Nicole knows that working out even on the bad days is what will separate them from the lives they used to lead. Resigned to what’s ahead, she tells us, “You have to not make the excuse. Just do it.”
The trainers tell their teams that the next challenge will involve boxing, and both pre-challenge workouts are oriented in that way, especially power punching. Neil is aware he has yet to win a challenge and is afraid he will become the only one (I assume he means the only finalist) to never win a challenge. When it’s done, Bob says, “Good job. Try and win one now.” Alas, neither Blue Team member can get up off the ground, which I suspect is not ideal for the upcoming challenge!
In the other camp, Bill is extremely restricted by knee pain. That can’t bode well either.
One thing’s for sure – perhaps Nicole isn’t the fiercest beast on record, but all of them have learned to kick and punch with authority.
More than half an hour into the episode, series host Alison Sweeney is finally here. However, she looks so delicious that I completely forgive her! Alison explains the challenge ahead. The players must punch speed bags for three minutes, with the objective of recording the most hits. The catch is that the bags are overhead, and the players must bounce on trampolines to reach them. The player with the fewest hits in each three-minute round is eliminated.
Hollie is concerned her bad ankle will hold her back. I’m concerned that this challenge seems to favor someone who is tall, is light, has leg strength, or some combination of the above.
Alison has one last detail to reveal – the bags are raised higher at the start of every round. The prize is a one-pound pass at the upcoming weigh-in, meaning the winner can deduct one pound from their weight. It doesn’t sound like much, but last week, that was Neil’s margin to avoid the elimination process.
Allison also tells us that the trampolines will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. What, at least six people wished for a used trampoline that has been stretched out of shape by someone heavy and sweaty? Man, it takes all kinds!
The challenge begins with the bags three or four feet overhead. The players don’t actually “punch” hard at the bags, they just reach up and swat the bottom of them. Therefore, most of that pre-challenge training was for naught. There’s a non-trivial degree of cardio ability required to succeed at this challenge, but by now I don’t think anyone is going to be found wanting in that area. Far more important are balance and the ability to keep bouncing in the same spot while looking up at the target.
As Alison rings a boxing bell to signify the end of round one, we learn Julie wins with an amazing 167 hits. Isabeau (141) and Hollie (132) are next. Only four apart are Nicole, Bill, and Neil… and it’s Nicole who’s out, with only (!) 115 hits. That seems like a pretty decent total to Nicole, and I have to agree.
The speed bags are raised about two feet for round two, Isabeau leads Hollie and Julie, with 161, 148, and 133 hits, respectively. Neil falls near the end, costing valuable time, and loses to Bill by a single hit!
In round three, the bags are so high that the players can’t hit the bag on every bounce. Hollie wins with 116 hits, and the other two ladies are in a virtual tie, 72-73. Bill just can’t get the necessary power in his jump due to his sore knee, and he’s done with just 25 hits. Julie heaves a major a sigh of relief that challenge-dominating Bill is eliminated from this event.
Round four is the final round. It features just the three ladies from the Black Team, each of whom have won an earlier round. The bags are now at least the height of Julie above them. As it ends, Alison has great fun ringing the bell about twenty times. Hollie’s height advantage and balance turn out to be decisive, and with 71 hits, she wins the one-pound pass. We see that Julie scored 44 times, but Isabeau had some troubles and only managed 27 hits.
A little later in the day, the trainers come into the dorms to find out what happened. Jillian is pleased for Hollie, but she is also worried about the injuries to Bill and Hollie. Bob is a bit discouraged to hear his two charges were the first two eliminated, and ribs Neil about not winning any challenges to date. Gosh, Bob, maybe not leaving them sucking wind an instant shortly beforehand might improve their chances of success?
In a cameo, Jillian pats herself and her team on the back, saying, “We destroyed the Red Team. There’s two members of the Blue Team left… two weeks left… you do the math!” and laughs. There’s a real fate-tempter, I must say.
Meanwhile, Neil and Nicole are firing a medicine ball back and forth, hard. Sure enough, one gets through her hands and whacks her on the mouth. Damage is minimal, and trooper that she is, she carries on without fuss.
One thing I don’t understand about these “last-chance workouts.” Why is there so much weight training? Shouldn’t they be focusing on cardio and sweating off poundage, instead of building muscle mass? I understand the critical need to build muscle in an exercise program, but I’d be reserving that for the rest of the week.
As the contestants arrive at the weigh-in, as usual we hear them express their thoughts as voiceovers. Everyone is focused on the finals and scared they might not get there.
Alison reprises her usual speech about the two falling below the yellow line being at risk of elimination, and reminds us of Hollie’s one-pound pass.
Below, contestants are listed in the order they were weighed in. In Hollie’s numbers I have excluded the one-pound pass in her “Loss” column, since it isn’t actual weight lost. However, it IS included in her percentage.
Alison tells Bill that he beat Erik’s record from last season, when he lost 124 pounds while still on the ranch. Impressive!
After Nicole is weighed, everyone is shocked. Alison tells her that she and Julie have fallen below the yellow line and face elimination. Well, Nicole does… Julie ought to be safe.
When trainer Bob hears that Nicole only lost one pound, to her face he acts amazed. However, in a cameo, he tells us that after so many weeks of consistent loss, her body demanded a pause. Yeah, I don’t think that exact turn of phrase is in the medical texts either, but it sort of makes sense to me. Neil is actually so bummed out over not understanding why Nicole only lost one pound that he’s not enjoying his own accomplishment of a double-digit loss.
Similarly wondering why she didn’t do better, Jillian tells Julie that like Nicole, sometimes that just happens. Julie tells us she hopes the vote goes her way, but still has trust issues with her teammates. It’s an indication of her lack of self-esteem, but really, we know she’s not going home because she’s not a realistic threat to win.
Bob has Nicole try on the clothes she wore on day one. They are literally falling off her. Next, she tries on her going home clothes. In a cameo, Bob claims he’s worked Nicole harder than any previous contestant on any previous show. They end the segment with an appreciative hug.
Clips of the experiences of both potential evictees are run, three minutes worth. Nothing new here, so… next!
It’s now time to vote. Predictably, voting is dictated by shirt color. Officially, Neil votes for Julie, then Hollie and Isabeau vote for Nicole. Since Nicole would lose in a tiebreaker, it’s decided that Bill’s predictable vote shall not be shown. It would have been a classy touch to have all four members of the Black Team get together and agree to throw one vote against Julie, knowing that it wouldn’t affect results anyway.
The only suspense is how Neil would cloud his comments, since he can’t claim Julie is either a threat to win or especially motivational as a competitor. Preacher Neil wants us to believe he doubts his vote matters because the Black Team has control of the game. He says he wants to send the message that as long as he’s here, the Blue Team will remain strong. Oh, please!
Nicole tells us this experience was “the best time of my life.” Everyone has big hugs and kisses for her before she walks off. In the traditional funeral video, Nicole says she is sad to have just missed the finals and misses Bob and Neil, who were a big part of her success. We see her arrive home and be greeted by her parents and other family and friends. Her father John is so supportive, it’s cute.
In more current video, we learn Nicole now weighs 188 pounds, a total drop of 91 pounds. She feels good and now enjoys an active social life. She currently wears a smaller dress size than when she was thirteen!
The Ten: As promised, here’s their list of “the top ten Biggest Loser transformations of all time.” I have no idea what the criteria were, as there are several contestants who had larger losses and/or percentages. For example, a list of the omitted might include last season’s Jaron and Ken, who lost 160 and 161 pounds, respectively. And although she was included, in season two, Shannon lost more weight and had a higher percentage loss than either Suzy or Dre… so, why did she place lower than the other two, in ninth place on this list?
So, criteria for the list are a little gray, reducing this feature to fluff. It’s official – they have run out of filler for these two-hour episodes!
Since the list was presented in descending order, that’s the way I am reproducing it in the table. For what it’s worth… enjoy!
My Opinion: They voted right this week, as Nicole had the potential to win and Julie does not.
Network News: Are you worried about getting inspired to follow up on all those New Year’s resolutions? No fear. NBC has announced that the next season of this show will begin very soon – on New Year’s Day! Two-person teams will be featured. I expect to be writing a preview article when more information is available.
Also, in related news, The Biggest Loser has combined with iVillage to create a pair of information sources related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle through the holidays. At NBC’s site is a section called “The More You ‘No’” (a take on their slogan, “The More You Know”) with tips from show nutritionist Cheryl Forberg and Black Team trainer Jillian.
Over on iVillage, there are recipes excerpted from The Biggest Loser Cookbook, and several competitors are writing a blog about their experiences this season. Click here for the recipes and here for the blog.
Next Time: The final challenge involves recalling events from earlier in the season. Great, this show does like to recycle! Then the stage is set for the finale with the last elimination of the season.
Join me here next week for a recap of all the action (maybe even the recycled stuff – no promises!), sprinkled with my own reactions and opinions. And let me know what you think about it all at the eAddress below!
More at home with popcorn than push-ups, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!
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