'The Biggest Loser': No game playing here, saying goodbye and turning back the clock
You just know what Melissa was saying: What are these people thinking? They aren't playing the game! What are they? Idiots?
Koli had the means and the motive to ax his biggest competition. After all, financial goddess Suzi Orman had been prepared to predict that Koli would win this season based in part on his financial history, but when she learned that he was not counting his calories as Jillian and Bob demanded, she changed her prediction: This season would go to Sunshine.
Fast-forward to this week's weigh-in, when Sunshine and Victoria fell below the yellow line at weigh-in that grows only more brutal as the finale nears. Going into the elimination room, Koli, who won the right to case the only vote, would have had every reason to send Sunshine packing -- she is, by at least one measure (Suze's), his biggest competition. Sunshine is tough, and she can still lose weight. Victoria -- love her to death -- but she is just not as mentally tough. The smart move would have been to keep Victoria around for another week or so as cover as Koli tries to get to the final four with his cousin, Sam. But this season has largely been without such cutthroat antics, especially since Melissa got booted. This is a group that has come to care about each other, and while there have been some exceptions -- notably Koli masterminding the removal of Stephanie, who had fallen in love with Sam while on the ranch -- this season has been all about staying on task: losing weight and changing their lives.
Personally, I am grateful for a less charged season. We've gained so much more insight into the lives of the contestants and Bob and Jillian's methods and approaches when the cameras don't have to capture all the backbiting.
So Koli sent Vicky packing, along with a finger-wagging lecture about how she needs to work harder. Was that fair? Or too harsh? Either way, it seems to have lit a fire in her belly: As she said, she wants to prove Koli wrong. It was great to see Vicky reunited with her mother, Cherita, who has lost 77 pounds on her own, despite having never spent a single night at the ranch. The pair revisited their fateful first challenge -- riding a marathon distance on stationary bikes. Cherita couldn't do it the last time, which is why the blue team initially was sent home. This time, they did it in style and were halfway through the 26.2-mile distance before they even began to break a sweat. Can't wait to see you both at the finale!
Another highlight from last night's episode: seeing how far some of the players have come. Based on the "Know Your Number" test that players took going into this season, Michael had a more than 80% chance of developing a castrophic illness, such as heart disease, and was more like a 50-something instead of a 30-something. No more, Dr. H told him: Michael has "gained" 12 years back and is well on his way to largely eliminating that risk.
I took the test myself going into this season using the Know Your Number Test Kit that is now available to the public. The packet included a simple questionnaire to fill out regarding my family's health history, and everything I needed to supply a blood sample using a little prick to the finger. I supplied a blood pressure reading, too. (Most supermarkets or drugstores have a machine that can give you a quick reading, or you can call your doctor for your last reading.) The hardest part was using the enclosed measuring tape.
Who wants to see that in black-and-white?!!
I dropped the whole thing in the mail, and a few days later -- I was shocked at how quickly it was returned -- I got a seven-page report chock-full of details that I didn't want to know but really needed to know. There was good news -- my inner age is actually a year younger than my chronological age. But there were plenty of troubling areas, too. I have a 9% chance of either having a heart attack, stroke or diabetes in the next 10 years. Not too bad, I thought. Then I got to this line: "This may seem like a small number, but let's consider your risk from a different angle ... you have a higher chance of having [these diseases] within the next 10 years than 55% of your peers!"
Luckily, the report spends more time talking about what I can do to change than showing me how I have one foot in the grave from carrying around extra poundage. (It suggests I lose 32 pounds.) I had several people tell me that they would be too afraid to find out such details: "I just wouldn't want to know. That sounds scary." But I will say this: The above notwithstanding, my report was not alarmist. In fact, it was the opposite: It has a very encouraging, empowering tone to it. It defintely got me moving in the right direction. (Although probably not as quickly as Dr. H, or Bob Harper, would like.)
Not long after the report arrived, a friend called me. Her son's school was hosting a fundraiser: A "Biggest Loser"-inspired weight-loss competition, with cash up for grabs for the team that lost the most. I lost about 9 pounds -- not enough to win money, but at least I wasn't in last place. We all had so much "fun" doing it that we have embarked on a second round to get ready for summer.
I doubt that I will enjoy going through the whole measuring tape routine again. But I am definitely looking forward to retaking the Biggest Loser test and seeing how I've turned back that clock just a bit.
Finally, condolences to O'Neal and Sunshine, on the loss of a brother and an uncle. In yet another example of how we've gotten to see more of the contestants grappling with their issues instead of focusing on backbiting, we watched O'Neal and Jillian work it out in the gym as he said goodbye. You could also see how Jillian and Bob were sharing in that pain as well.
-- Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch