If you thought obesity wasn't a problem anymore, that Season 9 of The Biggest Loser
cured America of its food addiction, you thought wrong! No one thought that, but Bob and Jillian would like to drive it home nonetheless. One of the fun facts I learned from tonight's intro is that two out of three Americans are fat. Interestingly enough, "two out of three" seems to be the golden ratio in this episode. Tonight The Biggest Loser
travels to seven different cities, and two out of three people will get in a limo headed "directly" to the Biggest Loser Campus.
I'm all about having a challenge right away and starting things today, right now, but an immediate elimination challenge is a little devastating. It mostly means that the people who need the show the most won't make it through. At a certain point, physically, it's no longer about "who wants it the most" but about what your body can handle. But what's done is done, and it starts in Detroit.
Detroit: A Very Good Place to Start
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After Bob leads a group of orange-clad people in a group workout, we meet Detroit's three contenders. First is Jesse, a recluse who we see eating a whole pizza alone on his couch. Nothing motivates me to eat healthier than watching the "before" footage of the Biggest Loser contestants eating. Sophia, our second contender, wants to wear a white dress without looking like a big marshmallow. Also, her brother died in a tragic car accident. This is really just the beginning of some of the most heartbreaking stories ever on The Biggest Loser. Our third contender, Aaron, had an alcoholic father and is addicted to food. Aaron weighs in at 468 pounds and promises "the next time you see me, I'll have a six-pack." They don't know that one of them won't even make it to the ranch. Devastating.
Ali announces the instant challenge: the first two people to complete 500 step-ups will secure a spot on the ranch. Somewhere between 100 and 200 steps, every one of them wants to quit. Sophia finds motivation through her brother and is the first to complete 500 steps, followed by Jesse. Aaron obviously needs it twice as much as either of them but he is eliminated. Fortunately, Aaron finishes the challenge for his son and for himself. This was also possibly the most amped up we have ever seen Alison Sweeney. Bob has a sit-down with Aaron and I was convinced that he would put Aaron in a different, secret limo where Aaron would have a second chance at a spot on the ranch, but Aaron just agrees to continue his journey on his own.
Weigh in L.A.
In windy LA, Ali and Jillian arrive to motivate a sea of people in blue shirts. Jillian mentions that this season is about "paying it forward," which I still don't understand. Doesn't sending someone home immediately counteract that forward motion? The first LA contestant, Adam, found his mother's unconscious body on the floor of their home. She died of a heart attack. Adam weighs in at 402 lbs, and I wonder if they weigh themselves before the public weigh in or if they gave up on scales long ago. Ada, our second contender, had two younger brothers die and got into a car accident with the third, to which her father responded with "what are you trying to do, kill another one?" Oh God! Third to the scale is Montina, who has been a background vocalist for Beyonce for the last seven years but is tired of being in the background. It's no death in the family, but it will do.
Ada finishes first and earns her spot on the blue team. Adam makes a common mistake, starting off as quickly as possible, but reaches 500 second, drawing inspiration from his late mother. Martina, with the support of her family, finishes the step-ups. She couldn't be on the blue team anyway, unless her name was Adamartina.
What Are We Doing in Portland?
In America's healthiest and/or fittest city, Mike Morelli (one of my favorite contestants and representatives of Jennie O) joins forces with Bob to discover which two people will be on the purple team. Mike does a great job hosting, by the way.
The three contenders are Corey, Burgandy, and Tina and I would like to point out that none of them are actually from Portland. Burgandy, of Eagle Mountain, Utah, has put her children (one of whom has autism) first and forgotten about herself. Corey puts deodorant under his man boobs (or whatever the polite way to say that is) and doesn't feel sexy. Tina used to be a real bombshell, but her second husband cheated on her and she began an unhealthy relationship with food.
In Portland, the contestants will have a one mile race and the third to finish has to "continue their journey at home." Bob tells us, "it's not like it's a 5k or a half-marathon or a marathon. It's one mile. I mean, we should all be able to run a mile, right?" Did anyone else have to think about whether or not they could run a mile? I hate running, anyone who says it doesn't feel horrible is lying. I'll have to get back to you on whether or not I can run a mile. Anyway, Burgandy is first to finish. Tina passes Corey, who falls down after pushing himself too hard. It was painful watching Corey fall for everyone except Team Tina, who was like "yay!" Tough beans for Corey, Tina wins the second spot. I like Corey and wish he could stay on the show, but I also like Burgandy and Tina is one of my early favorites.
Atlanta Brings More Tragedy
Ali is back as host in Atlanta, where she and Jillian will meet the green team hopefuls. We are introduced to Patrick, Anna, and Rick. Jillian notes how everyone who wants a change looks for that "catalyzing event," and I can't help but agree. For me, and a lot of other people, it's the start of a new season of Biggest Loser! So good luck to everyone who is telling themselves that after this they will get on a treadmill somewhere and see if they can run a mile.
Anna's young son died at an extremely early age from cancer. Rick weighs in at 350 lbs, and he is a physical therapist. Patrick, shown eating a giant cupcake in the infamous "before" footage, wants to live to see his children grow up. Patrick weighs 400 lbs and Ali actually looks sad for him. Ali announces the challenge and Rick, representing for people who hate running, admits that he hasn't run a mile in 25 years. Running next to her, Jillian tries different tactics to motivate Anna but nothing works. Anna almost gives up but eventually crosses the finish line third (after Rick and Patrick), after what might have been hours.
Rising From the Ashes in Phoenix
In Phoenix, the three hopefuls are Jessica, Mark, and Shanna. This might be my favorite group yet. Jessica is a wedding planner whose mother abused her and told her she was unloveable. "Nervous, Jewish" Mark used to play football but started gaining weight in college and never stopped. Shanna was able to beat breast cancer and is ready to tackle obesity. She tells the crowd that breast cancer was not her choice, but now it's her choice to get to a healthy weight (go Shanna!).
Ali announces the mile run and everyone starts out pumped. Jessica finishes first, followed by Mark (always with those darn former football players!). For me, it was most upsetting to see Shanna go and I'm almost mad at NBC for introducing us to her just to take her away. She got a free pep talk from Bob before he sent Shanna on her way. Then we got a free pep talk from Bob, who tells us to plant a vegetable garden in our backyard and drink plenty of water. I don't have a yard, Bob!
Oklahoma City Unleashes the Newest Pink Team
Previous winner Danny gets to play host in Oklahoma as he and Bob test three hopefuls for the pink team. The pink team has a history of winners, and one of the hopefuls is named Allie. Allie had Vertical Gastric Band surgery when she was young and it fixed her stomach but not her mental hang-ups about food. Next to weigh in is Lisa, who had to take her daughter to the hospital for complications due to anorexia; Lisa blames herself because her daughter "doesn't want to be fat like her mom." Ahh! Sandy is third, and she's doing it for her brother who tried out for the show but died in his sleep.
The three ladies compete in the step-up challenge. Allie is the first to finish, followed by Lisa. Sandy will work out in her brother's honor at home.
Boston Saves the Best and Biggest for Last
Mark (from Season 6) and Jillian team up to find the final two contestants in Boston. Mark is not a good host. The first contestant to weigh in is Brendan, whose Boston accent and back hair we will need to get over. Brendan is a wellness teacher and broke off his engagement because he didn't love himself. Next is Elizabeth, a medical assistant who divorced out of an abusive marriage that caused her to gain 90 pounds. The third hopeful has the unfortunate name of Alfredo (but he will just go by Frado). Frado wins the award for "least flattering eating shot" and lost control of his eating as a commodities trader.
In the middle of the step-up challenge, Brendan shows the camera his inspirational tattoo and I'm really glad it's not a tattoo of the Biggest Loser logo, especially because his spot isn't secure yet. Elizabeth feels a pain in her chest and, despite help from Jillian, tenses up beyond recovery before 400 steps. Elizabeth wins the award for "scariest episode 1 physical failure." Corey almost had that on lock, too. Elizabeth is unable to finish, and Frado and Brendan will move forward as the black team.
Next week the yellow line moves up. WAY up (half of them will be below the yellow line!). Also, we haven't seen the last of our seven hopefuls--at least two of them are returning as the yellow team (was that Aaron we spied?). Also, Jillian threatens to ruin Sophia's life, the contestants train like Marines, and someone falls off a treadmill. Season 10 is looking really, really tasty; I'll have to control my cravings for it with Extra Sugar-Free Gum.
Who are your early favorites? Is anyone starting their own Biggest Loser challenge at home?
(image courtesy of NBC)