Expert Opinion: Why The Biggest Loser Is the Worst



Notorious celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels found herself in hot water last week for giving her team on The Biggest Loser caffeine pills without a doctor’s permission. While some pegged it as cheating, to me it’s not that big of a deal. Caffeine is a well-researched and reasonably harmless supplement that actually can enhance the effects of exercise.

What’s strange to me that this incident would cause such alarm, when other practices of the show are much more problematic. Allow me to explain.

As a personal trainer, my relationship with The Biggest Loser is of the love-hate variety. The popular weight-loss competition show puts contestants through hours of grueling workouts every day to ostensibly “cure” their obesity. To me, this approach is like watering an herb garden with a fire hose: Even if it gets the job done, is it worth the damage?

There are important lessons to be learned from Loser’s mistakes. Here are the top three ways the show misses the mark on weight loss.

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I’m Missing the Mom Gene

No baby? No problem (photo by Think Stock)

I’m at that age when many of my friends are either talking about having kids or they already have a couple of wee ones in their designer strollers. Before reaching my mid-thirties, I even knew a few folks who started early (one friend my age has a daughter in college!).

By most accounts they all seem to be happy parents who like to share their photos of the kids on Facebook almost as much as I post about my dog or the new restaurant that opened down the street. But as my own biological clock ticks and tocks, I’ve come to a conclusion that doesn’t always make the rest of the world quite so happy: I just don’t want to become a parent.

As more women opt to work outside the home (or in my case, in the home doing outside work – confusing, I know), this shouldn’t be such a surprising statement. Plenty of people wait longer to have kids if they ever decide to have them at all.

For a long time, being surrounded by gay people usually guaranteed that this conversation never came up. Picture it: a table at happy hour outside of Knock. The drinks are flowing and no one – no one – mentions anything that might not require at least a PG-13 rating.

But things are changing. And they’re changing fast.

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Cheney’s Daughter Gets Gay Married

Photo by Think Stock

Over the weekend, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary Cheney wed her longtime girlfriend Heather Poe in a ceremony in Washington D.C. You see, it’s legal in D.C. for same-sex couples to tie the knot. But D.C. joins a mere six states in the country that legally recognize gay marriage overall. If this was a baseball game, a ratio of 7 to 50 wouldn’t exactly win victory.

And while it’s been reported that the Cheney family was delighted that their daughter married and for “the opportunity to have the relationship recognized,” it’s somewhat backwards that the party that Cheney himself belongs to would prefer to outlaw gay marriage than legalize it across all 50 states – including Pennsylvania where the state of LGBT rights is abysmal. In fact, in the 2004 election, George W. Bush’s administration backed more than a few state-by-state initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in America.

We guess in this case, family trumps politics for the Cheneys. But it cannot be ignored that while Dick’s daughter is able to take full advantage of the marriage rights afforded to her in the nation’s capital (despite her own work on Dad’s campaign and with the Republican National Committee throughout both of George W.’s two terms – he was adamantly against LGBT rights) there’s something disconcerting about, well, the hypocrisy.

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Republican’s Gay Son Outed

Recently, the son of a Colorado lawmaker was outed by an unlikely source: his mother’s campaign manager. According to the Denver Post, the campaign manager for Rep. Marsha Looper applauded her boss for voting against a civil unions bill that would have given more rights to same-sex couples in the state.

“God is truly to be praised for Marsha Looper because she also has a homosexual son,” emailed the campaign manager Lana Fore-Warkocz.

Looper wasn’t pleased with the admission, however, and issued a statement to the Post: “My family members’ personal lives are not a legitimate avenue for my campaign.”

Fair enough. Or is it?

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A Message for Miss Pennsylvania

Dear Sheena Monin,

I think we can agree that Donald Trump hasn’t exactly been supportive of gay rights over the years. He’s said more than once that he opposes same-sex marriage. And he’s faced criticism over the way he implements policies in his business ventures time and time again. And his reactions to powerful women who criticize him? Not nice. At all. Two words: Rosie O’Donnell.

Despite the laundry list of reasons we can think of to loathe this guy, that he would allow transgender contestants to compete in the Miss Universe pageant is a big step, one that’s been a long time coming. We don’t always get behind the Donald, but this time, we applaud him for making the right decision and to allow someone who is a woman to compete in a pageant for women.

But that you, Miss Monin, might throw in your crown because the contest allows women who may not have been biologically born that way – but who are every bit of woman – is a disappointment to LGBT people everywhere, especially in our own state that you represent.

Admittedly, we don’t spend a lot of time worrying about which beauty queen wins or loses (one could argue the whole experience adds up to more of a draw), but we do pay attention when someone representing our home turf may think that a transgender woman like Jenna Talackova should not be afforded the same opportunities as you – opportunities, we admit, that include strutting around in a bathing suit. Who are we to judge you for wanting to be in a beauty pageant? Sure, we’d like to see more young women paying attention to what’s inside their heads than what sits atop them, but if you manage to find a platform – however antiquated – at least use it wisely.

Let’s be clear, there are plenty of important news headlines to worry about this week – like the 14-year-old boy who accuses President Obama of turning his friends gay, the recent court loss over DOMA and even the local discussion we’ve been having about what works and doesn’t at Philly Pride. We can’t reasonably spend a lot of time on who’s on top or not … in a beauty pageant. But we would ask that you reconsider how you treat your fellow contestants and our transgender friends every step on the cat walk.

In this day and age, we also realize that causing a controversial stink (like saying a pageant’s rigged) usually guarantees you 15 minutes of fame. Congratulations on grabbing some, but it’s up to you how you’ll use it.

Our suggestion? Do something decent. Turn down whatever offer you get for the centerfold. Avoid the reality TV pitfalls. And say something nice to and about Jenna Talackova.

Believe us when we say that history doesn’t always treat homophobes and transphobes well in the long run. And even though one’s looks may fade, your legacy is all yours. It’s up to you how you’d like to be remembered – before that 15 minutes is up. Tick tock.


G Philly

Philly Pride, It’s Time for a Reboot

The ad in question (courtesy of Philly Pride)

This year marks my 30th year being professionally involved with our local LGBT community, starting as co-founder and general manager of Au Courant newsmagazine back in 1982 – and I continue to be excited that Philly has several Pride celebrations each year.

Pridefest Philadelphia began in 1993 – in fact, I worked alongside the inaugural board of directors to help them take their first steps and I’m incredibly proud of the work we did during those early years. Pridefest Philadelphia morphed and developed into what we now know as Equality Forum, a week-long celebration every early spring throughout the city. Say what you will, but Equality Forum has helped put Philly on the map.

That said, I think it’s telling that there are even more gay-centric events – designed to be a bit more homegrown and homespun; focusing efforts on celebrating Philly Pride in June with the Pride Parade and festival on Penn’s Landing, and OutFest, a block party every October.

But here’s where I climb onto my soapbox.

Philly Pride does good work. It’s not easy planning an event of this size and magnitude. But as we get ready to celebrate on Sunday (June 10), why, oh why, must we (in a city home to a sea of exceptionally talented graphic designers and marketing companies) still tolerate poster designs and campaigns that are basically laundry-lists?

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In the Bedroom

Photo by Think Stock

We, as a culture, live in this dichotomy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “out with the old and in with the new.”

I struggle between the two daily.

I am a successful thirty-something lesbian living in Philadelphia who’s knee deep in a six-year relationship. In the beginning, like most relationships, things were passionate, heated and filled with moments of bliss. The mere sound of a text notification from my girlfriend on my phone would send chills down my spine with anticipation of what she wrote. Our sex was (is?) unbelievable. We would be in bed for hours discovering and rediscovering our bodies. We also share laughs, long dinners and talk about the possibility of a long-term commitment.

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Jane Lynch is the New Rachel Maddow

We can’t think of anything we love more than MSNBC darling Rachel Maddow, except maybe Jane Lynch filling in for her during the “Best New Thing in the World” segment. The Glee star made a guest appearance on Maddow’s eponymous show last night, discussing gay marriage, politics and Republicans. Her deadpanning suits political punditry. We hope to see more of her on the show.

“I’m a political junky,” admitted Lynch.

Check it out:

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What Do Gap Ads Really Say About Gay Love?

Gap has a new ad campaign. It’s for t-shirts, and (like most ad campaigns) it’s telling you what to be. Be you, be true, be cool, be somebody with a little cash to spend and the basic human need to accrue stuff, thereby affirming your own existence. I’m sure Gap has placed these posters and billboards at hundreds of thousands of strategic points across our great nation, and that they all feature a wide variety of luminous, fresh-faced folks of various racial backgrounds (if not waist measurements) selling the same shirts in the same ways. But I’ve only seen two, and the two I saw today in the Walnut/Locust SEPTA station seemed to me, in many ways, unique.

The ads are side by side, and both have the same caption: “Be one.” The photo on the right is of a handsome white man nuzzling the face of a beautiful Asian-looking woman, their heads snuggled together inside the neck of a single t-shirt; the picture on the left is of two equally beautiful white men similarly sharing one t-shirt, their cheeks pressed tight together, their lips parted slightly.

I spent about 20 minutes—the rest of the train ride and the whole walk home—trying to figure out when the last time was that I’d seen a mainstream advertisement so prominently feature a homosexual relationship. I came up with nothing. Yet it’s there, it’s all over Walnut/Locust, you can see for yourself: Gap has put two beautiful fellows in a shirt together on a poster in our city, in front of Ben Franklin and everybody, and declared them one. And I am, overall elated. I am also a bit depressed.

Read the rest of the story on The Philly Post.

Straight People: Stand Up for LGBT Friends

Courtesy of Chelsea Lately

I read a quote in the Los Angeles Times right after President Obama’s marriage equality statement that made my blood boil. One of the big right-wing groups said the president’s stance will lead to “fatherless and motherless homes.”

OK – I admit the boiling-point of my blood may be well below the national average – but who are they kidding?

I’ve never been more proud of my LGBT friends and the beautiful families they’re raising – and I think it’s time we all do what we can to get them equal rights already.

The president’s announcement has inspired and energized a lot of people, and with marriage campaigns heating up in states across the country, I asked my friends at HRC if I could set up a matching gift challenge. If you donate, I’ll donate. Together we’ll make history.

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