Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Biggest Loser Review, 2010/03/24: Home, sweet (cupcakes), home

So Sherry's been voted off, but everybody gets to go home for a week (for the Christmas holidays). Everyone is really excited about this. Ali reminds them that the last time they were home, they stood up in front of their families and friends and promised to make a change. So no pressure. She warns them about succumbing to the temptations and pressures that got them all fat in the first place, and sends them on their way.

Sunshine is briefy bummed because she has to leave her beloved Tempurpedic bed. Thank you, sponsors.

Also, at some point between elimination and arrival, Koli has managed to find a razor and is clean-shaven. It's quite a difference! I'm not sure I like the sans beard look better, but since I'm not in charge of his facial hair decisions, I guess that's my too bad.

Contestants arrive home and families go insane. Seriously, seriously insane. It's wonderful to see the crowds so happy. Patti seems like she just can't believe her eyes when she sees Stephanie. Melissa gets this gleeful "OMG, I get to hit that" glint in her eye at the sight of Lance. Apparently Daris has changed in just a week or two because Cheryl is amazed upon seeing him. Sam's mom puts a lei around his neck as he tears up with happiness. I particularly adore how much love there is in the room with Sunshine/O'Neal and Koli/Sam's families. All the moms in particularly are rapt with happiness. Patti tells of her delight about how glowy Stephanie is. Lance and Sam's moms are similarly overcome, Sam's mom telling us that her baby has grown up while on the ranch. O'Neal's wife Sarah says she's getting flashbacks to the O'Neal hotness she had about twenty years ago, and is happy to be able to fit her arms around him again. Darrell is tearful about how much change he can see in Andrea.

Michael, however, doesn't get screaming throngs. He just walks anticlimactically into his living room and gets a few 'hey's and 'glad to see you's from his family. I know they're all coping with the poor health of Grandma, but come on, you can't work up a few cheers for the guy who's lost almost 130lbs? Michael is glad to be home because he's looking forward to spending time with his grandmother. Things are very bad on that front, though, and she's not really conscious/responding/aware.

Naturally, a week at home doesn't mean just a week at home. (Someone should have sent O'Neal that memo; he thought it would be a relaxing week. Fool! Have you not ever seen the show?) There are Biggest Loser packages waiting for everyone, in the form of giant wooden crates. The contestants approach them with great trepidation and, eventually, crowbars. "Is Jillian in this box?" Ashley asks, to my great amusement. Personally, I would be less freaked out by the crates than the fact that practically the entire background of my house - art, shelves, fridge contents, etc. - is being blurred out post-production. Finally the crates are opened to reveal...styrofoam peanuts! Oh, and stationary bikes. O'Neal is unimpressed. He hates bikes. "Is this a cheeyallange?" asks Andrea on the crate cam. Of course there's more in the crates to tell the full story: boxes containing an instructional DVD...and a whackload of mini-cupcakes (which honestly look a lot like Timbits wrapped in tiny cupcake papers). Everyone takes a whiff and is transported to heaven.

Once the DVD players get going, we see Ali, looking deceptively cheerful and insanely gorgeous. (Seriously, all she's missing is a strategically-placed wind machine.) Turns out that each contestant (except for O'Neal and his cartilege-challenged knee) has to do 26.2 miles on the bike, in front of supportive crowds. $10K is the prize for first place. Everyone goes insane, demonstrating just how bad an economic crisis America is in. (Not that I wouldn't be excited if someone handed me a ten thousand dollar cheque, but from the way people are going on about it, it seems like there's no one among the contestants who doesn't have that much saved up somewhere if they really needed it, and that's baaad.) There is also a temptation component to this challenge: for every cupcake you eat (100 calories per), you can add five minutes to the racing time of a player of your choice.

I suddenly realise that Sam is wearing a SHINY TIE. Yowza.

Lance doesn't want to get involved in the temptation component, but does really want the money. Melissa immediately starts instructing him to give Sam minutes. Gawd, lady, can you knock off the micromanagement complex for five seconds? Ashley accurately notes that eating cupcakes against people is not going to make or break her in this competition. Melissa turns up the whining factor by several notches trying to get Lance to scarf cupcakes. Sam says he and Koli are not here to play games, and they kick the cupcakes all over the gym. (Great sentiment, guys, but I bet the janitorial staff now hates you.) Daris resists the cupcakes too, saying that he's played the game right the whole way so far, and will continue to do so. Stephanie totally looks like she's going to indulge, but tosses away a cupcake at the last moment. Other people, however, dig in to the goodies. Lance eats cupcakes for Sam, as do Mike and Drea. Melissa then orders Lance to down one for Daris, too. Drea adds a cupcake for Sunshine, and so does Lance, who is really going to town here since he has a spinal deficiency when faced with the power of Melissa's stridency. Poor Sunshine, for her part, resists. Lance and Mike then turn their confectionary attentions to Stephanie, Mike with a hilarious little Stephanie-style hairflip as he does so. We don't, of course, see everything that everyone eats or exactly who gets what time penalties, but we do see Lance topping out at SEVENTEEN damn cupcakes and Andrea at nine. Mike seems to still be going at six.

Michael is really aggravated because OMG, it's such a distraction to have a sick grandmother. Yeah, bub, I'm sure she's not too thrilled about being at death's door, either. Maria encourages him to make himself a priority this week, since it's his grandmother's obesity that's killing her now. So he's driven to get better and healthy, despite the guilt.

Workout time! Andrea and Darrell work out together. Darrell reflects that it's tough to work out at home without someone to push you. Drea is indeed discovering how much she deepends on Jillian's hardass qualities. Daris says that it used to be hard to work out because he didn't feel he belonged there, but now he's totally at home. And look out! Here come the Tongan Terror Twins! Koli plugs 24 Hour Fitness and he and Sam whip each other up. DH reflects that without the beard, Koli looks a lot more like Sam. True. Sam, apparently forgetting about the whole cupcake thing and the fact that he is a massive challenge threat, actually has delusions of being able to win the $10K. DH: "You're not." Steph and Patti work out together,and Stephanie finds it fun. Lance and Melissa run around their ranch when they don't have time to hit the gym. They also break out the old gym equipment, which they bought years ago but which has been collecting dust until now. Lance also plugs the Wii Biggest Loser game while spending time with his son. (I checked it out online; it sounds a helluva lot like Wii Fit Plus.) Sunshine hates being one of the bigger people in the gym but tries not to focus on it. She also reflects that the last time she was at the gym she couldn't do what she's doing now, so that part's good. O'Neal goes insane on the ellipticals and reflects that he doesn't care about Bob telling him to take it easy, pain is temporary. Dumbass, screwing up your knee is not temporary! Sometimes pain is there to STOP YOU from doing the permanent damage! O'Neal is a bit tiffed that his kids are telling him what to do. But he heads off to the pool anyway. He vows not to be stopped by injury. Ashley gets the job done because she absolutely doesn't want to be back in the elimination room this week.

Now that we've covered the exercise component of losing weight at home, it's time to cover diet. Sam comes downstairs one morning to find that his mom is cooking biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs. The horror! Right on cue, he points out all the flaws in his mom's cooking choices. He shills the Biggest Loser app for the Blackberry. His mom pretends to be utterly fascinated with this information, and not at all pissed off at having to throw out good food.

Bonus video: Sarah, who's been preparing food for her family for the last 31 years, calls out O'Neal for not cooking his own damn turkey chili. After all, he's supposed to be acquiring all these mad cooking skillz at the ranch. So this is the perfect opportunity for him to pull out what is probably a Biggest Loser cookbook before mangling an innocent onion right on the kitchen counter instead of a cutting board. (Sarah must've been shitting herself through all of that.) Their itsy bitsy poodle, obviously sensing "food rain" in the offing, wanders around O'Neal's feet as he works. And to Sarah's absolute credit, she keeps her mouth shut about O'Neal's cooking incompetencies so that he won't have an excuse to send her back into the kitchen. And the chili comes out great. Hooray.

Ashley goes out to dinner with her family to a fave restaurant. She talks about what her favourite dishes were before going to the ranch, which still look pretty good to her. Not to me, man. We're treated to closeups of some pretty disgusting-looking food, dripping with fat and whatnot. But, Ashley tells us wisely, "It doesn't taste as good as I feel right now." Good on her! She orders healthy alternatives. She also says that no longer is a "family outing" going to have to equal "going to a restaurant". Rather, it's going to be more like "hiking in the mountains". (Begging the question of why they're not in the mountains right NOW, but anyhoo.) Drea and her buddies go bowling, and she wonders how many calories that burns. Of course, there is serious crap food to be had at the alley. Drea makes choosing from the menu look like rocket science. Her friends are stunned upon hearing from her that a caesar salad has 1300 calories in it.

So we've covered diet and it's time to talk about the personal changes that people have experienced while on the ranch. The ultimate example of this is Daris. He goes out jogging in the morning, which is a big step, because he was always embarrassed before to show his body in public. (This is backed up by nasty pictures of Fat Daris with spread legs, a shirt rolled up above his belly, and a beer. Thanks for that.) But NOW, he's going to a karaoke bar holding hands with a woman! Hooray! The woman is his friend Randi, and their friendship seems to have blossomed. She likes that he's a lot more confident with her now. The only problem is that he is limited to ice water instead of the beers his buddies are having. But even with "liquid courage", he gets up and sings...and is pretty good! (Except that his tempo's painfully off toward the end.) Randi is amazed. Daris is proud and is pretty much living the live he's always wanted.

With that, we move on to the challenge, where Daris is still holding hands with Randi! Hee hee! Ashley goes for some poetic irony by doing the challenge at the same shop she used to eat massive steaks at. Sunshine knows that this bike ride will be different from the first one, when she was sent home. We get a video from Ali to start us off. She instructs the players to reach under their bike seats, where they will find secreted previously undiscovered cellphones. The players are to give these cellphones to someone among their supporters, who will use them to dial in for race progress reports - everyone's doing the challenge simultaneously across the country.


Sunshine is fired up. (Love it.) Daris is focused. O'Neal shifts his weight from foot to foot nervously as he watches Sunshine. "Looking good," someone tells Michael. "I know," Michael quips back preciously. Michael's fans offer to dance and sing for his amusement. I start thinking this could go to Lance, because all the people who might have eaten cupcakes against him were too honourable to do so. But then I remember that we didn't see a single person eating for Koli, who's right behind Sam. So that's verrry interesting.

Sunshine pays close attention to her dad's voice. Michael isn't trying to win, he just wants to finish. Sherry tells Ashley that she's inspiring. Cheryl's going nuts on the phone with her big voice. Some little girl does push ups in front of Sam and Koli as they bike, which is hilarious. Some dude holds up a sign reading "$10,000" in front of Daris for motivation. Melissa starts shrieking (no, there is no other way to describe it other than shrieking) at Lance to step it up. Lance overtakes Koli. DH and I get all tense hoping Koli catches Lance.

The family/friend support for all these people is fantastic.

We then start to finish. After Sam's done, he starts chanting "Grey Team!" enthusiastically at Koli, who catches and passes Lance to come in second! Awesomely, Sunshine finishes fourth, causing O'Neal to weep with happiness. Ashley does the same when she finishes, in addition to screaming in delighted triumph. Michael simply doesn't have the same level of fitness as the rest of them, which is completely understandable, and finishes last. The fact that someone almost 400lbs could do that is awesome. Go, Michael.

Original finish times:

  1. 1:17 Sam
  2. 1:18 Koli
  3. 1:19 Lance
  4. 1:23 Sunshine
  5. 1:25 Daris
  6. 1:36 Drea
  7. 1:37 Stephanie
  8. 1:40 Ashley
  9. 1:41 Michael

After everyone's done, we get a live video update from Ali revealing the results of the cupcake temptation. Stephanie, Sam, Drea, Sunshine and Daris all got some serious cupcake handicaps, taking them out of the running. Lance, Ashley and Michael were cupcake-free, which means it's all down to Koli. Amazingly, no one ate for Koli, and DH and I fist-pump like crazy in triumph. I'm SO happy. Sam goes insane. I bet Lance is feeling really stupid now, having gone after Sam almost exclusively.

Revised finish times:

  1. 1:18, 0 cupcakes, Koli
  2. 1:19, 0 cupcakes, Lance
  3. 1:40, 0 cupcakes, Ashley
  4. 1:41, 0 cupcakes, Michael
  5. 1:45, 4 cupcakes, Daris
  6. 1:53, 6 cupcakes, Sunshine
  7. 2:01, 5 cupcakes, Drea
  8. 2:07, 10 cupcakes, Sam
  9. 2:12, 7 cupcakes, Stephanie

Okay, I kinda really like Big Mark from the Public Mobile commercial.

Back to the ranch. Everyone's delighted to see Bob and Jillian again, and they break out how the week went. Daris confessses that there were a few days where he didn't get the work in that he wanted. O'Neal, being an institutionalized former military guy, prefers the routine of the ranch. Also, he is wearing a very cute little hat and looking very jazzy and fly. Michael says his mind was on other things, his grandma never woke up, and every day was emotionally up and down. Lots of stress. So we're not sure how great a week he's going to have, weight-wise. But Bob is happy to see that Michael is dealing with his problems proactively, which is definitely a step up. Bob and Jillian are thrilled to hear the results of the challenge. It appears that Sam and Koli have decided to exchange facial hair looks, as Sam has quite the shadow going on in interviews. He is thinking of using Koli's challenge winnings to to taunt the cupcake-eaters by buying them lots of cupcakes. :)

Bonus video: Bob's keen yoga senses have detected some kind of attitude shift which he wants to discuss. Mike was really looking forward to the break of not being at the ranch but instead found himself overloaded at home. He was watching his diet, he was working out, and he was just so overloaded with home stuff too that he was having trouble sleeping, etc. etc. etc. And sorry, but I have to say, my sympathy here is low. From what I understand, Michael is a part-time DJ. He doesn't have steady employment, he doesn't have a romantic relationship to maintain, and he doesn't have kids. Yes, having a dying relative is VERY hard and draining, but it's not like he's juggling a whole lot of responsibilities as he deals with that! Especially when you think of Rudy from last season who had to jump right back into a SEVENTY HOUR WORK WEEK when he got home, complete with a wife, two small kids (i.e. sleep interruption), and (I seem to remember) a nasty commute. Does your home life include all that, Michael? No? Then come back later to complain when it does. We do find out, however, that his grandmother died, which is very sad and sucky - and on Maria's birthday, too, which is extra-hard. I sincerely wish his family all the best. The good thing is that Michael has realised that he now has CONTROL over himself in these bad situations, and isn't turning to food as a crutch. But he gets really disheartened to think of how much weight he still has to lose. Bob snaps him back to reality by pointing out what a huge accomplishment he's already achieved, and that Michael has to take care of Michael. They hug it out.

Bonus video: Koli and Sam return from the ranch and plug their Tempurpedic beds before talking about how things went at home. Koli feels that being at home was stressful but energizing, and that the challenge was a turning point. He's really proud to have won. (And I'm sure the money don't hurt, neither.) Now he wants to win, because he knows he can. He thinks he's starting to see the thing in him that people have always told him they see. Sam is going totally vorklempt listening to this and says Koli's growth is a beautiful thing to see. Koli is done with doubt and fear of failure. Also, it looks like his easy career as a bouncer is over. They vow to conquer as they head off to...

Last-chance workout!

Sunshine says it feels really good to be back in the gym. Ashley pukes. Right on camera, too, nothing hidden, with full sound. (Thanks for that.) Koli is on a new high with his newfound confidence, and boxes like a maniac. Ashley pukes again. "Who pukes two times in Week 10?" she asks, suspicious that Jillian gets internal joy when her monkeys puke. (This sequence is unfortunately immediately followed by Bob yelling, "Leave it all on the floor!") Bob takes O'Neal to a place that he didn't know he had by looking deeply into his eyes. Hm. That sounds pretty romantic taken out ofcontext, actually.

Lance tells us that there were times he felt so guilty about not spending time with his family at home that he let the workouts slide somewhat. So Bob has some one-on-one time with him to get Lance's head back into the game. The problem is that Lance has guilt about Melissa being a single mom at home. Lance honey, suck it up. Melissa's tough, and it's just temporary. Bob gives Lance the perspective that being at the ranch is HELPING his family. Lance agrees, and realises that the guilty feelings will just take him right back to being fat. He vows to finish what he started.

At last, it's time for the weigh-in. Stephanie reflects that this is the report card to their week at home...and she wants an A. DH: "Ali and Jillian have got a sweater contest going here." We see some excellent results this week - almost everybody did better than their average weekly loss percentages, which is terrific. Perhaps it has to do with all the snow shovelling a lot of them had to do in order to make their way out to the gym. The high point of the evening, though, is when Sam gets up there. DAY-um, he looks good shirtless now! Seriously, there is a huge contrast between last week and this. He knocks it out of the park with a whopping 14lb loss. Koli is literally giggling at this result. Love it.

Milestones achieved:

  • O'Neal drops under 300lbs
  • Lance and Sam drop under 275lbs
  • Stephanie drops under 200lbs
  • Daris and Sam hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Lance moves from clinically obese to obese
  • Ashley and Michael hit the 25% mark of total loss

With Black's spectacular results, it's Blue voting someone off this week, so they head back to the house to discuss. Michael gets depressed about how far away he is from his goal and begs his team to keep him here to help save his life. I agree with Michael. Personally, I think they should vote off Daris. He's the biggest loser in the house, has lots more weight to lose, and is therefore the biggest threat. Also, it's unlikely they'll get another opportunity to get rid of him. However, clearly there are some team dynamics issues going on behind the scenes that we don't know about, because a whole bunch of people vote for Lance, who is both shaking and jiggling his leg as Daris recites his pre-written vote-revelation speech. Sure enough, it's Lance going home.

Lance is amazed at the kind of success he's seen on the ranch. Indeed, the comparison to Lance Day One is massive. In his after-ranch profile, we see he's down to 265lbs. Unfortunately, that's actually kind of bad, since that's just nine pounds since leaving the ranch and it's probably been a while since that point. (There is still snow on the ground around his home, but he's walking around out there in a t-shirt, so I'm guessing it's been a while since the Christmas trip home...but then, I'm not familiar with Texas weather patterns, so I could be way off.) But he takes his son out tracking, which is pretty cool. Melissa tells us tearfully that he's amazing. She loves that Lance now believes he can change, which was what their family needed. So, good times, I guess.

Oh, and by the way, last week's confusing product placement that I thought maybe wasn't a product placement? Yes, it turns out that the Biggest Loser is indeed shilling Mexican avocados, there are ads for them all over the show's website. Don't know what happened to the gung-ho "buy American" spirit, but there you go.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Sam (5.04) Daris (29.48) Sam (14) Michael (137) Stephanie (30.3)
2 Stephanie (4.33) Sam (29.03) Ashley, Koli (10) Koli (116) Sam (32.1)
3 Sunshine (3.70) Koli (28.78) Sam (108) Sunshine (33.6)
4 Ashley (3.50) Ashley (26.20) Stephanie (9) Daris (102) Lance (34.2)
5 Koli (3.37) Michael (26.05) Lance, Michael, Sunshine (8) Ashley (98) Daris (35.0)
6 Lance (2.84) Lance (24.93) O'Neal (94) Andrea (36.3)
7 Andrea (2.52) Stephanie (24.62) Lance (91) Koli (37.9)
8 O'Neal (2.32) Sunshine (24.36) O'Neal (7) Sunshine (67) O'Neal (41.1)
9 Michael (2.02) O'Neal (24.16) Andrea (6) Andrea (66) Ashley (45.9)
10 Daris (1.61) Andrea (22.15) Daris (4) Stephanie (65) Michael (48.6)

Next week (SPOILERS)

Look for:

  • Ashley could drop under 275lbs
  • Ashley and O'Neal could hit the 100lb mark of total loss
  • Koli could hit the 125lb mark of total loss
  • Daris could move from clinically obese to obese
  • Stephanie could move from obese to overweight
  • Sunshine and Stephanie could hit the 25% mark of total loss
  • Daris, Sam, O'Neal and Koli could hit the 30% mark of total loss

Weigh-in predictions:

  • Andrea: 226lbs
  • Ashley: 268lbs
  • Daris: 236lbs
  • Koli: 277lbs
  • Michael: 377lbs
  • O'Neal: 287lbs
  • Sam: 255lbs
  • Stephanie: 193lbs
  • Sunshine: 202lbs

The teams are dissolved as eliminated contestants return to vie for spots back on the ranch. One player is chosen through a vote while another wins a spot during a step-up challenge. Later, a friendship between players begins to falter.


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