Rachel Frederickson lost 155 pounds, dropping her weight to 105 on her way to winning the Season 15 title of "The Biggest Loser." Did she lose too much?
That's how long it took from the time Rachel Frederickson appeared onstage in last Tuesday's live season finale of "The Biggest Loser" to the time we saw the shocked expressions on the faces of trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels.
Many people remember those expressions every bit as much as the transformation of Frederickson, the contestant who lost 155 pounds over more than seven months and won $250,000 as Season 15's biggest winner. A week after the show aired, the reaction to the reaction has kept this story alive. Frederickson's 105-pound frame seemingly stunned not only Harper and Michaels but several viewers throughout the country.
And the story continues. According to a report today by E! News, producers of the NBC show are planning "small but significant tweaks" to the production of the show. Those changes are expected to include more support and check-ins for contestants after the final episode is filmed.
Frederickson, who weighed 260 pounds when taping began last June, had lost 110 pounds by the time she left the show's ranch resort in California. According to a report by People magazine, about three months passed from the final day of shooting until the Feb. 4 finale. That means Frederickson lost an additional 45 pounds since leaving the show.
At 5-foot-4, her 105-pound frame is below what the National Institute of Health reportedly considers a healthy body mass index (BMI). Is Frederickson too thin now? Yes, according to Malia Frey, a personal trainer who has been teaching and writing about weight loss, diet and exercise for more than 20 years and writes for About.com. But what concerns Frey is how some people are now labeling Frederickson as "scary thin" or "gross."
"I don't think that's fair," Frey told me by phone today. "I don't think it's fair to judge someone based on their body size anywhere on the spectrum. If a contestant came out and their BMI was borderline between overweight and normal, I don't think it would be fair to call that person fat or a failure or scary or gross."
Like most "The Biggest Loser" contestants, Frederickson will likely gain some weight back. How much weight is up to Frederickson and her trainer, Frey says.
"It's a discussion that she needs to have with her health care team," says Frey, who has talked to previous winners of "The Biggest Loser" but has not talked to or met Frederickson. "What I've read about her, she seems like a smart cookie. I think it's reasonable to believe that she is going to put some weight on, and I hope that she does."
Frederickson's trainer on the show, Dolvett Quince, posted his response to her weight loss on his Facebook page the day after the finale aired.
"Biggest Loser is a journey which has its ups and downs," Quince wrote. "Please try not to look at one slice of Rachel's journey and come to broad conclusions. Rachel's health is and always has been my main concern, and her journey to good health has not yet ended!"
Michaels and Harper initially refused to comment on social media about Frederickson's weight loss. However, in an episode of "The Rachael Ray Show" that will air Thursday, Harper admitted that he was "stunned" by Frederickson's appearance.
"What people don't understand is, when the contestants leave to go home … they're in charge of themselves," Harper said on the show. "So I had not seen her until that night, and so when she walked out, I was just kind of like, whoa. And I've been on the show since the beginning. I mean, we've never had a contestant come in at 105 pounds."
In my opinion, what's important for the health club industry and fitness professionals is to continue to improve the health of their members and clients, not to see how much weight they can lose. I hope the perception that Frederickson lost too much weight is actually a positive sign—although I agree with Frey that harboring negativity toward Frederickson is going too far. I also hope that watching reality TV shows such as "The Biggest Loser" is not deterring people from seeking help, as we've addressed here on our blog in the past.
"In the health club industry and as fitness professionals, we want to encourage people to be healthy, to feel good about their bodies so that they make healthy changes and make healthy choices," Frey says.
According to Frederickson, that's what she is doing.
"I am in maintenance mode now," she told People magazine after the show, "so it is just balancing it with life and making sure that I work out and eat right and healthy and make good choices."
The specific choices she has made remain unclear. Frederickson would not elaborate when asked about her caloric intake leading up to the finale. So the question still remains: How did she lose an additional 45 pounds in 90 days?