Biggest Loser is casting kids?

Well, I have a lot of thoughts on this one.

Here is what I know based on my own experience as a former contestant and the stories from my other alumni: the Biggest Loser experience itself, months of isolation and reality TV manipulation, as well as the resulting media attention, the brutal online fan reactions and criticisms and more all made being part of a weight loss competition something that has long lasting emotional and psychological ramifications. Yes, I had a blast doing it, but I have many friends who have said after going through it that they would NEVER encourage one of their loved ones to ever be a part of it. It’s brutal.

As a youth worker, I know all too well the confusion of adolescence. With hormones raging, enormous pressures from peer groups, schools and home, and the crucial identity formation taking place, the teenage years are a volatile and intense stage of development with massive potential for long lasting damage.

I cannot imagine a scenario where throwing a group of 13-17 year old adolescents into anything remotely similar to what my fellow alumni and I experienced as being anything other than damaging for them.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? And why?

Predisposed to weight regain?

After 13 seasons of NBC’s Biggest Loser, Dr. Huizenga, the lead doctor for the show, has accumulated several hundred individuals whom he has been tracking, studying, and doing significant obesity and weight loss research on. When it comes to studying individuals who have lost weight at an aggressive, rapid pace based on counting calories and heavy exercise, he is one of only a few doing anything on the subject.

His latest article on the topic, based on his research, did not give good news. One of his hopes with the program he designed for Biggest Loser was that through intense exercise the muscle mass under the fat would be retained (the reality is, someone who is several hundred pounds has a solid core of muscle existing to just transport the weight) and the weight loss would be mostly fat loss (in a typical diet plan, it is not unusual to lose muscle weight as well as fat weight). Ultimately the hope was the muscle mass and exercise would bring the metabolism to a healthier norm. Unfortunately, his research indicates otherwise:

Despite relative preservation of FFM [fat free mass, e.g., muscle], exercise did not prevent dramatic slowing of resting metabolism out of proportion to weight loss. This metabolic adaptation may persist during weight maintenance and predispose to weight regain unless high levels of physical activity or caloric restriction are maintained.

In other words, all these years where I was swearing I put weight on easier than others around me? It wasn’t my imagination. The reality is, after a lifetime of abusing my metabolism, my body gravitates towards a heavier norm. His phrase ‘high levels of physical activity or caloric restriction are maintained’ literally means dieting for life.

The weird thing is, I was actually relieved to read his findings. It made a lot of my frustrations make sense. It doesn’t give me an excuse, but it does help me to understand that there is no easy health road for individuals like me. I will always need to count calories. I will always need to exercise three to five hours a week. Otherwise I will eventually outweigh my pre-Biggest Loser self.

Biggest Loser Casting Call locations announced!

Holland Strickland, the casting director in charge of casting for Biggest Loser posted the following on Facebook – including the dates and cities for Biggest Loser open casting calls:




We hope to see you at a casting call near you, however, if you cannot attend a casting call then BE SURE to send us a video audition! We watch ALL videos that come in by the deadline! Even if you attend a casting call it’s a good idea to also send an audition video to double your chances! We will be updating our website this week with pre-registration, casting call information, how to make a video, deadlines, and all other important information…we will announce when it goes LIVE! Our casting team promises to do our best updating you throughout the casting process on,, and!

Please read our prior tweets, FB posts, and website FAQ before asking questions that likely have already been answered. We appreciate your cooperation as we may not able to respond to every single tweet, email, or Facebook post. Most importantly, there will be MANY rumors you will hear by reading other potential candidates posts, tweets, blogs, etc…unless you hear it straight from the BL14 Casting Team then it may not be true. The BL14 Casting Team should be your go-to source of casting information. Throughout the casting process we suggest avoiding driving yourself crazy by listening to all the speculation by other candidates as it may cause unnecessary self-doubt, depression, emotional eating, etc…and as you know we want to promote as much positivity, healthy lifestyles, and an overall fun and exciting casting process for everyone involved! Last but not least, if you are considering auditioning but are on the fence, we say GO FOR IT! EVERY SINGLE CONTESTANT that has ever been on the show was on the fence at one point and never thought we would pick them…now here they are living the new and healthy life they always dreamed of! With that we say…WELCOME TO BL14 EVERYONE! SIT BACK, RELAX, and ENJOY THE ADVENTURE YOU ARE ABOUT TO EMBARK ON!

-The BL14 Casting Team

Biggest Loser casting tips (season 14)

Biggest Loser is getting ready to start casting for season 14!  Casting calls will be happening this summer and will be posted soon on the Biggest Loser casting website.  Basically, this post is a collection of tips I’ve written based on my experience making the cast of season three, as well as some links to casting advice I don’t think you should miss:

  • NBC has posted casting information and the application here.  They have all the casting news and information on a special blog just for Biggest Loser casting, which you can find here.
  • Pete Thomas, the season 2 $100,000 winner has some of the best casting call advice out there, which you can find at his website, Winning Man.
  • Holland, a casting director for Biggest Loser sent me a bunch of great advice on how to be casted, you can find it here.  She updated them October, 2009.
  • I’ve been posting these casting tips for the last few seasons and they always seem to end up with thousands of comments; just about every season has contestants that were hanging out on here, reading and giving each other thoughts and advice.  You can find the most recent one here.
  • If you’re dealing with disappointment about not being cast, then check out my post on Biggest Loser casting disappointment.

One of the questions I hear a lot is about money … how do contestants afford to be away from home and work for months at a time? I don’t know what it is now, but when I was a contestant there was a $500 a week stipend for cast members on the ranch. When you received the check you could cash it and spend it, send it home, save it, whatever. All airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, etc., for the contestants and potential cast members are taken care of by NBC, and during the casting process it self there was a $50 per diem to cover food costs.

Another question is timing; typically a season lasts for about 8-9 months. About four of this is spent in filming; if you last all the way until the final three or four, you could be away from home for as much as four months or so. Once the ranch filming wraps and the last few contestants are sent home, however, there is still another four or five months that all the contestants have to continue losing weight until the finale. In addition, potential cast members are flown out to California a couple weeks before filming begins for the final round of casting, medical checkups, psychological evals, etc. NBC brings out more people than what they need and the cast is not finalized until filming literally begins. People have been cut at the last minute and replacements flown in with hardly any time to spare. Nothing is in stone until it’s on camera!

When will you hear from Biggest Loser about your video? There is no way of knowing. I heard back a few weeks after I sent it in, but even after that it’s a big waiting game. If you get a phone number or email from a casting direction, definitely drop them a line/call every couple weeks to find out if you’re still in the running or what’s going on. Schedules and plans change almost every day, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t hear back within a month I would think your video didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean you can’t send in another or visit a casting call – it’s just up to you!

Finally, here’s my video application tips! This is by no means a recipe for success; it’s based on my video application and the conversations I had with casting directors out in LA in between things. I was pretty curious about the whole process so I was pumping them for info even after filming began. I’m such a nerd!

  • They’ve usually decided if they’re interested in you within the first 30-60 seconds of your video, so front load it with your best stuff. Make it interesting! Start off with something funny or exciting!
  • Keep in mind, if you’re going to be cast, your video is going to be watched hundreds of times by producers, executives, casting directors, etc. If it bores you or your friends the second or third time watching it … put some more time into it!
  • Special effects? Don’t bother! We’ve all got video editing software with all sorts of bells and whistles on our home computers, but fancy transitions are not going to sell you to people who do video editing for a living. In fact, it can distract from who you are. I’m a video editing nerd and I didn’t use any special effects other than putting my name and contact info on as a subtitle at the beginning.
  • Don’t bother talking about why you need to lose weight. When I first started filming my audition video I started describing all of my health reasons for losing weight – but when I was watching it back, I realized … they don’t need to hear it! One look at me was all they needed to know I needed to lose weight! Show them why you need to lose it; I said I needed to lose weight for my kids, and then I followed it with a minute or two of the best footage I could find of me with wrestling with my three boys. We probably filmed half an hour of that insanity and I grabbed the cutest, loudest, and funniest few moments for the audition video. Your physical need to lose weight is not nearly as interesting as who or what your losing the weight for.
  • Live loud! Reality TV is over the top, dramatic, and filled with loud personalities. They need to see that on your video! I wanted them to know that even though I was morbidly obese I was up to the challenge of the crazy competitions and workouts – so I threw on a bunch of clips from my different youth group activities; me getting slimed, snowtubing, playing paintball, screaming at events, being on stage, running around … you get the idea. Other contestants did things appropriate to their lives; Tim from Oregon had himself spinning out on his Harley, Tim from Delaware recruited his elementary school class to do things with him, Heather Hanson filmed herself running around in a sports bra all day doing her household chores and errands. The less talking and more action you can have, the better (in my opinion)!
  • If you have footage or photos of yourself thin, include those at some point on the video. If you can show them what your after will be, then do it!

Remember, enjoy the conversation here and know that I will never compromise your anonymity – not to NBC, 3Ball, Casting Directors or anyone. You can post anonymously, or you can leave your names and contact information … just remember that NBC likes to be the one announcing their cast for the show, so if you start identifying yourself publicly as a finalist, you’ll probably find yourself eliminated from the casting process. Be aware that casting directors do check in at my blog to see what people are saying, get a feel for what questions are going on out there, and sometimes to give us updates. Good luck to everyone … and let me know if you make the show! I get a kick out of hearing about the different contestants that have hung out on my blog before making the show! ;)

Low cal burger grillin’

We fired up the grill for the first time in 2012 tonight … one of my favorite parts of summer. I love burgers. A lot.

Here’s the problem; a typical fast food burger or restaurant burger can run 800-1200 calories. Crazy land. Doing a regular burger at home, with a great bun, and cheese, can still run around 500-600 calories at a minimum. Add a hundred calories to that if you like mayo on it instead of ketchup. That’s my entire meal calorie count and I’m a two burger kind of guy.

Here’s how I do it …

Switching to turkey can cut the meat calories in half. Using the 97% fat free can result in a patty around 100-200 calories (depending how large it is). I love easy and the Jenny-O frozen 1/3lb patty is only 160 calories. It’s huge, and tastes great.

Pre-sliced cheese ranges 60-120 calories a slice (once again, depending on size). That’s a lot of calories for just a little bit of food. Kraft has a whole line of fat free sliced cheese ranging 25-30 calories a slice. I use one slice, just for flavor.

The bun is also a big deal. A tiny regular bun is around 110-150 calories, but it’s small. A man size bun ranges 180-250 calories. That’s a lot. Weight Watchers has a great, large bun that’s only 130 calories, but looks like one of the ones that has twice as many calories. It’s also whole wheat, and full of dietary fiber. Good stuff.

Going with those three options creates a large burger for 320 calories. If I have it handy, I’ll load it up with vegetables – the calories are almost negligible, makes it huge, and adds a ton of flavor. A little bit of ketchup, mustard (almost calorie free), or fat free mayo, and I’m done. If I budget my calories for the day well, I can have two burgers and then for my side either a salad or steamed veggies. That’s a MASSIVE meal for around 700 calories. For a guy my build, that’s a WIN. I’m stuffed, and for less calories than one traditional burger.


Not to toot my own horn, ’cause I’m just not that type of guy (riiiiight) … but …


Good Friday just became Awesome Friday.

I hit a big milestone in my current weight loss endeavors (I started in January), sailing past the 50 pounds lost mark this morning (I dropped several pounds, so total loss is at 52 lbs). It felt good.

There have been a couple things different this time around – really in a lot of ways the first time I’ve been doing all this right since I left the show. I have two different groups for accountability (a competition, and a bunch of other Biggest Loser alumni), I’ve been counting calories and eating healthy, and I’ve been exercising regularly for about five hours a week at the local YMCA.

Which adds up to me losing weight at a consistent pace, feeling better, fitting in my ‘thinner’ clothes, and feeling a real change in my endurance levels.

I actually had to start changing up my workouts at the YMCA this past week. I had been just walking aggressively on the treadmill, steadily increasing the pace and the incline to keep pushing myself. However, I’ve started to reach the limits there, so now I’m starting off on the elliptical to get my heart rate up, then switching to the treadmill to finish the hour. Currently I’m up to 15 minutes (next workout I’m going for 20), then over to the treadmill. Eventually I’ll be doing the whole hour on the elliptical, then when that gets to easy I’ll start off jogging and then switch to the elliptical (that’s how I continually upped the intensity back in my Biggest Loser days).

Just five more minutes

I am about eight weeks into my recent weight loss endeavors. In all honesty, it feels like I’m finally doing it right all the way for the first time since I finished on Biggest Loser. I’m logging my calories, exercising hard, dealing with my mental baggage – the weight is just a symptom and if I don’t deal with the roots it will come back or manifest in another way, and I have all types of accountability. Between being part of a challenge with some other friends, and checking in with Cheryl Forberg (Biggest Loser’s nutritionist for seasons 1-12) and other former Losers in the same boat, I am all over having others involved. Here are some of my observations …

The fifth and six week were once again almost my undoing. For whatever reason, however I’m wired, that just always seems to be the point in time when my body and my mind full on rebel. Change is tough, especially change that involves breaking decades worth of habits and patterns. I didn’t gain week during that time, but I didn’t lose much either. On top of my own natural tendency to break at that point, I had a lot of stressful things going on as well (retreats, conference). In a lot of ways it was a waiting game that I tried to will power my way through. I’ve lived through it enough to know that if I could just power through it, I would eventually get back into the zone. Sure enough, this week I have been like a new man.

Five minutes. Just five more minutes. That is my mantra on the treadmill. The first five minutes are always a killer – everything in me is screaming to stop, to skip it, to let it go for today. If I can just get through that first five minutes, my body accepts the workout and goes hard. That buys me time until about the 30 minute mark. From that point on (I generally shoot for an hour, with my heart rate up around 155-165) I basically lie to myself. Every time I’m ready to quit (every few minutes), I tell myself just five more and then I will. Just focusing on a string of small goals gets me through it every time.

Same with the weight loss. I don’t think about the big number. I think about the next milestone; which for me is every five pounds of loss, and every time I can get my actual weight to a number that ends in five or zero. Since I started at a number than ends in two, this basically means I hit a ‘milestone’ every two-three pounds I lose. These are small goals that seem very doable for me. My next one is one pound away – that’s all that got me into the gym today. This has gotten me to 36 pounds worth of weight loss over the last eight weeks. Part of me misses my Biggest Loser days when I was losing a pound or more a day the first couple months (I lost 81 pounds the first eight weeks), but honestly, I’m pretty good with what I’ve done.

Anyway, I thought I’d give a little update since I was kind of loud about getting back on track in January and then have been quiet about it since!