TV Picks: Twenty former athletes, including NFL players and Olympic gold medalists, will aim to change their lives on the upcoming season of NBC’s hit franchise “The Biggest Loser: Glory Days,” premiering Thursday, Sept. 11 (8-9 p.m. ET).
In the show’s biggest twist yet, these ex-athletes who have fallen off the health wagon and found themselves fat and out of shape are in it to regain their former fit fighting weight. The contestants will work with new trainers Jessie Pavelka and Jennifer Widerstrom, as well as veteran trainers Dolvett Quince and Bob Harper. Alison Sweeney will return as host.
The contestants are led by former NFL players Scott Mitchell (12 seasons in the NFL) and Damien Woody (two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots), as well as Olympic gold medalist and former professional tennis star Zina Garrison. Other contestants striving for weight loss include former WNBA standout Vanessa Hayden, three-time Olympic gold medal softball player Lori Harrigan-Mack, and a mix of former college and high school sports standouts.
Season 16 of “The Biggest Loser” will also feature trainer Bob Harper in a new role, giving contestants a second chance at life on the show. Just when the eliminated contestant each week thinks they are headed home, they will actually be whisked away to a secret location called “Comeback Canyon.”
There they will be trained by Harper, competing at a separate secret weekly weigh-in for the chance to return to the competition and a shot at “The Biggest Loser” title and $250,000 grand prize.
But how did these healthy athletes let it happen? How does a professional athlete become out of shape when they have the years of training and the knowledge to live healthier than the rest of us? This happens more often than you would think according to the doctors at the Khalili Center in Beverly Hills where they specialize in bariatric care. They see a number of former athletes who were once incredibly fit but are now plagued with obesity.
Dr. Kai Nishi, one of the premiere bariatric surgeons at the Khalili Center, explained to us what happens: “Athletes burn off a tremendous amount of calories per day when training or playing, and they subsequently consume thousands of calories to provide their bodies with the necessary energy they need. The problem occurs when they stop performing at a high level. So, when a college player graduates and stops playing, or a pro athlete retires, they no longer burn off thousands of calories a day, but they often continue to eat the same quantity of food that they were used to eating, and that is when they begin to gain weight.”
Dr. Nishi has numerous patients including professional athletes who were muscular and fit… 6 feet and 220lbs of muscle in their prime, who then balloon up to 400 lbs after they quit playing sports. Their stories are all the same. They don’t play sports anymore, but they still eat like they did when they played. And these ex-athletes are now like anybody else, they have regular jobs, they have families, they have responsibilities and they can’t spend 8 hours at the gym getting in shape or hire very expensive trainers to help them get fit again or… go on reality shows with extreme weight loss programs.
So where do they turn? Fortunately getting bariatric surgery is no longer a deep dark secret for ex-athletes or their coaches. NY Jets’ Head Coach, Rex Ryan is on record with having had lap band 4 years ago and has since lost over 150 pounds.
And, it’s not only retire players or coaches who are getting bariatrics for their continued health or careers, In 2012, Eagles guard, Max Jean-Gilles had lap band surgery to help him continue playing. As a professional athlete he knew when it was necessary to seek out medical assistance to keep his weight in check as an active player.
Pro football players are particularly susceptible to becoming obese after a long career of taking in gross levels of calories, and having that behavioral habit going into retirement has created an army of obese former players who now need to make changes or potentially suffer the ravages of the consequences of obesity.
The Khalili Center’s surgeons have performed weight loss surgery on numerous athletes and have teamed up with the NFL Pro Players Alumni Association in Los Angeles to provide care for obese former players and to bring attention to the growing problems of player obesity. There are a large number of NFLers who weigh over 300 lbs, over 500 of them compared to 1971 there was only ONE. So we know pro players are getting huge at an alarming clip. Obesity surgery is an option for them to consider.”
According to the CDC, the USA still is in a severe obesity epidemic with no end in sight. Now, 35% of the country is categorized as obese, and the CDC predicts 40% of the country will develop diabetes. Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal and can cause serious health complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and lower-extremity amputations.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The CDC claims that diabetes and its complications accounted for $245 billion in direct and indirect medical costs in 2012.