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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

When Losing is Everything

Photo courtesy of NBC
Photo courtesy of NBC

The United States has been struggling with rising obesity in adults and children. So, the creators of television’s “The Biggest Loser” on NBC opened the show up to 50 contestants, one from each state.

Taking a step to make herself healthy, UMass Boston student Ginnie Bourque auditioned for the show and got into the final 50, representing Vermont.

“The first reason I auditioned for the show is that I desperately needed to lose weight,” Bourque said. “I wasn’t healthy and I found myself sort of making accommodations every day to work around my weight, like taking the elevator instead of stairs, parking as close as I could and sitting when I could stand. I hated that I got winded going up a single flight of stairs and that I was often uncomfortable because I carried so much extra weight around. Plus, I like a little adventure, so I thought the audition itself would be fun.”

Bourque and a friend decided to go through the process to attempt to make it on “The Biggest Loser,” which is taped on the west coast.

“It was a lengthy process between open casting at the Rack in Boston and actually becoming a finalist,” Bourque said. “It took several months. Each time there was a new step, I was ecstatic knowing that I had made it a little closer to the show.”

Though she’d heard that many who had watched “The Biggest Loser” were inspired by it, Bourque herself hadn’t watched much of the first two seasons before auditioning. “The first season I was working in TV news with overnight shifts, but I heard so much about it from friends who were fans and by listening to people on the radio talk about it,” Bourque said. “Every time someone mentioned the show, they spoke with reverence and treated the contestants with such respect that I knew it wouldn’t be a negative experience.”

For those who did not watch the season premiere, the first episode has a twist. Although 50 people made it though auditions, only 14 were chosen to stay on the ranch. “After I knew I wasn’t one of the 14 people staying on the ranch, I thought, ‘That’s it. That was my chance. I’m going to be fat forever,'” Bourque said. “I truly believed I’d missed my one shot to change my life. I was sort of in shock, trying to regroup and think about what would be next, because I thought there would be no way I could ever do it on my own and that my only way would be to do it on the ranch.”

However, the 36 not chosen to stay on the ranch were given a chance. They met with doctors before leaving to learn about how different foods work in their bodies, effective methods of exercising, and sleep.

“There were a thousand things going through my head when Caroline Rhea told us we could still compete and that it wasn’t over for us,” Bourque said. “First, all of my fears about not being able to change my lifestyle were completely erased. Second, I was scared that because I wouldn’t be competing with the 14 people that I wouldn’t be able to suddenly find the will power that I had lacked my whole life.”

Although the taping process is over and the show has begun airing, Bourque cannot reveal how much weight she has lost, though she can share what she learned.

“We learned to make our health a priority and that it’s the most important thing we can do for ourselves,” Bourque said. “They made it possible for me to take that education home and apply it to my life. I’ve continued to make healthy choices about food and really being active.”

To keep track of Bourque’s progress, “The Biggest Loser” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on NBC, and video and journal updates can be found on the show’s web site, http://www.nbc.com/The_Biggest_Loser .