- Since 2012, Christine Theiss has been accompanying people on their way to a slimmer and healthier life in the show “Life made easy – The Biggest Loser”.
- Shortly before the final on Sunday, the camp boss and former professional kickboxer tells us in an interview how she deals with criticism of the format and why she doesn’t believe in so-called “cheat days” or “cheat days”.
- She also explains what important tip she gives her protégés to help them maintain their weight.
Ms. Theiss, since 2012 you have been supporting candidates on their way to a slimmer and fitter body. The candidates often lose an impressive amount of weight in a short time. Isn’t that dangerous or unhealthy?
Christine Theiss: This question comes up often. A large-scale study from Australia that was published in “The Lancet” addressed this topic a few years ago, with the result: There is no difference between rapid and long-term weight loss, what matters is that you change your life consistently and sustainably . The problem often lies in the fact that once you reach your weight goal, your motivation drops. You start to skid and unfortunately the body has a habit of going to where it was at its maximum. The weight loss we achieve on the show isn’t even achievable at home. Who has that much time to do that amount of exercise? Therefore, these weekly numbers are not realistic in everyday life. But we don’t do anything else in the camp – apart from the days of shooting. We exercise and pay attention to nutrition. Of course it’s much faster then. This is not unhealthy, but the result of being fully focused on this task.
Not everyone can maintain their weight after the show. Why do some fall into the yo-yo trap again?
Just as individual as the reasons why people became overweight are the reasons why they relapse. Especially with people who have always been overweight, it is difficult for the body to develop a feeling of satiety and people have to learn to listen to their bodies. There are many reasons why people became overweight: it could be psychological or something in the past. We can work on that, but we can’t erase it. The Corona situation also gave our candidates a hard time. Established structures, such as regular visits to the gym, have disappeared again. That really hit some people. The challenge is to implement things consistently and have fun doing it. You can be slim and enjoy life and food. Those who do manage to maintain their weight. Incidentally, these are more often women than men, for whatever reason.
In your opinion, what is the most difficult thing for the candidates when it comes to losing weight?
At the beginning we have to tell the participants everything. It feels like carrying a dog to hunt. We have to tell them when to exercise, when to eat, we have to push them. It’s always like that every year and the coaches say with every new season that it’s going to be particularly difficult this time. But no, it’s like that until the switch flips on its own and they become independent. In the beginning there was a problem with independence and self-responsibility. We also experience that some participants have problems with a regulated structure.
Christine Theiss: “I find ‘Cheat Days’ limitless and pointless”
After the show comes everyday life: How can the candidates manage to keep their weight permanently? What tips do you give your protégés when they are released?
My most important tip is: The candidates should set themselves a small weight window of about three kilos. They can fluctuate within this range. If they reach the upper limit, they should counter-regulate. For example, if someone has their feel-good weight of 85 kilos, the limit should be 88 kilos. From then on people should tighten the reins again, not only from ten kilos. The body gets used to the new weight and the fluctuations. I’ve been doing it that way since I stopped competitive sports in 2013.
Many people swear by so-called “cheat days”, i.e. days when everything is allowed in culinary terms. In an interview, however, you yourself said that you were not a fan of it. Why not?
I find that so pointless and useless. On a day like this that you’ve been looking forward to all week, you only eat bullshit. You destroy in one day what you set out to do for the rest of the week. For me, that has nothing to do with enjoyment. It’s just greed and frustration. Everyone knows the phenomenon: once the pack of chips is open, they eat it. You then shoveled in hundreds of useless calories and a bad conscience at that. That’s why I don’t buy something like that in the first place, because I couldn’t stop either. Then rather enjoy consciously and set accents with pleasure. Because a “cheat day” is a senseless clean eating.
Is there a food trend or diet that you can actually recommend?
What can make sense if you do it consciously is intermittent fasting. However, the time you eat must be filled with healthy food, and you should not overeat during those eight hours. But it’s actually quite simple: If we want to lose weight, we have to burn more calories than we take in. If we want to maintain weight there has to be a balance and if we want to gain weight we need more calories than we burn. Theoretically, you can also lose weight with chocolate or lemonade. The problem is that after a few days the body will no longer be able to perform effectively and symptoms of deficiency will appear. In addition to this aspect, it is important to know the difference between long-chain and short-chain carbohydrates. It’s about filling up the calorie store with useful calories that do something for our body.
Which sports are particularly suitable for overweight people and which are not?
All sports that get on your knees should only be tackled later by people who are very overweight. This also applies to stepper exercises or jogging. Swimming and aqua aerobics are good ways to lose weight in a way that is easy on the joints. Walking and cycling are also far underestimated. The whole thing should be combined with muscle building. On the one hand, to relieve the joints and on the other hand, because muscles are constantly burning calories, while fat just lies around. When people build muscle, they increase their basal metabolic rate. Accordingly, they can eat more without gaining weight than if they have no muscles. That’s why professional athletes can eat like a barn thresher.
If you do more sport, you can eat more: does this calculation add up?
You would have to run really fast to burn off the calories from a candy bar. That’s a fundamental problem: people underestimate how many calories they’re consuming, while at the same time overestimating how much they’re consuming. Especially if you don’t have a feeling for it yet, fitness trackers can be helpful. For example, if I jog quickly, I get 600 calories an hour. A candy bar probably has around 240 calories.
Many people have the impression that they eat healthily, exercise and still nothing changes on the scales: What do you think could be the reason?
On the one hand, this is because you underestimate how many calories you burn and, on the other hand, you like to ignore how much you actually eat. Because often it’s not just the three meals a day, but a banana here, a chocolate bar there and a buttered pretzel on the way to work. You can also save a lot of calories by drinking water instead of juices.
So it’s the snacks that are screwing up our calorie balance?
These snacks add up and are completely unnecessary. I use it to keep my body permanently up in the digestive process. That’s why I can only advise not to buy the sweets in the first place.
“Most criticism comes from people who don’t even watch the show”
“Body positivity” is a big topic on social media in particular. It’s about accepting your own body, your own curves, even if you’re overweight, for example. How do you see it?
It’s right not to pillory people, no matter what shape they are. It’s none of our business. The “Body Positivity” movement is an important and correct movement. The other aspect is health. It doesn’t matter if someone wears a size 36 or 48. This is purely a matter of taste. But anything beyond that becomes hazardous to health. If you avoid things and situations because you can no longer physically manage them or if you exclude yourself socially because you feel uncomfortable or if you already have physical problems such as diabetes, you have a problem. It’s no longer about whether you feel comfortable with a few extra pounds on your ribs. Because then it’s no longer “just a few kilos more”. It’s about mental and physical health. One shouldn’t downplay that. Our joints are not designed for this heavy overweight. Our Stone Age bodies are made to be well prepared for times of hunger. We now live in a world where there is food on every corner. We have the wrong body model for our modern times. But we only have this one body. I don’t understand what some people put their bodies through, also when it comes to smoking and drinking.
The program “Life made easy – The Biggest Loser” is repeatedly criticized. Candidates would be shown that such rapid and radical weight loss is unhealthy: How do you deal with this criticism of the format?
I don’t go to the comment columns of reports, I don’t watch TV. Only a few criticize me directly in the face. This usually comes from people who don’t even watch the show. What should I do with that? I can’t take this seriously. I know what my team and I are doing. We work our butts off every day for our candidates and the show. We are a show not a rehab and for some people we are the ideal way to lose weight and for some we are not. Far be it from any of us to present people and I think the audience sees that too. I know how respectfully the participants are treated in front of and behind the camera. Accordingly, I stand up with a broad back and say: Yes, I support this project.
“Life made easy – The Biggest Loser”: You can see the finale on April 10 from 4:30 p.m. on Sat.1.
100 gram! Four slices of ham. So much, or so little, at the end of the semifinals of “Life made easy – The Biggest Loser” (SAT.1) decides the entry into the final. Because of the five extremely strong semi-finalists, one has to drop out despite all the great performances.