The Biggest Loser was an instant success when it premiered on NBC in 2004. Viewers fixated on the tough-love approach to quickly losing weight under the watchful eye of original trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, and the series blossomed into a multi-million dollar franchise and lasted 17 seasons before ending in 2016. By the time the series ended, the world was much more conscious about body positivity and mental health and its connection to one’s relationship with food and exercise.
Toward the end of its run, The Biggest Loser was hit with what seemed like constant accusations and concerns about the diet and exercise tactics used on the show. People reported that after season 15, Michaels wanted to distance herself from the show after being “deeply concerned” with winner Rachel Frederickson’s dramatic weight loss. In 2016, the New York Post (via US Weekly) ran an article with former contestants confessing to using diet pills during their time on the reality competition show. Furthermore, during the show’s last season, the National Institutes of Health published a study that the extreme dieting on the show had permanently damaged contestants’ metabolism.
The Biggest Loser returned after a four-year hiatus in 2020, featuring a rebranded image that promotes a prolonged lifestyle change, rather than a quick plan to lose weight fast. With the show’s new transformation, it makes us wonder how transformed contestants of the show’s past are doing. Let’s take a closer look at what the first Biggest Loser winner is up to today.
Ryan Benson is still on a fitness journey
Ryan Benson lost more than 120 pounds during his time on The Biggest Loser, becoming the show’s first winner in 2005 and recipient of the $250,00 prize, per E! News. At the finale, he weighed in at 208 pounds and was excited to start living outside of the confines of the show. Unfortunately, his hard work did not keep him motivated, and in 2017, he told Inside Edition that within five years he gained the weight back and then some, weighing in at 332 pounds. Benson got a second chance at shedding some pounds and keeping off the weight on the spin-off The Big Fat Truth, but he still struggled and again gained the weight back.
“In my mind I just thought I’ve been training so hard I want to eat something I craved for a few months — a burger, fries, some ribs,” he revealed to Business Insider in 2017. “That was one of the things that propelled me to the finish line. I thought, when I’m done I’m going to get this. It was a reward.”
Since his revelation in 2017, Benson has been dieting and focusing on living a healthy lifestyle. He often shares photos of his life on Instagram, which include spending time with his family, enjoying some time outdoors, and rooting on the LA Dodgers.
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