Brooke Birmingham Shape Magazine

Have you ever stood in front of your mirror, naked, and looked at your body? I mean really looked at your body? I have. I’ve stood there and picked apart all the flaws and imperfections, wishing away my loose skin, willing my ass to be back to the height it was in my twenties and missing the flat tummy I rocked before a baby. I eat a clean diet, exercise and yet for whatever reason I can’t seem to reach that flat belly status I long for. Blame hormones, genetic issues or my bum thyroid, but my reality is I probably won’t ever rock a hard body on the beach. And I’m learning to be ok with that.

But it’s not easy.

Recently I heard about this amazing blogger who shared her story of what it was like to lose 172 pounds and wished to share it with the readers of Shape Magazine. Can you imagine? 172 pound weight loss – that blows my mind. Not surprisingly, Shape agreed her story was inspiring and would be a great feature for their magazine. But it turns out they didn’t like the reality of her post weight-loss body. Brooke Birmingham Shape Magazine

Shape rejected lifestyle blogger Brooke Birmingham’s photo  because her stomach looked, well, normal. That is, normal for such dramatic weight loss. Or normal for a woman who’s had a baby. Normal for someone who might have hormonal issues causing weight fluctuations. Yes, normal for many of us.

Birmingham ate right, worked out, lost an incredible 172 pounds and still had loose skin on her belly. Apparently, showing that real stomach terrified the editorial team over at Shapemagazine.

Shape was totally down to tell 28-year-old Birmingham’s story as part of its monthly Success Stories feature. A reporter contacted her by email, and they had a perfectly normal interview after which Birmingham sent over an image of herself rocking a bikini to accompany the story.

“My editors were hoping you could send over a different after photo. (You look ah-mazing, of course, but they are looking to include one with a shirt),” Birmingham’s contact wrote.

Birmingham, who blogged about the experience on her website, wasn’t buying it. “Really? Have you logged on to Shape’s website lately?” she wrote. “You can find MANY women in bikinis on the site.”

Just none without perfectly toned, flat tummies. And she wanted to show what a real body looks like, but after some back and forth with Shape, they wouldn’t budge. So she backed out and chose to write about it on her blog instead. And then everyone found out.

“This is the type of body they should have featured, because it can give people hope,” she wrote. “Hope that they can lose weight healthfully and even if they don’t end up with airbrushed abs of steel, they’re gorgeous and shouldn’t be ashamed of whatever imperfection they believe they have.”


I usually avoiding writing about mainstream events. Celebrity deaths, while tragic, don’t really have much to do with my focus on healthy lifestyles, unless it relates to their tragic loss of will at the battle with drugs or alcohol. Even then I choose not to write about it because it’s not something I can relate first-hand to. But when I started seeing all the media controversy about the ‘dramatic weight loss seen on The Biggest Loser’ last night, I had to check it out. Maybe because I’ve been on the winning and losing end of weight struggles my whole life. Or maybe it’s because I feel so strongly about food and it’s powers to help us heal. Who knows, but to be honest, I’m a little surprised at what I’m reading.

I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something here, but I’ve always been surprised by the lack of common perception that contestants on the Biggest Loser don’t take their extreme weight loss to, well, an extreme. If you think about it, they show up overweight and exhausted, both mental and physically, they have poor eating and exercise habits and they’re desperate for help. Help to change their lives, in a big way.

So why is it that we’re shocked when Rachel Frederickson comes onstage last night for the big reveal, and has continued her weight loss from home, and apparently taken it to a dramatic level? What are we really surprised by?

Dramatic weight loss.

So it seems that Rachel lost a record-breaking 59.62% of her total body weight, shrinking from 260 pounds, and a size 20, to a teeny tiny size 0 at 105 pounds.

This is where I ask myself, really?

Are we really that shocked that someone who has gone through a pretty intensive weight loss camp takes their approach to weight loss to an extreme? Yes, weight loss of that amount is crazy significant, but it seems to be what TBL contestants are going for, no?

First off, aren’t the contestants being monitored to ensure safety?

If not, I would think TBL is putting themselves at great risk for a lawsuit if anything drastic happens to their contestants. I’m sure they have some pretty iron-clad legal paperwork in place, but that would probably be trumped in court by a contestant’s ill health.

And what’s so strange to me is that it seems that Rachel’s weight loss progressed beyond what coaches Ben Harper and Jillian Michaels were aware of, as seen on the image below which has been circulating the net since last night.

The-Biggest-Loser-Bob-Harper-Jillian-Michaels-467Does tough love lead to self healing?

Don’t get me wrong, I embrace a tough-love approach to helping people get their lives back on track. I like the idea of teaching people to make smart, healthy choices. Teaching them which foods are healthier than others, how to incorporate exercise into your daily routine and probably most importantly, how to love yourself. Self loathing is often at the root of dramatic weight gain, and when a person grows to forgive and love themselves again, hormones can get rebalanced, happiness is found and weight loss tends to follow.

Self love or motivational bumper stickers?

If you listen to Rachel talk on the clip below, you might notice that it sounds like she’s speaking in motivational bumper stickers. To me, that doesn’t reflect a true sense of self or self love. To me, that reflects a person who has been fed a lot of self help quotes and has drank the Cool-aid, if you know what I mean.


Super-sized weight loss.

Am I oversimplifying by saying that asking anyone to lose more than half their body weight within 6 months could potentially lead to eating disorders? Maybe. Maybe it’s about ratings. Or maybe, like most things in America, they simply super-sized weight loss to ensure we’d all tune in for the dramatic results. And like with most things in life, as soon as its over we move on to the next big event and forget about the contestants who bare their souls on tv to help gain control of their lives back.

But at least they’re thin, right?


UPDATE: Here’s the post on Facbook from Jillian Michaels in regards to Rachel’s weight loss. Seems she’s playing safe on her stance…


So here it is.

Bob and I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the BL contestants on their hard work. We’re not comfortable commenting on Rachel’s journey because weren’t her trainers and weren’t given an opportunity to work with her at any point. Any questions about the contestants on the Biggest Loser should be directed to the show’s producers.

The sometimes controversial, former Biggest Loser trainer, Jillian Michaels is giving away a one month free trial to her personalized weight loss program for all of her Facebook Fans. If you’re not yet a fan of Jillian’s page, you can “like” her page on Facebook and will be able to take advantage of this offer. Now, I can’t vouch for her program personally, but with all the success from the Biggest Loser contestants, I have to imagine that it can’t hurt to at least take advantage of a FREE trial.

To kick off 2012, my friends at are offering all of my Facebook fans 30 days free. The best part about is that it now offers all new tools, including a calorie counter, Food & Fitness journal & 140 killer exercise videos. Click here to check it out
If you do join, please let us know your thoughts on her program!
In good health, 
Wellness Dish