On the Feb. 4 finale of The Biggest Loser, contestant Rachel Frederickson stepped on the scale and secured the title of Season 15 champ (and the cool quarter of a million that goes with it). The 24-year-old nabbed another title, too, albeit one that has mired the petite brunette in controversy — that of the smallest winner in the history of the long-running show.
Down to 105 pounds from her original weight of 260, Frederickson lost 155 pounds — or roughly 60 percent of her total body weight. For the first time since coming under fire for her extreme results, she has admitted that she did, perhaps, take it too far.
Or did she? As the latest Biggest Loser winner receives more pressure and backlash, she seems to be contradicting herself.
In the new issue of People, Frederickson spoke at length with the magazine for an exclusive cover feature profiling her dramatic results and the subsequent controversy they've sparked. "Maybe I was a little too enthusiastic in my training to get to the finale," she told the publication about the six hours of exercise per day and 1,600 calorie diet that led to her weight loss.
Further remarks appear to imply Frederickson plans to pull the intensity back a bit now that the show is over. "I trained like an athlete for the finale," she explained. "Now I am a girl in her real life."
Comments from her trainer, Dolvett Quince, confirm that the two have discussed getting Frederickson's body — which some are referring to as gaunt — "back to a place where she has energy and muscle mass." Quince also confessed to the magazine that the first thing that crossed his mind upon seeing Frederickson was "That's just too much."
But here's the rub. While some of Frederickson's comments in the interview, like those above, make it seem as though she acknowledges her 60 percent weight loss was excessive and perhaps unhealthy, other remarks made by Frederickson to People as well as other outlets directly contrast that notion.
"I've officially found that proud, confident girl that I lost," Frederickson asserted during a media conference the morning after her Biggest Loser win. "I was an athletic national-level swimmer, and to have that athlete come back again, it's just truly an amazing feeling and I'm going to embrace the new me and continue this journey."
Frederickson echoed the stance throughout her interview with People. "I've never felt better," she insisted. "I keep saying it: I am healthy." The show's executive producer, Dave Broome, backed her up, assuring that she "passed all the required medical tests ensuring she was healthy."
Naturally, there has been no shortage of people eager to weigh in on Frederickson's win. Some, like Biggest Loser's own Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and host Alison Sweeney, have shared shock and concern, but also genuine support, for the 24-year-old.
Former contestants like Season 10's Patrick House, Season 11's Olivia Ward, and Season 5's Ali Vincent empathized with Frederickson, saying it's unfair for the public to make hasty assumptions.
"Rachel chose to win," Vincent told People. "I know what it's like. I gave it every single thing I had. I was working out from 10 in the morning to 2 in the morning. Is that healthy? No! But it's a conscious, adult decision to win. I weighed 122 pounds at the finale. I took a drink of water and I gained weight back."
Others have come forth, not in criticism of Frederickson, but rather in criticism of the show that drove her to such dramatic results. Season 3 finalist Kai Hibbard opened up to holistic health counselor and Body Love Wellness blogger Golda Poretsky, claiming her time on The Biggest Loser left her with an eating disorder (read Hibbard's other claims here).
Could Frederickson's contradictory comments be indicative of a bigger problem, though?
When People asked the skinny Minnesota native point-blank if she had an eating disorder, she replied, "I am very, very healthy." Is it worth mentioning that her response did not include an emphatic no?
Furthermore, Frederickson's past — giving up her swimming scholarship to follow her boyfriend to Germany, moving back to Minnesota when her parents got divorced — could suggest that she is a people pleaser… not a bad trait, by any means, but one we imagine could be problematic for people prone to eating disorders.
Could the fact that she is backpedaling about her weight loss after receiving so much negative feedback be another example of her need to please others? Or is she simply cracking under the pressure?
Whatever the case may be, Frederickson's Biggest Loser journey has proven one thing for certain: She's brave. It's incredibly difficult to put yourself out there, particularly in the Goldilocks society we live in where everything is either too much or not enough. Here's hoping Frederickson continues to seek health and strikes a balance that is just right for her.
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