Kai Hibbard’s story is not new. Although you might have seen it for the first time in recent weeks, she has been outspoken about the dangers and truths behind NBC’s hit “The Biggest Loser”.
Kai was the 2006 runner-up, only losing to Erik Chopin, who lost over 200 pounds. Still, Kai lost 118 pounds (although the media says 121) and was the most celebrated female on the show at that time.
She gave all of it up to tell her side of the story. She came out to tell the world about the horrible practices on The Biggest Loser. She said how she worked out all the time, barely ate and was not allowed to wear a shirt until she lost enough weight.
No one listened. No one cared.
So years later she is in the news again. The story has not changed at all. The story is, in fact, precisely the way it was when I first read it. Keep in mind, when I first read it, I was over 400 pounds.
So why are people listening now?
“I’m hoping that it’s because there is a shift in thinking about how damaging this show is and because of the scientific data out there that clearly shows what I’ve been saying about how harmful it is for years is true,” Kai said.
Kai is right. There have been numerous articles written about the show over the last few years. There have been more outspoken contestants like gold medalist Rulon Gardner. While some are inspired by the show, there are others who will do anything to lose weight.
And that never settled well with Kai. She could have been the most celebrated contestant on the show. She had the story, she had the pictures and she has the charisma. She did help people by being on the show. She also feels like she harmed some.
“You cannot imagine how it feels to have a teenage girl tell you she resorted to self-harming behavior like bulimia because she tried to emulate the fake “week” weight loss on that show,” Kai said.
And harming one person made her change.
“Maybe I helped thousands but if the price of that thousands is one person hurting themselves? That price is too high for me,” Kai told me.
Ethics has always been a top priority for Kai. As a proud member of the Army National Guard and someone who is applying to a Ph.D. program in Medical Psychology, she has felt that being honest is more important than being popular.
She is not coming out with the information now. She felt an obligation after being on the show to tell those who are inspired by it. Being on The Biggest Loser was one of her biggest regrets, and she feels like she owes people the truth.
So she has been saying it for years.
Now people are listening. She is turning down interviews that she has not gotten before. She is in papers that she was not in years ago. For every person who agrees with her, three persons battle her views.
Was it worth it?
“That’s a tough question; it feels like it’s worth it most weeks, the amount of Internet hatred I get for it when it inevitably resurfaces every finale can make it tough. I’ve learned,” Kai told me.
Kai lost a lot by telling her side of the story. She would have made much more money being part of the TBL machine and featured in future episodes.
“I get accused of making money off telling my story and I’ve never taken money offered for interviews, but this year I decided someone should make money, and I’ll be selling a tshirt where 100% of the proceeds go to the charity About-Face,” Kai said.
Most of the articles and interviews are to enlighten those who feel like the show is their only way out.
But Kai can sleep at night now. She knows that she is telling people the truth about her experience on the show.
Kai’s story will pop up a couple of times a year when The Biggest Loser is on. She will have a few interviews, a few compliments, and a few insults.
I did have to ask her one question…
I had to ask her if the scales on the stage were fake?
‘Yes,” Kai said.
I knew it!