Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Probability of Weight Loss

There is a show I sometimes watch as a guilty pleasure. It is called The Biggest Loser. Yeah that's right, The Biggest Loser. I don't watch it to get inspired or learn anything, I watch it because I find it a very funny and entertaining show. Mainly in how they dramatize weight loss.

The reason I bring this up now is because of a situation that arose on this new season. It was about if a girl was throwing the weigh ins because she didn't lose any weight for 2 weeks. The trainers Bob and Jillian were convinced that she was throwing it. She was emphatic that she was not and it just was not happening. The trainers said that was scientifically impossible...

This is why I'm writing this post. There is an inherent flaw in logic here and if the contestant knew a little bit more she could have stated her case better.

Bob and Jillian made the claim that if you work out hard and eat right there is no way you cannot lose weight based on weight loss science. They said they were 99% sure and how dare she question their knowledge of this science. Oh brother.

Here is what they did not account for in there absolutism and is the reason why you can't have a drug test or book terrorists on a 99% positive ratio. Because lets say in sports, for every 10,000 athletes tested, there will be 100 false positives. For every 100,000 citizens investigated, there will be 1,000 false arrests.

So even though Bob and Jillian were so sure, for every 100 contestants, there will be at least 1 contestant who will sometimes not lose weight. Was this contestant the one? I don't know, but was there a major failure in scientific rationale and logic? Yes.

So let me swing this back to you, the average gym goer. Sometimes you will do everything right and still not lose weight. It's unlikely but it happens. Maybe for every 1,000,000 people working out, it will happen to 10,000 people. That's 99%.

Here is the important part to learn. It happens. THAT'S SCIENCE! But for every time you work out and do it right with all out effort, you exponentially increase your chances of success. For every time you don't go work out, you decrease your chance of success to 0. That is the only guarantee and absolute. Try and eventually you will succeed. Don't try and you will fail. That's 100%.
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