So here’s the thing, I have been curvy—err, let’s say wildly curvy for accuracy purposes—for a great deal of my life. Food, my love of food, and the repercussions that follow my on-going affair with food have been a struggle I am rather intimate with.
Having struggled with this my whole life I would say I handle it pretty well. OK, actually, that’s horribly inaccurate; I have never handled it well—I hide it well—but I don’t exactly handle it with grace and aplomb. Hence why I gave Weight Watchers a significant amount of my babysitting money during my teen years and why I decided on a whim one hot summer day two years ago to try out for the TV show, “The Biggest Loser”.
At the time I was working on a cheeky memoir about my battles with the bulge when I saw a commercial proclaiming a “Biggest Loser” casting call in Detroit. I had two thoughts:
1. Trying out for “The Biggest Loser” would make a hilarious chapter in my book.
2. Actually being selected for “The Biggest Loser” would be positively brilliant and solve all my problems.
Yes, I made the show and indeed it was positively brilliant along with positively brutal. And no, losing weight did not solve all my problems. Life is fickle that way.
I lost 92 pounds (that’s a whole person!) in my seven-month stint competing on TBL. The show changed my life in remarkable ways that I will always be eternally grateful for—the friendships, the wealth of knowledge I accrued being at the ranch (as it’s called), meeting my boyfriend, yada, yada, daffodils and rainbows, Bob Harper and the opportunity of a lifetime, what could be wrong?
Well here is the low-down skinny, pun intended on “The Biggest Loser”: It is not a lifestyle, it is a reality television show. Is it incredibly inspiring? Of course. But. Can most people afford world renowned trainers and nutritionists at their beck and call daily? Not really. Could almost anyone with a weight problem lose a lot of weight, nay an exorbitant amount of weight working out 6-8 hours a day and surviving on a caloric intake that would make children weep? For sure. Can “The Biggest Loser” be replicated in real life? Sadly, no.
For me, making the transition from what was an incredible life-altering high after months of toil to reach my goal weight, standing and waving with the confetti pouring down at finale, to going home and thinking, hmm, what now was jarring to put it mildly.
No longer did I have access to unlimited personal training. No longer could my savings sustain me without a job. And no longer could I really afford groceries from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, heck I could hardly afford groceries period as I just moved to New York City. It truly is a rotten conundrum that a sodium-laden frozen burrito is cheaper than fresh fruit. What’s a gal to do?
After spending my days working out for hours on end to instead doing a solid one-hour workout like a normal, even ambitious human being, I felt kind of depressed and endorphin-depleted. Couldn’t I just be an Olympian and get paid to run and jump and play and Crossfit all day long?(Olympians get paid right?)
I went back to normalcy, begrudgingly, and with normalcy came an occasional beer and glass of wine, homemade cookies, traffic, long days at work, budgeting, putting off the gym, not being able to afford a gym, an abundance of Greek yogurt and spinach, not wanting to get on a scale, pizza, getting on a scale, wanting to break my scale, hiding my scale, self-denial, more cookies, weight gain, weight loss, burgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, black bean burgers, weight obsession and now. Well now, here we are.
The truth: I gained a lot (not all of it) of my weight back. I envy people who get their weight loss done in one shot and never look back. There are so many of those amazing success stories, Jared from Subway, those individuals who are featured in magazines having lost 100 pounds and kept it off, even past “Biggest Loser” contestants who look even more fabulous now than they did at their finale. I commend them all. It’s an incredible feat and I strive for that.
That’s simply not how my story played out and that is OK. I don’t pretend to be a perfect human being and I am still learning. This quote says it better than I can:
“When suddenly you seem to lose all you thought you had gained, do not despair. You must expect setbacks and regressions. Don’t say to yourself, ‘All is lost. I have to start all over again.’ This is not true. What you have gained you have gained. … When you return to the road, you return to the place where you left it, not to where you started.” –Henri Nouwen
Alas my journey continues. The difference is, with “The Biggest Loser,” Weight Watchers, cleanses, detoxes and every other diet I’ve tackled, I have always had one aim in mind: Just get this freaking weight off at a breakneck pace and be done.
It can’t ever be done. It doesn’t work like that. And quite frankly I hate dieting more than I hate the song “Kissed From a Rose,” by Seal. So no more dieting. No more feverish race to the finish, because living a healthy life requires no shortage of commitment.
Besides, I truly love eating healthy. I love to cook. I love yoga. I love running. I love races. I love the feel of an accomplished goal or when my body performs optimally, like when I was body-checking my family during boot hockey last week. OK, I’m a tad competitive.
My goals will no longer include dropping 10 pounds in a week, though admittedly that’d be grand, but instead I will be getting back to the basics of fueling my body with the proper nutrients and exercise to allow me to climb any mountain I want, wear any dress I fancy without being limited to an empire waist, and have the confidence to go after all I want in this life. My life will no longer be the skinny diaries, it will be the healthy diaries.
I’m ready for a new year of focused attention on my health and fitness the girl-next-door way, with a combination of good old-fashioned hard work, healthy fare (on a budget of course), stimulating and sweat-inducing workouts and no help from Bob Harper—though I will have him in spirit.
Who’s with me?