Remember The Biggest Loser finale? When Rachel Frederickson won and weighed in at 105 lbs – claiming the title of the “Biggest Loser” for her 155 pound weight loss?
Yeah, I may be a little late to the party but now I have my thoughts together (it’s only taken a few months, right?)
At the time, everyone had something to say about it. Why are people so mean? First she was too fat, then she had an eating disorder. Everyone always has something to say about everything. Shut. Up. When I watched the finale, yes I was a bit shocked and yes I did think she looked tiny. But I also thought that I would have done the same thing. Yup, I would have. Why? Because that’s what athletes do: we win. Rachel was a competitive swimmer and her drive, determination, perseverance and fire was evident throughout the season. From week one, Rachel was my favorite and I had no doubt that she would win and she did everything to do that – and winning meant losing the most weight in relation to your body.
I can totally relate to Rachel’s story. I saw a lot of myself, my lack of confidence and my athletic background in Rachel. While my weight loss was definitely not as significant (in numbers) as Rachel’s, I think that I went through a similar experience. And the funniest (or saddest) part is that I wasn’t competing for $250,000. I was just trying to eat better, get healthier, be a lot more confident, love my body and live my life.
And I started to – I stopped eating Twinkies, counted my calories, ran, went to boxing… and over a year, my weight began to come off. I was eating better and I started to feel much more confident.
I felt great so I continued doing what I was doing: counting, running, eating a plant-based diet. But I also steered clear of fat, meat and anything else that I deemed too caloric and “unhealthy.” Damn I was stupid. At that point, I wasn’t even trying to lose weight but I just kept doing what I was doing because I thought it was the right thing to do. And it seemed to be working and making me feel good.
Well it stopped “working” and I lost about 15 pounds more than I needed/wanted/intended to lose.
And that sucked because I started to feel really crappy. My skin sucked. My body sucked. I sucked. I was grumpy, tired, injured and not very happy. So it meant making some changes: hello meat, fat, weights; goodbye calories, counting them and my irrational fear of lifting heavy things.
It was definitely a process, and it continues to be one, but I am glad I went through this process of self-exploration and realization because I actually love eating fatty food, lifting heavy weights and hey get this: I like myself too. It’s all about finding your healthy balance…
…and Rachel found hers too.
I saw pictures of Rachel recently – she said she gained back about 20 lbs since the finale and said that she’s at her “perfect weight.” [Source] I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “perfect weight” but what I do know is that we all need to find our happy place. Our place of balance, self-love and self-confidence. Am I perfect? Heck no. I still have insecurities about my body and feel sexy naked yet fat in clothes. I wish my shorts would fit but I want to deadlift. Don’t worry – I bought new shorts. But on more days than less, I am in a very happy place.
It’s frustrating because this is all too common and many people, unfortunately, get much deeper into this vicious spiral of self-doubt, restriction and control than Rachel or I did. I calculated my caloric needs and because my app told me to “eat 1,800 calories a day” I ate 1,800 calories a day. But I needed more than that. I was on the elliptical every other day. But I needed strength training and balanced cardio. I read magazines for meal ideas for “my flat belly day” or how to “torch the most calories”. But I needed fat and all the nutrients.
I’ve come across comments of people calling me “disordered”; friends (offline) have expressed concern. Thank you. Yup, along with 95% of the female population, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food. Counting calories and obsessing over food intake is not healthy but that feels like a lifetime ago. A lightbulb went off in my head and maybe seeing Rachel’s transformation had something to do with it. I know there is plenty “wrong” with the premise of the Biggest Loser, but it had a positive impact on me.
I was laughing reading the July issue of Women’s Health magazine – a magazine that used to be my bible. The “advice” and pictures are so far from a representative of health that it is laughable. I canceled my subscription. I was a size zero and I had a thigh gap and I ate 1,800 calories per day. But I wasn’t vibrant, energetic, smiling, healthy or happy. I focus on what my body can do rather than how it looks. Duh, of course I want to look good but I think I do look good with fat on my hips that allow me to run far and bang out a billion-and-one toes to bar. I want to do anything I can to help change our perception of health and beauty. I don’t know what I can do so I try to just be honest on this little space and share my story. But I will tell you this: go look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful or that you are awesome. I’m about to do that now. Because we are.
And I’m out.
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