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?

Rachel Frederickson1

[Image source]

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.

Before and after 2011 to 2012text

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.

Before and after 2011 to 2013text

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 

Before and after 2011 to 2014text

…and Rachel found hers too.

Rachel Frederickson2

[Image source]

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.

Amy 3 pic progress 2014

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.

Choose healthy

Speaking of the fat on my hips, I’m gonna rock it in a bikini this weekend and cheer on the Metric fam at Beach WOD.

And I’m out.

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29 thoughts on “How the Biggest Loser Inspired Me

  1. Lauren

    Amy this is a brave post! I think many people out there and many people in blog world can relate to this. We seem to have gone through these journeys and fortunately pulled out the other side and found happy medium. That is what it is about though – going through these lessons and then helping others with what we have learned. It is about being happy in our own skin, loving ourselves and really appreciating our bodies for the wonderful machines they are – they allow us to experience so many wonderful things and for that we should be forever grateful <3 – LOVE!

    Reply

  2. Linda @ Fit Fed and Happy

    As always, I think you’re great, Amy. I’m glad you found your r balance and so did Rachel. I think it’s silly for people and the media to just jump to conclusions like that!

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  3. Becky @ Olives n Wine

    Awesome post and awesome perspective, Amy! I was also frustrated with all of the backlash toward that poor girl on the BL. People can be so mean and she was just trying to get healthy… and guess what, she ended up getting there using her own methods! I am seriously so pumped to meet you soon! xo

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  4. apandabear91

    new reader; great post. Love that you’re willing to share your story that SO many (including myself) can relate to. It’s scary how steep that slope is from healthy to not!!

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  5. ahealthyhappyhome

    I think you look amazing and am so proud of you for making those health changes! I wish I had figured it out much sooner than I have and maybe I wouldn’t still be struggling with past issues and body image problems. I’ll get there :-) It’s funny how many health magazines I used to read now I never buy them. I do subscribe to Paleo Magazine which I highly recommend :-)

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  6. Ang @ Nutty for Life

    Woah I’m so happy you shared that pic of Rachel. I totally forgot about her. I was pretty mad about that whole thing, and still kind of am, because in a monitored environment like a show i feel that someone should have stepped in, but now she looks so healthy and happy. I can relate to losing too much as well. Happened to me in HS. and freshman year of college. Then I gained a lot bc I ate too little! It’s a vicious cycle. I wish Rachel’s story would come back out on the news because people, esp young girls, need to see her at this healthier weight.

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  7. Amy @ Long Drive Journey

    I admire you so much for doing this. I think that realizing, hey, I need to gain some of this weight back, takes even more courage than changing your life to lose it in the first place.

    Also, this is such an interesting perspective about Rachel! When it first happened, I was firmly in the camp of hating The Biggest Loser, but agreed that the backlash that Rachel, herself, experienced wasn’t fair. She did what she had to do to win. I’m glad that she has gotten to a healthy weight! As far as the show goes, while it is ridiculously entertaining, I disagree with a lot of the weight bias that I feel like it supports. I don’t like the idea that fat = bad and skinny = good. Should we all want to be a healthy size? YES. But taking drastic measures to get there is not for everyone, and I don’t like the obsession with weight and shape that it feeds. NOT that you asked about the show, haha.

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  8. Jen @ Chase the Red Grape

    I bought women’s health recently and was shocked by what they were promoting. Bad habits, poor advice, calorie restriction and mass exercise – not HEALTH!
    And then I read my husbands men’s health- so so different!
    Why are men allowed to be strong but women can’t?!

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  9. Strength and Sunshine

    Love this! You go girl! Finding the right balance can be such a tricky thing. Sometimes we go to far or not enough, but when we find our happy place where we can thrive and maintain, we become our best and happiest! XOXO

    Reply

  10. Allie @ Running on Peanut Butter

    Oh I just have so much to say, ALL good things! You are such an inspiration for so many reasons. I am LOVING your progress pictures, and I think you look THE best in your latest one. Beautiful, strong, amazing, fit & toned. I’m so glad that you are brave enough to share your story and your pictures with me (and your readers– since I won’t be selfish). You are amazing and I love you!!!

    Reply

  11. Lauren S (@BreatheBlog)

    GREAT POST. I just commented on someone else’s blog that I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately. I could count calories, only reallly eat plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli, go to the gym 2 hours a day and be skinny, a size 1, with abs. I’d be sad. I’ll take my little extra pudge and bigger pants to feel strong and healthy but still enjoy cocktails with friends, pizza & ice cream on the regular. I’d rather be healthy than skinny!

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  12. Alexis Teevens

    SING IT, friend! This is fabulous. I love the acknowledgment that MOST girls do not have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. That can run the gamut, but it’s time for us to stop pointing fingers at people who are too skinny or too fat or eat this or restrict that and just realize that our culture is making is all crazy. We all need to take a step back and think about what healthy really means for US, and start figuring out how to be comfortable with that. I’m figuring that out, too, and I still have insecure moments (more frequently than I would like to admit) and I still spend more of my brain power than I would like to thinking about what I “should” eat. I’m getting better, but it’s going to take a while. Thanks for being honest, as always. Love this and love you. Rock that bikini hard this weekend.

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  13. Stéphanie

    Thanks Amy! i was feeling more toned this morning and I weighed myself. I was sad because I gained weight instead of losing some. But then I told myself: heck, I look and feel better so the numbers are not as important as what i feel! :) Sometimes, by wanting to lose weight so much, we lose sight on why we want to lose it!

    MsBubu

    Reply

  14. Erika Newlyweds

    I think you look great in your current photo, as well as your other photos! You definitely look healthy to me. I am constantly working on my body image and perception of myself.

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  15. Jackie

    Thank you so much for this post, you continue to be a healthy inspiration. I currently am stuck in the rut you described of counting calories and obsessing over the content of foods, often getting extremely upset with myself if I go over my fat limit. My family has also expressed concern but like you I am an athlete (runner), and it’s almost like it’s a competition to see who can be the skinniest, the lightest, rather than the healthiest. But then at the same time I love food so much, and I beat myself up when I eat something “unhealthy” even though it really isn’t and my body needs the fuel.

    I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons but sometimes I wish I could abandon that and follow a diet such as yours but I know at the same time that I can still fuel myself properly without meat. Really what’s important is providing the fuel our bodies need and I really admire the way you do that without making it a chore like much of modern society convinces us it has to be. Thanks for this post, it’s great to see someone else struggle with these problems and speak about them candidly.

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  16. Shelly

    Oh I can totally relate to what you’re saying! I spent years counting calories, limiting my fat intake, restricting all fruit, consuming sugar free foods all to stay at a size zero. Not only is it not worth it, but it’s not healthy. I feel a million times better now that I am eating Paleo-ish and not living by a set of unrealistic restrictions. Another great post, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  17. Michele @ paleorunningmomma

    What an amazing post! I too went through years on and off of running too much and not eating enough nourishing food. I was afraid to eat fat because I thought it was unhealthy and “fattening” and boy was I wrong! It’s so much better to forget about weight and what anyone else thinks and just do what works for you!

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  18. Fit 'N' Cookies

    <3 <3 I love that you took what she went through and completely related to it. At first, I totally thought she went down the wrong path to win, but after hearing her story a few months ago, and just knowing she was competitive, I don't blame her. I am sure I would have done the same thing. I don't count calories because I know I need a lot. Between running multiple times a week, and teaching group fitness, I just need to eat a lot and usually it's more than others. But, it works for me. I know the feeling if I don't eat enough, and it's not worth it!

    Reply

  19. Karey at Nutty About Health

    LOVE this post Amy!! I’m so proud of you & how far you’ve come! You’re a great role model for what healthy is & should be. :) Rock that bikini girl!!

    Reply

  20. Alisha's Appetite

    Damn. This is an incredible post, Amy! I can absolutely see the similarities between you and Rachel’s journey (I am SOOOO happy she looks so much healthier now!) and think that this was brilliantly written. Great job on so many of your “lightbulbs” over the past year! PS – I tried my first crossfit class this past weekend and though of you!

    Reply

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  22. Christine @ Gotta Eat Green

    Seriously awesome post Amy. You are so right about Rachel and I wish I would have thought more about the competition when I watched the finale; but I won’t lie, I was shocked when I saw her. I couldn’t believe how thin she was and the fact that she did it to win. It’s funny how listening to other people’s reactions will get you thinking..

    Oh and you look amazing!! Look at those muscles!!

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  23. Kelsey

    You are my rockstar – and I’m pretty sure you nailed it with Rachel. That was probably some of the own thoughts I had about it, but just never got to that enlightening moment. You look amazing, my dear, and I’m so happy that you are in your happy place now. Thank you for the encouragement. YOUROCK.

    Reply

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