Category Archives: The Biggest Loser

My Favorite Lessons from Alison Sweeney

Hearing the news about Alison Sweeney’s departure from The Biggest Loser has caused me to recall the first time I met her and how I felt about her as I got to know her.

When I auditioned to be on TBL I had no idea that she would be the host of the show. She wasn’t the host DSCN0165(B)of the previous seasons. And let’s just be honest, she was a major soap star. So to say I was star-struck was putting it mildly. And she did not disappoint. She looked the part of a star and was as beautiful in person as she was on TV. But what I think we all thought was even more impressive ASis that she is just as nice a person as you would hope she would be. She was warm, genuine and truly cared about the contestants. What you saw on TV was exactly the person she was when the cameras stopped rolling.

I will admit I’m a little sad that she’s leaving Loser, but she has so many projects in the works. I enjoy watching everything she does because as a woman and a wife and mother – she seems to be living proof that you really can “have it all.” A few years ago I wrote a blAS2og about her. I thought in light of this recent news, I would repost it. I called it “My Favorite Lessons from Alison Sweeney.” They all still apply. So here it is again.

When Ali speaks of setting and attaining your goals; you had better listen because she’s obviously doing something right. She is sort of a role model for me in many ways. So I thought this week it would be fun to share My Five Favorite Things I’ve Learned from Alison Sweeney:

  1. There’s no such thing as luck. Some people may think that Ali has experienced a lot of luck in her career. But I have learned from her that there’s really no such thing as “luck”—it’s really about when opportunity and preparation meet. She focused early on what she wanted out of life and began preparing for it. Then when the door of opportunity opened, she was ready! I love that about her. And it’s a valuable lesson for all of us. You have to be prepared to receive all the things you dream of for yourself.
  2. You have got to love what you do! If you do you will excel! She says she was born with the acting bug and it shows. The reason she has been a successful actress and host for so long is because she’s excellent at it! Find what you love to do and do it!
  3. There’s no substitute for sincerity. When my husband Mike showed up on the set of The Biggest Loser a few years back he was a little star-struck to be meeting this Hollywood personality he’d seen on TV for years. We (the contestants) were in the middle of a photo shoot for Prevention magazine and I saw Ali walk up to Mike, wrap her arm around his, call him by name and ask about our son Noah by name. Wow! Talk about first impressions.
  4. It’s not always as easy as it looks. In other words don’t assume because someone looks like being in shape is effortless that it is. Ali is a gorgeous soap star. But she’ll be the first to tell you that her weight is always something that she’s worked on. I remember when the cast of The Biggest Loser went to Jamaica together. My team woke up extra early to sneak into the gym and get a jumpstart on working out to beat out the competition. When we walked in—Alison Sweeney was already in there working out. She always looks healthy and fabulous but it doesn’t come without hard work.
  5. Balance is possible without sacrificing excellence. I don’t know many (if any) other moms that work two jobs like she does. And I went to both of her jobs in one day once. She work(ed) on the set of Days of Our Lives for hours and then sometimes in the same day had to be out until 4:00 in the morning monitoring a Biggest Loser challenge. And yet because of her strong work ethic and integrity she maintains excellence in all she does.

“To whom much is given, much is required.” That scripture comes from Luke 12:48 but I think it really applies to Ali. She’s been given so many incredible opportunities but she makes a conscientious choice to make the most of each of them. I want to live life in the same way!

BLFinale015

So although the Biggest Loser won’t be the same without Alison Sweeney, I do love her and can wait to see the exciting things that are coming up for her next!


Are you ready for your marathon?

Last night I was sitting in church listening to the guest speaker. My ears perked up as he began talking about how his wife was an avid runner—something he had no appreciation for since he had a car and that was his preferred method for getting from one place to another.

I kind of half-laughed when he said that, because with the busyness of life, running has taken a lower place on my list of priorities. In the past I loved to run. It was one of the few times I could get alone with my thoughts. He said his wife was a marathon runner and as he continued to talk about some of the reasons she enjoys running, it all resonated with me very loudly.

Here’s my spin on what he shared about the commonalities between a marathon and the race we call life.  There are three main things to consider:

  1. The preparation. When you embark on any race, you must first get ready. Those who train (prepare) are bound to do better. For example, in a marathon you must be sure to be stretched and hydrated. Likewise, in life’s journey – you must take care of yourself. Nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually and prepare for the road ahead.
  2. The focus. Don’t get distracted by looking at the mile ahead or the one behind. Focus on the mile you are on right now. “Tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) Stay focused on where you are right now. This will keep you stronger in this moment. If you do this, you’ll have what you need for the next one.
  3. The reason you’re running. I hadn’t really thought of it this way before, but the guy sharing last night said, “A very small percentage of those competing in a marathon are doing it to actually win it.”  He went on to say that most runners are there not necessarily to win, but just to finish.

I thought about the power of that statement. There is something extraordinarily gratifying about finishing what you started.  Not only do you feel powerful, but it prepares you for the next goal.

Are you running a marathon now? If so, are you prepared, focused and sure of the reason you’re running it?

First Half Marathon

At the finish of my first half marathon. I wasn’t the fastest. But I finished. And that feeling was amazing!


“Make-Over Memories”

Last night’s episode of “The Biggest Loser – Glory Days” was the popular Make-Over Episode.  I always watch with curiosity to see the mid-way transformations and to observe the contestants’ reactions to themselves.  And I always wonder how they really feel.

I viewed myself for the first time during the "Make-Over Episode" of The Biggest Loser, Season 4 - not convinced that I was satisfied with what I saw.

My first look at myself mid-way through the transformation process.

To be honest, when we did our make-overs in Season 4, I knew there was an expectation that I be elated with my appearance. I mean, they staged a big dramatic lead up to seeing ourselves for the first time in a full length mirror…then the great unveiling.  I tried to be exuberant…but truthfully I knew I wasn’t finished and wasn’t satisfied with what I saw.  I wasn’t even where I wanted to be for that point in my journey.

I recently read something a friend of mine (Misti Bryson) posted on Facebook that really sums it up with crystal clear clarity.  She wrote:  ” A person’s future is not based upon where they are.  It’s based upon whether they decide to stay there.”

Future Quote

I love that statement because it’s so true!  And it’s a philosophy I continue to embrace even all these years after my Biggest Loser experience.   When we experience anything in life [success or failure], whether it be in weight loss, or relationships, or career, or family…whatever it is – we can’t let that “moment in time” or those circumstances forever determine our future.  We have to constantly be striving for improvement.  New challenges.  New goals.  New dreams.

I guess the point of what I am trying to say is that our futures really are limitless!  And it’s exciting to think about what lies ahead.  If there’s something in your life that you aren’t happy about, it’s not a life sentence.  You can make a change.  Remember, your future is not based upon where you are!  It’s based upon whether you decide to stay there.

If you don’t like it, don’t be content to stay there.

 


My Take on a Blog About “Fatties” and Jillian Michaels

I want to “weigh in” (pun intended) on a topic that I actually feel qualified to address:  Jillian Michaels.

In a recent blog from a woman who calls herself “Jeanette” and operates a blog identifying herself as “The Fat Chick” (I’m not going to give any links – if you care enough to find it, you can through a quick internet search) she took on Jillian and criticized her approach and her motives.

Jeanette stated, “In an epic moment…my Facebook feed threw up this little fact:  ‘Jillian Michaels has published her ‘Top 3 Guidelines for Improving Body Image’ at EverydayHealth.com. This seems in line with her recent move to distance herself from Biggest Loser after she made untold millions screaming at fatties on the show.” She went onTHE BIGGEST LOSER Episode 414 further to judge Jillian’s credibility and her intentions.

It’s clear that she has never met Jillian, nor has she been mentored by her.  She’s never sweated through one workout with her.  And she clearly has no personal insight into her motives.  I, on the other hand, do.  And seven years after she stopped being my trainer on “The Biggest Loser” I am still in contact with Jillian.

I will interject here that I know that people have varying opinions of the Show.  Some have lost interest.  Many contestants have come out with negative reports of their experience.  I don’t discount anyone’s right to feel like they do.

But it’s particularly difficult to sit back and watch someone like “Jeanette” be so critical.  Among the many things I objected to in her blog was the term “fatties” – which she used to describe the contestants on BL.

In response to her comments, I want to make my own:

I was one of those fatties that she yelled at on “The Biggest Loser” and I can tell you that never once did Jillian make me feel less-than or unaccepted.  She empowered me to love myself enough to change. Change my thinking, my circumstances, my negativity, my self-doubt, my weakness. Weight comes in many forms and losing it doesn’t make you a better person, it makes you realize the person you were all along; the one God created you to be.  Jillian was a catalyst for acceptance in my life, not from anyone else, but from me.  That was life-changing.

That’s my opinion.  I welcome yours’.

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Grab your oxygen mask first!

Oxygen MaskI learned so many things through my “Biggest Loser” experience.  And Jillian Michaels made a profound impact on my life.  One of the most powerful truths she instilled in me (and all of us who were trained by her) was that “self” is not a bad word.  Sometimes in the society we live in, we are made to feel like it is.

I’m thinking particularly in my role as a mom, it is essential (most of the time) to put my kids before myself.   But I heard a great analogy today that reinforced the opinion that you don’t have to be self-ISH to make yourself a healthy priority.  And I think there’s a big difference.

Think about when you are ready for take off on an airplane.  The flight attendant says, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”

Wow, how true is that!  In other words, if we are not getting enough “oxygen” for ourselves how can we possibly be healthy and high-functioning for others?

What is your oxygen?  Maybe it’s quiet time alone to gather your thoughts as each day begins.  Or maybe it’s going for a run to get the endorphins in your brain pumping.  It could be taking the time to plan healthy menus, or reading a really great book, or soaking in a hot tub.  Or maybe it’s something as simple as sitting out on the porch at the end of the day and reflecting, or praying, or just listening.

Whatever the oxygen is in your life…I encourage you to “grab your oxygen mask first” – and by taking care of yourself, you will be so much better prepared to help those whom you love the most!


Abercrombie & Fitch thinks you have to be skinny to be cool? Think again.

The headline “Abercrombie & Fitch targets skinny shoppers, won’t sell larger sizes for plus-sized women” caught my eye this week. In fact, the subject has been all over the Internet, so I decided to finally weigh in on the topic (pun intended).

I have been a size 2 and I have been a size 22, and to be honest A& F has never been on my list of frequently visited stores. They are just not my style, regardless of my size. But I have a 12 year-old son (going on 21 in his own mind) who does like their clothing.

Basically, if you are bigger than a size large, don’t bother shopping at A& F. They don’t want you to and you won’t find anything there to fit. They have XS on the racks, but not XL (for women). And that’s ok. In America we are free to conduct business in whatever way we chose. And likewise, we are free – as consumers – to shop anywhere we choose.

Although I haven’t heard a direct quote from CEO Michael Jeffries this week, I did read an article in which he was quoted back from 2006. Here’s what he had to say:

“Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny.”

I don’t take issue with A&F’s right to engage any marketing strategy they choose; nor do I critique Jeffries’ right to take any stance he wants. What I do find unfortunate, is that in this image-conscious, media-driven society we live in, that all the buzz about A&F not selling clothes to “normal sized” healthy people (over a size 10), means they are alienating a group of very impressionable kids who are developing body image issues every day. And these issues go far beyond just being frustrated because they can’t fit into a cool pair of trendy jeans. These issues penetrate into the deepest core of their beings and affect the way they see themselves and value themselves. And as superficial as something like this may sound, it affects (in some people) the course they choose for their future.

The most important thing I learned from my “Biggest Loser” experience is that I am WORTH the effort to live the life I’ve always dreamed of. We all are! And that worth is NOT linked to a number on a scale, or the brand name on my shirt or jeans. And although controversy with the A&F brand is nothing new [I mean seriously, some of their ads feature so many naked bodies, you’d wonder if they are selling clothes or something else] I do hope that we as parents and adults-of-influence in the lives of kids will use all our influence to positively affect their lives and their developing self images.

And as a mom of three kids…cool or not (the verdict is still out), I’ll probably spend my money at Target.


My Thoughts on Bob Harper’s New Book: “Jumpstart to Skinny”

Several of you have asked if I have an opinion about Bob Harper’s new book, “Jumpstart to Skinny.” Yes, in fact I do. Here are my thoughts:

• I know Bob Harper personally. I believe these two things to be true about him: 1) He knows what he’s talking about. 2) He genuinely cares about people.
• I don’t believe the whole 800-calories-a-day concept is something you can live with permanently. But I don’t believe that’s what he’s suggesting. This is a jump start. And sometimes we all need a swift kick in the pants to help get us back on track.
• Consuming only 800 calories a day for three weeks won’t kill you. After all, these calories are coming from REAL FOOD. And don’t forget, you can eat all the fresh vegetables you want. (All of them! You don’t have to be hungry.)
• When I was on The Biggest Loser, I ate 1,200 calories a day normally. But as time got closer to the Finale, I went to 800 calories. It did jump start my metabolism and that’s when I started to see really significant results. (I was also running 14 miles a day too however. That part of the equation was impossible to keep up after leaving the show. Bob doesn’t mention exercise to this magnitude in his plan.  Obviously, if you are consuming 800 calories a day your exercise must be modified somewhat.)
• I think as long as you follow the formula: 20% of your calories coming from fat, 40% from carbohydrates and 40% from protein – you will be safe and not doing anything detrimental to your body.
• As far as gaining the weight back quickly, I was able to maintain a healthy body weight for five years (until getting pregnant) after using this technique initially (not permanently) to get to where I wanted to be. So as long as you keep proper perspective I don’t think re-gaining everything is unavoidable.
• Now when it comes to the word “Skinny”…let me go on the record as saying I would NOT be offended if anyone wanted to use that term to refer to me. 🙂 But I do agree “healthy” is a better choice.

So those are my thoughts. I welcome yours’.
~ J