Category Archives: Self-Worth

Meet Drew, and learn a thing or two…

I want to introduce you all to a very inspiring little boy.  His name is Drew, he’s 9 years old and…well, he’s kind of a big deal.

Drew is the son of a friend of our family.  My husband and his mom, Karen, go way back to college days.

Three years ago Karen took him for his 6-year old “well visit” and found out that—on paper—Drew had gained too much weight and he was headed in a bad direction as it related to his health, according to growth charts.  She very pointedly asked the doctor if her son needed to see a nutritionist.

As a first course of action, the doctor told her that he believed that by being deliberate about portion control, watching WHAT he eats (not just how much of it), encouraging regular physical activity and being mindful of his weight through regular weigh-ins (every three months over the course of the next year)—that he hoped to be able to get Drew on the right track.

Their family had to draw a line in the sand that day and decide what they would do.  They knew it wouldn’t be an easy road many days.  Let’s face it, “moderation” isn’t a concept many kids (or adults) embrace.  And no matter how much a parent loves their child they cannot make this decision for them.  Because when it’s time to do the hard work of eating healthy and being physically active, no one can do it for you.

By listening to the advice of the doctor and making a commitment to healthier living, himself, slowly Drew began to see a change.

He had to truly buy into the mindset that occasionally a slice of pizza or a piece of cake is OK.  (And it is.)  But it couldn’t be a way of life; he couldn’t consume these things every day.  And life isn’t always fair.  Not everyone’s metabolism is the same, and that stinks.  When other kids could shovel in multiple cookies or donuts, Drew had to make the decision to limit his intake to one cookie or ½ a donut even while his friends over-indulged.

Drew has a love of sports that runs deep, so he decided that instead of sitting in front of the television with a bag of chips in his lap after school, he would become active with participation in flag football, basketball, baseball and wrestling.  He and his mom tracked his progress and they began to read the labels on their food and talk about smart choices.

This kid is 9!!  What wisdom!!

He recently went back to the same doctor for his annual wellness visit—now three years later.  And get this, he has grown 6 inches…and only gained two pounds!!

I’m not even his mother and still my heart bursts with pride for Drew.

He is proof positive that little changes—over time—make big differences.  I am so proud of him, on so many levels.  We should all take note of the example he sets and remember these things:

  • Be deliberate about portion control
  • It’s not just about how much you eat, but WHAT you eat
  • Look at labels and make smart choices about what you put in your body
  • Choose to be active instead of a couch potato—and find activities that are fun for you
  • Not everyone’s metabolism is the same, so learn to work with yours
  • Stick with it and don’t give up and you can see amazing results

Here is Drew at the beginning of his journey just three years ago—mid-journey—and now today.  What a special young man he is.

Drew

What is so remarkable to me is that because Drew “gets it” at his early age, he won’t have the same struggles many people when they get older in the areas of their health and weight.  I think his success is amazing and he is such an encouragement.  We could all learn a thing or two from Drew.


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.


Don’t get “dogged” by your past…

I’ve shared this story before, but it’s one I need to remind myself of sometimes so I want to share it again here. It’s the story of two dogs: Marty and Sam. Marty, is a Miniature Schnauzer and Sam, is a yellow Labrador Retriever. They both belong to my pastor and he shared this in a sermon a while back and it really made an impression on me.

When Sam was a puppy, Marty would exercise his dominance as the “alpha male” and eat his dog food and then go over and eat Sam’s too.

Now, many, many months have passed, and Sam outweighs Marty by almost four times his body weight. But guess what happens when Marty finishes his own food? He goes over to Sam’s bowl and Sam cowers down in fear as Marty proceeds to gobble up both bowls.

Sam reverts back to the mentality of a six-week-old puppy. Even though his size and strength far exceeds Marty’s now; he has a defeated mindset that he can’t overcome.

This illustrates to me the danger of living too much in the past. It can keep us focused on the wrong things. If we remember our past failures it can freeze us in the present and hurt our prospects for the future. It causes us to say things like: “I’ll never…” or “I can’t…” or “I messed up too many times to…”

But there’s got to be a delicate balance in our thinking. The fact is the past isn’t all bad. I believe we should use the past; both the positive and negative – to build us up and prepare us for the future.

I hear from people a lot who share stories about feeling defeated in their attempts to lose weight or make changes in their lives. They are scared of change, and they are defeated by their past. I try to encourage them to just take that first step to move beyond the past and into the future.

Whenever you begin to make changes in life, it may be scary but more than that it’s going to be exciting. Sometimes when you begin to make those changes things feel beyond your control. But when that happens, just remember that God is in control – His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Rest in that reality and make a change today that will impact all your tomorrows!


Q&A with Julie: How Do You Combat the Negative Self Talk?

I know I say this a lot, but I really mean it – one of the very best parts of being on “The Biggest Loser” and the “journey” that has followed is getting to meet people from all over that I would have otherwise never known.  These people share their stories, their struggles, their victories.  I love it!

So I decided recently to start answering some frequently asked questions via my Blog.

The other day I got a message from a precious lady in Chatham, Ontario.  She shared her heart and at the conclusion of her email, she said:

“Could you reassure me that it is possible to lose weight and keep it off.  Also, how do you (did you) battle the negative self-talk?”

I have gotten variations of those questions many times.  So I thought it would be a great topic for today.

First of all, yes it is possible to lose weight and keep it off.  I maintained a healthy body weight for five years after being on “The Biggest Loser.”  Notice I said “healthy body weight.”  Not necessarily “my finale weight.”  I was running fourteen miles a day (yes, I said a day) prior to the Finale.  I couldn’t keep up that schedule.  But I found a healthy weight and a size I was comfortable with.  And through good nutrition and exercise it is possible to keep your weight under control.  Is it easy?  HECK NO!  It is a struggle every single day.  There are constant highs and lows in the battle…days of both victory and of defeat.

If you are like me, I am a food addict.  It is possible for an alcoholic to eliminate their addiction completely from their lives (not easy, but possible).  But who can stay completely away from food?  You have to have it to live.

So I in no way want to imply that there is anything easy about maintaining weight loss.  I think you must be determined and be realistic.  But as we’ve all heard many times before, anything worth having is worth working hard for.

During my pregnancy I gained weight and I am in the process of getting it back off.  I look at these women on magazine covers that pop a baby out and the next week are back in their skinny jeans.  Well, that has not been my experience (and I don’t own a pair of skinny jeans anyway).   I have discouraging days when the progress is slower than I’d like it to be…which leads me to the second question:  How do you battle the negative self-talk?

Negative self-talk got me up to 218 pounds and landed me on a reality TV show for the morbidly obese.  So I know quite a bit about it.  I was guilty of it my whole life.  And even now, I sometimes catch myself having a defeated or discouraged attitude.

What helped me initially, and still does to this day, is to acknowledge the source of my strength.  For me, it’s my faith that plays that integral role in my life.  I read in the scriptures all the magnificent things God has to say about me.  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”  I am “the apple of His eye…”  He calls me His “Beloved…”  And “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  This part of my life truly does help me combat the negative self-talk.  I mean, if the creator of the universe holds me in such high esteem…then I must be something special.  It’s all about feeling WORTHY…worthy of the effort it takes to live the life of your dreams.

I realize that some of you reading this don’t share the same faith.  But you can still drill down to whatever the source of your strength is.  Maybe it’s yourself.  Or your family.  Or your kids.  Whatever it is that motivates you to keep on trying and never give up…lock your mind around that thing.  BELIEVE you really are worth all the effort to make a change in your life.

I read this recently and I have said it to myself many times since then:   “Losing weight is hard.  Maintaining weight loss is hard.  Being fat is hard.  Choose your hard.”