Tag 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!

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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!


“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.

 


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


A Great “Real Food” Option: Pita Pizzas

The topic of what is a “never eat” food and what is permissible recently came up on my Facebook page, which led to some good discussion. I shared that Jillian Michaels always instructed me to not waste my calories…to always spend them on “real food.” No Cheetos or processed food snacks; but if you’d like a piece of chocolate cake, then that’s ok. Just keep things in moderation.

I have gone on the record many times to say that pizza is my weakness. It was my one indulgence on The Biggest Loser and it continues to be a favorite of my family. PizzaHowever, there are healthier ways to get the same “fix”. My friend Chef Jessica Bright (visit her online at http://www.chefjessicabright.com) came up with a great recipe that I use all the time and we even put it in my book, Fat Chance. I thought I’d share it again today.

Pita Pizzas (serves 2)

Ingredients:
1 whole-wheat pita
Nonstick baking spray
3 Tbsp tomato sauce
½ tsp sriracha Asian chili sauce (optional)
¼ tsp honey
½ cup low-fat grated Italian cheese blend
Turkey pepperoni, if desired
2 Tbsp fresh, chopped basil
Crushed chili pepper (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400º. Separate the top from the bottom of the pita to
create two equal circles. Place both circles on a baking sheet sprayed with
nonstick baking spray (smooth side down). Combine the tomato sauce,
sriracha and sugar for a spicy sweet sauce. Spread the tomato mixture
on the pitas and top with the Italian cheese blend and pepperoni. Place
in oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is
toasted. Top with fresh basil and chili pepper if desired.

Per-Serving Nutritional Information
(with sriracha, ½ cup turkey
pepperoni and chili pepper)
132 calories
3.9g total fat (1.8g saturated fat)
25mg cholesterol
633.5mg sodium
15g total carbohydrates (1.7g fi ber; 2.3g sugar)
8.7g protein

If you try them and love them, let me know!


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.”