We all encounter our fair share of hardship in life, and I’m no exception. I grew up an overweight child in a single parent household – a young girl who endured fat jokes on the playground and in the classroom. It didn’t get any easier, as I was met with rejection when trying to break into the world of plus size modeling. And in college, I endured an emotionally abusive relationship that threatened to crush my spirit.
Yet, despite these personal struggles, I always maintained an inner strength and quiet self-confidence – a belief that I could pursue my dreams regardless of what other people thought of me.
After receiving a Masters Degree in Business Administration in college, I got a high profile job working in corporate finance. During that time, I ballooned to 315 pounds and quickly realized that my weight problem needed immediate attention. It took a lot of courage, but I decided to leave my job and audition for The Biggest Loser.
The Breaking Point
I’ll never forget my first weigh-in – there I was standing in front of a national audience…in a bikini top and tights! Thus, began my life-altering journey back to health. Each week, I would participate in a challenge and with every win I would gain even more self-confidence. Part of the challenge was to lose enough weight, following a rigid diet and exercise program, to "stay above the yellow line", and I managed to do that every week I was on the program!
Trained by the tough and disciplined Jillian Michaels, I was put to the test each week, both physically, mentally and emotionally. Jillian's forceful style pushed me to my limits! One week (in perhaps my greatest moment on the show) I pulled a car across the finish line ahead of a male challenger and won immunity the following week.
Not only did I gain a reputation as a fierce competitor, but I knew Jillian was so proud of me. She understood that I was kicked down that week, but I bounced back from it. I finally learned a major lesson she was trying to teach me throughout the entire show. Things might not go your way, but you revise and forge ahead.
Since my time on The Biggest Loser, I have used my recognition to help motivate others to reach their goals and pursue their dreams. I make an effort to visit schools, colleges, business, and expos where I speak to people of all ages about the importance of living a fit and healthy lifestyle. I have even started my own foundation Inspire Change, in an effort to encourage people to embrace positive changes to help achieve their goals, and in turn, inspire change within themselves and others.
I look forward to connecting with the Anytime Health community each month but for now I leave you with this:
Sometimes you need to recognize that you alone might not be strong enough to overcome that "major obstacle" in your life (mine is food, or so I thought). But by asking for help, it does not mean that you are weak or incapable. Asking for help is the first step and actually, it's the most courageous thing you can do. The first step is the hardest step. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to take it. There is someone out there who has seen the same struggles as you!
Next month, I'll be talking about facing my biggest physical fitness challenge to date -- participating in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI on October 8th.
9/19/2011 at 3:32 PM