Let me preface this by saying that what I am about to tell you is simply based on my experience in my series and I love all my BL04 contestants. While I obviously have opinions, my intention is not to judge others.
I went into the Biggest Loser house tipping the scales at 119kilos. I was 20 years old, hated my body and every other thing I could poke a negative stick at. Trainer Michelle told me that she had never encountered anyone with as much self hate as I had.
I was weak, immature, in denial, reckless and stubborn and clearly in a bad place. For those who watched the show, you’ll remember that I used to cry in my cupboard; I couldn’t look into a mirror, didn’t go to the beach, had never worn jeans and ate terrible foods. I had an amazing life, very fortunate… beautiful friends and family giving me lots of support but it wasn’t enough.
People used to always say to me; “If you really wanted to lose weight, you would do it.” This really upset me because I did want it and had tried so many diets and regimes.
Obesity is like an addiction and I was an addict – Addicted to food and self neglect. What I realized in the show is that everything came down to me and my choices. No one made me eat bad foods, my mother bought me training sessions, dietician sessions and she was always that positive voice in the back of my head. She said nothing but beautiful things to me along with all the other people surrounding me. Unfortunately though – I didn’t listen and I put myself in the rut and wasn’t able to get out. Despite my mother’s or anyone else’s efforts, I was an adult with my own wallet, my own habits and made my own decisions. Today, I still have these things BUT the difference is – what Biggest Loser gave me and that is a new perspective and ownership of my life and every decision in it.
I was in the Biggest Loser house until the end and was lucky enough to become a finalist.
I had an enormous struggle with my food at the start; I was the fussiest person in the world with my food and I couldn’t understand why they were feeding me so much food, I mean, six meals a day? I never ate that often! We were supported in every way possible while in the house. There was a nutritionist who came in weekly, we all had our own food diaries and we also had Shan and Mish’s guidance and support at all times! We had more veggies and meat then an army would eat and we had the best kitchen to cook it in.
We had access to a psychologist and could speak with her whenever we needed to. We also had a medic on site 24/7, security guards outside the house and a house coordinator with us at all times. There were weekly visits from doctors, podiatrist’s, sports masseuses and physiotherapists. Let’s just say, I felt safe and I was looked after. Being lucky enough to have been chosen as one of 20 to appear on the show,(from a total of 12,000 who applied) I made sure that I acted like a sponge and absorbed every detail of my experience. I wrote down every bit of advice, every tip and I put that in my brain volt because I knew I needed to use it in the real world – on the outside!
The Biggest Loser crew was such a big part in my journey, I remember crying on a certain challenge and multiple camera men, producers and sound guys came up and gave me a hug, patted me on the back and told me it would be okay… They were there to do a job – but they also cared!
Ultimately – it’s a TV show and it makes lots of money! We all signed up knowing this. I was on the show, crying every day, missing my friends and family, wishing the training got easier… but you know what?? I lost 46.2kilos on it!!! I would not change anything about my experience. It made me a stronger person mentally, physically and emotionally. I had to mature, smarten up and take responsibility that MY actions (not those of anyone else) effect how I look and feel!
After finale, I remember thinking, “Here I go, it’s time to test how much I really want this.” As far as I was concerned their job was done! They have held my hand for months, given me all the right tools – it was now up to me to apply my new knowledge of nutrition and exercise. My first day out, I started looking for a trainer. I asked around, called around, did trial sessions and eventually found ‘my’ trainer. I did one-hour sessions three times a week. I also joined a gym with the six month voucher Biggest Loser gave me.
I can get quite defensive of the Biggest Loser enterprise because they helped me change my life. They were instrumental – but they aren’t responsible for my life. I am. They taught me that I was worth it, I deserved it and I was lucky. Publicly it makes an impact too. People still send me emails, stop me in the street and send me letters at my work saying things like – “You changed my life Sammy”, “If you can do it, I can do it”, “You inspired me, I have lost 21kilos”, “You saved my marriage” You’re an inspiration.” I receive requests for advice, tips and support. I reply to everyone who asks for help! I love the fact that I can help others.
So – based on my experience, the show works in helping people! I, and many other contestants can vouch for this. I am 54kilos lighter and continue a healthy and active life.
My tips for maintaining your weight loss:
1. Keep an old photo
2. Remember the time you felt your lowest
3. Keep one old piece of clothing you NEVER want to fit again
4. Throw away clothes as they get too big
5. Remember what you had to go through to lose it
6. Write notes in your pantry, bathroom, in your car and anywhere you can
7. Remember you are worth it
(I have one in my pantry – “FOOD IS FUEL”, because that’s all it is. I guarantee you – once you eat that piece of cake or chips, you will wish you didn’t)
The contestants or people in day to day life that put weight back on are not weak nor should they be looked down upon. Weight loss is a different story for everyone and most of us have struggled with it at one point in our lives. I still have my own fears and ongoing battles but I strongly believe that, as with anything else in life – Biggest Loser is what you make of it. I am still in regular contact with producers and crew from the show as well as Mish and Shannon and feel ongoing support and commitment from everyone. But at the end of the day – the only commitment that will make ongoing change in my life – is my own.
Just remember you are worth it and for those out there who have done it once, you can certainly do it again.