Season Four of Extreme Weight Loss is officially over. All of our episodes have aired. America has seen our transformations. But the journey continues. It was very surreal to see a year of my life shrunken down to two hours on network television. The big moments make for good television. Everything is tied up in a neat bow at our finales.
I am beyond proud of my fellow cast mates. We could never have known what we were really getting ourselves into. In my opinion, every episode was incredible. Those people will always hold a special place in my heart and my life.
As great as those big moments are on television, it’s not really what made my year. It was the small moments we each had. It was the little moments on our own, off camera that made the year so significant for each of us.
Having TV cameras capture certain days, the big weigh-ins, the back handsprings with Nadia and Mary Lou, was great.
However, talking to Nadia off camera about her experience at the 1976 Olympics was the best part of my time with her. She was so humble, so kind. I thought my head would explode sometimes as I talked with her. It is still SO crazy to me that Nadia Comaneci knows me!
E-mailing Mary Lou Retton the video of my first unassisted back handspring and having her respond still thrills me.
One of the best moments for each of us was when we flew home for our 90-day reveals. Some people had flown to boot camp in two airplane seats, with seat belt extenders. I remember taking up all of my seat, and my hips pushing into the seat next to me. The seat belt extended as far as it would go, barely buckling, but my pride kept me from asking for an extender. As I headed home, I easily fit into my seat and had to pull the belt tight to fit the much smaller me. It was moments like this that mattered. We excitedly text messaged each other from our planes as we went home, excited to show how easily we fit. THIS is what transformation really is.
Cassie was my roommate at boot camp. I was in the room with her the first time she spoke to her son (whom she had given up for adoption) on the phone. Sure, the big moment on TV is when she met him at her 90-day reveal. But, to walk in and have her grinning from ear to ear, pointing at the phone and mouthing “my son!” was just incredible. That conversation is real life. It’s the real journey.
When we arrived at boot camp, we all wore clothes from plus size stores. I was an XXL. Size 24. I wasn’t alone. The men all shopped at the big and tall stores. As we lost weight, we needed new clothes. We had occasional outings to a shopping area with an Old Navy. As we went down in sizes, we would go in, all the girls grabbing “skinny” jeans and shouting to each other from the dressing rooms, “I fit into a size 14!” or “This sweater is a Large!” These were the moments that made it all worth it.
Part of my six-month milestone that wasn’t shown during my episode was having family photos made.
We really never had good family photos. I hated the way I looked and I would always tell myself, “We’ll get pictures made when I lose weight.” So, my house is full of pictures of my kids, but none of us as a family. So, having family photos made, and actually liking them was huge for me. I no longer have to hide myself behind my kids in pictures. Chelsea, my oldest daughter will be getting married next year and I am so glad to know I can proudly stand with her for pictures and not hate looking at them for the rest of my life. It’s those moments that matter.
You don’t see too many workouts on television. You see the big “flight or fight” or you see the footage they shoot when they are in town, but they can’t really reflect what it’s like to get up at 5:15am for months on end to really make it happen. The real transformation happens at home, when you want to lay in bed, when you crave a bowl of cereal and you choose not to have it. Transformation happens when you don’t have a date night for an entire year because the only time you can eat out is for lunch on Sunday. It’s those choices that add up to the big weigh-in, the big moment that is shown on television.
And it’s all worth it. I am sure some people think it’s easier for us because we had Chris and Heidi’s help, or because we were on a television show. That somehow there is some magic trick that allows us to lose weight so rapidly, or what seems like so easily. There is not. It boiled down to hard work, and eating right. No supplements, no shortcuts. Most of us made sacrifices to make this year happen. Several of us left jobs, gave up income to make time to workout. There was a daily sacrifice of time, sleep, and family time. But, it was all worth it.
One of my favorite moments of the year was leading up to my nine-month weigh in. I was doing extra cardio, running every afternoon to try to burn more calories. I don’t love to run, but I was determined to qualify for surgery and to be as small as I could going into the weigh-in. All year I had talked about feeling like an athlete inside, but obviously not on the outside. I had been athletic growing up and just knew that competitive person was somewhere deep inside of me. As the year went on, I began to remember what it felt like to work hard, to find that inner athlete. One afternoon, as I ran through my neighborhood, the sun was behind me, casting my shadow directly in front of me as I ran. As I watched my shadow run, I saw a small waist, strong shoulders, and a body that was easily running down the road and I thought, “You are an athlete.” No longer was it hidden deep inside of me. No longer was I thinking, “I’m supposed to be an athlete.” I knew I was an athlete.
THAT is what makes this year. It’s those real life moments that added up to transformation. While the big moments make a television episode, it’s the small ones that make a life. What is your moment? What moment do you want to have? What are you waiting on? Make that moment happen. Make your life one that is full of moments that matter.