Ali Vincent triumphantly won the fifth season of The Biggest Loser, dropping 112 lbs. In April, she made a tough announcement and publicly shared on Facebook that she regained almost all of her weight. But Vincent is determined to drop it for good, and joined Weight Watchers. She’ll be blogging about her progress on People.com.
The universe works in mysterious ways. I had known that contestants from season 8 of The Biggest Loser were participating in a study over the years, but didn’t know what they could be actually studying.
First of all, I want to commend my fellow Biggest Loser family members from season 8 for having the courage, strength and discipline to participate in a six year study, so that all of us might have a little more understanding about weight loss and sustainability. Our Biggest Loser family is over 277 strong, and I know that there is not one among us who has not dealt with the struggle, anxiety, fear, or in some cases shame, over gaining weight back since being on the show.
Of course, not everyone has spoken out about it, but it seems to be a part of life after publicly sharing our journeys of such a deeply private and personal nature with the world.
When I went on the show, I knew that the price to pay for the opportunity of a lifetime was that it would be filmed for the world to see. I would have given anything to have the same opportunity and not have it televised. However that was not the way it worked.
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As many of us have struggled with our weight – we have lost a noticeable amount only to regain some if not all – it’s challenging to deal with because everyone notices. Our family, our friends, our neighbors, the people that work at places we frequent – they all acknowledged the loss. They told us how great we look, asked how we did it and so on, which was amazing and feels great.
What doesn’t feel amazing and great is when we gain weight back and nothing is said. We internalize it and make up in our minds what all those same people must be thinking, and start to feel ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed. We don’t want to be around them so they don’t have to say anything, and we don’t have to have all those feelings tear us apart. We retreat.
It doesn’t matter that none of these people think any differently of us – what matters is that we feel like they are judging us. Could you imagine having those feelings, knowing millions of people have watched your journey? There is such negativity towards and shaming of people that struggle with their weight in our society. It is the socially acceptable prejudice, and it needs to stop.
If I had had the courage to openly talk about it, and not have the fear of negative judgment about my struggles, I don’t think I would have slipped so far. I don’t think ANYONE – Biggest Loser alumni or you at home – should have to hear or feel anything but support as we navigate this journey.
I have struggled for too long with questions: “Why has it seemed so hard for me?” “How come my efforts didn’t equate to those around me doing the exact same thing?” “What was wrong with me?!” I’m grateful to finally have some answers. I hope that some of these answers breed compassion.
I remember being so hungry right before leaving the Biggest Loser campus to go home and train for the finale. I didn’t understand why. Jillian [Michaels] had told me that’s because my metabolism was finally working for me, and that was a good thing.
After reading the New York Times article, I wonder if it was possibly because of lack of Leptin? I guess I’ll never really know. I think this study is going to be a great resource that will help myself, and so many others, as we continue on our journeys. Knowing that there is medical research that can provide answers to questions we may be having as to how to fight this is priceless.
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As you know, I have started over in this journey, and I have been working with my trainer to build a strong body that will help rev my metabolism by building lean muscle mass, which looks to be just what the doctor ordered considering it would only make sense that I too probably have a slower metabolism from my past experiences.
While ah-has have been made and questions have been answered, I know for myself and the majority of my Biggest Loser family who continue to struggle with our weight, this study has given us the courage to continue showing up and fighting for our lives.