I still don't watch the show, for different reasons. But I've never forgotten that feeling of jealousy I used to have. Instead of being inspired by their hard work, I was angry at the tools they'd been given, the ones I coveted for myself. No one was here to cook nutritious meals for me and only serve healthy portions. No one was here to push me as I worked out, to tell me to go harder and move faster and work longer.
Well, of course, they're losing weight - if someone put me in isolation away from the foods I binge on and forced me to work out for hours every day, I'd lose weight too.Because I didn't have exactly what they had, I seem to have decided that weight loss was, for me, impossible. And I always got a sick pleasure from hearing how some of the contestants regained some/all of their weight back.
It's funny. I always said that I wanted to lose weight more than anything, but it wasn't true. I didn't want it more than I wanted to overeat to the point of physical pain. I didn't want it more than I wanted to sit on the couch and watch movies for hours and hours. It took 23 years before I got to the point where what I truly wanted most was to be healthy. And in the meantime, I spent a lot of time wishing for someone or something to intervene, to hand me the tools I needed to get on the right track.
I'm not proud of this, but at 345 pounds, I used to wish for really terrible things to happen. I would lay in bed, hoping and wishing that I'd be in some sort of accident - just a broken leg or two, maybe an arm as well, nothing more serious - because I saw that as the key to recovery. I hoped to be hit by a car, or to fall from somewhere high enough to injure but not necessarily kill. I just wanted to be hospitalized. If I was in the hospital, I could only eat what they served me. I wouldn't be able to get out on my own to buy food to binge on. Exercise would be non-existent at first, but as my body healed and I lost weight, it would become easier.
I often think about a young woman named Michelle who was also a participant in last summer's Whole Foods/Plant Strong diet challenge, whose body became gluten and dairy intolerant after having her appendix out, if I recall correctly. The plant strong diet was difficult for her because she absolutely could not lose any more weight without it becoming an unhealthy low. She had to eat tons of healthy, plant-strong, yet calorie-dense foods. In the past, I might have wished the same issues on myself, and I certainly would have been upset and jealous. It was so selfish. I would have seen what I could gain from her serious health problems, instead of her daily struggles and the difficulties she encountered while learning to live with her new restrictions.
I'm very ashamed of these thoughts. I was willing to sacrifice my health and safety (and possibly even the safety of others) in order to be forced to learn self-control.
And the thing is, I didn't see the irony. I loved hearing about the Biggest Losers regain their weight once reintroduced to the real world, but didn't stop to consider that the same thing was due to happen to me if my fantasy was ever realized. You could have strapped me down, regulated my food, and screamed at me until you were hoarse, urging me to exercise and feed myself right. I might have even lost some weight. But it would not have stayed off. As soon as I was left to my own devices, I would have been back to my old habits and the weight would have crept back on.
Michelle's is one of the challenge blogs that I still follow, and her most recent health concern is a possible fructose intolerance - so now even her fruits and vegetables are limited. My heart aches for her, and I am so, so grateful for my own ungranted wishes. Every day, I get to choose *if* I want to eat well and exercise - and I love myself and want to properly nourish and care for my body, so I do. Some people, for any number of reasons, don't get to make the choice.
After all my false starts and jealous wishes, I found the motivation to lose the weight the right way. It happened when it wasn't about the haves versus the have nots, when improving my day-to-day struggles became a bigger priority than making sure I had all the same advantages as people competing on television. When I stopped comparing my journey to anyone else's, it became easier to see just how many strengths I had to guide myself. When it finally became the thing I wanted more than anything, I was able to properly focus on healthy measures.