Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Biggest Loser?

I look into the window of my mind, reflections of the fears I know I've left behind. I step out of the ordinary; I can feel my soul ascending. I am on my way, can't stop me now and you can do the same. What have you done today to make you feel proud? It's never too late to try. What have you done today to make you feel proud? You could be so many people, if you make that break for freedom. What have you done today to make you feel proud? – Proud (Theme to the Biggest Loser, sung by Heather Small)

The Biggest Loser
. I am assuming that everyone is familiar with this show. No? Well let me explain. The premise is that obese people will try out for a chance to be on this show and get the help that they need to lose as much weight as they can. During the time you are on the show you live on a ranch in California, with access to personal trainers who basically kick your ass. If you get chosen you have to leave your friends, family, job, work etc for around 5 months. For many people who are obese, this is a last ditch effort and they are willing to take that chance.

Over the past several weeks I’ve seen television spots for an open casting call for the Biggest Loser. I keep hearing a voice whisper to me “doitdoitdoit” I in turn; have been shouting “shutupshutupshutp”. However, last week I started wondering if it would really be such a bad idea? So Friday morning I studied the casting website and started to fill out the application. I told myself that I could just fill it out, without any obligation. While filling it out my friend/coworker comes up behind me and saw the application and I sort of blurted out… I think I’m going to try out for the Biggest Loser. Her response was… enthusiastic to say the least. She got VERY excited. She missed her calling she should be a cheerleader. There was a lot of doing dancing and telling me that I should do it doitdoitdoit. She would not be deterred, even after I threatened her with violence.

This past Saturday I woke up at the ass crack of dawn and drove the 30 miles to Newark, NJ and tried out for the show. I’m not sure why really; when I have always thought that I would never do something like that. First of all, I am not interested in showing America my girth. I don’t want to stand in front of millions of strangers in my bra and spandex shorts. (Unless your body is really special, it’s just a bad look) Secondly, I couldn’t really afford to not work for a month much less 5 months. But something told me to try. And so I did. I was 94th in line, which is great, when you consider that there must have been well over a 1000 people in line behind me. I was really struck by the amount of people who were there. There are a lot of seriously overweight people out there. It’s tragic. I’m not blind, I know that I am not the only person for whom weight loss is a problem, it’s just seeing so many fat people in one place was just so sad to me. I am a part of that group. Overweight and desperate to make a change, but lacking all the tools to make that change happen. It’s hard to say what I was feeling when I was waiting. I was feeling a lot. Tired (it was early), Nervous, Sheepish, Hungry and Uncertain.

I knew the odds of getting on the show where slim (←ha! I wasn’t even trying!), there are so many people who want this, but what if I did get on? I wouldn’t want to go on and not do well. I wouldn’t want to go on and fail or embarrass myself. The scariest part for me is that I know that in every “reality” show there is that moment. That “poignant” moment where someone has some kind of a breakdown, which leads to a break though, which has likely been edited to hell---so that there is the sad, moving, piano music, with a close up of a fat, sweaty, crying face. Afterwards there is the confessional, where the person is opening up about the real reason regarding their obesity. I HATE that. I always feel like I am spying on a moment that I should not be witnessing. It feels so…contrived! I actually don’t have a real reason for my obesity. There has been no great tragedy in my life. Yes of course there have been heartbreaks and setbacks and letdowns. But we all know a major life calamity don’t we? I haven’t had any. So my only excuse is that at some point, I just began feeding those heartbreaks, setbacks and let downs, rather than facing them head on. The result is…well I am the result.

So what happened? After about 6 long, hot hours about 10 of us got corralled in to a shared meeting space, sat around the table, introduced ourselves, the moderator asked a few questions, and the idea was to sell your-self. Selling myself is not something that I am comfortable with. I’m not sure that I did my “best’. I think I did ok. I said a few things and got some laughs. Other people said things and they got a few laughs. And then it was over. They sent us on our way, letting us know that if were to be called back it would be by 11 pm that evening. I got back in my car, headed the hell out of Newark and back to NY where I belong and waited for the call that never game. While I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t quite relieved either. I’m not sure how to describe it either. I was just somewhere in the middle.


  1. I've always wanted to try out for a reality show! I wondered what the whole experience would be like. I think it's a once in a lifetime thing to even TRY for something like that. When I was younger, I wanted to try out for Big Brother...but 3 months off work is just way too hard for me. I didn't even try and I'm sad I didn't at least TRY to get on. But when you really think about it, being on a reality show is a lot tougher than we realize. You are put up there in front of millions and you don't even realize how much they edit and create storylines and characters that weren't really all that true to what happened until you've been on one of those shows. I don't think they are for everyone. It's a level of exposure that isn't natural, in my opinion.

  2. Hi Steph... you are so right, that level of exposure makes me nervous. Something about the chance to be on this particular show was calling to me. But in the end, I don't think I'm the type of person who would enjoy that. Thanks so much for stopping by Steph.