The Biggest Loser.
I’m pretty sure most of you are aware of the tv show that has motivated so many of us to lose weight. If you’re not, it’s a show where obese contestants are put through a rigorous boot camp and taught to eat healthy while competing to stay on the show by losing the most weight each week. Each week, the two people who have lost the least amount of weight are up for elimination…and the rest of the contestants have to vote whether to keep them on the Biggest Loser Ranch (where they all live, eat, and work out during the course of the show). One contestant is voted off each week. I have run the full gamut of emotions – from disgust to adoration and back again – when it comes to this tv show. I have loved it and I have hated it…and now? Well, I appreciate parts of the show for what it can give me – but my eyes are fully open and I no longer get the joy from it that I once did.
There is something highly motivating about watching a person go from morbidly obese to absolutely fit and healthy, especially in a short amount of time. Let’s face it: if there was a healthy way to lose our weight in a week’s time, we’d all be doing it. I know I would. So when we see these folks being monitored by doctors and personal trainers and losing weight so quickly…it’s inspiring. And I love before & after pictures. So motivating.
I missed the first season of The Biggest Loser. On purpose. I remember sitting in front of the tv one night and a teaser came on. I watched in horror as severely overweight contestants did push-ups with their faces dangerously close to plates full of donuts. I was mortified at the humiliation they were putting these people through for the sake of tv ratings (gimme a break…reality tv was still fairly new back then). I was adamant that I would never watch such a show. And then the end of the season came and the before & after pictures of the winner were splashed all over the media. Amazing. And I thought to myself “Ohhhh…that’s the humiliating donut push up show….”
Although I was happy for the winner, I still didn’t want to see the show. Somewhere in the next two seasons, I remember reading an interview of one of the producers who said they got a little carried away in the beginning and decided to tone it down from now on. There would be no more humiliating stunts like that, according to him. I was very glad to read that, but honestly…they’ve kept things dangerously close to the boundary between “good tv” and humiliating – and they’ve continued to do the one thing that always gets an eye roll from me.
In the conference room where the weekly voting takes place, each contestant’s name is on a lighted refrigerator case that’s loaded with the types of foods that made them fat. (Also tacky: when it’s time for the contestants to vote someone off the show, they reveal their votes by lifting the cover off a serving dish…under which hides the name of the person they’ve voted for.) Once the votes are cast the host says “I’m sorry, but you are not the biggest loser.” And then, in extremely dramatic fashion, the lights go out in their fridge and they say tearful goodbyes to their friends.
I eff’in hate this.
Besides, as a fatty who has fallen off the wagon many times, I call shenanigans on that shit. If they’re not the Biggest Loser, shouldn’t the fridge light go ON? I mean, really, what do we do after another failed diet attempt? We reach for a pint of mint chip. Okay, I won’t speak for you – but that’s the shit I used to pull. And when you hear what the contestants are really doing on the ranch in order to succeed, I’m hella surprised no one’s gone another way on voting day. That’s probably why all the fridge food is plastic – because I wouldn’t hesitate to go out with a bang.
Host: “Dianne, I’m sorry…but you are not the Biggest Loser.”
(dramatic music: dun-dun-DUN!!!!)
Me (crying): “I guess I shouldn’t have had that second spear of asparagus last night…”
Then I see my fridge. Buffalo wings, pizza, Pop Tarts, Little Debbie cakes everywhere…
Me (inching closer to the fridge): “I love you guys…stay strong, ok??”
Host: “It’s time for you to leave the ranch…”
BAM! I knock down the perky host, swing open the fridge door, and grab a buffalo wing before security can grab the back of my super tight spandex sports bra.
Me (mouth full of buffalo wing): “Later, bitches!”
Yeah. Dignity right out the eff’in door. I have no doubt I’d have gone right back on track, but if I’ve already lost a chance at $250,000 then fuck it…I’m eat’in a wing. Isn’t that what usually happens when we fail to hit the big goal? We go to the fridge to start snacking. BING! The light goes ON, not off.
Okay, I took this train waaaay off track. This post isn’t about the ridiculous dimming of the refrigerator light, it’s about the time I auditioned for The Biggest Loser – Season 10. That’s right…I did. I auditioned.
This is coming up now because last weekend I asked the folks on my Facebook fan page what they’d rather hear about and my Biggest Loser 10 audition was the hands-down favorite.
It was a horrendously long day – so I’m breaking this up into two posts. I promise it’s not some skanky blogger trick to get you to come back tomorrow, it’s just that most people have a max tolerance for about 1,200 words (and that’s pushing it)…and this post is already well past that. So this is me trying to spare you the pain of rolling your eyes at me. Here we go…
Biggest Loser 10 auditions were at a Dallas hospital that year and I braved a storm of biblical proportions to get there. The rain was coming down so hard that I could barely see out the windshield with the wipers on their fastest setting. At one point, I had to pull over and wait because I couldn’t see at all. Finally, I got to the hospital where the auditions were – and even though I arrived two hours early, the place was a madhouse. I ended up parking in a covered garage that was quite a ways away from the hospital entrance. As I stood under the protection of the garage and plotted out my sprint-waddle through the downpour, I hear a loud honk honk honk!
As if it were Divine Intervention, a hospital shuttle van approached me. The driver popped open the door.
Driver: “Are you the Biggest Loser? Ha ha ha!!!!” He probably weighed 120 pounds soaking wet. Ass. I was tempted to ask him what gave me away. Was it the size 32 pants? I decided not to commit verbal assault that early in the morning.
I smiled and got on the bus, relieved to see other fatties already onboard. We struck up an easy conversation as the bus lurched over speed bumps on its way to the front of the hospital. By the time we were dropped off at the entrance, we were fast friends.
A volunteer waved us in through a large tent that had been set up. Inside, hundreds of my fellow fatties were already in line, looking bored and already hungry. The end of the line was nowhere in sight. We were ushered to the back, through a hall, through another hall, passing The Biggest Loser signs everywhere, down two flights of stairs and through a door…where we ended up at the back of the line…in a cold, dark underground parking garage. I surmised the garage was for doctors only, as there wasn’t a Toyota in sight.
The bus group instantly began chattering. Introductions all around. The camaraderie was awesome. Some of you may relate to this and some of you may think I’m a horrible person, but whenever I go to an event I immediately begin sizing myself up to every other person in the room. I’m usually the fattest person around, which puts me into wallflower mode. I’m quiet and shy (shut up, it really does happen!) If I know anyone at the event, I stick to them like glue. However, if I’m not the biggest person in the room then I’m much more myself. I joke around, I have fun. I’m relaxed. This is a hangover from my days as a dancer when I was constantly judged for my appearance. I’ve never been able to shake it. So imagine my euphoria at being around 800 of my fellow fatties…many of whom were bigger than 381 pound me.
We were there two hours early, so the line didn’t move for two more hours. During that time, the end of the line grew so far away that we couldn’t see it anymore. The hours passed and the line started to slowly crawl ahead. Every time we hit a landmark, our group would cheer. Seriously, we were making a spectacle of ourselves (which producers actually like). Made it out of the underground garage. CHEER! Made it up the first flight of stairs. CHEER!! Made it around the corner and could actually see the lobby. CHEER!!!
The scope of this thing was beyond us to comprehend. We spent our hours together happily fantasizing about how we’d all keep in touch if one of us was chosen for the show. We would start up Facebook groups and watch parties, gleefully cheering for our friend on tv. We had already exchanged emails and phone numbers. We were all BFF’s.
The line wound its way around the outside of the lobby and into the tent. By the time we hit the tent, those of us who were on the larger side of the fatty spectrum were in pain. We took turns sitting on the ground and helping each other up. There was no place to sit. Finally, the lobby doors were in sight. A volunteer stood nearby, counting off contestants in groups of 20 and waving them through every few minutes. Soon it was our turn.
When we came through the lobby doors, dozens of Biggest Loser volunteers stood up and cheered for us. It was quite an amazing, nearly tear-rending experience. After being lined up for hours like cattle and being hopped up on the excitement of the day, those cheers told us that we were nearly at the end of our journey. Soon, we would be in front of the casting directors of The Biggest Loser.
Or so we thought.
We were waved over to tables, where we were asked to sign waivers so that they could use our pictures on the show. (Picture the footage they always show on the season premiere of everyone lined up to audition.) One of the volunteers handed me an application with my contestant number on it.
“This is your golden ticket,” she said. “Do not lose this!”
We were handed goodie bags and sent to the hospital cafeteria, where we were assured that we could finally sit. Sounded like heaven to me after endless hours of standing. So off we went to sift through our goodie bags and fill out our applications, certain that our wait was nearly at an end.
In truth, there were several more hours and one big ass slap in the face coming our way…and that was long before we got in front of any casting directors. I’ll post the rest of the story tomorrow. Again, not to leave you in suspense but I’m quickly closing in on 2,000 words and you need a break. Am I right?
Until tomorrow, let me just say that I am not the Biggest Loser. (dun-dun-DUN!!!)