Of all the things I got out of being a part of The Biggest Loser, one of the best is the vast network of alumni. Over 150 of us now, we are brothers and sisters in a battle (and alternate reality) that even those who struggle with their weight will never fully know the behind-the-scenes view of. Most of us have, or do, walk the line between crippling self-doubt or- sometimes worse- crippling self-esteem.
Many of my (incredibly inspiring) alumni posted this link to a video of the most amazing transformations from the show on People today. I watched, SO in awe of the hard work my friends-by-circumstance had put into their indeed incredible metamorphoses- remembering my own sacrifices and rewards reaped from being embarrassed in a sport's bra on national television at my heaviest, to being idolized in a bit more spandex on national LIVE television at my smallest. And my heart filled with pride for them.
But...something broke my heart a little bit. Almost everyone of my peers, after
presenting their new selves to the world- rippling, spray-tanned muscles and months of hard work- turned to their old selves in disgust. Now, I know from having BEEN on the show, we don't even see (or at least I didn't) the hologram-ed "before" we're walking next to, but we know it's there. And as I sat and watched these incredible inspirations turn to themselves- shooing themselves away, poking themselves, shaking their heads at themselves, it made me sad. Because I'm pretty sure I did it, too. And even if I didn't do it on television, I did it in conversation, or in interviews. At my physical best, after years of feeling some amount of isolated, bullied or belittled because of my weight, I was the one bullying myself.
Maybe it's natural and the pride of an accomplishment is always accompanied with the rejection of ground zero. But I can't help but think it shouldn't.
I can't speak for everyone who was on Biggest Loser, or everyone who has ever struggled with their weight, but I can speak for myself when I say- I'm not done yet. Even if I was my ideal weight or size or fitness level (I'm not, I'm not, and I'm not), I still wouldn't be done yet. And I didn't get that at the end of the show. I had a countdown to the finale and that was my finish line- when the world would start spinning again, my metabolism would become naturally accelerated and I'd become one of those amazing girls who can eat a burger for every meal and never exercise and still look incredible.
Now, I know that no matter how far my physical body comes, I always have been, am, and always will be a work in progress. It's not a war of "The Old Isabeau" vs. "The New Isabeau". I'm just Isabeau. An evolution. A squiggly, impossible-to-track line from my beginning to I-don't-know-where. But I do know this: I don't want to hate myself-- any version of myself-- for who I was at any other place in my life. Because, any success I find will be because of the places and person I've been, not in spite of it. And... I want it to be ok that I didn't (and don't) resent myself for what I'm not.
I believe in action and consequence. I believe if you don't work out hard enough, or you eat whatever you want, you (sooner or later) will have to deal with the consequences. But that doesn't say anything about you or your value as a human being. It's your choice, even if it's not mine. It's not ok for me to hate someone because of their choices, their actions or the consequences of their actions-- especially when that someone is me; past or present. Often, we talk to ourselves in ways we would NEVER allow someone else to talk to us. I mean, if my "finale-Isabeau" saw someone struggling with their weight, ashamed, hurt, and trying to fix it, she would never in a billion years ridicule them. She would try to help them, if they wanted it. And if not, she would love them anyway. At least, I'd like to think so. But my "finale-Isabeau" made fun of my "Day-1 Isabeau".
I believe we make progress when we make peace, and I guess that's kind of the point of this post. How would your "finale" version of yourself react if they saw you today? Would they encourage you? Pity you? Bully you. I'm going to be honest and say with the goal-setting I've been doing to refine my workouts and nutrition, my new "finale" version of myself might not have been so kind, if I hadn't taken a little time to think of the consequences. Because, nothing productive can be done with hating ourselves, as we are, in this moment....and I feel pretty good about my body. I love so much about it. But when I think of how proud I would be of my "after" vs. my "before"- proud enough to just MAYBE ridicule where I am at this exact moment, I realize I have some work to do that has nothing to do with the gym.
If you know me at all, you know I'm a Whole Foods addict. And one of the signs there said "Treat Your Body Like It Belongs To Someone You Love". If my body belonged to someone I loved, I would praise it. I would nurture it. Fuel it correctly. I would exhaust it for its own good, and teach it to feel alive in motion, or in nature when it's climbing mountains or swimming seas. If it were the body of someone I love, I would touch it lovingly, and think it was beautiful- regardless of its size or shape- because it was carrying the soul of the most important person in my world.
So maybe that's the key. I don't know. But I know we cannot demand a world where kindness towards one another is the norm if that is not a standard we can adhere to when it comes down to how we treat, talk to and build ourselves. I don't choose "before" or "after" Isabeau. I choose Isabeau; and I'm going to learn to treat her body like it's the most glorious thing ever put on earth, even if it is (and always will be) a work in progress.