After completing and winning my club’s 90 day fitness challenge, I joking flirted with idea of trying out for the Biggest Loser. In fairness, I always hated this show. Watching trainers brow beat out of shape and overweight people until they collapse and cry seems mean and cruel. And how realistic was what would come later? Sure they took it off at the ranch–but how about at home? Home where it’s you and only you?
So I had no love for the biggest loser–seeing Jillian Michaels up close in spandex–yes but otherwise–no.
So how exactly did I end up at the Chicago tryouts for the biggest loser last spring?
Greed, fame, and money.
I’d lost over 100 pounds by then and was getting in good shape. Good enough shape that I could take anything those trainers–even Jillian Michaels–could throw at me. By that point, I also knew I’d be hungrier than most. I’d been to Structure House and seen what being closed off and away from everything could do. Only this time I knew even more than I did back then. I also knew I was still bigger than most they’ve had on the show. People like me and with my communications/broadcasting background, I knew what they were looking for. I had a decent story and that’s what they look for.
When I showed up, I expected I’d be done in a few hours.
Try five and half.
800 people showed up that day in Chicago. I thank god I was smart enough to bring a folding chair. At least it was about 60 degrees out and sunny. Sunny enough that I ended up sun burned that day. There was a subway vendor there–as you’d expect since it’s the show’s sponsor. Then there’s the people.
People who turned up were interesting. I wonder how many of them were truly there because they needed to lose weight or because of the money. Some talked of how they’d become famous cake makers or use it to launch their rap career. Some I even wondered why they were even in line. They didn’t look like they needed to lose anything! Some brought their families and friends. Some brought guitars and sang in line.
Most telling was what people ate. I saw people in line scarfing down bags of chips, cakes, and cookies while waiting. Downing 72 oz sodas–not diet either. I could go on for a while here. People in line looking for “help” and yet eating themselves to even larger weights in the process. Made me remember I used to be one of them. That I was exactly like these people.
The 5 and half hour wait was followed by 5 minutes waiting, and then 10 of us escorted to a table. There were 3 casting directors seeing everyone. Only 12 people would get call backs. Or a 1.5% chance. Each one of us was to give our name, age, and what we wanted to lose. I said all of it. Then it was elevator pitch time. One minute and make it good.
I’ve not talked much about my background in this blog. I worked in media for a dozen years. I’ve been in Toastmasters for 5 plus years. I’ve won awards for speaking in college. I work sales for a living.
I know what an elevator pitch is. And I knew I needed to hit this one out of the park.
In fairness, I think I hit it out of the park. I think the casting director was impressed. I know I had 3-5 people at the table who walked up to me afterwards. But I also think already being on my journey hurt my chances. I’d had a better shot as depressed, miserable, 500+, me than the me at that time.
It didn’t help one of the people at my table was a single mother of three tending to her brother who was a war vet and missing a leg. I worked in media. 400+ pound guy with confidence doesn’t trump single mom helping wounded vet brother.
This entire process took 10 minutes. That’s right, I waited 5+ hours for 10 minutes with 1.5% chance of a callback.
Since you never saw me on TV, you can guess I never got a return call. Apparently there were two chosen from Chicago. I don’t recognize either of them from my time in line. Not sure their stories would been better than mine but then that’s not the issue is it?
The truth is they needed it…and I didn’t. Yes, a couple year’s back I needed an intervention like this. This kind of help. This kind of support. This level of a kick in the ass.
But not now.
Sure it’d been nice to be on TV, win the money, meet Allison Sweeney, drool over Jillian Michaels, and hang out with Bob but I’m doing it without them. I’m doing it way on my terms and it’s been rewarding.
I’ll never be the biggest loser. Instead I’ll be happy counting down to 220. There will be no losers–only winners here.