Is it all in your head?

Bill Germanakos – Season 4 Champion – NBC’s The Biggest Loser

The most common question asked of me since returning from my stay on The Biggest Loser Ranch is “What did you learn while you were there?” Well, the answer might surprise some of you.  The most significant and important things that I learned while going through this most difficult of endeavors included the knowledge that I had done this to myself, that I was loaded with excuses, and that I had an addiction to food.  It was also pointed out to me that I struggled with depression, which created these addictions in the first place.  (Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t someone who felt depressed.  In fact, I was the happiest person I knew; the jolly fat guy of the neighborhood.  I was also the guy who’d eat an entire gallon of ice cream or an entire box of cereal in the middle of the night, and as it turns out, this behavior is not normal.  Go figure! )

What is more interesting to most is the fact that while Jillian Michaels, “The World’s Toughest Trainer”, was the person beating me senseless in the gym every day, he who helped me the most to get my life back in order was the show’s Psychologist.  The next in line was the Registered Dietitian.  By the time I got to Jillian, I was thinking much more clearly, and had prepared myself to make the changes necessary in order to get healthy.

The Psychologist made me realize that I had been “medicating” with food, which is exactly why I’d binge in the middle of the night, or why I’d reach for snacks every time I was stressed out, lonely, overburdened, etc.  Because eating made me feel better, I’d do it until I couldn’t do it any longer.  As I think about many of my friends and family who are either obese or struggle with an addiction (such as smoking, gambling, drinking or worse) I realize that we all handled our problems in the same way – by relying on that which we are addicted, to make us feel better.  It was the Registered Dietitian who taught me that I can, indeed, be addicted to healthy food, which was a revelation in and of itself!

Do you know anyone with an addiction such as mine?  Are they stress eaters / smokers / drinkers?  Have you heard them say that they had “tried everything” to change, the same way that I had?

Well, in an environment where I was loaded with excuses, such as that I’m big-boned, have an obese family, bad knees, no time, etc., and considering that I thought that I had tried EVERYTHING to lose weight before the show, as it turned out all I needed was a bit of education and guidance from some true weight-loss professionals.  I guess I hadn’t tried everything before-hand, after all.

In conclusion, keep in mind that I do still struggle, and some days / weeks / months are better than others.  I have to always try to remember what I learned and constantly try to make good decisions.  Does it always work? …  Absolutely not, but that doesn’t mean that I should stop trying … does it?

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