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Monday, July 16, 2012

Walking Away From Opportunity

I AM the biggest loser!?

This past Saturday I spent a total of five and one half hours sitting/standing in line to audition for The Biggest Loser.  And then,...I walked away.

I arrived at the audition facility at 7:30 a.m., chair and Starbucks in hand (no breakfast).  There were 312 aspiring contestants ahead of me.  Yes, I was number 313.  The auditions didn't officially begin until 10:00 a.m. but clearly I wasn't the only hopeful wanting to arrive early, excited at the opportunity that lay before me.

I assessed my fellow competitors and the over 600 more that would follow me and take their place in line to gain one of 20 spots on the popular reality show.  For the most part, we were all obese.  Some more morbid than others.  It was the one place where you could surely find at least one (or hundreds?) bigger than you.  It wasn't necessarily a secure feeling.  It was a sad feeling.  I quickly realized that there are many more people in the world worse off than me.  I started feeling guilty about my place in line.

I struck up a conversation with George who was behind me in line.  He drove down to Raleigh, NC from the DC area (Alexandria, VA).  We shared some stories, family pictures, and holding each other's place in line as we needed bathroom breaks and water replenishment.  George is a very positive person and his determination was inspiring.  He has a beautiful, young family and I found myself rooting for George and praying that he can get it together so that he could participate in life with his boys.  I started wanting it more for him than for me.

I started my journey back on January 25th of this year.  While I haven't made amazing progress, to date I have lost 35 pounds and have regained the energy, stamina, and ability to incorporate a fitness program for the last six weeks.  I thought being a contestant on The Biggest Loser would help me get over this plateau and accelerate the shedding of pounds.  In the back of my mind I was concerned about the effect of my adrenal tumor on taking on such a rigorous workout program.

Before you can even step in line to become a contestant for The Biggest Loser, you have to pre-register online.  There are some thought-provoking questions and before you know it you are delving into your painful past and conjuring up events which you have tried to cover up (with food inhalation) for the last 40 years.  It is an emotional process.  Also part of pre-registering is the submission of pictures of your face and a body shot.  I avoid cameras like the plague and while reluctant to take a photo, I had to comply with the rules.  After the photos were uploaded to my computer I had to come face-to-face (so to speak) with my profile picture.  I am one ugly, fat, and pathetic son-of-a-bitch.  Damn!  The tears filled my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I realized I really don't look much different than when I started this journey back in January.  My son tried to console me but I knew the truth.  And, damn, it hurts.

To prolong the agony and really bring you to a dark place, there is a nine-page application which needs to be filled out as well.  And, boy, were there some doozies.  I was asked about my accomplishments, passions, and sacrifices.  Who is my hero?  Do I volunteer?  What life events have impacted my weight gain?  How motivated, athletic, and competitive am I?  Health questions, typical background check questions, and even legal questions were covered.  I was asked to provide names and numbers of potential character witnesses and friends.  Funny enough, these last few questions stumped me the most because I basically have no immediate, close friends.  Part of the reason is that I've been stuck in my house for ten or so years.  The other part of the reason is because basically (and my family would agree) I am:  rude, emotional, opinionated, cranky, obnoxious, and self-pitying (that was one of the questions, too, by the way).  Nonetheless, I forged ahead and was determined to at least try to audition.

At about 9:00 they handed out yet another application and each prospective contestant was asked to complete it.  It was only four pages.  This is when I found out I was number 313 in the process.  So, as the line moved up outside of the complex, the heat of the day blossomed.  By the time 10:30 a.m. rolled around we had reached the door of the building and I had to give up my chair that I had been dragging along.  The building was cool and conditioned but once we ascended the stairs to the third floor (Can you imagine all of these morbidly obese people trying to climb stairs after standing outside in the heat for three hours?  Not a pretty sight.  I was convinced this was a tactic used by TBL production team to weed out the really weak ones.) the line stopped.

By 12:30 p.m. my toes and calves were cramping.  I felt a little dizzy and oh, so aggravated.  It didn't help that they had a bunch of skinny, fit people running around and clapping trying to get the crowd excited.  I was ready to strangle them.  My attitude took a nose dive and I talked about giving up.  George tried to offer a little encouragement but basically he probably was happy at the prospect of negative Nelly taking her leave.  I couldn't sit down at this point for fear of not being able to get up or worse yet getting a cramp and having a spasm while I was on the floor.  I was not in the mood to become everyone's entertainment.  I told myself to try and stick it out for another half hour and then check to see where they were with the line and the interview process.

At 1:00 p.m.  I walked down the line in front of me and occasionally asked people their numbers...252...207...it looked like the line ended at number 175!  I did not see myself holding on for another two hours.  Besides, I told myself there were so many more people worse off than me who haven't even started a healthy lifestyle plan like I had in January.  Besides, I would rather see someone like George be a contestant than myself.  When it comes down to it there is really nothing special about me that would make me a better contestant than others.

I convinced myself that if I stick with my plan and tighten up some of my habits which have slipped since January (like:  writing every thing I eat down each day, eliminating salt, and eliminating butter) I could gain control and get back on the right track.  It may take longer but at least I will know that I did it on my own and at my own pace.

While I did walk away from an opportunity to audition for The Biggest Loser, gain control of my life, and possibly win $250,000, I know in my heart that I freed up a space on the show for someone who needs it more desperately than me.  I guess I am kind-hearted and therefore,  the biggest WINNER!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Playing Pretend Inside The Actor's Studio

If I were to ever visit James Lipton Inside The Actor's Studio, following are my answers to his questions:

What is your favorite word?  
I appreciate the vast array of words that surround me.  My best friend is the dictionary and my alternate is the thesaurus.  I have a penchant for alliteration and get giddy when I can marry words together to maximize descriptions and expand explanations.   VERSATILITY.

What is your least favorite word?
As we develop and learn language we find words that evoke an emotional response.  If a word elicits a negative response it holds power that directs repercussions with damaging results.  My least favorite word to say is the 'n' word.  My least favorite word to hear is NO.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
What excites me the most is an intelligent, in-depth conversation, one-on-one, with someone I care about and whom I can learn from because they are forth-coming and sharing a real part of themselves with me.

What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
People who are ill-equipped or unwilling to communicate and share their authentic selves with me do not deserve my time nor respect.
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What sound or noise do you love?
The sounds of nature offer a peace and tranquility that can not be replicated mechanically.  The songs of the birds brighten my day and remind me of the spirituality and fragility of life.  The sound of water (whether its the ocean, waterfall, or running stream) reminds me of our ability to renew our lives, cleanse our palates, and change direction if we so choose.

What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound or noise which I most fear is the sound of a crash or vehicle accident.  It connotes a negative change in someone's life even if it is only property damage.  There are consequences and someone is at fault.  Perhaps someone was neglectful, irrational and irresponsible? 

What is your favorite curse word?
I grew up in a family who used curse words in normal every day conversation and, on the other end of the spectrum, to hurt and humiliate each other.  I am no stranger to the versatility of a good curse word.  It can be used for emphasis, as a noun, or to express great surprise.  MOTHERFUCKER.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Since I don't really have a current occupation I see the question more as what do you want to be when you grow up?  When I was young I wanted to be a Playboy bunny, model, artist, actress, writer, singer or lawyer.  I still would like to be these things.  Realistically, I would like to be a successful artist and writer. 

What profession would you not like to do?
The profession that I'd least like to do would be a mortician because I have a fear of death.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Come in.  All are welcome!