Joe Confronts Memories on the ‘Biggest Loser’

The following is a guest post from Joe Ostaszewski of the Biggest Loser. Look for his posts here every Tuesday after the show.

Week Seven’s theme–Tough Love– taught us what is truly means to love on the Biggest Loser Ranch.  The kids are an amazing addition to the Biggest Loser.  Seeing the world through their eyes reminds me that we all are truly “ONE”.  Over and over again I realize that, although different in some ways, we all are similar in many ways.  Each person’s journey is told through their fears, tears, hopes, and smiles and each story can touch another if hearts are open.

Every one of us at the Ranch can remember times in our past when being overweight created a painful memory or a time when we witnessed a friend struggling with their own weight issues.  Some experiences are so profound that they stay with us into adulthood, negatively influencing the choices we make without realizing it.

Flashing back to my college football coaching days, I can remember while travelling, I would get so anxious at the thought of having to buckle my seatbelt.  Often, I had to use a seatbelt extender and, if any of the FSU players saw that, there would be no need to show the movie as I would be the “in-flight entertainment.”  The jokes they cracked brought tears of laughter throughout the plane.  I laughed too so no one could see the pain I was feeling from the shame.

Over the years, I learned to deflect the pain, but it was always there, and each time my weight made me “less” than the best I could be.  The fix seems so easy–lose weight-yet it is clearly not that simple.  Years of negative experiences often make a person feel like it’s not worth trying again.  However, with a good support system one can take the first step then another, and another until a healthy weight and lifestyle is achieved.  The kid ambassadors and contestants at the Ranch are living proof of this.

Sunny, Lindsey, and Bingo demonstrated amazing courage when they allowed their peers to see their struggles, strides, and successes.  By highlighting the major health crisis of childhood obesity and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle Sunny, Lindsey and Bingo are  great role models for others.

Sunny, you are right … “YOU are on top of the world!”  My heart burst with pride for you, Lindsey, and Bingo and I applaud your hard work and courage.  Each of you is special and unique and a living example of what is possible when one takes the first step and continue moving forward. Thank you for continuing to inspire me and millions of others!  If you’re struggling with weight issues, know that everyone at the Ranch shares your failures and successes.  Nothing would make us happier than for you to take the first step … then another … and another.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Week seven has been tough for those of us still competing on the Biggest Loser Ranch as we are getting homesick and missing our loved ones, our families, friends and I’m missing my four legged kids– Odell Jr. (Mastiff/Lab mix) and Big Daddy ( my middle linebacker built Quarter Horse, who loves beer and carrots).

This week’s challenge was right up my alley: stadium steps.  You see, as corrective behavior methods would have it, stadium steps were just that form of behavior at FSU.  Every minute that you were late for a meeting, study hall, curfew, etc, you would have 1 stadium.  If you were more than 10 minutes late you knew you had some extra hard work cut out for you, all 87 flights up and down equaled 1 stadium.  I stayed in pretty good shape. I would always run 10 even if I had 2-3 to run for being late to a meeting just so I could cash in when I was really late.  Those stadiums were a form of tough love for me, and I was glad that today’s challenge was taking me to a place I knew.

My strategy was to start and finish strong, win every segment one at a time and finally beat Danni who I know did not run as many stadiums as I have in my past life. (Okay so that was over twenty years ago).   The final leg, the longest leg and of course at the top of the stadium, was staring us down.  As Danni, Franclina and I took off, I knew this was going to be a close finish between the 3 of us.

I was close to making my move when I swear Jillian Michaels jumped on my back because my legs just gave up on me. I watched Danni pull away and win the race yet again.

Winning today’s challenge gave Danni the opportunity to bring a loved one onto the Biggest Loser Ranch for a day and the opportunity to give this prize to someone else as well.

Danni gives her first gift away to Gina, who has been homesick and missing her husband.  Gina is so thankful.

What Danni does next is totally unexpected. Danni gives away her 24 hour pass to Big Mike so he can be with his Boo and his baby. Danni–you inspire me. There are not many who would have done what you did, and your sacrifice to share the love with Mike, his wife, and his baby, was a perfect example of God’s Love, and I know your sister was so proud of you.

As week seven closes out with my man Big Mike going home, I start to reflect. Is this  just a game? a reality TV show? Or is it something deeper than that?

I want to thank all my new Biggest Loser family members for ‘Wearing their Soul” by speaking through your life as a story, you will change lives.  I will follow my passion, and I will work hard every step of the way.  It’s not about winning for me it’s about winning for our Wear Your Soul foundation– being able to give back, showing the youth of today the importance of living a happy, healthy, active lifestyle and empowering them with the respect, confidence, and enthusiasm to be great examples for the youth of our Great Nation.

Knowing that strength does not lie in what you have, but rather what you give, makes week seven of the Biggest Loser more than just a show. It’s real, it makes sense, and it is helping me every step of the way. Follow your dreams.

I AM Joe, if I can do this so can you!!!

Wear Your Soul,

Joe O