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

They say, “The best way to deal with FEAR is to confront it”

OMG! … SNAKES! … SHARKS!  Those are just TWO of the things I’M AFRAID OF!  Week 9′s theme, “Face Your Fears”, sounded like so much fun that I, instead, seriously considered getting a root canal without anesthetic, volunteering for an IRS Audit or cleaning the grout of an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a child’s toothbrush! Clearly those weren’t viable options so I tackled my “Face Your Fears” challenge head on … well, actually, it was head first, given that they “threw me” overboard into the big blue ocean and told me to swim towards that brown speck otherwise known as LAND!  Plenty of sharks in “dem thar waters” and snakes too!  Lucky me!  Why couldn’t I be afraid of tomatoes, or say… lint?

In a flash, with no further thought, I dove head first. I swam so fast for the first 200 yards that I looked like a hydrofoil and could have given my friend “Lunk” a serious run for his money back in the day.  “Lunk”, as in Steve Lundquist, the 1984 two-time Olympic Gold Medalist.  As I “bobbed” in the water (pun intended) I realized that it wasn’t sharks I was afraid of but rather the idea of not being in control of my environment.  Here is where those close to me say, “Duh!”  After all, I’d been diving for years and was once chased by a monster Bull Shark while spear-fishing in the Bahamas.  Hardly afraid then because I had a spear gun, knife and a dive buddy to push in front of me!  Trainer Bob was right, “Joe THINKS he’s afraid of sharks but he’s actually afraid of NOT BEING IN CONTROL!”

Ok, Ok, if we take a quick inventory it’s clear that, up to now, nearly all of my life has been about “control”.  My upbringing, athletics, law enforcement, coaching and sales management makes me the poster child of control.    My father is a Marine and once a Marine, always a Marine.  My twin brother Henry and I were raised to do things correctly the first time. If we missed a blade of grass while mowing, we had to start that section over to catch the missed blade and keep the lawn even.  Football further cemented my need for control.  Football is a “game of inches” wherein the Offense tries to execute plays and score while the Defense disrupts or stops the plays.  Practice drills were run again and again until we were in control of each play and execution was automatic.

After football, I fulfilled one of my life dreams and became a Public Safety Officer which is a Firefighter, EMT and Police Officer all rolled into one.  Each training academy was very intense and control over technique and self was essential to survival.  My next journey took me back to school and coaching. While I pursued my Masters, I was also a Graduate Assistant Football Coach where, again, control over technique and self was critical to success.  Demanding practices, coupled with hours of film review and play design, were the lifeblood of the team.  Upon completion of my Masters, I spent several years in Sales and Management.  Those years were again all about control.  Control of numbers projections, goals and quotas; it’s what’s in the pipeline this month not what you sold last month.  For years I loved things I could control and I was good at it!  One of the few things I haven’t been able to control is my eating habits.

This journey on the Biggest Loser has taught me a huge lesson about control.  It taught me, yet again, that it’s the negative thoughts and fears that block success.  Moreover, I learned that strength comes from supporting others and allowing others to support me.  Before my swim, I watched some of my teammates face their fears and triumph.  Alex was quite fearful of getting dirty yet she was able to power through a military style “boot camp-mud run” such that her win was worthy of a Tide commercial!  Danni has an awesome voice but was afraid to sing professionally as “big girls don’t cut it”.  Each time this criticism chattered in her head it fed the stage fright monster.  Danni’s worked hard to get healthy and she proudly took the stage at a local LA nightclub and belted out some oh so sweet music.  Then there was Jeff and Jackson.  Both had left the Ranch and had huge fears they would relapse into unhealthy eating patterns.  They too have triumphed and Jackson even got a “2fer” in that he conquered his fear of heights by rappelling down a 7 story building.

Week 9 was pivotal for me as I truly know that I can make positive changes, succeed and be of service to others without having to be in total control.  The idea of “total control” can keep a person stuck in old patterns and beliefs and, when that happens, amazing opportunities are missed.  Norman Mailer said it best, “those who live in the past, limit their future”.  As I go forward in life, I fully intend to “take inventory” of myself, live life to the fullest in the most positive way, and be of service to others through the Wear Your Soul Foundation.

Wear Your Soul,

I AM JOE … If I can do this, so can YOU…

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