‘Biggest Loser’s’ Joe Faces His ‘Makeover Reveal’

The Biggest Loser - Season 14The following is a guest post from Joe Ostaszewski of the Biggest Loser. Look for his posts here every Tuesday after the show.

WEEK 10 – “MAKEOVER REVEAL”

“Success … to leave the world a bit better,

whether by a healthy child, a garden patch

or redeemed social condition … this is to

have succeeded” … Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Week 10′s episode, “Makeover Reveal”, provided stunning evidence of the very essence of the word: renovate … restore … reinvigorate … refresh … revive. It is here that each person saw the fruits of their labors, savored the victories won to date, and gained the momentum necessary to be able keep the thrive alive. Renovating a person is far more complex than remodeling a room. It’s been said by many that the three cornerstones of a human are: mind, body, and spirit. One can easily “facelift” a room with fresh coats of paint, new furniture and coordinated accessories. It’s also relatively easy for a person to quickly “facelift” their physical body. That alone; however, won’t bring lasting change. Truly transformative change comes from an integrated approach involving mind, body and spirit.

On the surface, excess weight appears to be about bad habits, poor choices and lack of exercise. Yes, IT IS ALL THAT and it’s also so much more … negative experiences, criticisms, shame, failure, doubt, defeat, resignation … the sum of which creates a powerfully sticky orbit and keeps our dreams from becoming a reality. Each of us faced our own multi-headed monster as we traveled back home to reveal our new self, our true self, to our family, friends and community. Could we function in the real world? Make good choices? Stay motivated? Be successful? Could we accept the love, praise and support that would be showered upon us? Could we truly see and accept our authentic self, the one that was now shining through this magnificent new body that we created? Such a fine line between excitement and anxiety … and only two weeks to take on the meteoric challenges of living in the real world. Nothing less than unwavering commitment would land this week’s prize … immunity!

As most of you know by now, it was my twin brother Henry’s idea to tryout for Season 14 of The Biggest Loser. That seed was planted as we sat in a hospital waiting room wondering if our father would survive a second serious cardiac event. As we sat, we both had an “AHA” moment as we realized we were carrying so much extra weight that our lives were in immediate danger. Moreover, we were in a prison of our own making; one that was built on bad choices, false beliefs and the “manana principle” (you know, why do today what you can put off til tomorrow?). AHA! There we sat, at the proverbial “fork in the road”. Do we stay on the same destructive path or do we take the new road that promised better health, happiness, untold opportunities and yet another chance to “walk our talk” and inspire others by “living by example”. Cliches? Maybe. Powerful signposts, definitely! It’s all in how you look at it.

From the moment of our birth (and to hear Mom tell it, “even before THAT!”), the single word that defined Henry and I was “competition”. Ask anybody! So, as our Dad was on the mend and we sat beside one of our favorite fishing holes in the North Georgia Mountains, Henry and I made a “twin pact”. We each vowed that we would do everything within our power to get healthy. The fire was lit! As the flames of competition burned brighter, Henry said, “hey, let’s tryout for The Biggest Loser and bring it “twin engine” style! … and … hey! … this is also the vehicle that will take our fledgling Wear Your Soul Foundation to the next level!” Another “AHA” moment was at hand. BS meters everywhere were on overload, needle in the red. How could anyone believe in the Wear Your Soul Foundation?

Support a Foundation whose mission it is to campaign against childhood obesity by pairing youths with ahtletes and various experts to develop healthy lifestyles, and it’s run by a couple of gigantor fat guys? Seriously? Don’t Think So! No time to lose! Our walk must align with our talk! Gotta GET UP & MOVE!

Well, Henry and I actually did it! … “twin engine” style … but not in the way you’d think. Henry wasn’t chosen for the show. As things go, it was probably for the best. Henry would have missed out on months of “can’t get them back memory-making times” with his kids and dogs. Moreover, at that time, Henry also had some lucrative job prospects lurking just around the corner and … awesome surprise … one of them came through shortly before I moved to the Ranch. Henry told me “Joe, don’t worry I’ll work hard every day to change my life and become an amazing example for our Wear Your Soul Foundation.” I responded, “I know you will and I’d expect nothing less”. In “twin speak”, both statements meant, “GAME ON BRO!”

Once the “O BROS” commit their mind, body and soul to a goal nothing can stop us from winning. Fact not fiction. As twins, we have a built-in DNA powered support system. We may compete like fierce lions, laud victory over the other, and sling harsh words now and then but we always have each other’s back. It’s a “twin thing” and our bond can never be broken. Stretched thin at times, yes, but never ever broken. Up to this point in our lives, it had always been about competition and winning. We were taught to set high goals, play fair, and always give 100% on and off the field. While I was a Gladiator at the Ranch, Henry was a Warrior in the real world … or … was it sometimes the other way around? Time will tell if the “twin thing” was, and is, in play.

One thing for sure is that both Henry and I have lost a tremendous amount of weight and we’ve recommitted to living our lives to the fullest. In this process we also learned something that is nothing short of priceless. We learned that there is a better chance of success with support, both in the giving and receiving of. This powerful truth was etched in our minds when I came home for my “Makeover Reveal”, saw a mirror image of my success in Henry, and we both let the praise and love from family and friends lift us up and carry us forward. Likely not an aberration or accident as this very same thing happened to each Contestant at their own “Makeover Reveal”. During their time at home, each had their own “Aha” moments.

Competition is good but this single ingredient is not a recipe for transformative success. The ingredients for that delicious recipe are: a willingness to change; the balance of mind, body and spirit; authentic service to self; compassionate service to others; trust, faith, and positive thinking. I’m happy to say that success was savored by all as each of us achieved immunity upon our return to the Ranch. NOTHING could have TASTED BETTER! … “Best Thing Ever!” … and … Guess What? The memory and feeling of this success, and those to come, can be  savored again and again, unlike the best “kitchen-sink, all over your hands and face” nachos …. or those heavenly cannolis from the 3rd generation Sicilian Bakery in the Bronx … or your favorite 3-cheese smothered “with the crispys on top” gastro mac-n-cheese. … or even my favorite, the Zoupa de Pesche over angel-hair pasta from Portabella’s in Boynton Beach! Also, another “Best Thing Ever!” about this kind of success is that it doesn’t wreak wanton havoc like those soggy “did that just come out of the trash?” hot mess of a plate of chili-cheese fries … or that cold, edges curling towards the sky, cardboardesque, “can no longer identify the toppings” piece of pizza … or that piece of “it’s gotta be from a box” chocolate cake with its shiny “turtle-wax” frosting and gummy oily residue that’s worthy of nothing short of the harshest EPA Warning.

It truly is “never too late to change”. Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world”. A miracle of life occurs each time one egg splits and two souls are born into this world as identical twins, like Henry and I. Miracles also exist for each and every one of us in that we have opportunity upon opportunity to make better choices and live our lives to the fullest; not as spectators but as vibrant participants. Because of ‘The Biggest Loser’ and their Challenge America Campaign, the fire continues to burn white hot! Miracle upon miracle as person after person takes that first step and ENGAGES! … CHOOSES! … COMMITS! … MOVES … DREAMS! … SUCCEEDS!

I AM JOE ~ if I can do it, so can YOU…

I AM JOE … or AM I? … stay tuned!

Wear Your Soul,

Joe O.