Week 11 ... "Winning". Not a surprising theme given that this was the last show before the Finale of The Biggest Loser, season 14. Hard to believe that, just a few short months ago, we all arrived at the Ranch, hungry for a big change in our lives, a forever change. As a group and individually, we likely had similar goals: to lose weight, learn how to live a healthy lifestyle, WIN the competition. On so many levels, "winning" is ingrained in the very fabric of our lives. So much so, that I doubt many of us have ever paused to reflect on what that word actually means. Most of those who have, likely considered it just from their own individual point of view. Fewer still, have considered what this word also means collectively.
Last week I talked about how my focus on competition began in the womb when both my twin brother Henry and I were shocked to find out we each had a "roommate"! Henry and I went "head to head" the entire time we were growing up and throughout our athletic careers. As football players, we heard over and over the famous Vince Lombardi quote "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing". For most of our lives this was our guiding principle, not only in sports but in life, and we were very successful. Over the years, bit by bit, and bite by bite, Henry and I each put on so much weight that our health was in grave danger. Because it happened slowly, we had time to fine tune our excuses and rationalizations and "busy up" our lives to the point we would deal with losing weight later ... you remember, "manana". Many people don't get a final warning just before the body "throws in the towel" and slaps you to the floor with the message "change or die". Henry and I got lucky. As we waited in the hospital to find out if our Dad would survive another heart attack, we each had a moment of clarity about being morbidly obese and that time was running out for us to make a positive change.
I mentioned last week that Henry talked about us trying out for The Biggest Loser as twins. We both knew we had to step up and do something to change our lives for the better, for ourselves, our family and our friends. We made a pact then and there to get healthy and, if we made it on the show, all the better. Even though Henry wasn't picked for the show, our pact was solid and we salivated at the thought of such an epic battle ... "head to head" weight loss ... me on the show, Henry at home, Challenge America! "The O Bros" going toe-to-toe! Bring It On! We soon realized that this format was a perfect parallel for real life. Eventually, every person leaves the comfort of a structured program, their "Ranch", or whatever "safety net" they may have had. At this critical "fork in the road", they can choose to slide back into old destructive patterns or to step boldly forward and make the healthy choices that lead to a happy and successful life.
A case could easily be made that those of us on the Ranch had it easier than Henry and the thousands not chosen because of the structure, the extensive resources, and the fact that those monstrous temptations were held at bay. The truth is that, no matter where you are, it takes a deeply personal commitment to change, discipline and finding the support to carry through the difficult times. This last piece brought about an "unexpected dividend" from being a part of The Biggest Loser ... more on that in a minute. I just want to take a moment and acknowledge my brother Henry for his commitment and dedication to the " healthy lifestyle" pact that we made and his success in losing over 120 pounds. Because of this, he now has a much better chance at sharing many more years with his children and family. I too have lost over 120 pounds. Together, Henry and I are "walking the talk" that gives our Wear Your Soul Foundation the "street cred" that we are serious warriors in the fight against childhood obesity.
Okay, back to the "unexpected dividend" I mentioned a moment ago. My experience on The Biggest Loser totally redefined my thoughts about what it means to "win". More "Aha" moments in that I came to better understand two of Vince Lombardi's other well-known quotes, "Winning is not everything but making the effort to win is" and "people who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society". Of course, it goes without saying, that winning the title of "The Biggest Loser" would be awesome, not to mention the money. Henry and I could do a great deal of good with it as we expand the Wear Your Soul Foundation's outreach and impact. That being said and whether I win or not, I am far richer from the experience and the knowledge gained than money could buy. I have learned so much about myself ... to be more mindful of my thoughts and actions ... to reward my successes from within ... to praise others and celebrate their triumphs ... to lift up another ... receive help when I'm struggling ... to be humble ... to inspire and be inspired ... and, most of all, to be sincerely grateful for all that I have and all that I've yet to receive. That to me is "winning".
In a little more than a week, all of us will be at "home", faced once again with "ALL OF THAT" that is our daily lives. The choices we make determines our future. I am fully committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same. Tonight, during the weigh-in, Bob chose to "motivate" me by minimizing my 5 lb. success and told me/America that "he has seen me with my shirt off and I still have a lot of fat to loose". Rather than feel shamed, I dug deep within myself and made the conscious choice to be proud of each success, no matter how small for each is a step that gets me closer to my goal. To myself and anyone else who will listen, I say, "forget the failures and excuses and make the effort to win and you will win. Wow, Vince got it right after all!
Please know that I'm unbelievably grateful for the unwavering support that I've received from my fellow Contestants, those connected with The Biggest Loser, my family, friends, The Seminole Nation, and the thousands of people across America. Along with my weight loss, this makes me a "WINNER" no matter where I finish on the show. Given that I'm not one of the final two Contestants, I'd be forever grateful for one last bit of support. I'm at the "goal-line" with inches to go to score a touchdown ... launch me into the Finale as America's favorite by casting your vote at: http://www.nbc.com/the-biggest-loser/vote/
Tonight, I leave you with a quote from Winston Churchill that best sums up my experience on The Biggest Loser and provides motivation and inspiration for anyone choosing to make the changes necessary to live a rich and full life ...
"This is not the end,
this is not even the beginning of the end,
this is just perhaps the end of the beginning."
IAmJoe ~ if I can do this, so can YOU...
Wear Your Soul,