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Joe's 'Biggest Loser' Finale

The Biggest Loser - Season 14
Trae Patton/NBC
The following is a guest post from Joe Ostaszewski of  "The Biggest Loser."

The FINALE ... or is it?

Just a few short months ago, 18 individuals, 15 adults and 3 youths, won the chance to compete on Season 14 of The Biggest Loser.  These 18 Winners were chosen from tens of thousands of applicants who each recognized their own serious health issue and elected to make a positive change.  Hopefully, most of these applicants became part of the "Challenge America" wave and are well on their way to their own personal victory and a healthier lifestyle.  For anyone who did not, it's never too late and there is tons of support available; ranging from comprehensive online programs like, to self-help books, gyms, community events and supportive family, friends and mentors.  I encourage each person to take the first step, then another, and another and savor the sweet taste of success!  I DID IT and SO CAN YOU!

I am Joe and was one of the 15 adults chosen for Season 14.  We arrived morbidly obese and we each had a story to tell as to how and why we had become so. Over the many weeks leading up to  tonight's finale we learned that, although our stories had many differences, they also had many similarities. My path crossed briefly with some contestants and I walked further down the path with others. I was inspired by everyone's commitment to change their life and was further motivated to do the same. In the beginning, I celebrated every success as a " cheerleader" and cringed at the failures. As the weeks progressed, bonds were formed and each person challenged me to look within far more honestly than I'd ever done before. My compassion and respect deepened and I began celebrating successes with true happiness in my heart and seeing failures as opportunities. Many times throughout my life I had heard those words, "failures as opportunities", but it was this experience that truly helped me understand them.

Heartfelt Congratulations to Danni, the Winner of Season 14! She worked incredibly hard to push through her fears, achieve this monumental goal and transform her life. I couldn't be more proud of her! She has inspired many but none as special as her Dad. He too accepted the challenge and is well on his way to reaching a healthy weight. It is my sincerest hope that they have many happy and healthy years together as their bond is one in a million. Jeff, you may have gotten second place by a pound but you are second to none! I will always remember that clip of you and your friends in the restaurant back home when they were chowing down on all your old favorites, pizza, burgers, fries and there may even have been a rack of ribs. What a fork in the road. The look of your face was priceless and heart wrenching at the same time. Rather than resenting them and feeling sorry for yourself, you summoned up strength and resolve and chose what was right for you. Amazing!

And then there's my new life-long friend Jackson! You have come so far at such a young age, it's simply astounding! I think you're just beginning to see the impact you have on others. You are caring and humble and have a strength of character that is formidable.  At the Finale, and possibly for the first time ever, you truly looked comfortable "in your own skin" ... not to mention you 100% "rocked" that suit!  Jackson, you have touched many and will touch thousands more. Follow your heart and dream big!  Lastly, I want to give a big "Shout Out!" to Gina.  I remember an earlier clip of Gina, at home for her " Reveal", in which she commented how sad being overweight had made her feel and what a joy it was to receive the praise and support from her family and friends.  Well, after being eliminated soon after her return to the show, Gina continued to fiercely fight for her goal and it sure paid off!  What an accomplishment!

Tonight, as the finale unfolded, I realized that this was the end. The end of Season 14 and, for me, a life "half-lived." At that same moment, I also realized that it was the beginning of a new path, one filled with health, energy and opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. My twin brother Henry and I had actually accomplished what we had set out to do ... to  lose weight and become healthy. Me on Season 14 of The Biggest Loser and Henry at home, in yet another one of our many "head to head,"  "toe to toe", "battle-royal", "O-Bro" competitions. Throughout our football careers we were big, tough defensive tackles. Champions several times over. In this "healthy lifestyle" challenge, we applied the same focus and discipline that we'd used on the gridiron and ended up celebrating the sweetest victory of all. Henry and I each lost over 40% of our  body mass and together we lost what amounted to a third defensive tackle. Hard to believe but, yes, a whole other person ... and a BIG ONE at THAT!

A few years ago Henry and I cofounded the Wear Your Soul Foundation. Our mission was, and is, to help fight obesity, the most serious pandemic disease plaguing our country today.  Eliminating obesity is the cornerstone of a vibrant and productive society and our foundation has joined the legion of others in the quest to vanquish this menacing monster!  The Wear Your Soul Foundation strives to pair  overweight youth with athletes/mentors and motivating them, along with overweight adults, to GET UP! ... GET OUT! (doors that is) ... and MOVE!  Season 14 was exciting in that this was the first time that young adults were included in the show.  I was impressed beyond words by the "Amazing 3" chosen to participate, Sunny, Lindsay and Biingo.  Each was carrying quite a load, so to speak, as they dealt with the impact of severe weight issues on top of the "31 flavors" of teenage questions and concerns.  Throughout the season, each found their footing, blossomed and became realistic role models for their peers.  Henry and I look forward to working with them and others to build a "community coalition" to "pound down" the obesity epidemic in this country.

As Henry and I expand the Wear Your Soul Foundation's platform and outreach, we can truly say to anyone struggling with weight issues, "we have walked in your shoes." I am forever grateful for the amazing opportunity I've had to be a part of  The Biggest Loser. As I go forward, I embrace life with every intention to live each day as healthy, happy and authentically as possible. The successes I've had, and the lessons I've learned, will surely allow me to see any future failures as opportunities for more wisdom and "wins." So, to each of you, take one step towards a goal of your own ... now take another step ... then another ... and soon you too will be a winner! ... GET UP! ... GET OUT! ... MOVE! ... I am Joe ... If I Can Do It ... So Can You!

Good-bye & hello & remember to Wear Your Soul!

Joe Ostaszewski

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