My Story

HealthyLife-6389Welcome to my blog, “Life After Loser”!  No, it’s not a blog about a post-relationship life without some loser boyfriend, but rather my life after The Biggest Loser reality TV Show that I was a part of in 2010, and how I have created my own version of a healthy and happy life since then!

I’m so happy that you’ve taken time out to visit me and see what kind of life I’ve decided to create using tools and resources I’ve learned and created along the way to make it MY version of a healthy and happy life!

This is where I connect with friends, family and most importantly my fans who have supported me and encouraged me since my time on The Biggest Loser back in 2010. I can’t believe it’s been that long, and there’s been so many things I’ve learned since my time on the show about myself, what works for me and what doesn’t, and most of all finding a balance between what we were taught on the show was the ONLY way to lose weight in a controlled environment, and what is realistic for me in a normal life setting.

Below is a VERY long story, about how I came to make the decision to change my life, the challenges that I’ve faced since the show, and where I am now to paint a transparent and honest picture about how hard this journey can be. If you’re interested in my background and why I think I know *a little* about weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, then feel free to dive in below!

The Beginning of the Journey
I started my journey back in 2006 when I reached a weight of 385 lbs at just 24 years old. I felt like I had tried every diet, every pill, every workout routine and I kept gaining weight year after year. I was desperate, for lack of a better word, and thought that surgical weight loss was my only choice. I underwent Lap-Band  surgery and within the first year I had lost 100 lbs!! I was elated and thought, “FINALLY…this is what I’ve waited for.” But then it stalled out. For three years I didn’t gain a pound, but I wasn’t losing anymore either. I was devastated still being stuck at 285 lbs after all of the money and pain I had invested in this surgical procedure.

Then Fate Stepped In
I was working a full-time job one day surfing the internet (like most of us do when we don’t want to work) and came across this casting open call announcement for The Biggest Loser in Phoenix, AZ the NEXT DAY! I don’t know what pushed me, but I called my mom and said, “Mom, we HAVE to go to this. I really want to try and just see what it’s all about!!” She agreed to make the trek up to Phoenix with me and that night we made the two hour drive so that we could be one of the first ones in line the next morning. We were one of the first 200 people in line out of more than 5,000 that eventually showed up and we STILL stood outside for almost 7 HOURS waiting to be seen by the casting team.

While we were outside I saw this guy walk by that I recognized from an earlier season of The Biggest Loser and realized it was a former contestant on Season 7, Sione Fa, who also lived in Phoenix. I was immediately starstruck, but mustered the courage to walk up and talk to him. I asked for his advice and we talked for a little bit before I went in…little did I know that Sione would become one of my biggest supporters and friends in the years to come…

Once we finally got into the stadium they broke us off into groups and asked the whole group one question as we sat around a table, and waited to see what the response would be. Me, being the outgoing person I am IMMEDIATELY started talking lol, giving my opinion about everything. They took everyone’s pictures and applications and sent us on our way. Seven hours in line, all to sit for less than 10 minutes in a group of 10 other people, talk for a couple minutes, then be dismissed. I left thinking, “yeah right…talk about no chance.” Me and my mom started the drive back and she asked me all about it, and as I was explaining what the ten minutes we spent apart were like, tears started streaming down my face. I looked at her and she was crying too. I think in that moment we both knew things were shifting, but I STILL thought there was NO WAY I’d hear from them again…but oh was I wrong.

Let the Games Begin
Later that night I got a phone call from one of the casting directors asking me if I’d be available to meet with them one-on-one the next day (mind you I was already back in Tucson two hours away), “OF COURSE!!!!!” I told her. So the next morning I drove back up to Phoenix and met with the two casting directors who would change my life forever. To this day they hold a special place in my heart, and are more my friends than anything else now. Without them I would still be stuck where I was.

I met with them and they video taped me answering what seemed like a million questions and then they told me, “if we decide to move forward with you, we’ll be in touch” and sent me on my way. Again, I thought this all had been fun, but there were too many people in the running, and it wouldn’t go beyond that. Much to my surprise, it did! I made it all the way to the end before they invite the finalists out to California for one last round of interviews, fittings, medical tests, psych tests, and everything else before choosing who makes it on the show. Brandon, one of the casting directors, called me one night and said, “Jess, I don’t think it’s gonna happen this time. They already picked someone else that looks a lot like you for this season (which was season 8) but we want you to try again next season. We won’t make you go through everything all over again, but I want you back.” Tears ran down my face and thought to myself, “yeah right.”

If You Don’t Succeed, Try Try Again
Well I couldn’t stay away and tried again the next season, and it happened again! I made it all the way to the end and didn’t make it on season 9, but they “wanted me back.” Again, the “yeah right” creeped in and I thought it was the end of the road for this dream. The third time was different though, Brandon called me directly and said, “Jess, you’re trying out a third time.” I met him with some hesitation, and frankly didn’t want to be disappointed again, but finally gave in still thinking the outcome would be the same. This time, though, I moved through the process WAY faster than I had the last two times, and THIS TIME they invited me out to LA for finals week! Long story short I made it onto season 10 of the show!

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My Golden Ticket
I started the show at 285 lbs and during my time on the show I lost an additional 92 lbs in 6 months!! I learned things about myself mentally, physically, and emotionally that I know I would have never learned if I hadn’t been given that opportunity. I came out of the experience thinking I knew everything there was to know about health, fitness, and weight loss. I worked in a gym as a nutritionist, I traveled the country doing post BL events and speaking engagements and thought I had finally figured it all out. Then “real life” came back and I realized that a year after the show I needed to go back to full time work…and that’s when my body started to wage war on me for the excessive craziness I had done to get the weight off that quickly and in such a short amount of time.

Then “Real Life” Hit
During year two after the show I slowly started to gain weight. I was working full time again in an office setting, sitting for nearly 10 hours a day, a vast contrast to working in a gym and getting to workout in between clients. The weight started coming back on quicker and quicker, even though I was still working out and eating healthy, but had stabilized at about 30 lbs over my finale weight. At the beginning of year three after the show is when it all fell apart. I was told that my Lap-Band had created a hietal hernia at the top of my esophagus and was causing me to have acid reflux so bad, that I would wake up choking on acid and blood almost every night. I wasn’t given a choice, the Lap-Band had to come out and I was devastated. I had never lost weight without it and I feared that I’d end up back at nearly 400 lbs. Fast forward two years and I had gained all my weight back and was 385 lbs by 2016!!!

My body couldn’t keep up with how quickly I was gaining and started to cause other problems. I had ended a five year relationship and was miserable. Here I was back to my original weight before my Lap-Band surgery 10 years prior, single, and ashamed that I had thrown all that hard work out the window. I tried everything I could think of…cutting calories dangerously low, doing insane amounts of cardio, going to counseling for my emotional issues, hiring trainers, joining new gyms…whatever I could do. But 6 months later I had lost a whopping 10 lbs and felt hopeless again.

I Finally Asked For Help
I knew I needed help. I had tried unsuccessfully for six months and saw no improvements and was scared out of my mind that the weight would never go away or even worse, that I’d gain even more. I had seen family members undergo the Vertical Gastric Sleeve surgery and have great results, and after a conversation one day with a cousin who had it done, I finally got the kick in the pants I needed. The following phrase completely changed my mind about weight loss surgery. After I made a statement like, “yeah, but surgery like that where they are actually changing your anatomy is so permanent! I’m so young, what if something happens over the years and then half my stomach is gone?!” Her reply was, “yeah Jess, the whole point is that it’s permanent. I know I will ALWAYS need a tool like this to help me, so the whole permanent thing is kinda what I need.” Right then and there my mindset shifted, and after being honest with myself I realized I needed permanent help too. I had gone years without a Lap-Band and had only gained weight without it, and when things got really bad I gained fast and furious. So on that day, I made the decision to make a consultation appointment with one of the top surgical weight loss doctors I knew of, and fast forward three months later I was having the VSG surgery done in June 2016.

Whole 30 Changed My Life
I lost 100 lbs my first year after surgery, but again stagnated right at 285 lbs, the exact weight I stagnated my first time having weight loss surgery. I had some pretty gnarly health problems in 2017 and my weight loss just wasn’t a priority. I didn’t gain any weight that year, but I didn’t really lose any either. Towards the end of the year I decided to do a round of the Whole 30 to help gain control around my eating and create a better relationship with food, which had been ridiculously skewed after the show. I found peace and freedom around my relationship with food, while not feeling deprived, and I’ve seen awesome results in my mind and body.

So here I am now, living a much healthier, peaceful, happy life and starting to see the pounds drop away! Crazy how when our mind, heart, and body give each other some grace and love how things kind of start to work in unison. So I started this blog to share that journey and for everyone to see that even the most educated people still struggle.

There’s no “golden ticket”, believe me I’ve tried all of them…including being on an international TV show lol! This is a journey that will never end, and it’s all about finding the life that you’re comfortable and happy about sustaining for the rest of your life. I’ve picked up a lot of tips, tricks, and secrets to help along the way and I hope that by sharing my experiences, favorite tools and products, recipes and the motivation that gets me through the day, that it will help you enjoy your journey!

Thanks again for following my “Life After Loser”, and I hope that I can become a source of support and love in your journey too!

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