What would you say to someone who is struggling with their weight and so they watch a show like The Biggest Loser, they see what you’ve accomplished and their response is “Oh! Well they got to go on a show and they had personal trainers and they were motivated” and blah, blah, blah and that’s how they were able to lose that. What would you say to someone who might use that as an excuse for why they are not able to kind of have the same breakthrough as you did?
I think what I hope people take away from my experience on The Biggest Loser is not so much the practical day to day of it. I think working out eight hours a day is not practical for most people and I always get discouraged when I hear them say “I couldn’t do that” because ultimately at the end of the day, Biggest Loser is there to show you that you are capable of more, that no matter what your ailment is, no matter how old you are and no matter if you are male or female, you can decide today to make a change in your life and I think people need to stop looking at just these huge life transformations and just really celebrate the small breakthroughs that they make each and everyday and I think sometimes people can absolutely get caught up in seeing those big numbers week to week on the scale. I’ve always encouraged people to look at their own lives and see what can you do today to make better choices and what can you do tomorrow that was better than today. And so I would encourage people to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time and keep moving forward and as long as you can keep moving forward, then you are making progress and like I said, be inspired by the Biggest Loser but it’s not necessarily a “how to” in an everyday practical sense.
What do you mean when you say in your book to “feel the fear”?
I got the quote from Jillian Michaels and she screams it a lot of the time. She didn’t really say it in a polite way and when she’s screaming at you to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and usually it’s in a moment of breakdown. For me it was probably a moment of crying on a treadmill. There are so many things in life that we are afraid of that will cause us to stand in one spot and not move and I think it goes along with taking little steps everyday and moving forward. In her saying that, she wanted me to recognize that I was in a place of fear but that even though I was in a place of fear I could still keep moving through it and forward. I think for me fear has been an immobilizer. I would create a roadblock and just would not go any further because I was afraid of what was on the other side and I think Jillian - she’s not saying “Don’t be afraid” she is saying “You might be afraid” and it could be kind of painful, that could be fearful but keep moving. So that was definitely a lesson that just really connected with me. There are going to be tough and difficult times and things that will really mess with your head but to keep moving forward.
Can you describe a time from your past or before you went on the Biggest Loser where you were paralyzed by fear and you missed an opportunity because you let the fear get a hold of you?
I think the biggest part of my being kind of stuck in fear would definitely be the relationship with my mom. I was afraid being vulnerable. I was afraid of getting hurt. I was too afraid to trust that God has a bigger plan in mind and so when I cut off communication with my mom, it was absolutely a place of fear and hurt and sadness but I think it was more of the fear of what was on the other side of the relationship that I think stopped me from moving forward for six years and it took six years for me to step into a place of saying “God I trust you, I trust that even if I get hurt or ever if I do get disappointed that You ultimately have a bigger plan and that I can keep moving forward.” And to know that I was capable for six years to not speak to my mother, I think speak volumes about what fear can do to hold us back in life.
What prompted you to cut off contact with your mother and how did you come to making that decision?
Well I was young, I was 18 and then 20 when my mom left my dad and she had taken my sisters with her and I think there was that initial hurt from her but then in my mind, I’m just not understanding my parents relationship and not knowing how to move forward in the Biblical sense of honoring my mother but being so angry with her and so hurt by her. And in my mind, it was the only thing I could do to protect myself from the pain because the pain was at a level that I couldn’t process and so I thought at the time and I know even now when I look back, I realize that I thought I was making the only decision that was still honoring her because if I had to talk to her everyday, I was going to yell at her, I was going to scream at her, I was going to say mean things to her and so a way to kind of protect me from being hurt and protect me from dishonoring her to her face basically because I still was hurt by her and had those opinions but it was I think in the forgiving of her that I learned more about God. I think I could say that I forgave her for the hurt that she had caused but it was in the act of doing that where God looked at me and said “Michelle, I have forgiven you and if you trust that your mom has come to me for forgiveness who are you to withhold love and forgiveness from her when I’ve forgiven her and I’ve forgiven you of so much?”