Eight years ago, Ali Vincent became the first female Biggest Loser when she lost 47.86 percent of her body weight, slimming down to 122 pounds. A few days ago, she shared a Facebook post admitting that she gained back much of the weight she lost.

“I swore I would never be there again, be here again. I couldn’t imagine a day again that I would weigh over 200 pounds. I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like failure,” she writes in a post that has received thousands of likes.

Vincent’s story sounds all too familiar to those who have wrestled with their weight.

“When I struggle I shut down, I feel alone, I push people away, I hide, I sleep all day, I eat, I try to feel satisfied and comforted but do nothing to allow true satisfaction or comfort,” she wrote.

Leslie Bonci, a nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice, who has not worked with Vincent, says a rapid weight loss is “pretty shocking to the body.”

New body, same self?

While the physical body adjusts to its new form, Bonci says many people grapple with an identity crisis. After winning in 2008, Vincent told Lester Holt on TODAY:

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

“I am a whole new woman … There are no limits. There are absolutely no limits and I started to dream big again.”

Ali Vincent-biggest-loser. She was the first female to win on the show with an 112-pound weight loss. She recently announced that she regained much of the weight she lost.NBC

In a program such as the “Biggest Loser”, participants receive support from each other and the coaches. People know they’re sharing an experience. But afterward, they’re alone, says Bonci.

They can feel isolated and many turn to food to comfort themselves.

And that relates to another problem with extreme weight loss: when people face problems they often relapse into bad behaviors.

“You are released out into the world,” Bonci says. “It is really difficult to make a transition.”

Vincent plans on losing the extra pounds with Weight Watchers, a program which includes emotional support and research-based dietary recommendations.

While using food for comfort contributed to Vincent’s weight gain, fertility treatments also were a factor, she writes.

RELATED: Oprah unveils weight-loss transformation, her ‘best body’ in O

Fertility treatments don’t always cause weight gain, but some hormone injections can, says Dr. Joseph Sanfilippo, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

“What’s more likely to be associated with a weight gain … if the treatment is going to include injections of actual pituitary gland hormones,” he says.

Women who don’t get regular periods or experience decreased egg production generally receive these hormone injections for nine days to stimulate the ovaries. This increases estrogen production, causing weight gain.

“It is short lived,” Sanfilippo says. “Bottom line with a fertility treatment it is less likely to cause weight gain” than poor diet and no exercise.

If you’re a fan of The Biggest Loser, you’ve probably heard of Ali Vincent. Vincent won the show in 2008, becoming the first female contestant to do so. She lost 112 pounds during the competition. But since the show ended, it hasn’t been easy for Vincent. This April, she revealed on Facebook that she’s since gained back the weight she lost on the show. Vincent is far from the first contestant to do this. A recent study tracked the weight of 14 contestants from season eight of the show, and 13 of the 14 contestants went on to regain the weight they’d lost on The Biggest Loser. The researchers offered a few reasons why, including that the contestants’ metabolisms slowed because their weight loss happened too quickly. But Vincent offers another reason for her weight gain: personal trauma.

This October, Vincent appeared on Oprah: Where Are They Now? and revealed that in 2015, she was sexually assaulted during a massage. The traumatic event caused her to “shut down,” and she busied herself with other things—like planning her upcoming wedding—instead of working through her feelings. In the twelve months following the assault, Vincent rapidly gained weight. “It was constant stimulation because I didn’t want to deal with what was coming up for me,” Vincent said on the show. “I did so much to fill my time, and then when my wedding was over, I just kind of got into this cycle of mindless eating and drinking.” And gaining weight impacted her self-confidence. “Do I really deserve to have everything that I dreamed of? Do I really deserve to have this happiness?” she said through tears last week during an appearance on the T.D. Jakes show.

Experts say that experiencing trauma, like sexual assault, can definitely affect a person’s weight and eating habits. ” individuals tend to have higher levels of depression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, negative self image, and poor interpersonal relationships,” Amanda Baten, Ph.D., a clinical and nutritional psychologist, tells SELF via e-mail. “As a result, they are more likely to engage in self destructive behaviors, including binge eating and yo-yo dieting.”

Denise Leung, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, adds there’s a biological component, too. Trauma is a stressful situation, and stress can affect hormones, especially cortisol. An increase in this stress hormone can lead to weight gain. In her practice, however, she’s seen more patients lose weight after experiencing trauma. “It differs from person to person because everyone reacts to stress differently,” Leung says. “It depends on the coping mechanism. With depression, for example, it can be either you eat a lot or you don’t eat much at all.”

The best way to cope with post-trauma weight fluctuations: Start addressing the underlying issue. “Good counseling options are available to begin the healing process and learn to feel entitled to good health and optimal mental wellness,” Baten says. Discuss your situation with a primary care physician, who can offer a referral. Also, be kind to yourself if your weight changes after a traumatic experience. “They shouldn’t necessarily blame themselves for the weight gain, but they should use that energy to get help to treat the underlying problem, which is dealing with the trauma,” Leung says.

Vincent said on Oprah that she’s now facing her traumatic experience head-on, rather than distracting herself from it. She also joined Weight Watchers, and she’s started to lose weight. Equally as important: She’s working to gain back her power and confidence, too. “It’s something that I’m working through, but it doesn’t have to be the end of my story,” she said. “For far too long by not wanting to deal with it, I just let it unconsciously, subconsciously affect me and take too much power—and it doesn’t get power.”

Watch Ali Vincent talk about her recent weight gain below.

If you have been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673 or chat online at online.rainn.org.

Related:

  • This Is Why So Many ‘Biggest Loser’ Contestants Gain The Weight Back
  • Several Former ‘Biggest Loser’ Contestants Allege They Were Encouraged To Take Drugs While On The Show
  • Melissa Jhunja Uses Yoga To Help Survivors Of Domestic Violence And Sexual Assault

As of Jan. 1, 2008, the premiere date for The Biggest Loser’s fifth season, the show had already crowned four champions for shedding extreme amounts of weight in less than a year’s time with the help of trainers — including Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper — as well as nutritionists and doctors. There was Ryan Benson during the first season, then Matt Hoover claiming victory in 2005’s battle of the sexes, followed by Erik Chopin, who beat out the largest cast ever, and then Bill Germanakos, claiming the title over his twin Jim Germanakos in 2007.

But the show had a problem — well, it had lots of problems, the most notable being the fact that the TV competition promulgated dangerous messages to a mass audience about weight loss. But the one showrunners reportedly wanted to fix was the fact that a woman had yet to take home the top prize. Producers gave themselves one more season to shed its sexist ways naturally — and if things didn’t go the way of a woman, then they were considering changing the format of the show to crown two contestants, one of each gender.

But that adjustment never came to be because Ali Vincent dominated, securing a $250,000 prize by dropping 112 lbs. over the course of 30 weeks.

Related Video: ‘Biggest Loser’ Wins by Competing in Ironman Triathlon

“I was not about to let that happen on my watch. I didn’t want a special category to win. I wanted to just win, plain and simple,” Vincent tells Yahoo Lifestyle ahead of the show’s reboot on USA in January and shortly after the 15-year anniversary of the groundbreaking show’s debut.

Since securing the title of first female Biggest Loser, Vincent’s world has drastically changed.

“I honestly never would have thought being part of such an experience would have such a profound impact on my life,” she admits.

Vincent went on to be a guest on a number of talk shows like The Ellen Show, Good Morning America and Oprah. She also signed on as a spokesperson for brands like 24 Hour Fitness, Famous Footwear and Designer Whey protein. A year after her win, Vincent wrote a book about her experiences called Believe It, Be It: How Being The Biggest Loser Won Me Back My Life. Then in 2011, Vincent began hosting her own show on the Live Well Network, Live Big with Ali Vincent, during which she helped guests and viewers live a healthier lifestyle through fitness and proper nutrition.

View photos Ali Vincent during the Biggest Loser season finale standing next to her “before” picture. (Photo: Trae Patton/NBCU Photobank)More

But for Vincent, who had been working as a hairstylist in Arizona prior to her first place finish, the spotlight — and all that came with it — wasn’t easy.

“In the beginning, I would feel uncomfortable around all these people who knew some of the most intimate parts of my life when I knew nothing about them,” she explains.

To cope, she started hugging everyone she met.

“For me, that exchange of energy allowed the playing field to feel more even,” shares Vincent. “I think people look to me because they feel like I could be their sister or the girl they grew up with. I’m a safe person to relate to or have on their team and I love it.”

Having a public persona has, in a sense, also helped Vincent. “I am forced by the innate human desire to not want to disappoint, to find a way,” she says of maintaining her weight and continuing her fitness journey. But she has struggled to keep all the weight off since her win more than a decade ago and says her relationship with herself and her body continues to change daily.

“I do try to be kinder to myself, but that hasn’t always happened … I have had every emotion you can think of in regards to my health and my body throughout the years, some I’m proud of and some I hope to never experience again,” says the former TBL winner.

Vincent confesses that she has, at times, sabotaged her efforts in terms of fitness and nutrition when she was feeling especially judged or insecure, but these days she does her best to put others’s opinions behind her.

“I can only worry about the things that I can do something about: what I put in my body, how I choose to move my body and how I treat those around me and the environment I’m in,” says Vincent.

Part of her weight fluctuations also stem from an assault she experienced in a massage parlor in 2015, which she spoke about in an interview with Oprah Winfrey at the time.

“For a long time, I felt this huge sense of shame and responsibility for the assault … I wondered if I had somehow deserved it because there was always so much talk about and interest in my body,” she reveals.

Fortunately, that changed once she began to share her story publicly.

“Each time I shared, I felt differently about it. It started to lose its hold or power over me. It will always be a part of my story and has been a part of shaping who I am today, but it isn’t the end of the story … I can be seen and can find safety in my strength and resilience,” she says.

That positive attitude can mostly be attributed to her family.

“I am so extremely blessed to have found love and created love through our children,” Vincent says of her wife, Jennifer Krusing. “My kids fulfill me and drive me in a way I never knew possible.”

And while Vincent adds her Biggest Loser triumph near the top of her list of accomplishments, her greatest one is a work in progress, wanting to instill in her kids the understanding that they can be and do anything they want so long as they believe in themselves: “I hope to show them this is possible by continuing to live out loud and loving myself.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

  • Jillian Michaels criticized for ‘gross’ comments on Lizzo’s body: ‘It isn’t gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes’

  • Jillian Michaels stands by controversial comments about Lizzo’s weight: ‘I am a health expert!’

  • Whoopi Goldberg defends Lizzo after she’s attacked for her weight: ‘I’m thrilled that she’s a big-figured woman’

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Biggest Loser winner Ali Vincent on regaining weight

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This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com

Ali Vincent made history as the first female to win weight loss competition show The Biggest Loser in 2008 after losing 112 lbs. — but in April, Vincent, 41, revealed that she had regained almost all of the weight she had lost.

“I swore I would never be there again, be here again,” she posted on Facebook at the time. “I couldn’t imagine a day again that I would weigh over 200 lbs. I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like a failure.”

Vincent recently revealed that she was the victim of a sexual assault while getting a massage, and believes much of her weight gain came from dealing with the emotional fallout.

“I’ve realized, over the last year, as I’ve gained this weight, it was so much of my life slowed down, that a lot of stuff came up that I just hadn’t dealt with,” she said.

Vincent announced that she was joining Weight Watchers to get her weight back on track, but says she is still struggling with the emotional aspects of her weight gain now.

“The Biggest Loser gave me the opportunity to believe in myself and I don’t know that I ever really did,” Vincent says on Monday’s episode of T.D. Jakes. “Everybody wanted me to and I wanted to for them, and I had results to prove it. But do I really deserve to have everything that I dream of? Do I deserve to have this happiness?”

Vincent admits that it’s her past struggles that have been holding her back from being her best self.

“I know that there’s stuff that I have to deal with, and I know that it goes back way far, but then I also know that I’m 41 years old — when am I going to own my own stuff?” she says. “When can I just let go?”

To see more of Vincent’s emotional interview with T.D. Jakes, check your local listings to tune into the full episode on Monday. Also available on OWN at 6 p.m. ET.

Contestants battle the bulge and each other in the competitive weight-loss series

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  • The Biggest Loser

A winner of ‘The Biggest Loser’ speaks out after gaining every pound back

When Ali Vincent won the fifth season of The Biggest Loser, she lost 112 pounds to become the show’s first woman winner. But years later, she’s opening up about how, and why, she gained back nearly every pound she lost.

Back in April, Vincent opened up on Facebook shortly after the anniversary of winning her season. She revealed that she weighed nearly as much as she did when she started on The Biggest Loser. “I couldn’t imagine a day again that I would weigh over 200 pounds,” she wrote. “I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like failure.” She said she joined Weight Watchers to try to kickstart her diet once more.

She also revealed that she was sexually assaulted while getting a massage, and she thinks that traumatic experience led to her weight gain. On Monday’s episodes of T.D. Jakes, she said that she has always struggled with self-confidence, even in the middle of The Biggest Loser’s empowering message. “The Biggest Loser gave me the opportunity to believe in myself and I don’t know that I ever really did,” she said. “Everybody wanted me to and I wanted to for them, and I had results to prove it. But do I really deserve to have everything that I dream of? Do I deserve to have this happiness?”

She’s also had to deal with Internet trolls who picked her apart online for gaining weight. “I know that there’s stuff that I have to deal with, and I know that it goes back way far, but then I also know that I’m 41 years old — when am I going to own my own stuff?” she asked T.D. Jakes. “When can I just let go?” Jakes talked to her about the importance of not valuing other people too highly and not comparing yourself to a false ideal of someone else.

Vincent posted on Facebook about how her experience on the show helped her process her psychological issues and barriers that prevent her from losing weight. “I have a lot to work on and work through, the difference today versus before meeting the Bishop is that I feel MY possible again, I feel lighter, I have faith in this journey,” she wrote.

It may have been that a show like The Biggest Loser wasn’t the best way for Vincent to lose weight in the first place. A recent study found the majority of contestants studied gained weight after the show ended.

‘Biggest Loser’ Ali Vincent gains back 112-lb weight loss and the reason will enrage you

In a poignant interview on “Oprah: Where They Are Now” Ali Vincentfrom the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” admitted that after finding love and marrying her lesbiangirlfriend, she gained back most of her 112-lb weight loss. But that’s not the saddest part of her story. The reasons for “Biggest Loser” Ali’s weight gain will break your heart and also enrage you. They underscore links between sexual assault, obesity, shame, comfort eating and depression.

Rape and the blame-shame game

From having her own show “Live Big with Ali Vincent” the weight loss motivational speaker admitted to gaining weight.

But what she could never admit was the reason. Finally she broke down to Oprah about being sexually assaulted during a massage last year. She fell asleep during massage therapy and woke to find the therapist’s hand in her vagina. But that’s not the most revolting part–after Vincent had the courage to report it, the manager pooh-poohed the sexual assaultsaying it wasn’t as if she was raped. Like that makes it okay. And like so many abused women, Ali agreed it wasn’t. But then what is rape butunwanted sexual contact with genitalia?

Sexual assault, depression and the shame-gain game

Another thing that defines rape isn’t what’s used -penis orhand, but the way it makes you feel–violated. So rape, sexual assault, molestation, fondling, whatever, it made Vincent feel dirty, vulnerable and depressed. In her shame, she turned to the one companion that had never let her down–food. This is the same story told so often on “My 600-lb Life” morbidly obese people like Teretha Hollis-Neelyand Ashley Dunn Bratcher were sexually molested.

They turned to comfort eating to dull the pain.

Comfort eating vs comfort food vs genuine healing

There’s a difference between comfort food and comfort eating. Comfort food is junk food that tastes good and makes you feel good (sort of, for awhile). Comfort eating is food-stuffing or binge eating where the eater tries to drown sorrows (much like substance abuse). They overeat usually comfort food and feel better for a bit.

The blood sugar rises and endorphins kick in. But then the blood sugar plummets and they need more food. Overeating causes sluggishness and obesitywhich creates even more shame, self-blame, depression and lethargy. When folks start to talk about experiences and feelings and stop keeping others’ guilty secrets, that’s when real healing can happen. And then they find the strength to work at weight loss.

Ali Vincent’s Mom Bette-Sue Reveals Shocking Secret

Ali Vincent and her mom Bette-Sue have been keeping a secret for years until now. Today, Bette- Sue has something to say that isn’t easy.

“It isn’t the matter of telling the truth it’s a matter of telling the whole truth,” says Bette-Sue. Now that the day has finally come, Bette-Sue is feeling overwhelmed with these sudden emotions. It’s a difficult confession, but Ali is right by her mother’s side giving her the support she needs. Since being on the Biggest Loser, Bette-Sue has always been an open book except for this one part of her life. “Just under a year after the Biggest Loser, I was offered a free bariatric surgery and I went and had a gastric sleeve,” she says. Bette-Sue explains the surgical procedure, which essentially reduced the size of Bette-Sue’s stomach from 80 ounces to 8 ounces. By having this surgery, Bette- Sue was able to lose the last 50 pounds. “When you have a little bitty stomach, instead of a big stomach, you get full faster,” says Bette-Sue. She never wanted to reveal the surgery to anyone because of the taboo surrounding bariatric surgery. “So many people think that that’s the cheater’s way,” says Bette-Sue. But once Bette-Sue first told Ali, Ali was very hurt and upset. Ali never wanted anyone to know about her mother’s stomach surgery because Bette-Sue is a reflection of her. “I thought, ‘How can anything I say be relevant if I can’t even get my mom on board?'” says Ali. ut looking back, Ali realized she was being selfish. She never understood her mother’s reasons for the surgery but now she thinks differently. Ali is very supportive of her mother’s choice because Bette-Sue is happier now. Her mom is no longer living a life where she’s constantly beating up on herself because of her weight and feeling invisible. “People would not see me because of my heaviness,” says Bette-Sue. “I got to experience the prejudice to fat people. I saw it first hand and it’s a horrible thing.” Although it worked for Bette-Sue, she encourages people to talk to their doctor first for more information. Bariatric surgery is a very serious procedure that may not work for all people. “If that’s the choice you make to go have assistance medically, then so be it,” says Bette-Sue. “I’m much happier.” Ali explains that having bariatric surgery isn’t an easy way out. “Having bariatric surgery doesn’t mean you get to eat whatever you want,” she says. “In fact, you have to be more mindful about what you eat.” Now that the truth is exposed, Ali knows she will get backlash for this. She’s knows how hurtful these comments can be so Ali is ready to defend her mom. But while Ali is talking, she notices her mother crying. “I don’t want you to have to defend anything because of me,” Bette-Sue says, through tears. But Ali says her mom is always there to defend her from negative comments, and she reassures Bette-Sue that by sharing her story she can educate others to not be afraid anymore. “By sharing your story, it’s going to be able to open up so many worlds of possibility for people that have struggled and felt our pain at the heavier weights and wanting to just find some way feel better about themselves,” says Ali. Bette-Sue says other people’s criticism has been the hardest part of the whole process. “I never had any fear of surgery – having it or having it done,” she says. “I only had fear of people’s judgments. I’m just happier that I don’t struggle with my weight.” But Ali believes the choice was right for her mom, even though it’s not for her. Bette-Sue tells another emotional family story about her sister who died of cancer at 58. She had been thinking about getting bariatric surgery, but hadn’t yet done it when she died. “I wish with all my heart that she had had the surgery because then she would have recognized that she had this massive tumor in her abdominal section that she couldn’t even see or feel because she was so obese,” says Bette-Sue. After an emotional conversation between mother and daughter, Ali tells her mom how proud she is of her. By confessing this secret, Ali and Bette-Sue hope they can break the taboo around bariatric surgery and maybe educate others. Today’s Live Big surprise sends Ali and Bette-Sue to YAS Fitness Center in Downtown Los Angeles where they meet fitness instructor Kimberly Fowler. Kimberly informs the ladies they’ll be taking a yoga and spin class. The first class is a half hour spin followed by a half hour yoga class. Ali is very excited for today’s workout, especially the spin class. “I love to spin. I’m a spinning pro!” she says. Better-Sue on the other hand, has her worries. “Is this going to kill me? If I’m a non exerciser?” But Kimberly assures Bette-Sue that she’ll be fine and that the class will be fun. Before starting the class, Kimberly shares her inspiring story. She was a tri-athlete for many years, but was in an accident where she was hit by a car in a bike race. Kimberly started taking yoga classes for rehab and fell in love with the practice. Before the class starts, the Live Big Producer informs them that they get to go on a shopping spree if they both try their very best in these classes. Bette-Sue is a little skeptical, but she says she’ll try. Once spin class begins, Bette-Sue is exhausted and doesn’t think she can keep going. At one point, Bette-Sue spits out her water on the floor and Ali is mortified. They continue to push through and work up a great sweat. After being put through a grueling spin class, Ali and her mom Bette-Sue are getting ready to take on a yoga class. But before they do, they learn more about Kimberly’s inspiring journey. Kimberly tells them she was once diagnosed with a life threatening brain tumor where she was given only 6 months to live. But Kimberly wouldn’t accept that diagnosis. “No, that’s not going to happen and in fact I’m going to go far beyond where I’ve ever been,” she says. Kimberly decided to fight for her life, and she began doing triathalons. It was evident that Kimberly’s passion was in fitness, especially yoga and spin, so she decided to open up her own studio and put yoga and spinning together. After hearing Kimberly’s story, Ali and Bette-Sue were both left in awe of her courageous spirit. As the yoga class begins, Bette-Sue is struggling with her balance. She can’t seem to hold the yoga poses like Ali. Bette-Sue then starts complaining and making excuses, which frustrates Ali. Ali reminds her mom about the shopping spree reward and suddenly Bette-Sue tries harder. As the yoga class is coming to an end, the ladies enjoy a nice cool down session. This yoga class was an unbelievable experience for both Ali and Bette-Sue because they met an incredible woman, who beat the odds. Kimberly is a great example of Living Big because she proved quitting should never be the answer to your problems. Her story encouraged Ali and Bette-Sue to continue living big no matter what obstacles come their way. To find out more about Kimberly and Yoga and Spin for Athletes, please visit go2yas.com.

Weight Loss Success Stories: Ali Lost 114 Pounds On The Biggest Loser

Ali Vincent’s fundamental attitude–“believe in yourself”–has helped her keep off the 100-plus pounds she lost on the Biggest Loser.

My name is Ali Vincent, and I am the Biggest Loser. I still love saying it. In October 2007, when I joined season 5 of The Biggest Loser, I weighed 234 pounds. At the finale, I registered a loss of 112 pounds. Nearly half of me had vanished.

Millions of people watched my journey, but there’s a lot more to it than what you saw on TV. Behind my extra pounds were issues I needed to explore before I could change my life for good. I know that when people come to hear me speak, they think I’m going to delve into eating and exercise strategies–but my success is more than just about calories in, calories out. It’s how I learned to believe in myself again.

HER LIFE BEFORE THE BIGGEST LOSER

I grew up in a Mormon community with a strict moral code. In Sunday school, I was taught that parents should be married (and Mormon) and no one should drink or smoke. What I had instead: divorced parents, a Catholic dad, and a mom who partied a lot. I acted out in my teens and started gaining weight right after high school. It was only a few pounds at first, but I felt huge. I was convinced my boyfriend stopped loving me because of it. As I watched the numbers on the scale climb, I started to withdraw.

After a difficult time in my early 20s–I lost my grandpa and my dog, and I was unemployed–I just gave up. I felt empty. So I ate and ate, but nothing filled me up. I was so far down an emotional black hole that I didn’t know how to get out.

Adapted from Believe It, Be It: How Being The Biggest Loser Won Me Back My Life, by Ali Vincent. Copyright 2009 by Ali Vincent. By permission of Rodale Inc.,Emmaus,PA18098. Available wherever books are sold.

WHERE CHANGE BEGAN

My sister was a fan of The Biggest Loser and tried to get me to watch with her. As her “fat sister,” I resisted, but when I finally gave in, I was amazed when I saw the season 3 winner lose over 200 pounds! I looked at my mom and said, “I want to be on this show.”

After a few months and a long application process, my mom and I joined the cast of The Biggest Loser: Couples. We both had a lot of weight to lose. (My mother weighed 261 pounds.) A few weeks in, my trainer, Jillian Michaels, asked, “Why are you here?” “Because I’m fat,” I answered. “Why are you fat?” she responded. The truth was my fat protected me. My weight was the reason my relationships ended or I didn’t get a job–or so I told myself. It was an excuse for my failures.

When we worked out in the gym, Jillian often separated teammates. Once, she put my mom on the bike and screamed at her to push harder; I watched from my spot on the elliptical. I wanted to protect her. Jillian immediately yelled at me, warning me not to look in my mother’s direction. My job was to focus on me.

At that moment, I realized that rescuing my mom was not the answer to her problems–or mine. I loved her, but old issues were surfacing that I had to address, and I knew I couldn’t change if I held on to so much hurt. One afternoon, prompted by Jillian, I told my mom how alone I felt growing up. Mom’s defenses were down–she apologized for some of the choices she’d made. “I love you more than life,” she said. “Why else would I come to this dumb old place? I wanted to be with you.” It was what I needed to hear.

After 4 weeks on the ranch, my mom and I were eliminated and sent home. We were a combined 73 pounds lighter, but I wasn’t sure I’d have the strength to avoid temptation, so I cleaned out the refrigerator and stocked it with what I ate at the ranch: veggies, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. I also made changes at work: At the salon where I was a hairdresser, I used to take clients nonstop all day. I’d drink lattes and soda and scarf down fast food whenever I had a minute. But after the ranch, I made time to sit down and eat my lunch, and I no longer jumped up to handle a walk-in client. I was taking care of my needs–and that time was sacred.

I’d been home for about 7 weeks when the show’s producers called, saying they were giving all the eliminated contestants a shot at getting back on the ranch. When I hung up the phone, I looked at my mom and announced, “I’m going to be the first female Biggest Loser.” And in April 2008, in front ofAmerica, it happened. I won, and it was the moment of a lifetime.

MY LIFE AFTER THE BIGGEST LOSER

I’d spent so much energy on losing weight, and now it was time to look at the bigger picture. I called Mark Koops, managing director of the company that produces the show, and asked if we could meet. And he said yes! I told him about all the women who e-mailed me thanking me for changing the consciousness ofAmerica–and I wanted to stay a part of that. Mark told me he’d been waiting for a woman to walk through his door who wanted to make a difference. Working with the show and other sponsors, I now speak at events and try to motivate women who want to change but don’t think they can.

My life with my family is completely different: We hike together now and enjoy healthy dinners. And my relationship with my mom is the best it’s ever been. Sure, we still have our ups and downs, but we’ve learned to talk through our conflicts. Every person in my family helps support my lifestyle. In fact, our first Christmas after I came home from the ranch, we took our holiday vacation toMexico, and to help me stay on track, my family created healthy menus for the trip and split up cooking duties. There wasn’t a gym around, so I did basketball drills with my brothers, and we danced on the patio after dinner. We even exchanged gifts that promoted health, like heart rate monitors and workout equipment. They really rallied behind me, and I’ll never stop drawing from that.

Today I maintain my weight by finding balance. I eat the foods that I love, but I still keep a food journal in my handbag. And while I don’t spend endless hours at the gym, I do exercise in some way almost every day because it gives me energy, and I love how I feel afterward.

In the end, I’m just a normal person who experienced an extraordinary journey–one that happened to be on national television. I want to lead by example, and I’m an example of what believing in yourself truly means.

Source: Prevention

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

When Ali Vincent won the fifth season of The Biggest Loser, she lost 112 pounds to become the show’s first woman winner. But years later, she’s opening up about how, and why, she gained back nearly every pound she lost.

Back in April, Vincent opened up on Facebook shortly after the anniversary of winning her season. She revealed that she weighed nearly as much as she did when she started on The Biggest Loser. “I couldn’t imagine a day again that I would weigh over 200 pounds,” she wrote. “I feel ashamed. I feel embarrassed. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like failure.” She said she joined Weight Watchers to try to kickstart her diet once more.

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She also revealed that she was sexually assaulted while getting a massage, and she thinks that traumatic experience led to her weight gain. On Monday’s episodes of T.D. Jakes, she said that she has always struggled with self-confidence, even in the middle of The Biggest Loser’s empowering message. “The Biggest Loser gave me the opportunity to believe in myself and I don’t know that I ever really did,” she said. “Everybody wanted me to and I wanted to for them, and I had results to prove it. But do I really deserve to have everything that I dream of? Do I deserve to have this happiness?”

She’s also had to deal with Internet trolls who picked her apart online for gaining weight. “I know that there’s stuff that I have to deal with, and I know that it goes back way far, but then I also know that I’m 41 years old — when am I going to own my own stuff?” she asked T.D. Jakes. “When can I just let go?” Jakes talked to her about the importance of not valuing other people too highly and not comparing yourself to a false ideal of someone else.

Vincent posted on Facebook about how her experience on the show helped her process her psychological issues and barriers that prevent her from losing weight. “I have a lot to work on and work through, the difference today versus before meeting the Bishop is that I feel MY possible again, I feel lighter, I have faith in this journey,” she wrote.

It may have been that a show like The Biggest Loser wasn’t the best way for Vincent to lose weight in the first place. A recent study found the majority of contestants studied gained weight after the show ended.

A ‘Loser’ who won: Ali Vincent talks about her weight-loss battle

But, in an unprecedented twist for the show, Vincent earned her way back on the TV program by losing a greater percentage of weight than any other woman eliminated to that point in season five.

After her return, the 5-foot-5-inch Vincent would go on to lose a total of 112 pounds – almost 48 percent of her body weight – and become the first woman to win the title of “Biggest Loser.”

“It was fun,” Vincent says of the experience. “And I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”

Since then, she’s had a book published, become a spokeswoman for Designer Whey protein and travels as a motivational speaker.

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Vincent will bring her bright smile and bubbly personality to Fargo-Moorhead Saturday as part of the Women’s Showcase, a daylong event that includes seminars, hundreds of exhibitors and more.

“I’m excited,” Vincent says. “I’ve never been to Fargo.”

In a phone interview from a Seattle airport, Vincent spoke with The Forum about weight loss, lifestyle changes and, of course, “The Biggest Loser.”

On the obesity problem in the United States:

“We got busy; we got lazy … I know that my generation definitely remembers what it was like to be more active and to have a little bit more trust in our neighborhoods and stuff. But it’s really gotten to the point with just, like, the high crime rate, where you’re not allowed to just run around the neighborhood and play. You have to be in the backyard or whatever. … Nowadays, you don’t even have to be divorced to essentially have both parents working just to support the household. You know, it’s just kind of gotten crazy.”

On making healthful lifestyle changes:

“I think when people make all these changes and they go on these really strict diets that are, you know, ‘Do this with your toes crossed on one leg, blah, blah, blah.’ Well, you can’t live your life with your toes crossed on one leg. And so what happens is when they get to their goal, if you will – and I’m sure they will get to their goal, they’ll (be) successful in it – but once they get onto both feet again, they’ll start having other results. And so I suggest just changing the things that you can live with for the rest of your life so that there is no, there’s no end point. You’re not done. Diets have a start and an end. A lifestyle change is every day for the rest of your life.”

On being on “The Biggest Loser”:

“Probably the biggest gift of ‘The Biggest Loser’ is just being able to remove yourself from your everyday activity and just be with yourself and kind of check in. I kind of think that we should have it mandated for every American citizen when they hit their 30s to go on a summer camp where you get 30 days just to yourself to just kind of regroup and recheck in because I think when we start our adult lives and we leave the nest of our home, our family home, it’s like we have all these big plans … and what we think we’re going to do. You know, sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. … We don’t ever take the time most of the time … to really just recheck in and figure out where we’re at and where we want to go.”

On becoming unhealthy after having been an athlete:

“I was an athlete. I was a nationally and internationally ranked synchronized swimmer. And that was another way I beat myself up. You know, like, how over the years as I started to gain weight and feeling more uncomfortable in my own skin and removing myself from different activities and being winded going up a flight of stairs … I was like, this is not me. It was like, I know better, I’ve done better. And so it was a way that I beat myself up, and then by beating myself up, I couldn’t move. I was stuck.”

On getting started battling a weight issue:

“I say start writing stuff down … from everything you put in your mouth to every activity that you do. … You become aware of where you’re at. I think we get so busy doing, doing, doing … that we don’t pay attention and we don’t know every single time we go by the candy dish and throw a handful down the hatch. … Those handfuls add up, and even if they’re not candy, if they’re almonds, they add up, sometimes even more. … I had no idea what I was eating and the calorie amounts prior to ‘The Biggest Loser’ because it wasn’t something that was in my conscious thought process … I was appalled … I drank more than I was supposed to eat, you know, in calories. … And then just change what you can and don’t do anything different (that) you aren’t willing to do for the rest of your life.”

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

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