The time I was almost on a Reality show and the most I will ever share on my blog… (probably)

A few weeks ago in a moment of major writer’s block, I asked you guys to pose me some questions, and promised that I would answer.

I am still planning on posting about each of them, but I figure I’ll start with the one that was both asked the most, and the one that will be the most difficult to recount.

So here it is for those of you who were curious: the story of how I was almost a contestant on The Biggest Loser (though it is not nearly as exciting as it sounds.)  I really hope I’m not gonna have NBC on my ass for talking about it, but I’m pretty sure that I’m in the clear after all this time.

I suppose I should start this with a little background. This is pretty much the story that I had to tell a million times during the audition process, so I suppose it is pretty pertinent.

I was never one of those kids who could eat whatever they wanted. I started watching my weight around the age of 10, and even more so when I got more into dance. It wasn’t that I was ever really “big” per se, it just didn’t come as easily to me as it did to others, or at least that’s the way it felt back then. I remember being in dance class and having to wear two piece outfits and feeling completely uncomfortable.

The older I got, the more uncomfortable I was with my body. We had to do monthly weigh-ins at dance, and there was nothing that plagued me more than the thought of gaining a pound or two and having it announced to everyone. Eventually my body image problems escalated into a full-fledged eating disorder. I am not going to go into details now, that might be better fodder for a TMI post, but let’s just say that eventually it got out of hand. Right before college I decided it was time to seek help.

I started out college as a dance major, which meant that I spent a lot of time in front of mirrors. At the same time I was trying to put a stop to my eating disorder, which consequently (and rightly so) made me gain weight. I knew that if I wanted to quit being destructive to myself, I would have to stop spending so much time examining myself.

I quit dance. I pretty much quit exercising altogether. I started eating and held it down. I learned to enjoy life without worrying about food and exercise and what people thought about the way I looked. I drank a lot. I ate horribly because I grew up being a terribly picky eater and really didn’t know any better.

And you know what? I had a fucking blast.

I was conscious, even at the time, that I was gaining weight at a rapid pace, but at the same time- for the first time that I could remember- I was really happy. I found new passions and I met people who didn’t talk obsess about their appearance. I found out that people liked me for more than my appearance.  I am aware now that I switched out one destructive behavior for another, but looking back- I really have no regrets. I don’t think that I’d ever be where I am now without going through that stage. I wish it could have been avoided but it wasn’t, and I’m a better person for it.

My first year after college, things started to get a little more difficult for me. I knew that I had gone to the other extreme, and I knew that I had to do something about it if I wanted to be healthy or if I wanted to live, for that matter. I noticed that people started treating me different because of my size. People can be really mean, and although I usually held my head high and shook it off, it hurt. Bad.

I’m a relatively small person (5’2″, or 5’3″ if you’re looking at my driver’s license) and when I went to the doctor and found out that I had reached 250 lbs I went into shock. I had completely avoided doctors and scales for the last 6 years, and although I knew I was big, I had no idea it was that bad.

I was working as an intern for a local on-line newspaper at the time, and when I learned that The Biggest Loser was holding auditions across from my office, I joked that I should try out. I had never seen the show, (it was only in the second season at the time, but I have still never watched it!!) but most of my friends watched it religiously. With a little encouragement from my closest friends, I decided that “all jokes aside,” this might be a good opportunity for me. After all, I did always want to be on tv (though not necessarily in a sports bra) and I knew that gut wasn’t going to lose itself.

When I walked into the first audition, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had filled out 20 pages of questions about myself, and was told that there would be a group interview. I remember walking into the restaurant (Dave and Busters, of all places) where it was held and being completely overwhelmed by all the… well the extremely large people. The majority of the people there trumped me in size by at least 100 lbs. I waited in line for nearly 3 hours before the first round of interviews.

They finally called my group of about 20 people into the “interview” room and sat us in a circle. I remember  being squished between two people and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be seen. They asked questions to the group and I was intimidated by all the loud, overbearing, (for lack of a better word) people fighting for attention. I didn’t do anything to stand out, I just sat back and waited for them to ask me a question directly, and when I answered I was nervous as hell.

And then after the interview as I was leaving the room, I tripped and fell, taking about 3 chairs down with me. I laughed and said something awkward, I’m sure… but afterward 2 of the casting people started laughing and talked to me a little longer.

A few weeks later I got a call that they were interested, and they asked me to make a video showing a glimpse of my life. I had no idea what to do, how to make a video, or how I should come across. So I got out my huge old camera and basically tried to do just what they asked. I filmed a little bit of my home life, some clips of me rapping at a bar, and made a spoof of an NBC “The More You Know” public service announcement.

After I sent my tape in I didn’t hear anything for another month or so. When I did, they asked me to go for another round of one on one interviews at a local fitness club. During this interview they had me tell my story and wanted me to cry a lot, which usually comes easy to me, but when put on the spot, it was nearly impossible. At one point the even wanted me to “dance” for the camera. I fell during this portion too… Not cool Carissa.

After another month that was full of phone interviews, background checks, and more paperwork- I was asked to go spend a week being sequestered in LA. I had to sign  (what seemed like) a thousand page contract and was not supposed to tell anyone where I was going. I was supposed to pack for 3 months, in case I got cast for the show.

The time I spent in LA turned out to be the most boring week of my life. They put me up in a really nice hotel room, but I wasn’t allowed to talk to any of the other contestants. I couldn’t leave without the accompaniment of one of the production assistants. Other than a 10 hour physical where they did everything but drug test my hair, and a few interviews and psychiatric evaluations- I spent the majority of the time dancing in my room with the air conditioning vent blowing on my hair whilst pretending I was in a music video. I started to convince myself that I wasn’t there for  The Biggest Loser after all, but for a reality show about the crazy things people do when they are trapped in a hotel room.

Every day they sent home more people. The production staff and casting directors all told me that the producers were digging on me, but I had no idea what to really think about any of it. Eventually the last day came around, and I was told that morning that in a few hours they would come to get me to take cast pictures and so I could get my t-shirt.

I waited…

and waited….

Finally, after several hours of pacing I called one of my favorite casting directors to see what was going on. She came up to talk to me in my room and I could tell it wasn’t going to be good. She basically explained that at the last minute they decided to go with another contestant. One of the producers was worried about the stigma that would come with having someone on the show that had previously had an eating disorder. She said that they really liked me and that there was a really good possibility that they would put me on the next season.

And yes, I basically went through the same process a year later… only to be told once again that “my story” wasn’t right for the season. I even got told at one point that if I could find a “bigger person” for the couples edition and make up a story about my relationship with them, that I would for sure get on.

The more this shit drug on, the more angry it made me. I am all about a little cheese and even a little drama, but I wasn’t going to lie on television. I also got sick of fake crying about my situation. I have been through a lot, but while I was a bigger person, I was still happier than I had been when I was sick.

To make a long story short, while the whole experience  pisses the hell out of me…  I still think I owe the majority of my weight loss to the Biggest Loser. After the last audition process, I grew really tired of waiting on someone else to fix my problems for me. I knew that if those people on tv could change their lives and lose  a ton of weight, then I could do it to… with or without Jillian Michaels.

And I have.

People ask me all the time “how I did it.”  I get really nervous every time I see someone that I haven’t seen in years because I know the question is coming. It makes me happy that people have noticed the changes that I’ve made, but I still get really flustered when it is brought up. I am proud at what I’ve achieved, but at the same time it kind of bothers me that it is such a big deal… even though I know it is.  I wish I had some magical answer. I hate when people say that their weight loss was just a result from working out a few times a weak and cutting down on cheese. I also get mad when people assume that I have had some sort of surgery or that I take diet pills.

The truth is, it wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. There are days when I feel weak and want to take the easy way out. There are days when I want to skip the gym. There are days when all I want to do is eat a pound of Reeses Pieces. And there are days that I do fall off the wagon and eat a good amount of Reeses Pieces, though now they are few and far between.

I’ve lost over a hundred pounds the last 2 years and there are times where I will see myself in the mirror and not recognize who I see. I’ve changed on the inside too, but all in all, I’m still the same person. I’ve been at both extremes and sometimes I am confused at where I stand. I still get really annoyed when I hear people making fun of  “fat” people, because in a way, I’m still that person. I can also now talk for hours about how addicting a healthy lifestyle is, and how much it can do for your mental state. I’m not sure I will ever be done with this journey. I don’t think it’s necessarily even a journey of weight loss, so much as it is a journey of figuring out how to make the most out of my life.

And there it is. Thanks for sticking with me throughout this ridiculously long post.  I actually feel better having talked about this, even though I don’t usually do so…. I think I’ll stay away from the serious for a while though. It hurts my head. Happy Humpalicious day people!


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  • Herding Cats

    Carissa, I really loved this post….could you cry a little bit more though?

    Um, kidding! Those Biggest Loser producers….assholes! I can't believe they put you through that and then tried to alter YOUR story. F*** them! Sorry I usually don't swear on people's blogs but I'm having a hard week and damn, that makes me mad!

    Anyways, you should be sooo proud of yourself! I think it's awesome you did it on your own. I can tell you are such a cool person, and I really love how genuine you are. Thanks for sharing this!

  • lifeonahanger

    i really really loved reading this post! i have constantly fought with myself over weight issues for years, and it feels so good to finally take control and make a change. you're so brave for what you've done, and i'm glad i read this.

  • ScoMan

    It sucks that you didn't get onto the show, but congrats on losing the weight without them. I've lost a bit of weight myself in the last 12 months (about 45 kilos which I think is about 90 pounds or so) and I've wondered if I should have at least tried about for the Biggest Loser first. If I was going to do it, I might has well have a crack at the prize right?

    But I think if I went on the show, I would have lost the weight for as long as they were watching over me and as soon as it was over I would have gone back to old habits. Because I've done it for myself, and I'm accountable only to myself, I think I have a better chance of keeping it off.

  • Mwa

    I love this post. I'm so happy for you that you managed to make the necessary changes. You should be very proud of yourself. x

  • thebacksofmyeyelids

    This post had us saddened, frustrated, heartened, inspired and hopeful. You go with your bad self, yo!

    I'm so glad you weren't chosen for the show – not just for the faux drama you avoided, but because you learned how to do it the right way, the healthy way, in real time.

    I know more about the weight thing than you'd think. I have a normal size self and a fat self. Right now I am the fat me. It took me two years to lose a huge amount of weight on Weight Watchers and then last year, when Dad died and Mom got sick and hospice became part of our everyday lives , I gained every ounce of it back in 14 months. I don't drink or do recreational drugs; my drug of choice is food. It's a tough drug to kick, isn't it? You have to eat. You can't just go cold turkey.

    I'm proud of you, Carissa. I know how hard it is to do and I know how hard it is to maintain. It's a courageous fight. And when you add overcoming an eating disorder to the mix, it's AMAZING and truly, truly inspiring!

    This post was so well written. Have you ever thought of giving motivational speeches for groups of people faced with the same challenges? There are so many tween and teen girls out there with body issues who are skirting or fully involved in eating disorders. And there are so many other people who weight loss in the triple digits can't be done. You are someone who could make a difference in the lives of others. If you only reach one person out of 50 or 100, it would be HUGE.

    Thank you for writing this. I think it's your best post so far.

  • ambermurphy

    What a story! I can't believe those big losers at NBC didn't pick you. Their loss, for reals.

    Did I tell you I went from 130-ish in high school to 208 in college and back to 130-ish again?

    It's a journey. One I don't want to take ever again! Thanks for such an inspirational, honest post. Also, I wasn't surpised to read you fell all those times during the audition process. Our Carissa!

  • ThePeachTart

    Carissa, thanks for sharing your deeply personal story of setbacks and triumphs. You are quite the inspiration.

  • shellthings

    Wow, that's crazy, all the things that they made you go through.

    Who needs Biggest Loser? You did awesome on your own! Way to go!

  • badassgeek

    Wow. I knew there was a more deep-seated reason why I don't like that show. It seems to be more about the drama and the personal issues than it is about weight loss.

    Sounds like it was an interesting experience, though.

  • Tara

    Thanks for sharing girl. Proud of you for losing the weight, yes, but more for overcoming the eating disorder. You are totally awesome and I'm sure all your experiences put together have made you who you are today.

  • Sherri

    Oh Carissa, I'm so happy you wrote this post… not because it exposes how “set up” a show like The Biggest Loser can be, but because of this one sentence: “I grew really tired of waiting on someone else to fix my problems for me.”

    Again, [I know this is corny] but I feel so incredibly proud of you. You didn't take the easy way out. You worked hard and have not only achieved your goal of losing weight, but it sounds like you've had some great self-realizations and that is so awesome.

    I know we leave each other joking comments but this time, I'm getting all serious on your ass. Be proud of who you've become… not only on the outside, but especially on the inside.

  • kathryn

    Wow. What an amazing story. I'm really glad you've shared it with us, sweetie. Whatever the reason turned out to be, you've accomplished something that has made you a healthier you…and that's the most important thing.
    Not some stupid reality show.

    I'm very, very proud of you!

  • edadams

    Good for you, losing all that weight on your own, Fatty.

    Those producers sound like douches.

  • The Technical Parent

    Thanks for this story. I'll agree with others that that was a dick move by TBL producers. I'm going to send you a direct email, if I can.

  • meg

    wow, awesome story!! and good for you for doing it on your own! i watched an episode of the biggest loser for the first time last night, and I really wasn't aware that people got voted off that show too. geez. also, jillian michaels scares me a bit. she was making them run up a steep hill pushing each other in wheelbarrows. i would probably pass out.
    anyway, again, good story, and an amazing accomplishment!

  • princessofsarcasm

    Wow girl! I am in awe of you!! I, too, have always battled with my weight. My heaviest was around 180 and a size 14. It took me forever to get it under control. I've now been a size 6 for the past few years and finally feel like this one is going to stick! And you are right, people treat you MUCH differently. It makes me kind of angry. I was the same person before. Why do you find me worthy of your positive attention now? Annoying.

    Good for you for doing it on your own! John Cusack is surely proud of you too. 😉

    Thanks for sharing. I feel like I know you better now. *smooches™

  • starzskymoon

    Those of us who have battled eating disorders in any shape or form, whether anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, have been forced to live with it all our lives. We sit and look at ourselves in the mirror and see someone other than who we really are.

    If you read my post today, it can be a little tricky for me. You see, I probably view myself bigger than what I am because I battled anorexia for about six years before I saw what it did to me. And now that I'm losing the weight without actually wanting to, it makes me wonder what I really look like on the outside if I actually think I'm getting too thin.

    I'm as small now as I was in high school when I struggled with it. Which concerns me. But I'm taking precautionary steps.

    I never, ever judge anyone from the outside. I don't ask personal questions about weight, etc. because I know how sensitive the topic can be since it affects me quite the same way.

    So thanks for sharing.

  • lralln9

    I love you, friend. That is all.

  • SillyJaime

    What a load of crap you had to go through! I'm happy for you, though, in the end.

  • Jeney

    I am so glad you posted this… I really don't think people TALK about these sorts of things enough. It's great to know that people can persevere through tough situations and come out a better person on the other side.

    I am proud of you… both for fighting this fight and being able to post it on a blog. :-)

  • Nikki

    That is a great story! Way better than…I just lost the weight 😉 Unfortunately for all those skinny people that can eat anything. It will catch up with them. That's why good eating habits need to happen early (wtf is this a PSA?). I think it is hard to grow up dancer because you're constantly comparing yourself to other half naked people…and their abilities.

    I never know what to say when I see people who have lost a lot of weight. Obviously I notice…so I just say “hey you look great!” One of them did say, “what do you mean?” I feel like it's better to say something then not say anything at all. Am I wrong? I feel the same way about deaths. Am I wrong about that too?! Oh crap. I'm like one big social faux pas.

  • Nicole Miodus

    This was a great post! Thank you for being so open. I'm sorry you got put through such a shitty TV audition. Reality TV, while sometimes fun to watch, must be hell to be on.
    Good for you for not wanting to compromise who you are, to be on their show.

  • shineoutloud

    I was kind of worried this was going to be another enema story.

    I'm glad I took the plunge. You're brave for putting this out there. And I appreciate you being real about it.

  • beckeye

    Maybe you should've fallen down MORE and you could've made the show as the “bumbling idiot” everyone makes fun of. Joy!

    I love hearing stories of people who have lost a lot of weight, but I also hate them because it makes me realize how lazy I am. I need to lose about 30 pounds or so, and I can't even motivate myself to do that.

  • MoodyBelle

    I personally think that this post is your best one! Coincidentally, this morning while brushing my teeth I came to a decision: to quit smoking. It's not a way out to lose weight. My main problem is my mid-section. One week I lose weight and then the next I put on more than I lost. It's stressing. So hopefully today will be the start of something new. That's why I'm eating plenty of mangoes. I need to exercise too.

    And now reading your story motivated me into sticking to my long-term goal: lose weight…

    Thanks for sharing your story and a big bravo to you…:)

  • Candice

    This is one hell of a long entry, and I'm glad I read every word of it. Such an incredible story Carissa, I can't believe how far you've come!! Amazing. Those reality TV jerks don't know what they misse dout on….but I'm pretty glad you did it all on your own. Much more honourable, in my opinion.

  • Clevelandpoet

    there is a play in there somewhere.

    God I'm brilliant and sure know how to steal too! What was the more you know spoof on?
    In all seriousness thanks for the post. Your writing can be rather inspiring.

  • Rachel M.

    Shine pointed me over here, and I'm really glad she did. Thanks for sharing your story. I recently posted about my own battle and how I got through it (though I didn't mention in the post that I stood in line at a Biggest Loser audition for 6 hours).

    “I’m not sure I will ever be done with this journey. I don’t think it’s necessarily even a journey of weight loss, so much as it is a journey of figuring out how to make the most out of my life.” I love this so much, and I'm right there with you :)

  • JGN

    I think this post deserve my inaugural comment…I am very proud of what you have accomplished! You come off at times as being an effing mess, but I think you have got it together more than you let on…maybe not though.

    And I do think NBC is going to come after you for divulging top secret information.

  • Ashley

    Just last night my fiance and I watched Biggest Loser and I asked him how much he thought was scripted.

    What a wonderful post though. It took me a long time to figure out how to handle my weight and the emotional issues that lead to me becoming overweight so I have a lot of respect for you for that.

  • Meghan

    Wow, this post was powerful. Good for you for realizing the problem and behaviors and making the change yourself. Change is easier said than done. Brave post.

  • gofahne

    Carissa, thank you for your honesty. You probably genuinely helped more people with this post than BL ever will. You should be so incredibly proud of what you accomplished and I hope one day I can write a very similar story of success. I share more in common with the first part of this story than I would like to admit.

  • CarissaJaded

    Thanks so much!!! As much as it kind of made me mad at the time, I think they were just doing there job…

  • CarissaJaded

    Thanks dahling! I think we all struggle with body issues in one way or another. It's really nice to hear people who have gone through similar struggles.

  • CarissaJaded

    Congrats on your weight loss!!!! That is awesome! Exactly. I'm not sure I would have really been doing it for myself, had I gone on the show…

  • CarissaJaded

    Thanks so much, I am!

  • CarissaJaded

    Thanks so much for all of your kind words PJ! It really means a lot to me. I think food is one of the toughest addictions. It's not just the eating, but all the planning, time, and money that go along with the act. It's hard to talk about with people even though so many people have issues with food.

    I'm not sure if I could ever talk about it in public. Writing about it was hard enough though it does get easier with time and confidence. And you! I am completely floored by how many emails and comments I've gotten today from people who have had similar struggles.

  • ryanholman

    really great post on multiple levels.

  • CarissaJaded

    LOL… It was one time in my life where I think my clumsiness worked in my favor… or not! I'll never know!!

    Congrats on your weight loss as well!! I agree. Going through it once is enough for a lifetime!

  • CarissaJaded

    You're welcome and thank you!!

  • CarissaJaded

    Thanks so much Sherri!! though i really don't want to diss TBL, I know that they do help and inspire some people, it just wasn't right for me… I heart you Sherri, you always brighten my day!!

  • CarissaJaded

    It was interesting! At least I know now that I don't want to EVER be on a reality show. Well maybe the Amazing race…

  • CarissaJaded

    Thank you Tara!!!

  • Heather Leigh

    Carissa, your story is a powerful one! I was once anorexic but eventually made the decision to be healthy and EAT. The transformation was mindblowing: I was happy, I didn't have to obsess over everything, and most importantly I learned that I didn't need to control *everything*. Ten years later, I love food. LOVE it. Eating is an enjoyable experience. Never in my wildest dreams (even when I was trying to get healthy) did I think I'd end up enjoying food again.

    I recently read a book titled Hungry by Crystal Renn. It is the story of her battle with anorexia; she is now one of the most successful plus-sized models in the world. I don't agree with everything she says, but I was certainly moved by her story (it mirrored my own in many ways).

    thank you for sharing your story!

  • Antsy Pants

    Wow girl! Congrats on taking control of your weight loss and life!

  • CarissaJaded

    Right?? THank you!!

  • Sada

    You are amazing, and so was this post. You're way too good for unreality TV.

  • Alice Robison

    Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story Carissa! You've always been so optimistic and happy and I love that about you.

  • Pollypoptart

    Good for you for posting about this. And for going ahead and doing it anyway. You are awesome.

  • life laugh latte

    Beautifully written. A great story of a difficult part of your life. Having a 12 year old daughter I think a lot about how to influence her in this area of her life. It is tough for any girl. It is boobs or no boobs, tall or short, fat or thin, smart or not smart enough. I relate to your story from several angles of my life. Appreciate your honesty. Holly