The Lessons I Learned on a Reality Show
People are naturally very curious about not only what it’s like to be on a reality show, but what’s life like afterwards. And when the reality show you’ve been on was all about losing weight, the real question people want to know is are you keeping it off, and if you are, how are you doing it.
Well this post is a little long, but so were the decades of my life before Biggest Loser when I lived my life “large”, up to 435lbs large. Then when my daughter Jennifer and I were cast on the show that journey was 8 months long start to finish. Now it’s been over 3 1/2 years since our finale. So the transcript below may be long, but it highlights many of the lessons I learned on the show, and most important, afterwards where the real “reality show” is lived day to day.
What follows is the transcript from one of my metabolic mentors Jonathan Bailor who has also become a close friend in all things wellness. Jonathan’s groundbreaking book “The Smarter Science of Slim” which was republished as “The Calorie Myth.” Jonathan’s work was the bridge I was looking for as I needed a paradigm shift in my thinking after the show to ensure I would not only live the rest of my life well, but within the new mantra I had set for myself to “live the rest of my life as the best of my life.”
Jonathan: Hey everyone Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcasts. Very, very excited about today’s guest because this is a gentleman who I know you have all seen and likely all enjoyed as much as I have. He is also someone who I have a soft spot in my heart for. He’s a gentleman who I had a great pleasure and opportunity to work with personally.
He has a great message, a great vision. He is the change he wants to see in the world and just an overall a great guy. You are most familiar with him based on his amazing performance on Season Eleven of The Biggest Loser reality show. He is also the managing partner of the health and wellness branding and marketing firm the Shurn Group, my friend Jay Jacobs welcome to the show brother.
Jay: Jonathan thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here. As you know, I am one of your biggest fans. I really came to learn about you through actually Derek Johnson of The Biggest Loser Resort. He’s a person that first turns me on to what it was you were doing.
Jonathan: I’m so happy our paths have crossed. It’s been a wonderful journey.
Jay: It has been. I’ve learned an awful lot. I think the thing that I love to be able to share with people a lot of times that you’ve said that, people have know of me through The Biggest Loser reality show. Maybe they saw me on the reality show or if nothing else they know of the show. Reality TV is great because it’s open a lot of people’s eyes to the whole area of weight loss and wellness.
People get excited because on a reality show, you get to see amazing transformations of people in a short amount of time. So it’s really that weight loss that number that already is great for TV and people are really excited about. But as you and I have talked about that the reality show is one part but then it’s what you do when the show’s over. How do you live your life?
Quite frankly for me at least, I knew that I needed to understand what got me to that place in the first place, about being somebody that really was morbidly obese and kind of given up on themselves. It’s an interesting cycle that happened to me. Luckily because of, I know it sounds strange to say luckily, but luckily because of my weight loss issues, wellness issues I got on the reality show but, I would say actually what’s left here is after getting off a bit is what I have learned. It’s been now two years. It’s been a little bit Jonathan over two years since Jennifer and I were on the reality show.
I do want to make sure I include Jenny in this because it was really she that wanted to get on The Biggest Loser reality show. She tried to go out for season nine, didn’t make it season ten, didn’t make it. Then, as a couple as a father and daughter team we got on the reality show. So I was excited because during that journey I lost one hundred and eighty one pounds and Jennifer lost one hundred and fourteen pounds. That’s the part that most people are that talked about and what they see but it’s really the life lessons that I learned well while I was there and the new identity that started to form while I was there.
As it often can happen is, a lot of people would lose weight in their lives but if they don’t rewire their brains and have a new perspective on how they will get there in the first place. More importantly is the kind of term I use it now that I’m 56. I say, how am I going to live the rest of my life as the best of my life? That’s really how I got drawn to your work in The Smartest Science to Slim because after the show, it’s very normal that once the film crews go away and the lights go down.
You’re left with yourself. You’re no longer in a controlled environment. You’re no longer eating some of the best foods in the world. You’re not having the best trainers in the world at your finger tips. You’re back to where you were before you got on the reality show. It’s not unusual little by little to put some weight back on and go back in some of their old habits. You and I talked about before, a lot of the technique that we use to control our weight after the reality show was exercise. For the first times of our life, we’ve got to be able to do things we never did before. We could run. We could push trains.
We could do all kinds of crazy things. So, what would happen is we used that as a way to be able to keep the weight off. We ate much better but sometimes little by little the weight will start coming back on and you get frustrated. You’d be like, well, this doesn’t make sense. I ate so much better than I did or I’m exercising in a way that I didn’t exercise before. I think that, I have reached up as I’ve mentioned to Derek Johnson who was the nutritional director for Biggest Loser Resort.
I had reach out to him and said, “Derek, I don’t get this. What is this? Why is it happening?” He said, there was a new book that was out and I probably won’t understand it better now, not being four hundred pounds anymore. He said, “You understand a lot more of the dynamics of this.” It was interesting and what I loved about your book was about, was just the fact that it made me realize that there are a lot of things that I didn’t have to exercise like a crazy person. I love to do it. But also, it can work against me a lot of the ways that I was eating even though I ate much better than I did before there were things that I didn’t really understand.
The journey after The Biggest Loser reality show has been the most intriguing because it’s given me the opportunity to talk to a lot of different people. I think you and I have talked about this before, Jonathan that I am quite understanding of what we eat and the quality of what we eat is important and also we have to exercise. A lot of my time and energy continues to be spend in trying to understand for myself as wells as others really thinking behind it. What are the behaviors? What are the triggers?
What are the ways in which any of us have shaped our lives and create our lives? That’s the area that I can contend to explore and look into. One of the recent books that I’ve been reading which has been fascinating which was actually written in 1984 and re-done in 89 is by a gentleman by the name of Robert Fritz. He wrote a book called the Path of Least Resistance. The subtitle is: Learning to Become the Creative Force in your Own Life.
It reminds me a lot of the work that you’ve done Jonathan in the whole academic world and things that you put together and see where there is a structure. There is intelligence. There is really a way to look at how do you build and shape your entire life from what you eat, how you think, how you exercise, what kind of career you want. There are natural ways to be able to do that. I think that’s something I’ve come to respect is that, you just can’t force your way to making things happen. You need to sometimes step back and learn from others. I’ve learned a lot from what you’ve done and the work that you continue to do.
I think probably maybe it’s my age. I’ve become more of a student of learning and listening, trying to test drive and end some things and try some new concepts that I do. That’s one of the things I’ve tried out what people know. I try to find out where they’re at, where they headed at? You can’t tell anybody to do anything. You can just offer up some of those potential solutions. I think that’s what’s helped myself, it’s helped my daughter. It’s helped actually our entire family. I joke when I do a lot of corporate speaking.
One of the things I tell people is that, collectively our family has lost four hundred and twenty five pounds. When we all get in a car together we get much better gas mileage. So it’s been great. It feels great to have a more energetic mindset and a sense of possibility. It’s never perfect. You have stresses and things that come along. You have times where you fall off the wagon. It’s nice to have what I would call a portfolio of strategies to help you.
I’m also a big believer of that, you need a circle of support. You need some trusted advisers. You need people in your life that you can tap hand into. I found for me, that social media has been extremely helpful. A lot of times people said, how can I lose weight? What can I do? I said, “Well, let me tell you. It’s a little motivating if you can get in front of fifteen million people and take your shirt off, you’re out there for the world to see every week. It’s not hard to make that scale work the way you want to.”
If you use social media in the right way, not as a hammer there is a way to be accountable, and out there, let people know what you’re doing and what you’re thinking. I just found that it seems to be that the people that were share what they’re doing and admit the things they’re doing the challenges they got. They get a lot more support. It’s not like there are haters out there and people are knocking you.
I found that where you can say that social media isn’t personal. I’ve actually found that it’s probably one of the best ways for people to stay connected out there. Even today like with this podcast it’s another good example. Maybe there’s something that we’re saying today or something somebody hears somewhere that kept that little thing to have clicks for somebody. Maybe you’ll pick up your book or they’ll pick up Robert Fritz’ book or hear something that will help change your lifestyle.
I try to make sure that people will do that. I found that there are some people that are self-directed, they do everything by themselves and that’s it. But it seems to be the trend that I’m noticing is that are a lot of people that are actually looking for group involvement. I love cross fit, I love fly wheel where Jennifer and I do spinning which is a group environment. I do some [inaudible 0:10:14] group activities. I found that at least for me, it’s nice to have that camaraderie, have others around you and they’re not judging you.
Everybody’s at their own level and it’s seems to be very supportive. A lot of people just go to the gym by themselves with their headphones on and that was it. So I love to exercise now because I really enjoy it. It was really a lot of what you helped me understand was that, I could really be working against myself if I was using it somehow as a tool that was going to define whether or not I was going to be successful in weight loss or whatever a lot get over that.
You know me Jonathan, I’d listen to you but I also challenge you. That’s why I like our relationship because I’m not afraid to tell you how I feel about things and you’re not afraid to have positively to re-direct. You don’t force me to do anything. I like it because you are a great teacher where you will share things and let me kind of asses how is that put into my life and then maybe I might test drive it. Maybe I might objective but many times I come back to it I see what you think Jonathan and it maybe make sense. I tend to resist sometimes some of the things that we need to learn and listen too.
Jonathan: Jay there were so much profound truth in what you said there. For the past couple of minutes, this is great stuff. You do have a gift for speaking because there’s so much here. So I’ll just quickly unpack, summarize for our listeners to make sure that they don’t lose any of this. A couple of things that you’ve touched on which I thought were just fabulous. The first is this concept of living the rest of your life as the best of your life. This gets back to distinction.
You and I that have talked about a lot and that you touched on again which is the difference between forcing short-term weight loss like force and over-ride, fighting against the body versus this more of a practical permanent, peaceful, long-term health and fat loss. How neither one is good or bad, they’re just difference. If you are competing on national television to see who can lose the most weight you’re going to take one approach and if you’re not in that context, you’re not going take a different approach.
Therein, I think you’ve touched on something which I really want to unpack and focus on – and that was you talk a bit about emotional triggers. You talk about, you can’t force it. This is a distinction. There is an author about a name of David Hawkins I believe who wrote this amazing book if people like meta-physical things called Power versus Force. The entire book is about the difference between being powerful a-k-a being able to make things happen the way you want them to happen and force which is like to jam in things.
There’s usually a big wake and negative side effects. So tell us Jay, talk about emotional triggers this portfolio of strategies and how it can leverage our emotions, social media and this portfolio of strategies to be powerful rather than you try to force our body to change.
Jay: Well that old term that you use a lot of times the truth will set you free. To me how that applies to our life is the fact, I explain this lot of times to people when sometimes I’m coaching or trying to help them. There are a lot of stories that we have in our head. We have decades of beliefs and stories and things that we ran a lot of times subconsciously in our mind. What will happen is as long as you keep them in your head, they have a lot more power. It’s when you start to take them out of your head, you will express them. In this particular case, I think that is the journaling part. We talk about food journaling which is one way to look at what you’re doing subconsciously.
I find that, if you can start to get it out of your head and write down what you believe and what you think you’re really capable of. That is probably one of the most powerful things because it sets a whole new definition for how you look at your health and what you’re going to do in it. One of the things that I got from The Biggest Loser reality show is probably the biggest lesson that I’ve learned and I only have one tattoo on my body that wasn’t that Jillian that said this but when we’re in New Zealand together and I started to unravel because when you’re doing that, you’re really forcing and pushing and you’re doing everything you can because the further you go along you want to stay there.
You want to be able to see how far you can make it. By the time you’re in about the seventeenth filming week. It’s probably seven months of this I was starting to lose it. So for myself, I was one of the older people. So what happen was Jillian had sat me down and said, “What happen to you? You were so strong. You were powerful. You were losing a lot of weight.” Now all of a sudden, I had put a couple of pounds on to that weigh-in. It was my first ever gained weight because we flew thirteen hours from New Zealand to New Zealand.
There was some water weight and there are some other things. It wasn’t my eating, it was just my body was started to react and so as it turned out I started to arguing for my weaknesses. I started saying, “Well, Jillian let’s face it. I’m not the youngest. I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest.” It was true. That was the truth for me. I kept expressing that. She said, “Why do you tell yourself that?” Then I would come back to this, “Well, it’s true Jillian. This is true. This is the case of what it was.” Now, that was true.
So, what I mean when the truth will set you free that maybe true because that’s what I had believe. What Jillian helped me shift in my mind is she made me realize that, that was only true because of what I kept telling myself. I was comparing myself to others when I wasn’t really paying attention to how far I had come and how far it could go. So, when I talk about the truth part of it is really get out of your head what you’re thinking and believing.
A lot of that made true in one level but it’s not true where you could be or what you could do with your life. It’s only in that particular moment. So what had happened from that? That was a pivotal moment for me in that moment in the reality show. It’s one of the things that helped me stay in there and be the last men standing where I was in the final four. It was three women and myself. I was the last man that was there. When I came home, I wanted to mark that to something to remember for the rest of my life. I’ve got this one tattoo on my arm from a quote that I absolutely love.
The full quote is, “What you’re for strengthens you. What you’re against weakens you.” So, I was going to put that whole tattoo in my forearms and that’s what’s going to be. My wife said, “I like the idea but I’m not sure I like the idea you’re tattooing the word against and weakens on your body.” I said hmm that’s a good point so what I ended up going was the first part of that. I tattooed which says, “What you’re for strengthens you.”
I put the roman numerals on that. I put the finale date which was May 24th 2011 as a way to mark my new mindset, my new truth that I knew that no matter what went before me, no matter what it would be it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be always rainbows and ponies. It made me realize that as long as when I could start to reframe my thinking and find a solution where I what I was for it for myself, it would make a big difference. That’s when Jonathan I had found out about you. I wasn’t in a mindset of, I was falling apart and I was disgusted.
I was trying to find what I could be for? What was it that would really help me get to that next stage in my life? As you know, I’ve learned this from you and things that you’ve talked as well. The whole process of anything you’re doing, no matter what age you’re at is about growth and potential. For me out of all of this when I talk about living the rest of your life is the best for your life. When I started realizing for myself and for others and when I try to get people to realize is that when you start to pay attention to what you’re personal best could be not someone else’s, but whatever your personal best.
It could be anything and how you were living your life. That’s a lot more exciting and empowering than focusing on how many reps I can do, what I eat or whatever. If you focus on that, something that’s at that higher level like what David Hawkins tell you about Power versus Force. You’re drawn to make in better decisions. There are not always perfect but you’re drawn that way. So, for me that’s one of the things that I tucked away. I love that book.
I’ve taken that away where it’s like that’s being somebody that’s not forcing things to happen. You’re accessing that power within you. You’re making things happen because you’re mindset was looking for a solution that’s about something you’re for versus, something you’re against.
Jonathan: It’s now becoming more obvious to me why we have such a rapport because I do that we are cut from the same cloth. You’re quote of, “What you are for, strengthens you and what you’re against weakens you.” I cannot tell you how much that resonates with me. It actually gave me chills. We talk about this Power versus Force distinction and why you have been successful and why you’ve helped so many others to be successful.
When we take this approach, as eating more but smarter and seeing food as an ally and a tool not an enemy, seeing other people like you say with your work with the social media and such, seeing other people as an ally and a support system not competition. Again, it’s that focusing on what strengthens you and what you are for rather than so much of the nutritional dialogue. It seems like it’s what’s best or this approach is better than that. This person is sexier than this person. Let’s pursue that power rather than trying to force things. Let’s talk about what we’re for in our personal best rather than what we’re against and what someone else’s doing. That’s just brilliant Jay I appreciate that.
Jay: Well, I think there’s one of those types of things. One of the great things that I having a lot of age on you is that you get a lot of an ability to see a lot of connections in your life. When you go back and look at things in the past that you thought were problems or defeats. These are the things that colored your life. There are parts of you. You realize then that once you get that then when those things happen to you again, you would probably in the midst of it and you don’t like it.
You don’t like the way it feels. It could be an injury. It could be whatever happens in your life. But what’s interesting is you get older you get the perspective that it was never the circumstances but it is how you were affected by them in your mind and how you react to them that was really the determinant of the quality of your life. That’s one of the things that kind of neat. I want like anybody else, live along and happy life. But I tell you what one of the things that’s great is if you let any age can get that, you live a much better life.
How long your life is that if you can get that instead of having to constantly be worried about what the circumstances are and then you’re responding and reacting. You have to learn a way to create. Everything we’ve done in our life we’ve created. Up to this point, we have created it good, bad or indifferent. If you get that, that’s not the truth then you’ll realize that you have that ability to create what’s next in your life. It’s probably a lot easier and you and I love this because we’re very positive people. People look for personal potential.
One of my suggestions as well is be careful of who you choose as friends and family and whatever. You really want to try to find others. You don’t have to be delusional but you need to find others that are of that kind of mindset because it feeds off of each other. It’s the kind of thing that really helps you and especially when you’re a time where you’re having a challenge. It’s a lot better to have somebody that will remind you of what you can do for yourself.
So that’s why I love coaches that don’t do things for you but they just mirror back and reflect to you what you’re personal strength is and what’s inside of you and that’s why your work which done the way that you write. This time that challenges you. Jonathan I feel like I’m not sure I buy this. What happens is you just say, “Well, this is what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard and Jay, you got to interpret this, how this fits in your life.” That’s one of the things I’ve always respect about your work is that, I know you’re very passionate about it.
You’re very thorough about it. You’re also someone that, I’m not here to make you do anything. I’m just here to offer it. I do that with myself. I’ve learned that overtime where when I was younger you got to do this, you got to do that. No, nobody has to do anything. It’s much better if you can be at that place where you can offer it and share it. Sometimes, it resonates with certain people on sometimes it doesn’t. They’ll pick column A or column B or whatever. I think that’s why you’re work has been so successful and it continues to grow. You’re not someone who’s knocking down others from different approaches.
You’re just kind of saying here’s what I’m finding. Here’s what’s working. How does this work for you. I think that’s why people were attracted to what you’re doing because it’s welcoming. They get the freedom of choice to do what they will or won’t do.
Jonathan: I very much appreciate those kind words Jay. Obviously listeners you can see Jay is just a fountain of knowledge. You can learn much more about him. He speaks, he writes, he’s all over the web. He’s personal website is jaylynnjacobs.com you can also, check him out at shurngroup.com. No shortage of content. Jay, what’s next for you and the family?
Jay: Boy, that’s an open-ended question. I think the thing that we’ve all talked about. My wife Kim was kind of busting my chops because it’s not a new thing. I kind of dabbled in them before but I recently got out three big boards. What I’m going to make these vision boards. One’s a one-year-vision, a five-year-vision and a ten-year-vision board each separately. I went back to what have happened before The Biggest Loser. I decided to go back like a blank slate.
When I went to The Biggest Loser I said, if I go to the reality show, I’m the same person on that reality show that I was before I’ll come home and do the same things. So, I said I need to kind of re-craft myself. So since we have this whole new wellness mindset on all of us really enjoy living life this way. We started to think about like where do want to travel, what do want to do. Now, when it comes time for birthday and whatever, we may go out and enjoy a meal or whatever but we tend to be going on an adventure of some type. So I’d say a lot of travelling in our future.
I have a few books that I penned, I got a few that I need to finish. I love speaking. Basically I’ve create much and enjoyed speaking, coaching, being a life-long learner, just been blessed and privileged to continue to do whatever I can do to live an example of living a life well-lived. Then doing whatever I can do to actually help others find that in themselves. I think that’s what’s next is continuing to live an exciting life. What I love to do is to be able to share work like yours and others that hopefully unlock people in discovering whatever their own personal best and potential is.
To me, that is so much fun when you do that and somebody comes back and says thank you so much for that. I never thought of it that way and all of a sudden, I’m doing some things in a way that I never thought. I just love what that does when you say that to people. That’s probably what I’m going to be doing.
Jonathan: Jay I love it. You continue to be the change that we both want to see in the world focusing on what strengthens you and rather than what weakens you. Really showing how we too can live the rest of our lives to the best of our lives. So, thank you. I so appreciate it. Folks, please support Jay. He’s a great guy and he’s obviously a wealth of knowledge. Again, it’s jaylynnjacobs.com as well as shurngroup.com. Jay Jacobs thank you so much for joining us today.
Jay: Thank you Jonathan.
Jonathan: Listeners, I hope you enjoy this wonderful conversation as much as I did. Please remember this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better.
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