Thursday, April 28, 2011

Now For The Positive - Biggest Loser Favorites & A Special Call Out!

I promised yesterday that after we were done with our Rulon-induced migraines I would post about the OTHER happenings of Tuesday night's episode. These are much more fun to write about!!!

This week was also Favorites Week, so three of the most inspiring former contestants stopped by to help our friends in Season 11. Ali Vincent, Sam Poueu, and Tara Costa were on hand to give food tips and bust everyone's butts in the gym. It gave me a thought - since Jillian is leaving at the end of this season, why not hire a former contestant who is still living the healthy lifestyle and can put the new contestants through the paces just like they went through? Obviously they should get certified if they aren't already, but they would certainly be able to relate to life on the ranch. THe ones that were there this week did an amazing job. Just a thought...hope you're listening, NBC!

This week a favorite challenge was also brought back. I'm sure you remember the car pulling challenge of Tara's season, so the Season 11 Seven and Tara did it again! Tara and Rulon had a photo finish close enough to rival the Kentucky Derby, but Tara pulled it out by a nose. (Now THAT's what I call horsepower...who needs engines or ponies!) Tara proved that she is still a force to be reckoned with a few seasons later, and she won a donation to her charity, the Inspire Change Foundation. If you loved the T-shirt Tara was wearing on the show, you can order one at the Marika Fitness site...part of the proceeds goes to Inspire Change. Currently sizes go up to XL, but ICF is looking for someone to do larger sizes as well. Let's help kids get and stay fit!

Speaking of inspiring change, you may remember that Justin from this season began his own mission once he got home from the ranch. You can now order his "Justin's Call Out" T-shirts, which start at size Medium and go up to 4XL. Checks, money orders, and Paypal are accepted...and there are also tank tops available for summer. The T-shirts are $15 plus $2 for shipping. Please contact Justin's lovely wife Julie at to order or get additional information.

So let's really inspire ourselves, our families and friends, and in our communities. Fitness rules!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Biggest Loser "Shocker" Thoughts - AKA Rulon, You Were Given The Right Color Shirt

Rulon Gardner...Yer Yella!

Yes, I realize this sounds like we're back in the Wild, Wild West slingin' guns. But there's something to be said for the fact that Rulon was given a yellow shirt to wear this season, given that this is the word many people have used to tell someone they are chicken.

Rulon has been chicken pretty much all season on Biggest Loser. Sure, he always talked a good game, but when it really mattered he didn't follow through. He ate whole bags of chips and other junk food, didn't support his fellow competitors, and used his Olympic title as license to do whatever he wanted to do. He thought that the same rules that all of the others had to follow didn't apply to him. As soon as his friend Justin went home (who, by the way, deserved a different color shirt because he is a fine, stand-up guy) all hell broke loose. Whatever respect he did have for anyone else went right out the window, because his buddy wasn't there to call him out. He was really lucky up to this point that he didn't fall below the line, because his fellow contestants would have been more than ready to boot his keyster out the door of the ranch, never to be seen again. At least one player from BL11 has spoken out about what a jerk Rulon was to all of them. Rulon himself said last night he was not there to make friends and only wanted to win. I can understand focusing on your goal, but there is so much he could have learned from the others, and they could have learned from him, if he only would have opened his mind and heart to the possibilities. I really tried to give him the benefit of the doubt when I could, but I just can't anymore. (Maybe he should join Charlie Sheen on the road for the Winning Tour...because at this point neither of them are really winning.)

It has also been reported from a variety of sources, including Diets in Review, that a contestant this season would be disqualified for violating Biggest Loser rules. Part of this report also mentioned that when this person left, very little would be revealed on the show and the real reason for leaving would not be told. Well, I and many others have come to the conclusion that this person is Rulon...especially the way last night's episode played out. I still think that the truth should be revealed...if for no other reason than for future contestants to benefit from the lesson and know what NOT to do on the ranch.

Now whether he was disqualified or really left on his own, it doesn't look good for Rulon. This post is not meant as a bashing, but as a wake-up call for Rulon. (Or, a major call-out like he needs from Justin!) You may be an Olympic champion, but a gold medal does not entitle you to treat other people like they're nothing. Take a cue from other former Olympians who do good in the world with the fame they've attained. Heck, take a cue from your buddy Justin who is paying it forward! You need to dig down deep - much deeper than what you told Bob and Jillian. There's more to the story than what you let on. Figure out why you are pushing people away, or you are going to wind up one very sad, lonely, unhealthy man.

Tomorrow I will post about the more positive aspects of last night's episode...but for now I can only pray that Rulon gets his wake-up call before it's too late.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Biggest Loser New Zealand Part Two - Unlimited Breakthroughs

I HAD to use Unlimited in the title of my blog today. Not only because it is Jillian's new book and making such a big difference in my life, but to honor her even though Biggest Loser is supposedly weaning us off of her in preparation for next season. I know I speak for myself and many of my friends on Facebook and Twitter...we have all stated that we'd rather see as much of Jill now as we can before the season is over. Limiting her screen time is NOT going to help; it does just the opposite. I hope this is corrected for the rest of the season, out of respect for Jillian and all of her fans.

Now on a much more positive note, during last night's episode the contestants continued to face their fears and do things they never would have imagined themselves doing before. Swinging over canyons, bungee jumping, rock climbing and river boarding...all were conquered in beautiful New Zealand. (I'm still saving up for a trip there!!!) I have to admit, if I were Rulon and was asked to bungee jump on the anniversary of his plane crash , I would have freaked out too. He finally made the jump, hopefully making the date a little easier for himself in the future. Never let the past hold you back!

I can completely relate to Hannah...getting stronger every day, yet still having those thoughts and fears about backsliding. She and Olivia had many people in their lives tell them they were going to fail on Biggest Loser. (nice support system, huh?) Both of the have proved all of their naysayers wrong several times over. I think working on ourselves is a continuing process throughout our lives, so when we feel like that we have to find a way to get past it, and keep moving forward. It's inspiring to see women going through the same things I am and defeating the negative thoughts.

I must say, this is the most inspiring season so far on Biggest Loser. I've never been able to relate to so many of the contestants so deeply, and I'm hearing from many of you that you feel the same. Please share your thoughts with me anytime...and let's conquer our demons together!

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Zumba Initiation!

Zumba is another thing I've been wanting to try for a while now, but kept putting off. When my friend Kristen invited me to a Zumba party at her gym, I jumped at the chance. There's no better way to learn something new than with a friend, especially one who's been raving about her Zumba classes!

The party was this past hour and a half of pure Zumba. Regular classes are only an hour, so it was longer than Kristen was used to herself. For me, it was trial by fire. Of course I've been working out, but Zumba is high intensity and uses all muscles groups. I wondered if I would be able to keep up and get the choreography quickly, but I was game to find out.

I quickly discovered that I love Zumba!!! I did pick up quite a bit of the choreography right away, and was able to wing it during the parts that were harder to grasp immediately. I noticed that a few of the others in the class were doing the same as me...and I was told that each week you pick up more and get better as you go. I loved the moves and the music was infectious. Kristen warned me that the music would be stuck in my head the rest of the day, and boy was she ever right. Since I dream of doing the Cha Cha and the Samba, the music in my head was very welcome indeed. We all made it through the 90 minutes - feeling exhausted yet exhilarated. (And I was really glad I took Kristen's advice to bring plenty of water!)

Each time I try something new and conquer it, I feel my strength building...not only in my body, but mind and spirit as well. Everything begins to click into place even more than before, and I see how these things fit into the bigger picture. If there's something you've been wanting to try for a while but keep putting it NOW. You will be so happy you did!!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Come On - Let's Talk Fitness!!!

Are you ready to talk fitness? I've discovered that I am...ALL THE TIME. I love being able to discuss different forms of exercise, benefits, and ideas with everyone I know. I've discovered how empowering it is to talk to friends who have been fit forever (or at least it seems like it!) and be able to hold intelligent fitness conversations with them...instead of just listening to them talk about it and wondering if they are looking at me, thinking "I hope these words sink into Marie's brain so she finally does something about her weight". I may not be anywhere near goal weight yet, but I have lost a good amount and I'm getting stronger. These friends are really excited to be talking health WITH me now, instead of AT me.

I study what other people are doing and what works for them, taking that information and deciding what will work for me. It's always a good thing to mix things up in order to work the body to its fullest and avoid boredom. Since I write about the dance world, I am inspired on a daily basis by amazingly talented people who overcome obstacles and give it their all. On top of that, covering Biggest Loser helps push me to a new personal best...which keeps improving as I learn and do more.

So on that note, I would love for YOU to talk to me about fitness. Please share what works for you and what doesn't, how you keep yourself motivated, and how you push through the rough patches. We can all learn from each other and help each other to reach new heights just by sharing information. Knowledge really is power!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Biggest Loser Adventures in New Zealand!

*Photo credit: NBC
I want to go to New Zealand! I don't know if I'm quite ready for the Sky Tower jump yet, but what a beautiful place to visit to get a new perspective on life. I loved how Hannah said making that jump was like jumping into her new life...sometimes you do just have to make that leap of faith!

I also loved seeing Bob and Jillian being human, showing that they do have fears like the rest of us and sometimes struggle with them. (So Bob fears heights more than aging...Ha!) It just makes it all the more motivating when they face those fears and overcome them. Bob & Ken's buddy system really worked for the jump, because neither one wanted to chicken out on the other. This is why teaming up in real life with a friend to do something will help you - not only will you keep your promise to them, but you will make good on the promise to yourself to get past your own fears.

The Kiwi 5K was amazing. Those sand dunes looked like a killer, but everyone made it through them. Another great metaphor for the weight loss process...sometimes you feel like you're sinking in sand while climbing a hill, but if you push through and keep going you will get where you need to go. I know I have my own personal "sand dunes" to conquer - how about you? We can defeat them as long as we persevere!

I mentioned last night during #BL11 live tweeting that I really need to take a yoga class with Bob. Two fellow tweeters, @biggestloserlvr and @mollymorganrd , let me know that Bob has some great yoga DVD's that I should try. I went out this morning to Target (French pronunciation, please! Makes me feel worldly...) and picked up his Yoga for the Warrior DVD, which was the most recommended. I also got Jillian's 30 Day Shred while I was there, and I will let you know how it goes.

And I definitely want to go to New Zealand. Hopefully I win the contest that @PureNewZealand is holding right now for two free flights to NZ. If not me, then I hope you win...go check it out! Here's to a Warrior Week for all of us!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Last Night's Emotional Biggest Loser!

*photo credit: NBC Television

Well, last night was a really rough one for all of us who watch, write about, and love Biggest Loser.

The site where I normally write my reacap is having major issues, which I suppose is fitting this week. It's been rough in more ways than one. So, I'm posting my thoughts on last night's episode here.

Let's start with Rulon's day of reckoning with Jillian. We all wondered how Rulon could eat all of that junk food when he's supposed to be focused on his weight loss. When Jillian talked to him (very calmly, I might add) he revealed that he's been working so hard that he thought he deserved a treat every now and then. The key here is: How often is every now and then? Jillian offered to help him learn to incorporate the occasional treat into his eating plan, so he wouldn't sabotage his efforts buy eating whole bags of chips and candy each day. As much as we've all been floored by what Rulon did, we have to realize one thing...he is US. How many times have we had a tough day at work or some other issue in our lives driving us crazy and "treated" ourselves to whatever we wanted because we felt we deserved it? The only difference with Rulon is that his issues are captured on film for the world to see. What we all REALLY deserve is good health and a long life...not junk food. Those treats are actually tricks, because in the long run they make us feel worse instead of better. Just as Jillian suggests, we have to learn how to incorporate rare indulgences into our diets instead of using them as daily treats.

My favorite moment on last night's Biggest Loser was the Black Team's night out. They got to get dressed up and going out for an evening in Hollywood by winning the pop challenge. (Everyone else had to clean the ranch...ewwwwww.) All 3 of them looked great, but Hannah was absolutely stunning in her form-fitting black dress and heels. She even got the chance to talk and flirt a little bit with this guy Ted, who was pretty impressed with her story. (Rulon and Ken "conveniently" had to do something else while Hannah was alone with Ted.) She recalls how making one decision (being on Biggest Loser) changed the course of her life, and everything she gets to do now stems from making that important choice. For me this was an AHA! moment. The choices we make every single day affect the rest of our lives. If we choose to eat junk or live in fear, we miss out on the best life has to offer. If we decide to take control...making healthy choices and moving past our fears, life can and will get better. I know this is something I have to remember whenever I have to make a choice: Which way will help get me to where I need to go?

The heartbreaking moment of the night came at the weigh-in. The trips to the scale have been emotional all season long, but this one really felt like a kick in the gut. The Red Team fell below the yellow line...and since the team was only made up of one member, Courtney was automatically eliminated. I've "known" Courtney over Facebook for well over a year now, so I can vouch that she is the real deal. She really is as strong, motivating, and inspiring as you see on TV. All through her journey losing over 100 pounds before BL, she has been positive and encouraging. We all prayed for her to make the show and were overjoyed when we finally learned she would be on this season. Now the whole country knows who Courtney is...and is much better for knowing her. I was as crushed as Bob and Jillian were, crying as she stood there being Courtney, showing her strength and resolve to finish what she started and telling her friends to keep on going. (How sweet was it that Olivia offered to go home in her place if they would let her?) What also really stinks is that since the Red Team is no more, Brett has to leave as well. Can't he assist the other trainers? They could have a pop challenge where one of the players wins personal one on one training with Brett for a few days. I can't believe both Courtney and Brett had to miss out on the trip to New Zealand, which we will see on next week's show.

One thing I do know...Courtney will keep up her awesome work and amaze everyone at the finale. She will also continue to be an inspiration to everyone she meets, whether in person, over the internet, or on the television screen. Here's to Courtney...I salute you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pilates - You HAVE to Try It!!!

I finally got to try it. I've been wanting to try it for years...learning all I can about it, reading Pilates Style magazine, and checking out the infomercials on the various Pilates methods and equipment. I'm not sure why I kept putting it off - wait, that's not true. I DO know why...fear. Fear of hurting myself becasue I did it wrong. Fear of looking like an idiot because I'm not a size 4. Fear in general. I'm happy to report that my fears were unfounded. I had my first Pilates session last week at BodyWave Pilates in Westlake, and it was amazing. I highly recommend going to a studio when you first start, because the instructors are trained to customize the workout for each individual body. I was able to do more than I even thought possible at this point...and my body feels so much better! I also wrote an article on the studio for Westlake Patch, so if you'd like to see pictures of my wonderful instructor Janice demonstrating some poses and find out more about Pilates, check my article link here. I can't wait for my next session on Thursday. And no, I can't perform the move pictured about yet, just like I'm not yet ready for my People magazine bikini cover shoot. But I will someday...well, at least the Pilates part! ;o)