Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Extreme Weight Loss - Meredith's Marathon Journey

There are two special things I learned about Meredith on tonight's Extreme Weight Loss.

First off, she is completely adorable.  And secondly - she is a VERY STRONG WOMAN.

Meredith is only 24, but she shows more wisdom than many people twice her age.  Oh, she's still a girl who wants to have fun - as her Baywatch fantasies prove - but she also has learned how to deal with the curveballs that life can throw...even if they were pitched at birth when you're way too young to know why.

One of my favorite things about EWL (yes, the show has shortened its title, probably to help us all keep our tweets under 140 characters) is that one or two people get to focus on their personal journeys for the year, without competing against anyone except themselves.  Of course I love my Biggest Loser...but some people thrive better when they don't have to "play the game" and can just concentrate on the main thing - physical and emotional health.  For Meredith, this format perfectly fit her situation.

Meredith was given up for adoption at birth, and her parents always loved her.  But she always felt like she didn't really fit into the family, because she was so different from them, especially in size.  Her sister is her parents' biological child, and has always been the "thin one".  Although Meredith's dad had put on some weight over the years, her mom and sister remained thin while Meredith only got bigger.  Her struggle with not knowing her birth mom or why she gave her up played a major role in the weight gain.  She wanted to lose the weight not only for herself, but also to prepare herself for the chance that she might get to meet her biological mother.

Chris showed up at a kids' talent show rehearsal that Meredith was in charge of, surprising her by walking onstage dressed on a carrot suit!  It was just too cute, and just right because it made the kids feel comfortable with the surprise.  He promised that he would take good care of Meredith while she was gone and she would be back soon.  I'm sure the kids are super proud of Miss Meredith.

At her first weigh-in in California, Meredith stood at 314 pounds.  She was once over 400, but she lost weight and had "Believe It, Be It 155" tattooed on her stomach to keep her motivated toward her goal of 155 pounds.  She put some of the weight back on, and I'm sure she felt as if her tattoo was mocking her at times as she went in the opposite direction of her goal.  Chris decided that 155 would still be her goal for this year-long journey. (By the way, "Believe It, Be It" was/is the motto of Ali Vincent, the first female Biggest Loser.  It's also the title of her book.  I'm betting that's where Meredith got the idea!)

At the beginning, there were times Meredith wasn't so sure of herself - especially running on the beach the first day to the tower and back.  She broke down halfway through, with it really hitting her that she felt unloved from the beginning, knowing that she was given away.  Chris sent her home after the first week to complete the first 90 days at home with her family.

That proved to be a problem, as her family tried to support her but at times didn't understand what she needed.  Her sister really didn't get it - she brought cookies and snacks into the house that Meredith couldn't eat and kept them in the pantry where they would tempt her.  I know it's hard for some people who don't struggle with their weight to understand why something like this would be such a big deal...even when it's explained to them.  Chris wound up coming to town after 45 days to help Meredith stay on track for the first phase.  She needed to lose 80 pounds - and beat that by losing 84!

Chris decided that Meredith would need to lose 50 pounds in phase two, and she would train for a marathon.  She wasn't totally sure about that, since even though she'd become a runner, she had never run more than 10 miles.  One thing that helped her focus was her sister moving out into her own place.  It made things easier for her (and her parents) to keep their eyes on the prize.  She didn't hit the 50 - but she did lose 32 pounds.  I'm sure the torn meniscus and accompanying knee pain that developed didn't help.

Meredith and Chris did run the marathon, with support from her parents and friends. At about 19 miles her knee gave her a lot of trouble, along with her other leg which she favored because of the injury.  But Meredith never quit; she slowed it down to a walk or jog at times but finished the entire 26.2 miles strong.  It built her confidence even more.

During all of this, Meredith found the courage to write a letter to her birth mom, in hopes that they would get to meet.  She didn't hear back from her, but Chris got some information from a private investigator to help Meredith find peace.  There was a picture of her mom, along with one of her mom's run-down house.  Chris thought that maybe mom was embarrassed about her living situation and wasn't ready to meet her daughter.  Meredith found herself OK with that - she still hopes to meet her one day but is at peace with her past and herself. She realizes that they may not get to meet...and if that's the case she will still be fine. She also realized her parents really do love and support her, no matter what.

At the end of phase three Meredith weighed 176.  Chris wanted to hold off on the skin surgery until she reached her 155 goal, because that way she still had the tattoo as a reminder until then.  At first she was disappointed, but it wound up only making her more determined to reach her goal.  Chris did have a special treat for her though...he brought Nicole Eggert from Baywatch to the beach where Meredith ran the very first day, and the two women ran together.  Nicole has had her own weight struggle, so she was happy to come out to support Meredith.  Now THAT'S a true role model.

At last it was time for the big reveal.  Meredith stepped out to greet her family and friends in a gorgeous blue dress and shiny silver shoes - but the true sparkle came through her eyes and smile.  She overcame so much to get to this point, and looking out among her loved ones she could finally see the light bulb go off for her sister.  She gets it now!

Oh, and the 155?  Meredith hit it right on the nose.  Quite appropriate to go with the tattoo!  Now she won't need it though, since she will have the skin surgery and it will be gone along with all of the excess weight.

Now Meredith can focus on new goals - and I know there won't be any stopping her now!


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