Erin is the Biggest Winner!!!

Erin and Jen 2010

As I said in this post, my bestie Erin got booted in the first round of her school's "Biggest Loser" competition.  To know Erin is to know that she is not a person who takes "no" for answer.  This early setback filled her with a fiery determination to be crowned her school's at home winner.  I chatted with Erin to find out how she lost nearly 20 lbs. while working two jobs, getting her master's degree and keeping a (very) active social schedule:

Tell us a little about the contest.
The contestants were split up into two teams. Weigh-ins were Monday mornings at school, every two weeks. Each person’s percentage lost was calculated and noted. Then each team’s overall percentage lost for those two weeks was calculated. The losing team then automatically lost whichever teammate did the worst at that weigh-in. Unlike on the TV show, we did not want to create drama in the workplace by voting people out of the contest.

How long did it last? 
The first weigh-in was the Monday after your wedding! So, I weighed in on Tuesday, October 5th.  It ended on June 6th, 8 months later.

What was your plan of attack? 
Well, when the competition began, I already had pretty healthy habits – comparatively speaking. I really felt like I was going to be a prime competitor. A few years ago I had great success with Natalia Rose’s Raw Food Detox Diet and I had managed to incorporate some of those habits into my everyday life. My plan for the competition was to work slow and steady(and try not to drive myself crazy...). Since the weigh-ins happened every 2 weeks, I was going to follow my usual “healthy” plan in the first week, then amp it up the week before the weigh in.

How was it that you were the first one kicked out of the competition?
I followed my plan for the first ten days and lost about 3 pounds. Then my boyfriend’s “birthday weekend” began. We went out with friends on Friday night – they ordered beer and greasy appetizers, I ordered wine and a decent entrée. Did I have four or five glasses of wine? Perhaps. Did I then drunkenly share a dessert with my very thin and fit friend? Possibly. But that was fine! I was not a cheeseburger eater and I exercised regularly! No problem! Or so I thought.  Saturday night was Birthday Fiesta Part 2. The boys had apps, shots, and beer – I had wine, chicken, and vegetables. (I may have also had a couple of vodka and club sodas...) On Sunday I baked birthday cookies. The wheels were clearly off the bus at this point. But I still kind of figured, “Honestly, how bad could it be??! I don’t eat McDonald’s! I am a well-oiled machine!”

Cut to Monday morning: first competitive weigh-in. Not only am I 3 pounds heavier than I was at the first weigh-in, but I also managed to gain 5 pounds since Friday morning!!! Since my team lost the weigh-in, and I was figuratively the “biggest loser” (as in fool who manages to gain 5 lbs. in 3 days), I was the first person booted! Out of like 16 people! My first thought was, “WHAT THE F@*&!!!!!”

How did you get back on track?

When January rolled around and I still hadn’t lost more than 5 lbs., my boyfriend suggested that we do a one month detox. No drinking at all. And during that month, I lost more than 10 lbs. – my body completely changed.
After that experience, I realized that drinking was obviously doing ridiculous things to my body. But I love wine!!! Much like coffee, I find it to be magical and splendiferous.  Here’s the thing: (This is the part of it all that I find to be extremely unjust and flat-out depressing...) Alcohol is like my cat. She jumps up on my lap rubbing her furry head on my arm and purring contentedly – melting my heart. Then she hops down, saunters out of my sight, and mangles the sh*t out of my brand new couch with her claws! This is what alcohol does. It lures me in with its warm, fancy, happy happy, fun time dance, all the while making me a fat piece of crap!

What was your diet like?
2 cups Starbucks black coffee with raw agave syrup
Smoothie made of frozen blueberries, strawberries and grapefruit juice
Flaxseed oil

Goat cheddar
Oil and vinegar

Apple or an Orange
Maybe peanut butter or some kind of nuts
Or green juice, or beet juice

Some kind of veg concoction with brown rice or brown rice pasta. No dairy.
If I was cooking for two, I would sometimes make chicken or fish. Sometimes I followed food combining rules, sometimes I didn’t.

A piece of dark chocolate
A couple of gluten-free dairy free choc chip cookies w/rice milk
(not every night)

What kind of exercise did you do and how often?
I started doing a lot more strength training. There is an hour long weights class at my gym that I made sure I went to at least once a week. On the other days I would use the weight machines and do a shorter round of cardio. On days that I did a longer cardio session, I incorporated the basics like a variety of abs exercises and push-ups. I like running a lot. I run almost every time I workout. I also throw in some spinning when I can make it to a class. I LOVE yoga, but they don’t offer it enough at my gym. And of course, I was also breaking a "shimmy sweat" while choreographing dance routines for the cheerleaders I coach after school. I don’t think I could say that I had a set workout routine. My only thing is that I go to the gym and make the most of the experience.

What did you learn about yourself from doing this?
What I learned is that I am what you would call a “weekend warrior.” The healthy and extremely structured life that I live Monday through Thursday doesn't balance out the debauchery of my weekends.  There is certainly room in everyone’s life for a couple of cheat days and special occasions to let loose, but my life (thankfully!) happens to be wrought with special occasions! I used to think that I got a free pass on the weekends because I was so strict during the week.  But that's not the case.

Now, when I go to parties, barbecues, etc., I go for whatever is closest to real food.  I, also, avoid gluten and dairy. I may drink, I may not. I know that I am much more conscious of what I am eating/drinking and the effects these things have on my body.  Before I pick something up to eat it, I think about how it makes my body feel. When I remember that, it usually stops me from making an unwise choice.

However, more than anything, what I've learned is that I am so unbelievably relieved to finally feel like myself again. I've lost 18 pounds and have some sparkly new outfits to show for it. Although I will probably always yearn for the limitless weekends that I've grown so accustomed to, I now know that I am absolutely miserable when I am carrying all of that extra weight. It’s not necessarily a noticeable misery, but an insecurity that permeates all parts of my life. I don’t want that ever again.  I’m sure "Funtime Erin" doesn’t either.

So, how did the competition end?  Were you the "at home" winner?
My friend came in first place with a whopping loss of 23.15%! Although I did not win any money or the "at home" title, I did end up coming in 4th place out of 18 people with a total loss of 10.44%. In addition, I had the highest percentage lost on my team! Not bad for being the first one booted!

Not bad at all, Erin.  Not bad at all.

-♥ J :)

P.S. It is worth noting that Erin is gorgeous at any size.  I have stressed over and over (to Erin and anyone who will listen) that I believe detoxing (and dieting) is not about losing weight, but more about clearing away your personal blocks (mentally, physically, nutritionally) and therefore revealing the person who you were meant to be.  However, Erin just wanted to fit back into her work pants.  If fifteen years of friendship has taught me anything it's that what Erin wants...Erin gets.  
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