What an incredible journey this has been. There are so many words that come to mind when I reflect on the past 13 weeks. At times the process was overwhelming, frustrating, challenging, inspiring, hilarious, painful, intense, sweaty, but at the end of the day, the experience for me was life changing. I got to learn so much about myself along the way and made some amazing friends throughout the process. It was interesting to watch everyone's journey package on the finale and see how we all dealt with our time away from Jackie.
I found Shay's honesty in coming clean with Jackie and Dr. Ramani incredibly brave, I think Joe turned a major corner, Jeana found the strength to stand up for herself, Stacy fought like a champion, Nikki figured out a way to incorporate Jackie's program into her lifestyle, and Mandy knocked it out of the park. I was tremendously proud of everyone at the finale for all of the hard work and hurdles we each had to overcome. And Jackie was right; it wasn't just about a number on the scale but how each of us now relates to food, and how we have been able to incorporate exercise into our daily lives.
However, none of this would have been possible to achieve had it not been for the following kindhearted, motivational, and inspiring teachers:
I really gained a lot of respect for Dr. Ramani when she first opened up and told us that she also struggled with food. I appreciated her courage and I quickly came to realize that she could honestly relate to our battle. We could not have asked for a better role model than this articulate, intelligent, and beautiful woman. To be able to talk to someone on a weekly basis that has walked a mile in my shoes was immensely valuable to me. Dr. Ramani truly understood food addiction and was instrumental in helping me turn my life around. She taught me that it was okay to express my pain and not hold on to my secrets. She taught me that honesty could really be rewarding. She taught me how to view food as a friend not an enemy. I am humbled by her story and blessed by her wisdom.
Craig might be one of the kindest, foxiest, and most knowledgeable trainers for men that I have ever met. In those 6 weeks away from Jackie, Craig pushed me harder then anyone I have ever met. There were days when I just wanted to say, "ENOUGH ALREADY," and throw in the towel. Thankfully, Craig taught me how to push myself to intensity. He taught me "the ropes of the gym" and how to workout in the future on my own. He also taught me about self worth and self esteem. Craig talked me off the ledge many a day, and I will forever be indebted to this man. He is not only beautiful on the outside but also just as beautiful on the inside.
Then we have the woman who made it all possible: Jackie, or Herr Warner as I affectionately like to call her. My first impression of Jackie was that she was going to be incredibly tough and that I was going to have some type of screaming match with her, where only one of us would walk away alive. (*Note, never mess with a hungry, cranky queen.) I did loose my cool with her once, but it wasn't because of something she did, it was more with me just being uncomfortable and in pain and just wanting to "finish the f------ workout." Jackie is an AMAZING teacher. She is the Mrs. Miyagi of the fitness world. She taught me how to dig deep and push through the burn. She taught me that cookies were pain. She taught me how to connect mind, body, and spirit. She taught me how to call on Ethel when I truly needed her. She taught me how to wax on and wax off … oh wait, scratch that. Most of all she taught me how to take responsibility and live a better, healthier lifestyle. Jackie not only changed my life, she SAVED my life. I will never be able to truly thank her enough for allowing me to go on this journey. It was the most rewarding experience of my life so far.