Fans of The Biggest Loser know that every contestant on the show experiences an emotional and physical journey like no other. It’s why millions of us tune in each Thursday—to follow these powerful stories of weight loss and self-discovery.
But today on Wellwellwell, we’re excited to turn the spotlight on one of the program’s four star trainers, Jen Widerstrom, to learn more about how she has been transformed by her experience on the show. We were eager to hear about the kinds of lessons she learned while filming Season 16’s Glory Days with 20 former athletes and her three fellow trainers. How, in other words, has the teacher learned from the students?
“Everybody’s journey has taught me something,” she began. Read on for three of Jen’s big takeaways from her debut on The Biggest Loser.
1. Think about what your limitations are. Now throw those thoughts away.
During The Biggest Loser, you really see the human spirit tested—you see what people are capable of. For example, Woody Carter is a man, who, less than a year before we started taping, lost his wife. They met when they were teenagers, so this was his true love and best friend. Now I think I have a hard day if I get in a fender bender or spill my coffee—but this is a man who, despite his circumstances, shows up every day and has a willingness to do the work, a willingness to face the hard conversations, and a willingness to be vulnerable on national television. By seeing what Woody was capable of, it made me realize that maybe I’m capable of more. Maybe I’m more resilient than I think I am. One of the biggest lessons of the show has to be that we may have an idea of who we are, what we can do, our strengths and our weaknesses, but we often can surprise ourselves by exceeding those perceptions of what is in fact possible.
2. Let yourself be taken care of. No matter who you are.
As a trainer I came in thinking I had to be the strong one and have all the answers. Although I was reluctant at first to accept support from the contestants, I quickly learned how powerful that support was for me too. From their handwritten letters to making sure that I was taking as good of care of myself as I was them, I learned how showing my own needs of support really brought us closer. I didn’t realize how much I needed the contestants’ help through this journey—and more importantly, to give myself the permission to receive it.
3. You determine your own self-worth—not your professional success.
Athletes in general tend to tie their identities and feelings of self-worth to professional success. When you take those potential external rewards away, it can be hard to find meaning and identity. It’s important to assign value to character traits, like a person’s sense of humor or his or her point of view—the things that make a J.J. or a Sonya truly unique lies in who they are and not just the number of pounds they’ve lost or their standing on the show.
We just finished filming a couple of weeks ago, and to be honest, I’m feeling a sense of loss. I miss the challenges of the show and the friendships I formed. But I have to do as I say as well. I have to examine my life, my relationships and my career that exist beyond the excitement of my first season on The Biggest Loser. My job, as a representative of all the wellness professionals out there (doctors, nurses, trainers, etc.), is to help people—and if I didn’t get this job, I’d still be in the same line of work. I am grateful to have some down time right now to ground myself and reestablish this intention.
Want more Jen? Check out the fitness routines she created exclusively for EVEN Hotels in these workout videos.
Photography: Courtesy of NBC Universal.