Funny girl gets serious about weight loss

I have always been kind of a runt. At least that’s what the other kids would say growing up. In kindergarten, a bigger girl on the playground would carry me around like a baby on her hip. She was much taller than the other kids, and I was much shorter. I guess it made sense for us to join forces. Eventually, the other children began to tease me (and her for that matter), so she put me down, literally. I always remember being shorter than the other girls. Around fifth grade, I became curvier than the other girls — full hips, a filled out chest and a tiny waist. The teasing was relentless, so I quickly developed an equally quick wit. This is when I became the funny girl first and the chubby girl second.

I’ll admit that for more than half of the first part of my life, I thought that the two were one and the same. My height never reached over five feet tall. Most of the time, I forgot that I was short. My parents always encouraged me to be me and my big personality overshadowed the fact that I couldn’t reach things in the grocery store. I slowly learned the art of timing and I could read people. Knowing my audience was a skill I developed on a daily basis. In my mid-20s I started performing stand up and found that there was power in making people laugh. It was just as fun for me as it was for the audience. I was always the butt of the joke and audiences across the country ate it up. I was still making fun of myself before anyone else could do it, only now I was getting paid for it.

As I got better, my weight increased. I was cute as a button, but very unhealthy. I became a character. I felt like a cartoon version of myself. I had a good life, but I was going down a bad path with my health. Working night and day, I was losing sight of who I was and what I wanted out of my life. I really only felt comfortable and in control on stage.

In 2004, I auditioned for a reality show about weight loss. The show was presented to me as a weight loss journey complete with a trainer and a personal chef that would last 10 weeks. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would want to watch overweight people lose weight on television. How boring! Losing weight was a slow process. Watching one to two pounds come off on a weekly basis would be as uneventful as watching paint dry. When the offer came through to be on this new show, I took it. The way I understood it, this show hadn’t even been picked up by a network. It won’t even make it on the air. I’ll take 10 weeks to lose a few pounds and get back into exercise. I’ll come back and get back to the stage on a healthy path. That little show was called “The Biggest Loser” and millions of people tuned in to watch the contestants cry as they learned to love themselves again. The weight loss was exciting because we weren’t taking off one to two pounds a week. We were losing 10, 15 and sometimes more per episode!

When I look back on it now, my 42-pound weight loss in 10 weeks was exciting. I was amazed at myself. For the first time in a long time, I had dedication and devotion to myself. I honestly thought that I was going to have a heart attack on the ranch and not return home, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t die. No one did. After a week, I started to forget the cameras and focus on how strong I was. I admit that I didn’t really tackle my food issues on an emotional level while on the show, but I did learn to trust my body and my will to succeed. I had always been a driven person, but there was a place deep down that I had never tapped into before. This was the key to happiness and self-acceptance.

Since being on the show, I’m managing to stay dedicated to my workout routine, putting good food in my body every day and feeling strong is always my main goal. My weight creeps up every so often, but I just dig deep and remind myself of the woman I want to be. She’s not a size four. She’s not concerned with the numbers on the scale. She’s a strong healthy woman who feels centered and confident. I’m thankful each morning for a new day. I’m glad that I’m ballsy. I’m spunky and filled with gumption. I welcome new challenges even if they’re scary.

Right after the show I participated in my first triathlon. Amazing! What a great chance to completely humiliate myself. I had never done anything like that before and I vowed that I would find the fun in this half-mile swim, 12-mile bike and three plus mile run. If I could find the fun in this and manage to help others find their fun, then I just might be onto something. While training for this triathlon, I had to learn how to ride a bike all over again. I spent many nights falling on my sweet little street. I’m confident that the neighbors must have thought I was crazy. I had a new bump, bruise and scrape every week and I loved every minute of it. The best part was that I didn’t care. These were my battle scars. The bumps and bruises and scrapes were physical evidence that I was trying — trying for the first time in my life. I had never really tried to get healthy or out of my comfort zone before. This was a decision to get uncomfortable and embrace how that felt. I vowed that I would spend my adult life getting uncomfortable and this is how I live every day. Now, I’m not waking up every day looking for something new to give me poop cramps. I just never turn my back on an opportunity to amaze myself.

For the last 10 years, I’ve been traveling the country (and the world) as a comedian. For the last five years, I’ve also been working as a humor wellness speaker. I spread the word that everyone has the ability to dig deep. I share my hilarious stories of self-discovery and my undying search for opportunities to surprise myself. It feels great to have someone be proud of you. I have the most supportive friends and family. I have parents who have always loved me for who I am and felt incredibly proud of the woman I have grown into. But, I have to say nothing feels better than that sense of pride I feel when I finish something I didn’t think I could do. I always stop for a few minutes and enjoy the moment with my biggest supporter, myself. Whether it’s after a big show, a keynote in front of a room full of people or a 5K race, I take a moment to breathe and enjoy the moment. When you take the time to appreciate yourself, others will appreciate you too. Learning to laugh at yourself helps too. I never take myself too seriously. You get one life, and I’d rather get laugh lines than that number 11 smack dab in the middle of my pretty blue eyes. I feel lucky that I can embrace the woman I am and I enjoy helping others embrace themselves with laughter. I feel truly blessed that by putting myself out there, other women can find their strong, confident, inner funny girl.