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Sunday, February 27, 2011

I am NOT the Biggest Loser

But I sure had fun trying to be.

Mike and I went to the Biggest Loser auditions in Indianapolis today. I wasn't sure what to expect, though I did have a slight hope that we might be picked for the show. Oh, how naive I was!


We arrived at Indiana Live Casino, where the auditions were being held, at about 9:30am. The posted start time for auditions was 10am. I'd planned to be there shortly after 8, however, we got a late start and then had a wee bit of navigational difficulty (read: the casino wasn't where we thought we knew it was). We parked in the designated lot and climbed aboard a shuttle that would take us to the clubhouse where the auditions were to be held.

There were about a dozen of us on the shuttle bus, and except for one young girl who was there to cheer on her friend, I was probably the smallest person on board. When we got off the shuttle bus and loaded into the elevator that would take us the audition space, I held my breath a bit and tried not to mentally calculate the weight load we'd just crammed onto the elevator, but instead prayed we would not get stuck between floors.

Mike and I knew there would be a wait and we were prepared. We'd brought books and magazines, healthy snacks (carrots, pears, pretzels), a laptop -- though we found no wifi. But we weren't prepared for what greeted us when the elevator doors opened. In front of us were about 25 tables of 8, all full of people waiting for their shot. To our right was auditorium seating, probably containing another 200 or so Biggest Loser hopefuls. We were instructed to just wait in the entry area until seats became available.

Looking around, I realized there are different classifications of fat. There is attractive fat, those people who are pretty or handsome, who just also happen to be larger in size. There is sloppy fat. These are the people who wear t-shirts and sweats and who don't do themselves any favors with their dress. There is cuddly fat, which is generally reserved for those big teddy bear-type guys. Then there is what Mike calls "can't wipe your butt" fat -- the very desperately, morbidly obese whose size makes even walking (and other daily activities) difficult. And they were all there, everyone tied by a desire to make a change -- or at least to have their 15 minutes of fame. For the record, I think I fall somewhere in between attractive fat and sloppy fat. Maybe I'm a fifth category -- plain Jane fat.

After only about 30 minutes of waiting in the entry area, we were selected with 6 others to take a seat at one of the tables that had opened up as the previous inhabitants had been taken for their interview. Our table was #1. A good omen, I hoped!

Photobucket In addition to Mike and I, the others at the table included:
  • CJ, a father of 2 with one on the way from northwest Indiana. This was his 3rd audition, including one in Chicago last weekend. Ironically, he doesn't watch the show.
  • Krystal, a 23-year-old from Michigan who auditioned in Chicago last year. She was accompanied by her mom who was there for moral support. 
  • Melissa and Jennifer, two friends from Cincinnati who were also BL audition newbies.
  • Jamie, a father of an adorable 22-month-old son, who lives in southwest Indiana.
  • Danielle, a beautiful African-American woman who was rocking some largely dangling earrings that I would not have even attempted.
We were encouraged to get to know each other. The BL staffers said that in several instances, contestant-wanna-bes who met at the auditions formed friendships (some even found love) that extended beyond the audition. In fact, this season's Courtney (who is from Valparaiso, Indiana) auditioned several times and formed an e-support group with some of the people from one of the audition sites. It was that group which helped encourage her to lose 100 pounds before she even was selected for the show.

Our table was friendly and chatty, but we didn't exchange e-mails or other information. I passed the time by updating my personal and 4th Frog Facebook pages with news about and photos from the auditions. My first post read:

Oh my gosh! It is a fraternity of fat here at the Biggest Loser auditions. And let's just say, I feel skinny right about now.

Thank you so much to those of you who posted messages of encouragement. I really appreciated them.

Annie, who was at home with the boys, requested photos. I felt a little weird about taking pictures of people I didn't know, so I captured this one for her because the gals in the picture didn't know that I was snapping a pic of them:

Shortly after we were seated at the table, we were given brief, 1-page applications to fill out. (Hint if you plan to attend a casting call: you don't need to fill out the 15-page app that's available online. That's only for mail-ins or call-backs.) I was number 504 and Mike was number 505.


PhotobucketThen it was more waiting. At our table, we talked about why we wanted to be on the show, what trainers we would choose to work out with if we had a choice (Bob & Jillian for me), and what foods would be hard for us to pass up during a temptation challenge. The responses to that included sweets, hot wings, bread, teriyaki wings with blue cheese, spaghetti, rib eye, pizza (Mike's) and ice cream (that was mine). By the end of that conversation, I was starving! Good thing I'd packed my pear.

Somewhere around 11:30 or noon, a member of the Biggest Loser staff came by our table to tell us that they were up to number 400. Always wanting to know people's stories, I asked if he was a part of the regular staff or if he was just working the Indy audition. He was a local guy helping out just for this audition. I don't remember how I did it, but I asked him if I could put on his Biggest Loser staff badge for a quick picture. He agreed, half-heartedly. Of course, I took the opportunity and looped the lanyard around my neck while Mike snapped the picture. The staffer was a little uncomfortable -- he probably thought I was going to get him fired -- and he drew the line at letting me pass the badge around the table so everyone could rub it for good luck.

There's no way I could have been mistaken for a real BL staffer -- they were all tiny, wispy people. But it was fun to pretend for a bit.

A little while later, the same guy came back to let us know they were up to number 475 and to brief us on how the interview would happen. (Although CJ and Krystal had already filled us in on how the interviews were conducted in other cities.)

We would be seated as a group of 12 in a U-shape in front of 1 casting director who would ask us to introduce ourselves. Then there might be one other question. The whole interview would last 7 minutes.

"Great," I thought. "I have less than 60 seconds to convince them that I'm fat AND sparkling."

After that I started to get pretty nervous. I think Mike, CJ and Jamie did too, because they got really chatty. I just wanted everyone to be quiet so I could run through in my head what I wanted to say. I was only mildly successful.

Photobucket Soon enough, we were taken from our table to a hallway just outside the interview room, where we waited for about 15 or 20 minutes. During that wait, Mike recognized someone we'd gone to college with. What a small (or in this case, large) world! Steve had a VIP pass for the auditions because he'd auditioned in years past in Louisville, Columbus and Chicago. Apparently, they call some of the previous applicants who weren't selected and encourage them to attend another casting call.

Anyway, catching up with Steve helped to pass the time and around 1:15pm, we were in the interview room.


Just as we'd been told, we were asked to introduce ourselves -- Mike cracked a few jokes during his introduction and I tossed out that being married with three kids is a whole lot like having four kids. Then we each had about 15 seconds to answer the question, "What is something about you that I wouldn't know by looking at you." For about 75 seconds, I sweated it out trying to figure out what the heck to say. When the interviewer got to me, I said "I'm a survivor of post-partum dpression."

Seriously? That's what I had? I knew it was dumb as soon as it was out of my mouth. On the way home, I thought of at least 3 better responses. But it was too little, too late.

On the way home, Mike and I talked about the auditions. We both agreed we were glad we'd done it, though he said he really went for me and I said I really went for him.

We would have received a phone call by 8pm letting us know we'd been selected for call-backs. The phones remained silent. We'll probably submit a home video as further application, but I don't really see myself driving all over God's green earth to audition in other cities.

I really hope Steve or CJ or Danielle make the call-backs. It would be so cool to see someone we auditioned with actually make the show.

As for Mike and I, we talked about the fact that if spending 5 hours to audition for the Biggest Loser was important enough to us, then we need to get serious about putting just as much importance on making some changes in our health. With or without the Biggest Loser.


Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. I have always wondered about the auditions -- though I would not go because I don't have enough weight to lose (per their guidelines).

((hugs)) to you!!

LJ said...

You 2 are the "Biggest Winners" if you ask me and we're all blessed knowing you! You wit, creativity and "can do" attitude will lead to the commitment to Heath you crave as well. We're all here to help and support you along the way! Thanks so much for sharing... I was following you all day. Even more today's Horizon League games! :)

Eternal Lizdom said...

I like your last paragraph best of all.

I really enjoyed being inside the process with you via FB and now your blog. What a day!

Annie said...

Five hours to audition. Think of what you could change today in five minutes towards a healthier you! You could relocate junk food to the garbage can (or at least a cupboard that is more "out of sight"), you could start a nice walk with your dog and family, you could get on the treadmill, you could rearrange a drawer just for workout clothes, you could put your fruit in a nice bowl on your counter to make it more accessible... The list could go on and on! Sorry you didnt make the cut, but cheering you on to be your own biggest loser! You won't ever regret making changes towards a healthier you...I know that for a fact! :o)

Anonymous said...

Sorry you didn't get a call back, but sounds like you had a great experience. And how great that you did it for Mike and he did it for you. Keep up that support of each other and you'll both be big losers in no time!

hlfassedheather said...

Lucky you.

The people in NYC had to wait outside for 6-8 hours in freezing temperatures! By the time I got to go in to the interview room, the casting people did not even bother with the appearance that they were still considering people. They gave us 30 seconds to introduce ourselves, and then sent us on our merry way. TOTAL waste of time.

Janet said...


Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you and Mike did it. Since BL has gone to the extreme size for contestants, I didn't think you had a chance based on size (though personality is a big YES!)

While I appricate that BL is showing us that extremely heavy folks can loose weight without surgery (a big plus), I wish they would do a session with more "regular" sized over-weight folks (does that make sense!?)

We all need all kinds of encouragement and tips.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being brave enough to do something that other's won't do. I am a HUGE fan of the show and reading this was really cool. You both are winner's and for what the BL is about with couples it is working together and having the same goal and reading on that you each went for the other has probably made your weight loss goal more reachable bc you both want it and can support eachother. My husband lost over 70 pounds and has kept it off for two years now and the biggest thing he did and still does is just keep a piece of paper with his calorie count of food on it. Really that is key for him plus exceise but seeing what he eats has been an eye opener. Good Luck and please keep us posted on what you are doing with or without the show.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that you didn't make it.

I did enjoy your post though. It's always nice to hear about how the "behind the scenes" work.

Mrs4444 said...

You have a great attitude about it--Good for you :) I guess it's goo that you aren't "big" enough.

Stacy said...

It was really interesting to hear what goes on backstage. Thanks for sharing it with us. I have enough to lose, but I don't think I could survive. I picture myself keeling over during some of the workouts.

Joanie said...

I'm sorry you didn't get chosen. It would have been s cool to watch your progress!

And I agree with Liz. Your last paragraph speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

really they did call backs today and still a few tomorrow. my brothers friend went tonight. they did not call him til today.

Anonymous said...

Yeah i heard on the news tonight that they weren't doing call backs till tomorrow. They showed the casting after the biggest loser. I was the girl they showed writing their application with the pic spinning in front of her. I would like to think to be one of the few chosen to be on tv i would have a shot but who know. They talk a lot about personality, but i've yet to see anyone with a lot of personality on the show.

Bethany said...

Wow,, this was really interesting to read! Thanks for sharing :)