One of the things that makes Jillian Michaels such a popular trainer on The Biggest Loser is that she really cares about her contestants and recognizes that weight gain/loss can be more complex than calories in-calories out. There are a lot of other factors that affect our bodies and metabolisms. It took Brittany Aberle nearly her entire time on the show to discover a hormone imbalance (PCOS) that was slowing down her weight loss.
Another important aspect that Jillian seems to get is the connection between physical health and mental health, possibly because her mother is a psychologist. Every season, as her contestants start to lose weight, Jillian recognizes and helps her contestants to address the emotional issues that are rising to the surface, revealed by the process. This season she’s worked closely with Coleen and Michelle.
Sometimes as you put away the comfort food or start shedding pounds, you realize that food and weight may have served another purpose in your life, helping you avoid certain thoughts or situations. Without comfort foods or extra weight you may have lost your excuses and protection, so those thoughts or situations may feel thrust in your face. Many people, like Jillian’s trainees, who have gone through radical weight loss report a crisis in facing mental health issues that they had avoided with food, and many describe it as hiding behind their weight.
Those nagging problems are waiting to sabotage your best intentions of getting healthy and may rear their ugly heads just as you’re starting to notice progress. The issues waiting to trip you up may range from trauma to self-esteem to family of origin issues. All are important and deserve to be addressed. Acknowledging these things at all can be frightening, which is why the coping skill of food and/or weight has been developed. Addressing them can be even more uncomfortable and does require courage, but it is an important aspect of living a healthier life both physically and emotionally. In fact, when these emotional issues are revealed, it can be a sign that you are making progress towards changing your life.