Author, Becoming Fearless (2011)
Appeared on Larry King Live, NBC's Today Show, Ellen, and Rachael Ray.
Traveling Motivational Speaker
Michelle Aguilar: Becoming Fearless
The 700 Club
EATING TO COPE
Michelle, 30, grew up in a Christian home in California. Her parents were in ministry and when she was 12, the family moved to Dallas, Texas to oversee a ministry ranch. After a year, Michelle’s parents took full-time jobs and left ministry. Growing up, Michelle felt that they were supposed to live a perfect life. When she was 18, Michelle got her first “real” job working after graduating high school. Two weeks into her job, Michelle’s mom called. “I just wanted to call and tell you that I’m leaving your father,” she said. Michelle felt like the air disappeared and for several seconds, she couldn’t breathe. Her parents had been married for 20 years and Michelle felt like her mom made a decision without talking to the family. Not only that, Michelle felt rejected: her mom was taking her two siblings with her and didn’t ask if Michelle wanted to go, too. Somehow she found the strength to carry on and after her mother left, Michelle stepped into the role she left behind.
Shortly after Michelle’s mom left, she remarried. Meanwhile Michelle began eating for comfort. “I knew I couldn’t turn to drugs or alcohol,” says Michelle. “Food was acceptable and it gave me a sense of control.” There was always food around and Michelle found it was an easy way for her to disappear. She started gaining weight (her heaviest was 242 pounds) until 2008 when her coworker told her about The Biggest Loser (TBL). The show was casting for contestants for their couples season, which required a pair of contestants to compete together for $250,000. Michelle asked her father and the pair made it through the auditions until the day of the tapings. Michelle and her father were sent home. Discouraged Michelle was emotionally empty and tried to settle into her life.
Soon she got a call from TBL producers who were putting together the next season’s show and wanted Michelle and her dad back. Michelle’s dad declined and suggested she ask her mom. “I was still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of doing anything with my mom after having practically no contact at all for almost 6 years,” she says. Michelle’s mom had gained and lost weight with having 5 kids so she agreed. They were a mother-daughter team taking a shot at the grand prize and a new life for both of them. This would be an opportunity for them to rebuild their relationship. Michelle tried to smile her way through the process. “The break point moment was during a challenge where I chipped my tooth,” says Michelle. The very thing she was using to protect herself (her smile) was broken. She felt all of her emotions were going to come across on primetime television and she was scared. Devastated, Michelle packed her bags and asked her mom to tell Jillian she was leaving the show. Jillian came to her and said, “What you came here seeking, you are finding,” and encouraged her to stay. Laying in bed one night, Michelle heard the Lord remind of her Prov 3:5-6, Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path. Michelle recommitted her life to God and whatever journey He had her on. She prayed, “I will do this for You, but not in my own strength. I’ll do it in Your strength, and I will give You all the glory in the end, no matter how this whole show plays out.”
A week before the finals, Michelle’s mom was sent home (in week 5, all the contestants begin competing against each other). At the end of 3 ½ months of taping shows, three months of training at home, brutal workouts and humiliating weigh-ins at the giant scale, Michelle lost a total of 110 pounds. As the winner, Michelle says the personal victory she experienced was far greater than the $250,000 she won. “The grand prize was wonderful, but the lasting reward was the discovery of who I am when I am thrown into the refiner’s fire and the heat is cranked up.” Michelle and her mom found common ground through TBL and have made a conscious effort to build their relationship from there.
Season 12 of The Biggest Loser, hosted by Allison Sweeney, airs on Tuesdays at 8 pm on NBC.
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