When I was writing my book Lose Your Quit in 2011, I noticed something: that every experience I had on The Biggest Loser built on an experience before to create something completely different. I also noticed that these experiences were similar to experiences I had previously in my life. This time they were magnified by television and also, I believe I was better equipped to deal with them – maybe because I had visited them before.
Life is Fractal
Fractal Geometry is an amazing thing. When I first heard of it, I didn’t quite know what it was. Simply, it is a recurring pattern found in mathematics that is also found in nature. Wikipedia puts it like this: “A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern.”
I believe that life is built on fractal and self-similar patterns. I’ve heard that “history repeats itself,” which I believe is not only a natural thing, but it is a God created thing. First, let me explain Fractal Geometry in nature. If you look at a tree, there is a correlation between the distances between the branches on the trunk, and the twigs on the branches. That same mathematical pattern is reproduced in the veins on the leaves. It is also seen in everything from snowflakes, pine cones, and even in the meanders of a river. I believe it I also found in our lives.
I relate these situations in my life. The first home I can remember was a house in Del City, Oklahoma. I was four years old when we lived there. I shared a room with my two sisters, and my grandma lived with us. That house was HUGE! When I got married, I bought the house for Darci and I to live in. Let me tell you – that house is SMALL! 700 square feet to be exact! Two bedrooms, a living room, 1 bathroom and a small kitchen. It had no laundry room and a detached garage. Why did it seem so big as a kid, and so small as an adult?
Experience Shrinks Things (or does it?)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I want to poke whoever wrote that in the eye! When we were kids, a simple, “What’s wrong with you?” can cut to the core. Maybe you thought, “there must be something wrong with me if they’re asking” or “there’s all kinds of things wrong with me.” When someone says that now, it has less impact on me, or at least I’d like to think it does.
In life, we experience similar pain at different points of my life. When we were asked what was wrong with us as a child, that can be repeated with “why did you do that?” or “that’s not what I would have done.” We even begin to ask ourselves that question: What is wrong with me?
When someone hurt me as a child, it made me feel a certain way. Since then, I have experienced other hurts that produced a similar feeling, and my actions and thoughts go back to that point when I was a child – along with the feelings. It makes me subconsciously relive that old hurt, and in turn I feel I am no further down the road in my life. In fact, I am much further along, and that self-similar pattern creates an opportunity for me. I can revert back to that child and react in a childish way, or I can use my experiences and deal with the situation in a different, healthier way – like I did on The Biggest Loser.
Respond, don’t React
When I was on the Black Team on the show, I found myself alone. My team had an alliance, and I wasn’t a part of that. To make a long story short, my team threw a weigh-in with the goal of self-preservation, and when they lost they planned to vote me home. And to top things off, Jillian Michaels – my coach – knew about this and coached them through it! I felt betrayed, and it took me back to the child that felt like I didn’t matter when all everyone talked about was his older sisters and how great they were. Every year, the teacher usually said, “You’ve got quite a name to live up to!” And guess what – I spent my entire life trying to live up to expectations that I had put on myself – that I could never achieve no matter what I would accomplish.
Each time I “revisit” an event that takes me back, I tend to react just like that child. I throw a temper tantrum, cry, feel hopeless, and if it makes me angry, I rage! I feel that these recurring events in our life – that are fractal in nature – are opportunities. They are opportunities for us to choose a different, more productive path for ourselves than we did in the past.
When I was betrayed on The Biggest Loser, I raged at first. Then I collected myself and remembered what my rage brought me in my past. I went back to when those events seemed much larger in my life. I wanted a different outcome this time! So I weighed my opportunities. I could punch Jillian out, or perhaps my teammates. OUTCOME: Jail. I could quit the show and give up. OUTCOME: Opportunity Loss.
I chose different. If I was the Biggest Loser of the week (lost the most percentage of weight), I was immune and they couldn’t vote me off. I chose to respond rather than react by kicking it into high gear and lapping everyone! OUTCOME: Record Holder for 7-weeks in a row double digit weight loss, and the Biggest Loser ever among the men of the show, and let’s not forget $250,000 and the title of The Biggest Loser! I’LL TAKE IT!