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Health & Fit: 'I'm A Body-Pos Plus-Size Model—And A "Biggest Loser" Contestant'

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a person with collar shirt: The Biggest Loser's Megan Hoffman was a plus-size model before auditioning for the 2020 reboot of the  competition show. Here's what motivated her to do it.© The Biggest Loser The Biggest Loser's Megan Hoffman was a plus-size model before auditioning for the 2020 reboot of the competition show. Here's what motivated her to do it.

Contestant: Megan Hoffman

Age: 35Hometown: Simi Valley, California

Occupation: Operations and retention director at a gym franchise

'After Dropping Out Of School And Using Drugs, I Decided To Change My Life And Lost 124 Pounds'

  'After Dropping Out Of School And Using Drugs, I Decided To Change My Life And Lost 124 Pounds' "Weight loss is more of a mental battle than it is a physical one."

Starting weight: 290 pounds

I’ve auditioned for The Biggest Loser three times in hopes of jumpstarting my weight loss. Between the second and third times I tried out for the show, I was going through a major breakup. I thought that becoming successful in something like modeling would help me win back my ex, so I started to pursue plus-size modeling gigs. I got a campaign with Torrid, and it totally changed my outlook on my body.

a group of people posing for the camera: Megan Hoffman Was A Model Before 'Biggest Loser'© Megan Hoffman Megan Hoffman Was A Model Before 'Biggest Loser'

Modeling helped me realize that being a certain weight doesn’t define me. I no longer assumed everyone around me was thinking something negative about me because of my size. In the past, I had often disqualified myself from opportunities without even attempting to try. When I was modeling, I realized that my weight wasn't the real reason that I didn’t fight for my dreams...it was fear. Modeling started as a way to try to make a guy love me, but I actually gained the love of somebody more valuable: myself.

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  Jillian Michaels Says Intermittent Fasting 'Isn't Actually Good For Weight Loss' "That's just not true."

Watch Megan's audition video:

Still, even as I was beginning to embrace body positivity, I was working as an operations and retention director for a franchise of gyms, and being in the fitness industry, I knew my health was at risk. While I no longer looked at my weight as a reason I couldn't be loved or go after my goals in life, I could feel it holding me back from taking part in the physical activities I wanted to do.

I love working out and taking dance classes, but my weight means I can’t enjoy a lot of the sports I like. When I go hiking with my friends, for example, I can’t keep up. I once organized a trip to go stand-up paddle boarding, and I couldn’t even get on the board. When that stuff happens, I laugh at myself and make light of the situation. But inside, I’m upset that my weight—something I feel like I should be able to control—is stopping me from living my life.

Megan Hoffman Was A Model Before 'Biggest Loser'© Megan Hoffman Megan Hoffman Was A Model Before 'Biggest Loser'

I knew I had to get my mindless eating under control and stop putting other people’s wellbeing before my own. So I tried out for The Biggest Loser one more time. My goal this time around was no longer just to lose weight, but to win. Once I was selected, I quit my job to come on the show (a sacrifice many contestants have to make to be away from work for months). Modeling had helped me believe that if I put my whole heart into something, I was capable of becoming a champion.

'After I Could Only Fit Into Extended-Size Wedding Gowns, I Started Keto And Lost Over 100 Lbs. In 16 Months'

  'After I Could Only Fit Into Extended-Size Wedding Gowns, I Started Keto And Lost Over 100 Lbs. In 16 Months' "I can keep up with my children, and I couldn’t do that before."

It’s interesting—all the women contestants on the show have one common thread through their stories: putting other people before themselves. When I was working at a gym, it was so easy for me to motivate, encourage and support clients’ health journeys. When I see the thing that’s holding them back, I think, “Pssh, you call that an obstacle? You’ve got that beat!” And yet, I couldn't make time for my own workouts or to prioritize healthy cooking. Like many women, I’ve gotten so caught up in helping other people that I’ve put myself on the back-burner.

It’s not like my life has been bad. But I feel like I’m speeding on the highway, with the windows down, music up, taking a joyride with my health. And at any moment a cop could pull me over and tell me, “You could hurt yourself if you keep doing this.”

I haven't seen a doctor in years. But before going on The Biggest Loser, I had to have extensive blood work and cardiac stress testing done. I was so afraid of what those results would reveal, but they weren't nearly as bad as I'd expected. Once I had more information about my health, I felt empowered to do something about it.

'I Passed Up Huge Opportunities Because I DIdn't Want People To See How Big I Was"

  'I Passed Up Huge Opportunities Because I DIdn't Want People To See How Big I Was "I'm on 'The Biggest Loser' to start prioritizing myself."

The whole process of getting and being on the show has been about putting aside my fear and pride, allowing myself to be vulnerable, and asking for help when I need it. Now, a few weeks into filming, I already feel better for it.

a person throwing a baseball on a field© Megan Hoffman

I don’t know what The Biggest Loser has in store for me, but if my story can show even one person that they deserve to take care of themselves and prioritize their health, then I’ll be happy. I want to be able to live the life I've dreamed about and inspire others to do the same. I’m putting myself out there on national TV at 290 pounds. If I can do that, anybody can start to live a healthier life at home. Coming on the show is taking a big risk and betting on myself; I haven’t done that in a very long time. It's time now.

The Biggest Loser will air on USA Network for its 18th season in January 2020.

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