The universe works in mysterious ways. I had known that contestants from season 8 of The Biggest Loser were participating in a study over the years, but didn't know what they could be actually studying.
First of all, I want to commend my fellow Biggest Loser family members from season 8 for having the courage, strength and discipline to participate in a six year study, so that all of us might have a little more understanding about weight loss and sustainability. Our Biggest Loser family is over 277 strong, and I know that there is not one among us who has not dealt with the struggle, anxiety, fear, or in some cases shame, over gaining weight back since being on the show.
Of course, not everyone has spoken out about it, but it seems to be a part of life after publicly sharing our journeys of such a deeply private and personal nature with the world.
When I went on the show, I knew that the price to pay for the opportunity of a lifetime was that it would be filmed for the world to see. I would have given anything to have the same opportunity and not have it televised. However that was not the way it worked.
RELATED VIDEO: The Biggest Loser Host Bob Harper Answers Fans' Twitter Questions
What doesn't feel amazing and great is when we gain weight back and nothing is said. We internalize it and make up in our minds what all those same people must be thinking, and start to feel ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed. We don't want to be around them so they don't have to say anything, and we don't have to have all those feelings tear us apart. We retreat.
It doesn't matter that none of these people think any differently of us – what matters is that we feel like they are judging us. Could you imagine having those feelings, knowing millions of people have watched your journey? There is such negativity towards and shaming of people that struggle with their weight in our society. It is the socially acceptable prejudice, and it needs to stop.
If I had had the courage to openly talk about it, and not have the fear of negative judgment about my struggles, I don't think I would have slipped so far. I don't think ANYONE – Biggest Loser alumni or you at home – should have to hear or feel anything but support as we navigate this journey.
I have struggled for too long with questions: "Why has it seemed so hard for me?" "How come my efforts didn't equate to those around me doing the exact same thing?" "What was wrong with me?!" I'm grateful to finally have some answers. I hope that some of these answers breed compassion.
I remember being so hungry right before leaving the Biggest Loser campus to go home and train for the finale. I didn't understand why. Jillian [Michaels] had told me that's because my metabolism was finally working for me, and that was a good thing.
After reading the New York Times article, I wonder if it was possibly because of lack of Leptin? I guess I'll never really know. I think this study is going to be a great resource that will help myself, and so many others, as we continue on our journeys. Knowing that there is medical research that can provide answers to questions we may be having as to how to fight this is priceless.
RELATED VIDEO: Bob Harper Dishes on the Newest Season of The Biggest Loser
While ah-has have been made and questions have been answered, I know for myself and the majority of my Biggest Loser family who continue to struggle with our weight, this study has given us the courage to continue showing up and fighting for our lives.
Follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter and on her website