'Biggest Loser' Contestant Urges Women to get 'Uncomfortable'
By Caitlin Davis
Oct 5, 2012, 11:58
photo by Caitin Davis Abby Rike, former “Biggest Loser” contestant, speaks to the audience at the SRMC Healthy Woman expo on Thursday evening. Rike told those there that night she wanted them to be fearless.
Southside Regional Medical Center hosted their annual “Healthy Woman Expo” on Thursday evening at Ft. Lee featuring guest speaker Abby Rike, a contestant on season 8 of NBC’s “Biggest Loser.”
Rike’s message that evening was to tell women to get uncomfortable with their lives.
“I urge you, I implore you, to put yourself in a position over the next three days where you are vehemently uncomfortable,” Rike said. “If you are not putting yourself in a position to fail you are not living. You’re not living.”
Rike understands what it means to not live. In Oct. of 2006 she suffered a tragedy that changed her life. Her husband, Rick, her 5-year-old daughter, Macy, and her two-and-a-half-week old son, Caleb, were killed in a car accident. Rike said that night she lost everything she knew.
Out of that sadness came a new life for Rike. In February of 2009, Rike reached her rock bottom. She said she did not know how she was going to get out of bed the next morning and go on with her life. It was then she decided to change her life and audition for the Biggest Loser.
“Maybe if I got healthy maybe my heart could heal,” Rike said. “The next thing I know, I found myself standing on a scale, in a sports bra, spandex pants with my weight glaring for all the world to see.”
Rike said as she stood on the stage and Allison Sweeney, host of Biggest Loser, asked her if her starting weight, 247 lbs, surprised her, Rike said she thought and knew exactly what she wanted to say.
“It surprises me but it doesn’t define me,” Rike said. “I never wanted to equate my work as a human being by what the scale says.”
While at the Biggest Loser ranch, Rike was pushed physically, mentally and emotionally. She told a story of a day she was on the treadmill for an hour and a half, on a incline, then did a stair master, and then Jillian Michaels, a trainer featured on “Biggest Loser,” told her to lay down on the treadmill.
Rike said Michaels had her lift up her body weight 10 times. After she did that, Michaels told her to hold it for 10 seconds. Then Michaels stood on top of her and told her to lift herself up. Rike said she tried and tried but could not complete the task. Even though she failed, Rike gained.
“I was so mad at her,” Rike said. “...here I am giving it everything I had and it just wasn’t good enough...that was the first time since the wreck I was giving my all to something. I could never be here had I not failed there.”
Through her loss and her time on “Biggest Loser,” Rike found herself again. As she has gained a new perspective on life, she takes lessons from the daughter she lost.
“I think my Macy did more living in her five and a half years than some people will do in 100,” Rike said. “This is a little kid that laughed too loud and hugged too hard.”
Rike told her audience to not only count the blessings in life but to make the impossible, possible. Her impossible was running, but, on Feb. 13 of 2011, Rike crossed the finish line in her first half marathon.
“The sun was perfect. It was a perfect day,” Rike said. “As I crossed the finish line, I thought, ‘I am glad to be alive today.’”
Rike also encouraged everyone to be fearless. She said her fear was being on “Biggest Loser. “
When she was in Los Angeles for her final interviews, Rike became scared that she might actually get picked to be on the show. It was then she began to look for reasons not to go through with it.
When Rike saw the contract, she felt uncomfortable with one part of it and decided to use that as a reason not to compete. When she arrived back in her hotel room. Rike received a call from “Biggest Loser” telling her they had changed that part of the contract.
From there, Rike knew she was meant to go through with the show and be fearless. Her parents drove her to the airport to fly out to do the show.
“The hardest step I ever took was the first step out of the car. To get out of the car was the hardest thing to do. Life as I knew it was never going to be the same. Thank God I got out of the car,” she said, shifting to entreat the audience directly. “I want you to get out of the car. You need to get out of the car.”
Once Rike got out of the car, her life did change; she lost 100 pounds and changed as a person. On the screen was a picture of Rike at the “Biggest Loser” finale showing her on the scale, 100 pounds lighter.
photo by Caitlin Davis Rike stands in front of her photo from the final of "Biggest Loser" at the final weigh-in. Rike said her weight never defined her as a person. "I never wanted to equate my work as a human being by what the scale says."
“My eyes are alive in that picture,” Rike said. “My eyes are alive today.”
Even with her new life and her weight loss, Rike still thinks of those three she lost that day in Oct. She said they are with her always.
“As I go through this crazy life, it is not that I will ever forget,” Rike said. “There are seasons and times that are so hard. It’d be foolish to think I don’t miss them every single day. I am able to stand up here and say it may not be well with my circumstances but it is well with my soul. The last thing they would want for me to do is sit in that pit. I envision them cheering me on every step of the way.”
Rike said she wanted to pass on a message she learned from her experience to those in the room; to live in the moment and to not miss those special moments in life.
“If you do have regrets, give yourself some grace,” Rike said. “Take a deep breath and go.”
After her presentation, Rike signed copies of her book, “Working it Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and Hope,” gave hugs, took pictures and continued to talk about her weight loss journey and share her advice with others.
photo by Caitlin Davis Abby Rike, former Biggest Loser contest, signs copies of her book after her speech at SRMC’s Healthy Woman Expo on Thursday evening at Ft. Lee.
Rike said that to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle, a person has to find something that they like and can accept.
“You will never stick to a lifestyle if you hate it,” Rike said. “...it has to feed my mind, my body, my spirit.”
Rike needs to exercise outside, in what she says is “God’s beauty.” She said getting on a treadmill doesn’t do it for her and doesn’t feed her soul. Rike said the desire to lose weight cannot spring from a one time want, such as the desire to fit into a dress for a reunion or wedding. It has to continual.
She also wanted people to know losing weight will not suddenly make a person happy. Rike said it is not about the number on the scale or the size on the clothes, it is about the journey.
“There will never be a weight that will make your life perfect,” Rike said. “As lame as it may sound, it is about the journey and getting to know the new you.”
Nancy Thacker, with the Trust Company of Virginia in Colonial Heights, said Rike’s speech was inspirational. Thacker has her uncomfortable moment coming up in the coming days.
“My promotion at work is going to be uncomfortable,” Thacker said.
Thacker said she would take away a lesson that would help her on her uncomfortable journey in her new promotion.
“Live and love what you want to do most,” she said. “Stop and smell the roses because life is busy, way too busy.”
Janet Martin, recently joined the Trust Company of Virginia, and felt the same kind of discomfort with her new job.
“I started my new job Sept. 4 after being laid off for 18 months,” Martin said. “I was at my wits end.”
After hearing Rike’s story, Martin said she wants to make sure to “Live each day.”
For more information on Rike and more of her story, visit www.abbyrike.com.