Fiona Falkiner is no stranger to the concept of transformation. In 2006, Falkiner applied successfully to be a contestant on the Biggest Loser, and she was hoping losing the weight would make her happy. But following major success on the show, she found herself spiralling into a deep depression. Here, she talks about life before, during and after living the reality TV juggernaut.
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I feel like that character out of the Simpsons: “Hi, I’m Troy McClure, you may remember me from such shows as the Biggest Loser Australia”.
I often get asked why I chose to go on the show, many assume it was to boost my profile and it’s a fair assumption considering the “reality TV” we see these days.
In my case — without sounding like I’m from the cave man years — Facebook and Instagram weren’t a “thing” when I did the show, so boosting my profile wasn’t on my radar. Instagram actually didn’t exist … I don’t even think I had my MySpace “Top Ten Friends” in order. Madness!
I went on the Biggest Loser for one reason only — I wanted to be skinny.
My weight was the root of all my issues. It would stop me from doing just about everything.
I wouldn’t go to the beach, in fact no one had ever seen me without my clothes on before the show, not even in a crop top. I would go into the toilet cubicles to get changed — I was one of those girls. Completely ashamed.
I wouldn’t go shopping with friends because nothing fit me in the shops that they would go to. My friends would ask me to go on hikes with them — I would always say no because I knew I wouldn’t make it. My thighs would get rubbed raw walking to my local cafe, imagine what they’d be like after a hike!
I was 23 years old, watching the American version of Biggest Loser, when an ad popped up to apply for the Australian series. I told my friends I was going to do it and bless them, they told me I wasn’t fat enough to apply. Like most things, I left it to the last minute. There was something like 15 pages of forms I had to go through — that was more work than I was doing at University! I did it — and fast forward a few months of casting and challenges — I was walking through those giant doors into the Biggest Loser house.
That show taught me many things, both good and bad.
Before I walked through those doors I was a negative person, I said no to just about everything.
We’d do these ridiculous team challenges. One day, we had to build a raft out of a bunch of random materials like wood, 44 gallon drums and rope. I remember I had to lug two massive logs weighing around 50kg each on my shoulders. It was something I would NEVER have imagined I could do but with a team behind you cheering you on you just did it and you didn’t doubt yourself. We built a raft, it was no Titanic (although it sure felt like it was while we were building it) but it floated and we won the challenge.
I gradually started to find the confidence to back myself to do things. I might not be building rafts these days but I’ll throw a 50kg medicine ball over my shoulder no questions asked.
As the kilos started to fall off, I became obsessed with losing weight. I would get up at 2am, drag an exercise bike into the laundry, turn all the dryers on and sweat for hours.
The day before the final weigh in I hadn’t drunk any water in fear it would add extra kilos. We had a routine medical checkup and when I saw the doctor he told me I was not to train that night or he would give me a saline drip.
I burst into tears and begged not to be put on a drip because in my head a saline drip added an extra kilo and every kilo counted. I told the doctor I needed to do one more sweat session before weigh in and he said if I did that he would force me to go to hospital. I was never one to listen to instructions … so instead, I went back to the hotel we were staying and snuck into the sauna for an hour. It’s horrifying thinking about what I put my body through to get to where I did.
I stood up at the finale and I had lost 30 kilos — it wasn’t enough to win but I had come fourth and it was better than I had ever expected I could do. It was an incredible feeling — I just kept thinking, “Finally I’m skinny, life is good, this is happiness.”
It was in fact the moment I began one of my toughest battles yet. Tougher than any challenge thrown at me on that show.
When Biggest Loser ended I got out of country Victoria, moved to Sydney and was getting invited to the opening of an envelope.
For a 24-year-old country girl it was incredibly exciting, but it very quickly became terrifying. I was being judged EVERY single day on the one thing I had spent so many years hating myself for — my weight.
With all the events came unhealthy drinking and eating — and slowly the weight started to creep back on. Before I knew it I was in a permanent state of high anxiety which eventually turned into depression. I was so embarrassed.
People would make comments to me in public and it was brutal. Honestly, who has the right to come up to you and say, “oh wow you’ve put on the kilos again” or “should you be eating that?” There’s so much judgment in this world, like life isn’t a tough enough battle as it is without having randoms throw in their two cents worth.
This is not the first you will hear from me. I will be contributing my thoughts and experiences in a weekly column here on news.com.au.
I am no psychologist, nutritionist or therapist, but I am a 36-year-old woman who has experienced a lot in life and learnt so much through all my ups and downs — and there has been many of them.
I went from a naive country girl with a weight problem to a skinny reality star. I went from fame to fear of leaving the house. I stepped out of the spot light to pursue a career as a makeup artist and a modelled in London and New York.
Ten years after leaving The Biggest Loser as a contestant, I returned as the host, again thrusting myself back into a world of opinions and criticism.
I have been in serious relationships, had my heart broken many times, had long periods of being single, had many love affairs and now found love with a woman, something I never thought I would do.
And through all of this I have still had my battles with my health, weight and self-esteem.
But as I get older, I get wiser and I learn new ways to not only cope but to live my best life through all of this.
I have earned my battle wounds both emotionally and physically and I now want to be able to share my stories with you.
I find I’ve learnt some of my best life lessons from other people’s journeys; what they’ve done / what they w
Hopefully in some small way I can be one of those people to you.
Fiona Falkiner is a model, presenter and former Biggest Loser contestant. Follow her journey on Instagram @fionafalkiner