Written by Felicia Romero | Lead photo by Tiffany Alanoori
My journey began with a phone call. One phone call that would not only change the next eight months of my life, but also how I view weight loss forever.
The call was to tell me I had been cast on the second season of Fit to Fat to Fit, a reality show that follows personal trainers as they intentionally gain weight, then work to lose it alongside their clients.
In this case, my client would be my younger sister, Antonia, who has struggled with weight and general unhappiness for quite some time. The two of us were officially locked into this journey together: me, the trainer and fitness model who lives a healthy lifestyle, and my sister, who eats fast food daily and gets no exercise beyond walking from her car to her work.
The first four months focused on the weight-gain process. I abandoned my healthy habits and adopted my sister’s unhealthy ones. I stopped exercising entirely and spent most of my days sitting. I said goodbye to most of my balanced meals of veggies and lean protein, and hello to ice cream, fast food, late-night carbs, soda, cookies, and cake.
It sounds fun, right? At first, it was. I didn’t care what I ate or what my body looked like. But it wasn’t long before the overeating took its toll on my body and mind. I felt sick and had heartburn all the time. The anxiety and stress around food that I had battled for years returned. I went from being a highly productive woman running her own business to a depressed, stress-ridden couch potato that was losing herself a bit each day.
Felicia after four months of gaining weight (on the left). Felicia 10 weeks later (on the right).
Felicia and her sister Antonia before filming
Fit to Fat to Fit.
I had believed that my strong mindset would save me; that if I just reminded myself that this was for my sister, I would have no problem returning to my normal lifestyle when it came time to lose the weight. Each day became harder than the last until I could no longer see light at the end of the tunnel. I wondered, “Was my sister experiencing this feeling all the time? Is this how most of America feels?”
“Each day became harder until I could no longer
see light at the end of the tunnel.”
After four months, the weight-gain phase ended (Hallelujah!) and I joined my sister, who had already started losing weight on her own during my weight-gain phase, to start transforming my body as well. “No problem,” I thought. I got this.
But to my surprise, getting back into a routine of exercise and eating healthfully was easier said than done. I was battling cravings for sugar, salt, and fast food, and I still continued to eat badly for weeks after the weight-loss phase began. I made every excuse in the book to skip the gym or to eat five cookies. I could not get it together. Why was it so tough to get back into a healthy routine? How was it that I, someone who had lived and breathed a fit lifestyle for more than a decade, couldn’t get motivated? I realized I was gaining a clearer picture of what it’s been like for my sister and many of my clients.
Eight months passed and we finally concluded filming. I don’t want to spoil what happened in the end (you’ll have to tune in to find out), but I can say that I realize now how quickly someone can lose sight of their health, and of themselves—how it can feel hopeless. When my sister used to tell me that she was too unmotivated, sluggish, or unhappy to lose weight, I would say, “Well then, start eating healthy! Just workout! C’mon, you can do it!” I look at the way I used to treat her and realize how unfair I was. Losing weight and making lifestyle changes is incredibly difficult, and doesn’t happen overnight.
I’m happy to report that our relationship is stronger today, and that this experience has made me become a more sympathetic and effective trainer. Everyone’s journey is unique. Life is all about growing and learning from our struggles, but each of us must do so in our own time.
Season Two of Fit to Fat to Fit airs January 8 on Lifetime.