Extreme Makeover: Washburn Edition

Regina Budden

Jill Carlson’s dream is to be a big loser. This isn’t the first time she’s auditioned, but she hopes that the hit show “The Biggest Loser” will accept her as a contestant, not for the money, but for the motivation to change.

“I have auditioned before. A lot. But I just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Carlson, a 29-year-old, third-year student at Washburn Law School. “I’m done with this. Whether or not I make it, I’m going to fix this.”

Carlson’s issues with weight began early in life because she naturally has a bigger build, but her activities in high school kept her active and healthy.

“I was captain of the cheerleading squad and I was in color guard,” said Carlson. “I did stuff that typically ‘fat girls’ don’t do.”

However, after high school, Carlson’s weight corkscrewed out of her control when she found out that she was pregnant at age 19.

“I felt really depressed over that. I was mortified, I felt like my life was over,” said Carlson. “It took me a long time to grow up. I started packing on the pounds until I was like, ‘holy crap, I’m getting close to 300 lbs, I’ve got to stop.'”

At her heaviest, 5’4″ Carlson weighed about 280 lbs. She has lost almost 20 lbs since then, but her New Year’s resolution is to get under 200.

“I’d actually like to lose about 50 percent of my weight and get down to 130,” said Carlson. “That, for a person of my height, is a healthy BMI. Even if it’s just 199, I just want to be under 200 lbs. I haven’t been under 200 lbs in 10 years.”

Carlson’s auditions to The Biggest Loser were previously punctuated by her outgoing sense of humor. One of her old audition videos involved her eating a hotdog wrapped in a Twinkie, to show how bad her lifestyle is. Now, however, she’s taking it more seriously.

“I’m not a crier, I try to use humor, and I kept that in there,” said Carlson. “I actually took a trash bag and opened up my car and we filmed me taking the trash out of my car. It wasn’t a set up or anything, but I showed them what was in my car.”

As a law school student, Carlson said her fast-paced lifestyle has abetted her weight gain because she wouldn’t plan out her meals, so she would end up eating fast food. She doesn’t have any concrete plan of action to achieve her New Year’s resolution, but she said she’ll start out by cutting out the fast food lunches.

“People use time management skills for their homework, but we have to learn how to incorporate this as well,” said Carlson. “I think of myself as an intelligent person, but when it comes to diet and weight loss, that was never my thing, so I never really paid attention.”

But with a body fat composition of about 55 percent, the situation got her attention, and even though she confesses to feeling “ignorant,” her campaign to getting on “The Biggest Loser” has been motivating.

“Since I started a Facebook page, some of my friends here who use the SRWC have started to be like, ‘Hey we should work out together,'” said Carlson.

She hopes that if she can lose the weight, she can spend more time doing things with her 10-year-old son, Kailen, who she describes as athletic. Carlson posted a video of him on her official Facebook site, “JC Needs to be on Biggest Loser Season 12.”

“I want my mom to do sports with me,” he said in the video. “All we do is watch TV when we are together.”

Carlson said there are many reasons why she wants to be on The Biggest Loser as opposed to just toughing it out on her own. She has watched the show since its beginning, and has felt inspired and motivated by the participants and their struggles, and she hopes to be able to imitate their journeys.

“[The show] is a complete 180. I can’t wake up one day and say ‘I don’t feel like working out today,'” said Carlson. “I have to. It’s about being out of your comfort zone, and removing temptations.”

Carlson said being away from her friend and family would be hard, but might be helpful because they often invite her to go eat without realizing what a struggle it is to eat out without overeating.

Although being the Biggest Loser is her dream, Carlson said that in the end it’s all about getting active again and being able to do everything that she’s been held back from.

“We go to a bar, and my friends go dance, and I watch the coats and purses. I’m tired of that,” said Carlson. “I’ve turned down being a bridesmaid and said ‘oh, I don’t really want to,’ but it’s really because I don’t want to have to find a dress that’ll fit me.”

Carlson doesn’t have a bad self-image, she is confident that she’s an attractive person, and she knows that she has accomplished a lot. She just wants a change.

“I’m proud of being a single parent and working on my fourth degree, not a lot of single parents can say that. That is good, I’ve done a lot of good things, but there’s this other big elephant in the room, which is me, me getting in shape.”