Written the day of taping.
So, today…was pretty amazing.
As you may know by now, I did a segment with The Dr. Oz Show about healthy quick fixes for weight loss. This was a long time coming for me, because it signified a lot. I mean, a lot.
I said, in early 2010, that I wanted to be a part of this show. I think that it’s incredible what he and other shows like his are doing by educating the public, because I feel like I’m a prime example of what can be done with a little educating. Not only that, but because Dr. Oz reinforces everything I’ve already said to my mom, I feel like he’s pretty much helping me get and keep her healthy. Being on his show is a minor – and I do mean minor – way to say “thank you.”
The day was pretty busy. Usually, every morning I get up, get the baby ready, throw on my sweats and my kicks, and I’m out the door. Walk her to the bus stop, walk the dogs, and I’m headed for the gym. Today, not so much. After waking up at o’dark-thirty (that’s country talk for FAR too early) to get Mini-me and the puppies all situated for the day, I had to get fancy. Hair, makeup, pack my bags and workout clothes. Yes, workout clothes. Some things never change.
With a bag full of clothes, lip glass, high heels and my collection of electronics, I hopped in the car the show sent for me and off we went… into Brooklyn’s notorious traffic. I mention this because the longer it took to get to Manhattan (which, in theory, shouldn’t take that long…but it’s still NYC traffic), the more anxiety I felt. It was approaching levels of anxiety I hadn’t felt since I’d first defeated my food addiction, and I felt uncomfortable because I didn’t think I was prepared for that feeling. Nothing had tested me since then…until today.
In the back seat, I tried to focus my mind on something pleasant, and breathe. Looooooots of breathing… and thinking about the sand and ocean that I gave up for… honking horns and rude cabbies in my way. I grabbed my phone and called my Mom, who loves to crack jokes on me when I’m in this state. Why?
Because she’s a Scorpio…er, because she’s Mom, and she knows what makes me feel better.
“Did you call me for your daily dose of courage?”
“Ugh. Bye, Mom.”
All it took was one joke, and I instantly felt better. And, just like that, I was at Rockefeller Center.
Yes. That Rockefeller Center. And it is as epic as it looks on TV. I was escorted from the car to the lobby, from the lobby to guest services, from guest services to my dressing room and… from my dressing room to the set. Yes. In my workout clothes, and my ‘fro potentially lopsided. That is how I met Dr. Oz for the first time.
This is also the first time Hair and Makeup saw me for the first time.. and immediately snatched me up once I was done on set.
“We love your hair, but it’s too large for the camera. We’ve got to shrink it down.”
And, when I tell you, this resulted in six hands (and forearms) resting on top of my ‘fro in order to get it to come down… if you thought it was big on-screen, y’een seen nothin’ yet. You might’ve noticed that it was still lopsided on screen? Yeah, that’s because when I tried to fix it right before I went on, the hairstylist – who was probably 5′ tall with a footstool – came rushing in and pressing back down on it. It took everything in me to not give her the “I need to pick my afro, mama, because it’s flat on one side” face.
It was nice to be pampered, yes, but it was also making my anxiety levels rise. Every time I touched my hands and felt how cold and clammy they were, I was being reminded of the fact that I was scared and had good reason to be. Dr. Oz’s show reaches millions of people, and I could potentially be making a total fool of myself in front of all of them. I could be poorly representing the community we’ve built here. I mean, it’s national TV. It’s time to get live. It’s time to represent!
By the time I got back to my dressing room, my clothes were gone. “Wardrobe’s got ’em. Once they’re done steaming, they’ll return them.” For me, that was a sign that I clearly had time. They hadn’t even brought my clothes in? Please, I’m going to be here for a while.
On the countertop of my dressing room, laid two chocolate cupcakes, a skewer of fruit, and a small dish of cashews.
Let me type that again. Two chocolate. Cupcakes. A skewer. Of fruit. And a small dish of cashews. Sure, there were a few bottles of water there as well, but who’s worried about water when you’ve got cupcakes to concern yourself with?
I briefly thought to myself – “Why would I eat a cupcake when I’ve got fruit and nuts? What happens if I get that old sensation from eating those cupcakes? What happens if I eat those cupcakes and my emotional eating flares-up? Who would I have to blame for a choice that I know is wrong?” and all I could think about was my cold, clammy hands and my struggle to make sense of anything around me.
And then, it hit me. Immediately, I dropped to the floor, folded my legs in lotus pose, and put my hands in the “gesture of no fear.” In the middle of my tiny dressing room. Didn’t even think to close the door. I just needed to sort out my thoughts.
One palm facing forward, the other facing up. “This is the gesture of no fear. I practice this gesture because I am fearless. I am strong, I am powerful, I am calm, I am unshaken.” Over and over, I repeated it to myself. The executive producer came and ran through the segment with me, and after I typed out my notes for what I wanted to say during my time, I put my hands back in my “gesture,” stared at my notes and said to myself a bit more. “I give away my anxiety, I take in my environment’s cool, calm, collected and efficient vibe. I am unshaken.”
After I was dressed and mic’d for my segment, I was (unfortunately) told to stand for the rest of the time period because I wouldn’t want to wrinkle my dress… which meant no more meditation.
At least, not sitting down.
Don’t get me wrong – I was well aware of the fact that it is more than a little heinous to be in a recording studio and sitting on the dressing room floor meditating, but for me, it was all I knew to calm myself down and avoid eating those freaking cupcakes. Even though I’ve written about throwing away food, I felt like I should be beyond that. There was no reason I couldn’t get beyond this, by any organic means necessary.
So here I am: standing in my high heels, pretty blue dress, and no sitting. And cupcakes staring me in the face. How powerful was my head, here? “I am fearless, I am unshaken. Fearless. Unshaken.” I was realizing that I had experience telling myself no. I’d had experience saying no, accepting my fate as a former emotional eater and now making decisions that help me maintain that status as a former emotional eater. I didn’t need to drop to the floor, I just needed to remain conscious of myself and my progress. And, just as I realized that…
“Erika, come with me.”
Went out on stage to tape, and the audience was a bit overwhelming. I’m not particularly sure if it was because it was so many of them, or if it was because I could visibly read the reactions on their faces to my “transformation,” but I briefly remembered the executive producer’s advice “It’s just a conversation between you and Dr. Oz; the audience isn’t there.” Once I stopped looking at the audience, the entire thing felt much smoother. I’m sure people will have their own ideas on how the segment went.
While on stage, as we wrapped up the segment, Dr. Oz asked about my blog (!) and I told him that it’s simply a chronicle of everything I’ve learned on my journey. I always downplay what we do here (for modesty’s sake), but even then I felt bad because this site has become a telling of so many stories that simply aren’t just me anymore. It’s about so much more than weight loss, or body image, or booty paint now, and I carry the burden of representing that. “Burden” isn’t even the right word – perhaps I should say “challenge.”
After the segment wrapped (and a little dancing with the Doc… they were playing “Soul Man” after we finished. I couldn’t help myself!), I snuck off to my dressing room to get right back into my sweats and kicks, and right before I headed off, two of the show’s producers praised me for the segment and told me they thought it went well. Before I knew it, in came Dr. Oz, too! (And, I’ll be typical for a minute. He is a very handsome man. All those women love him for the right reasons!) I felt good and, with any luck, I’ll be asked back. I did a few more things at NBC Studios and, as they roll out, I’ll share them here as well.
After the convo ended, I snatched up my badge, grabbed my bag, and headed out the door. Cupcakes? Untouched. Fruit? Untouched, again.
I tell this story this way because there are a handful of small victories that I experienced that day. In fact, it’s difficult to type this without getting teary-eyed. As someone who’d always had “stage fright,” for me to be able to get on stage for a show that is broadcast to millions without shaking or stuttering? For me to finally be able to serve as a representative of my blog on The Dr. Oz Show? For me to have learned how to successfully calm myself down from the highest anxiety levels I’ve ever experienced in my life WITHOUT food? For me to leave chocolate cupcakes untouched? Listen. You’ll never know what those little victories feel like to someone who used to swallow a bag of Verona cookies whole in one evening.
After the segment ended and I was finally in my car heading home, phone calls went to both The Future Mr. BGG2WL (can’t give away my last name yet!) and Mama BGG2WL, because both had been trying to keep tabs on me allllllllll day long, but to no avail thanks to the poor reception. Both proud, both supportive, both happy for me. They knew I’d finally cleared a hurdle I’d had my eye on for almost a year, but there was so much more to it than that for me. To be a part of a show that talks about turning quick tips into small victories and small victories into much larger ones, all while experiencing one of the greatest victories that a former emotional eater could experience? Knowing that power, that sense of pride… I’m never giving that up. Ever.
I hope you enjoyed the segment, y’all, and I hope you think I represented you well. In the end, that’s what matters most.
PS: To those of you who keep asking about the dual-pocketed blue dress I wore… $34.99 at H&M. I had it on a few sizes too big (to accommodate all the contraptions they strapped to my back/around my waist) but I still think it looked awesome.