In an image-obsessed society, “Biggest Loser” winner and outspoken Christian Michelle Agular Whitehead is encouraging others to find purpose and worth beyond the number on a scale, as true, lasting joy is found in Christ alone.
Twelve years ago, Whitehead was propelled to fame after winning the NBC reality television competition that documented her remarkable 110-lb weight loss. Whitehead, who competed alongside her mother, took home $250,000 and, more significantly, a new perspective.
“I remember one of the greatest compliments I ever got was from a dear friend after I had left the show and come home before it aired,” she recalled in an interview with The Christian Post. “I was having lunch with friends and he looked at me and said, ‘You know, I never saw you as someone who was overweight. You’re just Michelle. I just see you. I don’t see anyone else.”
“A huge lesson weight loss taught me was, we think everyone sees our flaws, but really, they see you,” Whitehead shared. “They see who you are as a friend, a wife, a mother, a sister. They see who you are and not what you are. The scale wants to tell you what you are. It’s a great way to check in or keep you accountable, but it’s a tool, it doesn’t define who you are.”
“I would encourage women and men who get caught up in that and to look at their bodies and say, my body is amazing. I look at my arms and I think, ‘They’re not my favorite body part, but they lift my children off the floor when they’ve had a bad day. My hands can reach out and hold onto my spouse. These legs carry my children in the rain to the car.’ Our bodies are amazing and meant to do great things.”
Back in 2006, Whitehead sat down with I Am Second in her White Chair Film to divulge the behind-the-scenes reality of her experience on “Biggest Loser.” Recently, she returned to I Am Second to share her struggle with self-worth beyond the scale.
Now a mother of two little girls, she revealed that motherhood introduced new obstacles and insecurities that she soon discovered couldn’t be overcome or prevented through mere physical change.
“A lot has happened over the last decade,” she said. “I got married, had two children — the responsibilities of life have been forever changed.”
Whitehead admitted that she felt “trapped and lost” in those early years of marriage and parenting.
“It very easily becomes this thing where you get caught up in all the things that come along with being a wife and mom and lose track of who you are and your relationship with the Lord," she said.
“It takes the discipline of going back to God and saying, ‘I have been busy. I’ve been busy with life and I need to re-center.' In order to be a good wife and mom, I need to have a strong relationship with Christ and remember He’s created me to do this.”
Like most new mothers, Whitehead said she struggled with “mom guilt,” feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for two small children.
"I asked myself, 'Am I good enough?'" she admitted.
“I realized, I’m going to make all the mistakes, but I have the strength of having a relationship with Christ to lean into and to trust that God will provide grace and favor over my kids and has equipped them for life and to be my child,” she continued. “They can handle me, and I can handle them. We’re made to go together. On my bad days, I remember they can handle it. God can give them the grace to handle me, as well. God’s grace will cover us all.”
Whitehead encouraged women to show themselves grace amid marriage difficulties as well, offering the reminder that “we’re all human and make mistakes.”
“But we’re commanded to love one another,” she stressed. “Especially with my husband, we’ve made a covenant to love each other so I’m trusting that God has given us the grace to move forward no matter what we’re facing. It’s trusting that God is truly in control of every relationship.”
Like her, many new wives and mothers feel isolated, Whitehead said, believing Satan’s lies that they “are alone and don’t have resources.”
“We want to fix ourselves and we don’t want to reach out. We don’t want to admit we aren’t’ perfect,” she said. “But we are perfected and made strong through Christ. We cannot allow the thoughts to overtake us.”
In times of loneliness and self-doubt, Whitehead stressed the importance of surrounding oneself with godly, supportive individuals.
“You need a good strong network of people who know you and your weaknesses,” she said. “You need to promise yourself that you will be honest with them to avoid falling into the traps that can so easily catch us.’ For me, a strong network has helped me stay accountable to those fears and not allow them to overtake me. Be honest with yourself and ask for help.”
From winning “Biggest Loser” to tackling motherhood, Whitehead said she’s relied on God’s faithfulness and wisdom every step of the way.
“Trusting God makes all the difference in the world,” she underscored. “You are capable of more than you believe. For me, I could not have done ‘Biggest Loser’ or be the wife and mom I am today without my relationship with Jesus.”
“All those things are great and a part of my life and really wonderful, but at the end of the day, if I’m not in a good relationship with the Lord, none of the rest of it matters.”