"I lead a somewhat unusual life," laughed Gaia, an upcoming participant on X-Weighted.
The weight-loss show on Canada's Slice network returns for its third season on Wednesday, May 7. Gaia's episode airs May 14, when we get a glimpse of that unusual life and her unusually poignant and satisfying story.
A stay-at-home mother to a 2½-year-old daughter, Gaia's unusual life includes hobbies like roller derby. "It really has been motivating to me in terms of being fit and perceiving myself as an athlete," she shared during an interview on the TV, eh? Blogtalkradio show. "There's a glitter mixed with the grit with in roller derby. It's a very feminine sport as well as being a very physical and aggressive sport."
A striking woman with an adoring husband and supportive family and friends, Gaia's decision to lose weight – and to do it on a reality show – came from wanting to be a role model for her daughter and for others facing the same self-esteem problems.
"I really have struggled with body image and body hatred issues all my life," she explained. "I felt it was important for to me to be able to speak out about dealing with those issues. And it's important for other people to hear somebody talk about it, because you feel really alone when you're stuck in those circles of self loathing."
The six months the X-Weighted cameras followed her were just the beginning of her weight-loss journey, but they were a strong start to the eloquent Calgarian's bigger goals.
"For me, it wasn't just about losing weight to get skinny. I mean, skinny is nothing," Gaia said. "I wanted to change the way I live. I wanted to change the way I see myself. I wanted to change my attitude toward my body. I wanted to change my life. That's not something you can do in six months and it's something I'm continuing to work on but I feel like I've made tremendous strides and I feel more positive and hopeful about the future than I ever have."
Expect a lot of tears in Gaia's episode when she explores her feelings of self-worth as they relate to her body image. "My weight loss journey had a lot of emotional weight attached to it as well as the physical weight," she explained when I confirmed the tear quotient to her – she hadn't yet seen the completed episode. "I knew that if I didn't address the emotional issues, the weight loss was something that wouldn't last. If I didn't change the fundamental reasons that I got fat in the first place, then I felt like I was setting myself up for failure. So I tried to take the journey from the inside out."
"Anticipating the airing of the show, I do feel a little vulnerable," she admitted. "But when I got cast for the show, I decided I wasn't going to hold anything back and I feel really proud of putting out all my struggles and the things I feel in my heart."
She has no doubt that the experience was an overwhelmingly positive one, though. "My life really has changed. I feel so much more positive about myself and about my body and about my life. I don't want to give this feeling up. I don't ever want to go back to feeling crappy all the time the way I used to."