I am ready to make a change and I have the tools now.

Getting to the top of Runyon was such a great feeling. It was very intimidating to look at it from the bottom. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it up to the top. The best part about that hike was the teamwork. No one was left behind. We would try to stay together as a group to keep encouraging each other. At the top was this amazing view of LA and Hollywood. We don't have that kind of view in South Carolina. I thought to myself, "WOW I REALLY FEEL ON TOP OF THE WORLD." That feeling of accomplishment really drives me. When I find something difficult to do, I remember what that feels like to accomplish something like that.

When I met Rumen I was like “Woohoo!” I was so happy because I got a ballroom dancer and I just started taking ballroom in the last year or so. We just clicked like we were old friends. He GOT me. I'm kind of nerdy and quirky and he got that. He made me feel so comfortable and we had so much fun. I feel terrible that we didn't get to see more of him because he is so talented. He had the very difficult task of trying to choreograph a routine to that song. He didn't have much to work with because I do not have much training. Hell...I didn't know what a ronde was!!! I'm really proud that Rumen was my partner and just sad that we couldn't dance together for even one more week.

Lee has this amazing ability to push you harder than you've ever worked before. For me, I loved working out with him. The General is ALL BUSINESS. I like that! He was encouraging when he needed to be, and tough when he needed to be. He didn't let you give excuses either. I remember one of the first workouts, and I was telling him I was so proud that I could run at 4.0 on the treadmill. Next thing I know, he increased the speed on the treadmill to 5.5. I was like WTH?!? I can't do that…but I did. I'm not going to lie and say I loved, it because I didn't. However, Lee taught me that I need to have faith in myself and push myself more because I CAN DO IT. I just had to believe in myself. If I was exhausted and didn't think I could do any more, he would remind me of how good I would feel to get on that scale and lose even more than the week before! He would say how hard everyone was working and that I couldn’t slack off. He would say "Don't you want to be under 200 pounds?!" Oh yeah, he knew when to push and I am so happy he did!!
I had fun dancing and showing off my “Smile” this week. I am lucky to have an amazing "smile," but I didn’t think the song touched who I am or said LOOK AT ME! But, life doesn't always give you want you want. Rumen and I had to make the best of it. A song titled "Smile" points out to the audience one of my favorite features about me, but the song itself wasn't that exciting to dance to. I'm bubbly and cute, but not boring. It's a good song, but not to dance to. Not when I could've danced to something else fun and upbeat.

Right before taking the stage, I get nervous and get those "butterflies" in my stomach. It's a good feeling. I get anxious, but so excited. I've really never performed like this before, so every second on the stage was unreal. Even the dress rehearsal is fun for me. Sometimes I would catch myself just looking around in awe. I'm a very hardworking person. Everything that I do, I give it 200%. My dad taught me not to half-ass anything. So after putting in so many hours in the gym and the dance studio, it is really special to be able to get on a stage and share that with everyone. It was such a great feeling to know how hard I worked and get to show that off.

When I got on the scale this week, I was hoping to have a really high weight loss and that my time in the gym paid off. I was nervous because I was still learning how to incorporate Rachel's nutrition plan into my day, and I was hoping that I did everything right that week. I was so nervous because my dance scores sucked and I knew that my weight loss was going to decide whether I would stay or go. I started to replay everything I did that week--workouts, meals, etc. I knew that I did everything I could, so regardless of what happened I did my best.

The first thing that went through my mind was "THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING." It's not supposed to happen like this. I mean...I know my talent was not like some of the other contestants, but I'm such a hard worker I thought that would have counted for something. I was sad, disappointed, embarrassed, and worried. I was not ready to leave, but I never would have been. I was embarrassed because my dancing sent me home, and it made me feel like I was not a good dancer. Dancing is something that helps me feel confident, and that was now gone! I was worried because I was not sure if this was something I could continue to do on my own! I've tried for many years to lose weight and was unsuccessful. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks… I'm not going to be able to be with my new friends, my new family. Going through something like this really brings you together and now that is gone! It was a really sad day for me.

I know that this needs to be a lifestyle change. Rachel and Lee are there for me and I know that I have the best support system at home--my husband. He believes in me and I will need that when it gets tough. My mind is set and I think that is half the battle. I am ready to make a change and I have the tools now. I have learned from this experience that I need to put myself first and take care of this ONE body that I have. I'm also going to count on my new family…I've grown really close to some of my castmates. They're all still in the competition, but when they have to come to the "real world" too, we'll be there for each other.

I've always enjoyed being active, but now I know how to challenge my body. I plan to continue to work out just like I did at the cast house. Strength training is intimidating for women at times, in my opinion. I think its because we are not sure what to do. NOW, I know what to do (thank you Lee) and I'm going to get some free weights to do these. I also plan on getting a treadmill or elliptical machine. It’s an investment, but it is worth it. In time, I hope my love for dance comes back and I will return to my Zumba classes and ballroom classes. I realized this isn't something to do for just a week, a month, or a year. It is a lifestyle change. It is being healthy and protecting your body from disease. For me, I need to stay focused and do what I learned here EVERYDAY. Rachel has given us some amazing tools to continue eating natural and healthy at home. For one, I am going to continue to journal my food, exercise and how I feel each day. YOU REALLY CAN CORRELATE HOW YOU FEEL WITH WHAT YOU EAT AND THE ACTIVITY YOU DO! I don't know why that surprised me, but it did!! I feel great even after a few weeks of doing it. I can't wait to see how I feel and look after doing it for a few months!!

For more on Meredith, go here.

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