Perfect Losers

Jamie Wilson and Adam Trausch were used to being the life of the party.

High school classmates who reconnected after both moved to Kansas City for work, Wilson and Trausch were living life to its fullest back in 2008. They loved joy riding in Vegas, shaking their stuff on the dance floor at Overland Park’s Fuel bar and toasting to their 20-something friends at weddings. Outgoing and clever-quipping, the duo seemed to be having fun.

But two years ago their outsized personalities were fast becoming overshadowed by their outsized physiques–bodies that doctors would call morbidly obese. They both felt a growing unease that, because of their sizes, people weren’t laughing with them, but at them.

So they did what you’d expect from any plus-size team with plus-size personality: They tried out for the television show, “Biggest Loser.”

“We had been watching the show together for years,” says Wilson, who weighed 300 pounds at the time. “We’d be nearly bawling at all those touching stories, but eating pints of ice cream as we watched.” 

Yet despite a fabulous demo video and a frigid night spent sleeping in a car outside the show’s casting call in Ohio, the pair returned to Kansas sans a “Biggest Loser” contract. They moped for awhile and then got down to business.

Based on a tip from a friend, Wilson convinced Trausch–who weighed 355 pounds by then–that they should give Slim4Life a try.

Both admit to being “overwhelmed” during the program’s initial phase, which included a retooling of everything they thought they knew about food, plus a three-day “cleanse” that required them to eat three pounds of red meat per day for three days–no seasoning, no accompaniments. “After a while, it felt like you were chewing on a cow,” Wilson admits with a laugh.

But the pair persevered and followed the Slim4Life tenets, eating only non-processed foods with little to no salt from the lists that Slim4Life provided. They cooked meals together, often enough for a week at a time. They came to recognize portion sizes–5 ounces of meat, a cup of veggies–like the back of their hand, and they kept a record of everything they ate. Wilson began walking, then running for exercise. Trausch stopped frequenting his work’s break room–and the enticing food it contained–altogether.

“I don’t think people realize that food can be an addiction, just like alcohol and drugs,” Trausch says. “You only need to eat for energy and sustenance. Back then I was eating for pleasure or out of boredom. Now I eat to survive.” 

And today, those big changes in both mouth and mind have paid off. Since August of 2008, both Wilson and Trausch have lost the equivalent of an entire person. With Trausch’s loss totaling 160 pounds and Wilson dropping 122, both are just a few pounds away from their ultimate goal weight. 

They agree that losing weight is the best thing they’ve ever done–and also the hardest. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster,” admits Trausch. “You really have ups and downs, but you keep going.”

Doing it together helps, Wilson and Trausch say. 

“We text our weight to each other nearly every day. We even send photos of the scale to each other when one of us hits a milestone,” says Wilson. 

As the milestones have accumulated their lives have changed for the better. Both talk of the excitement they felt the first time they shopped for “regular” clothes or slid easily between restaurant tables or under their steering wheels. Wilson completed her first half-marathon this past spring; next she’s training for a triathlon. 

And as intimate as their weight loss journey has made the pair, they insist they’re not romantically involved, even though losing weight has changed the way each feels about dating the opposite sex. “Now I have much more confidence,” says Trausch, “and I’m looking forward to settling down someday.” 

But perhaps not quite yet. The pair may have lost pounds, but not their spunk. You’ll still find them socializing, although they’re likely to trade dinners “out” for low-cal after-dinner drinks (like Crystal Light mixed with vodka and rum with diet Coke). And while they’re still joking around, dancing, and embarking on crazy adventures together, they’ve sensed that something about their audience has changed. 

 “Now our friends aren’t laughing at us, they’re laughing with us,” says Trausch.

words: Cisley Thummel

photos: Paul Versluis