Tracie Sanderlin used to have a weight problem. At 372 pounds, she didn't just tip the scales, she tipped them over.
But by January 2007 the south St. Louis County resident had had her fill of fatty foods and flabby arms, so she asked her friends and family to "sponsor" her weight loss with moral support and a Taser to the ass if she touched anything involving the word "fried."
OK, Unreal made up that last part, but Sanderlin's down to 175. The key, she says, was taking her diet public with a website (www.sponsormyweightloss.com) that featured YouTube videos, a blog and a weekly newsletter that chronicled virtually every pound she shed.
The only problem is that the massive weight loss left her body a little big for her bones. Now she's stuck with nearly 25 pounds of excess skin that she estimates will cost $40,000 in surgeries to remove.
Unreal made sure to eat lunch before picking up the phone to discuss "Jared Pants" with the extroverted weight watcher.
Unreal: How'd you get to be 372 pounds?
Tracie Sanderlin: Laziness and a love for food. Fast food, especially McDonald's. They cook their food with crack, especially the fries. I still got to watch myself around the fries.
Why put your weight loss on the web?
I started it to help me, and then once I helped a few other people along the way, it turned into the newsletters — I wanted others to use the same tricks and tips. I actually got the ["sponsorship"] idea from Rachael Ray's show. The producers got word about it and invited me on. My next goal is to get on Oprah. I've lost an Oprah Winfrey worth of weight.
What is it about seeing other people lose weight that's so enthralling?
Because everyone wants some hope. They all want a little piece of hope to show it's possible without surgery.
Your website has pictures of you in your "Jared Pants" [i.e., ones like formerly fat Subway pitchman Jared shows off]. Got any special plans for those?
I only have one pair that I've kept. Every 50 pounds I bust out the pants and take a picture. Eventually I was able to invite other people into my pants, so to speak. My next goal is to get my husband with me in the pants. He's lost 150 pounds just from being around my cooking on the diet. He doesn't even exercise.
So what's the story with the skin?
It's mainly on my stomach area and on my thighs. They call it an apron — it goes from the mid-torso to the hips. It does go around the back. I say my back looks like a Shar-Pei, 'cause it has folds all over.
What do you do with it? Do you have to tuck it somewhere?
I wear Spanx, and I stick it in my underwear. Spanx are a new-age girdle, and they're a girl's best friend. The kind I wear go from the bra line to the mid-thigh, and it holds everything in place and takes off about a pants size.
That sounds lovely!
I feel naked without it now. I feel like Jabba the Hutt if I let it all hang out. My joke about it is from Steel Magnolias: I don't leave the house without Lycra on my thighs. I wear it to exercise — you don't want stuff flapping.