In a poignant interview on "Oprah: Where They Are Now" Ali Vincent from the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" admitted that after finding love and marrying her lesbian girlfriend, she gained back most of her 112-lb weight loss. But that's not the saddest part of her story. The reasons for "Biggest Loser" Ali's weight gain will break your heart and also enrage you. They underscore links between sexual assault, obesity, shame, comfort eating and depression.

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Rape and the blame-shame game

From having her own show "Live Big with Ali Vincent" the weight loss motivational speaker admitted to gaining weight. But what she could never admit was the reason. Finally she broke down to Oprah about being sexually assaulted during a massage last year. She fell asleep during massage therapy and woke to find the therapist's hand in her vagina. But that's not the most revolting part--after Vincent had the courage to report it, the manager pooh-poohed the sexual assault saying it wasn't as if she was raped. Like that makes it okay. And like so many abused women, Ali agreed it wasn't. But then what is rape but unwanted sexual contact with genitalia?

The Biggest Loser Winner Ali Vincent Marries Girlfriend Jennifer Krusing, Shows Off 112-Pound Weight Wochit Youtube
The Biggest Loser Winner Ali Vincent Marries Girlfriend Jennifer Krusing, Shows Off 112-Pound Weight Wochit Youtube

Sexual assault, depression and the shame-gain game

Another thing that defines rape isn't what's used - penis or hand, but the way it makes you feel--violated. So rape, sexual assault, molestation, fondling, whatever, it made Vincent feel dirty, vulnerable and depressed. In her shame, she turned to the one companion that had never let her down--food. This is the same story told so often on "My 600-lb Life" morbidly obese people like Teretha Hollis-Neely and Ashley Dunn Bratcher were sexually molested. They turned to comfort eating to dull the pain.

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Comfort eating vs comfort food vs genuine healing

There's a difference between comfort food and comfort eating. Comfort food is junk food that tastes good and makes you feel good (sort of, for awhile). Comfort eating is food-stuffing or binge eating where the eater tries to drown sorrows (much like substance abuse). They overeat usually comfort food and feel better for a bit. The blood sugar rises and endorphins kick in. But then the blood sugar plummets and they need more food.

Overeating causes sluggishness and obesity which creates even more shame, self-blame, depression and lethargy. When folks start to talk about experiences and feelings and stop keeping others' guilty secrets, that's when real healing can happen. And then they find the strength to work at weight loss

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