‘A psychic turned my world upside down’
Fiona Falkiner is no stranger to the concept of transformation. In 2006, Falkiner applied successfully to be a contestant on The Biggest Loser, and she was hoping losing the weight would make her happy. But following major success on the show, she found herself spiralling into a deep depression. Here, she talks about life before, during and after living the reality TV juggernaut.
Growing up on a farm in country Victoria there was an expectation of the life I was supposed to live - go to university, get a corporate job, meet a man, get married, buy a house, have children etc … I hold nothing against my parents for the "traditional" path they had mapped out for me, but it definitely wasn't for me.
I was, single, childless, houseless, and about to turn 30. I actually thought I would have all these things ticked off by the time I was 25 … LOL.
Of course I was then questioning myself and some small part of me started to believe I was a failure for not having lived up to my family's expectations. I look back on this now and realise how ridiculous I was to be worrying about it at all, because I was actually loving life!
I was living in Bondi, modelling, travelling and I was healthy and happy. My weight had stabilised, I was sleeping, my anxiety was at bay.
It was just that dreaded number 30 that had me a bit on edge. One of my friends sent me to see a psychic as my 30th present, she was apparently one of the best so with that in mind I went with an open heart to see what she would tell me.
She was a lovely lady - and gave me some advice I would later thank her for.
Firstly, I was dating a guy at the time who she believed was more into men than into me (I had suspected this but of course you hope it's not the case!).
She then told me I needed to get myself overseas because she saw doors opening for me over there. Something in me told me to go with her advice, so on the way out I called my agent and said, "let's do this". Within a month I had signed with a London agent and I was packing my bags for the UK.
I called my Dad to give him the news about London, I could literally see him shaking his head down the phone. I got the usual Dad talk: "Darling do you really think this is a good idea, you have had a good run here with the modelling but how will you earn money over there? It's expensive etc …"
I shook off the negativity and pushed on. I was actually curious to see if I would book work over there or had my luck here been because I had been on a reality show.
I slipped in to London life without a hitch. It was a lot more fast paced than Sydney. I was being sent to castings pretty much every day and I managed to book a TV commercial in my first week so I was pretty happy.
I was spending most of my time with girls who were at least 10 years younger than me, we had fun but I would find myself thinking something was missing. All my friends back home we're getting married and having babies and I was reminded of this every day thanks to social media. I found myself getting anxious about it, I was 30 and still single and had thought being out of Australia would have been the perfect place to meet someone. Someone who likes me for me, who isn't with me because I was on a TV show.
I caught up with a friend for dinner one night and she suggested I read a book called The Rules, telling me it was amazing and would have men eating out of the palm of my hand by the end of it.
I laughed it off, but of course curiosity got the better of me and I ordered myself a copy.
For those of you who haven't read The Rules it's basically a book that tells you how to play the "dating game." I'm talking even down to how long you should wait to respond to a text, what to say, etc. It was basically a book on how to "treat em' mean keep em' keen."
I read the book cover to cover and decided to give it a shot.
I was off to a bottomless brunch rooftop party so I thought I would try my luck there.
I had two guys approach me throughout the day. I kept it short and sweet and it appeared to be working, as they both asked for my number.
I continued playing by the rules and it was actually incredible. I kind of hate admitting it but it did work! After two days of chatting a bunch of roses turned up at my door. They were both so eager to take me out, but as the book specified I had to play it very cool.
I think I went on about three dates with both guys and dating two people at once never sits well with me so I had to make the decision who to let go.
I said good bye to one of them and ended up dating the other for about 4 months but like all my relationships, by the three or four month mark we realised we were just friends and went our separate ways.
My friend who told me about the book had a similar situation. She met two guys but she ended up marrying one of them! The flaw with the whole process is that it's exhausting not being able to just be yourself so I decided to ditch The Rules and go back to just being myself.
At this point everything aside from dating was going well.
I had landed myself a six month contract being the face of a plus size brand in the UK. It was a pretty big moment for me when I signed the contract, I actually think I cried because in that moment I felt like I had finally proved my doubters wrong.
I was succeeding on my own, not on the merits of the show, or anyone else. It was just me overseas doing it all on my own. It felt good and it was probably one of the few moments I was really proud of myself.
I started to get thinking if I had done so well here in London maybe I could do well in New York? The more I thought about it, the itchier my feet got, so I decided to head over for a week and meet with three of the top agencies.
I honestly thought I would be lucky if one would want to sign me but when I got the call from my Australian agent saying all three loved me and wanted to sign me I was over the moon. That was it, my decision made!
My six month contract in the UK was coming to an end and I no longer had a boyfriend so nothing was really keeping me there.
After 12 months in London I was packing my bags and headed for the Big Apple for the next chapter in this crazy journey we call life.
Fiona Falkiner is a model, presenter and former Biggest Loser contestant. Follow her journey on Instagram @fionafalkiner