The world was introduced to Chelsea Settles last year when MTV premiered a show about a woman fresh out of college, embarking on a weight loss journey. From the start of the series, it was obvious that what was intended to be a weight loss show turned into a series every young woman could relate to. Everything from facing obstacles in a new city, overcoming doubts and fears, and dealing with relationship issues were topics on the table. But Chelsea came out on top and we watched her transform into the free-spirited confident person we saw lingering in her from the very beginning. I had the pleasure of catching up with this True Bauce to chat about her experiences on the show, her relationship with Rory, and what she’s been up too since filming seized. Check out the candid conversation below.
We all got to know you through watching Chelsea Settles. What made you want to do the show?
I had wanted to lose weight as long as I could remember. It was something that I had struggled with since childhood. It actually started with going to a casting call for The Biggest Loser, which a lot of people don’t know. I was one of the 20 people called back with my Cousin Jarel but they said my personality outshined his so they told me to come back next season to try out as an individual. I was like well I don’t want to wait so I went to MTV’s website and they were casting for an overweight girl to follow along on her journey between the ages of 18-24 and I just wrote an email. I wasn’t expecting anything and within 15 minutes I had a response and then I made a video. I never wanted to be on T.V. for fame. I just wanted to lose weight but they came to follow me and it turned into so much more. I never knew that it would turn into a 12 episode series and I would be on my own. I just wanted to go away for like a week and come back skinny like other people on TV do (laughs). That didn’t happen. I had to do it, like get a job, and make it. It wasn’t glitzy, it wasn’t glamour. I was a post-grad struggling my way through L.A. It was a rude awakening and a blessing at the same time.
Some people sign up for stuff and they’re like “Okay, what did I get myself into?” Was the show everything you expected it to be? Did you enjoy the experience?
The experience was incredible! Now when I look back on it, it is something that I’m thankful for. But when you sign up for a T.V. show you’re pretty much thinking that whatever is done is going to be done for you. That’s what I thought. Like on the Real World they move into this big mansion (laughs) while this was raw and gritty: whatever happened…happened. I had to struggle my way through and that made me a stronger person. I haven’t had anything handed to me in life and MTV didn’t hand me anything. I feel like it just made me a better person but it would have been great to live in a mansion like Lauren Conrad (laughs).
When you did the show, did it help you become accountable for the lifestyle changes you wanted to make? Was it an extra push?
Absolutely! I feel like everyone should have a camera following them around at least once in their life because it becomes a diary. People ask me how were you able to be so real with all those people and let your walls down? You forget that the cameras are there and the crew becomes your family and you just have to tune all of that out and just go. So it definitely did feel like I had a crew of people rooting for me so I didn’t want to disappoint them and I didn’t want to disappoint myself. And in the back of my mind I thought people are going to watch this. Maybe they’re going to be inspired by this. I don’t want to let them down too. For the first time I also had to do something for Chelsea. I’ve always looked out for everybody else and I was like, okay, you matter. The moment I believed in myself everything else just started to come together.
Yeah, I remember watching the first episode and seeing you and your personality and how relatable you are and I’m like “I know she’s going to do it next week I know she is!” It’s a feeling you get as a viewer to see someone overcoming their obstacles.
People’s support is amazing and it’s been something I never dreamed of. I’m still pinching myself everyday because I’m so grateful. It doesn’t have to be like this. You never know what’s going to happen in doing something like this and everyone has been really amazing.
In total how much weight have you lost thus far? 117 pounds.
Wow, that is amazing! Congratulations! Aside from your 117 pound weight loss, what other challenges did you face besides losing weight and how did you deal with them?
I’m really close with my mom and my family in general. We all live in my town so that was the hardest part — being away from family and being away from people who have known me my entire life. It was the first time I had to do something on my own I didn’t have anyone to lean on as a crutch. On top of that, Rory was in Afghanistan and that was a lot of stress. I wanted to make sure he was safe and I wanted to talk to him everyday and make sure I could be his rock. I know some people were like, okay, you need to be doing this for yourself and you shouldn’t be talking to him so much but what people saw in the first episode is just a little glimpse of what he was. Then came an attack on his character, which sucks. You only see that one scene — but we’ve been together for 6 years and he’s loved me and accepted me and uplifted me. He actually encouraged me to go to L.A.
Do you feel like because their wasn’t an antagonist on the show that they edited it to seem like some type of drama in the midst was with Rory?
They had to do things like that because I’m not a person who has a lot of drama; I’m very genuine, very nice, and caring. I do have a little spicy side to me because we all do! But for the most part, they weren’t going to get anything like that from me so I guess they had to edit footage in whatever way, but it just sucks because people only get to see 30 minute episodes and they think they know you fully and there’s so much more to me as a person and everyone else that was on the cast. I feel like Rory was the one that got thrown under the bus and he couldn’t represent himself on site — not while he was in Afghanistan fighting for the country. No one really got an idea of what our relationship was really like.
So, I’m assuming you and Rory are still together?
Uhhhh (laughs). Right now, we’re actually not together. It’s only been a couple of months though and this is the first time that I’ve been single since 2005. He was my first boyfriend, the only person I’ve been with so I feel like in order for us to move to the next step if that’s what’s going to happen at the end, we both need to see what else is out there and date other people and if we come back together it was meant to be. We already have the foundation. It’s just that I don’t want to look back and wonder what else was out their while being stuck in a relationship. But we still talk every day which makes it kind of hard to move to the next chapter but yeah (laughs) it’s necessary. I’m about to turn 25 and it’s like if we’re going to walk down the aisle one day we have to see what else is out there.
What are some things that happened in L.A. that we didn’t get to see on the show?
You know, I wish they would have shown more fun and not so much gloom and doom because you get to see thirty minutes of me filming 6 days a weeks and cutting that into 30 minutes. I’m super optimistic, I’m a fun person, I don’t sit around complaining, I’m a goofball and they didn’t show any of that. It seemed like everybody was always trying to give me advice. I was giving Jenna advice and talking to Jarel and I hung out with Caitlyn a couple of times. It just made it seem like I was closed off from everyone and I really wasn’t that bad. I had my moments and I had to learn to come into my own but once I did it was fun! But I guess they couldn’t show that (laughs).
I guess they wanted to save that for the last episode. Can we expect a season 2 of the show?
I get this question so often and I know some people are going to be so heartbroken but no there will not be a second season of the show. It really was an amazing experience, but I feel like it was a start and finish type of thing on that network and that’s not something that I’m really interested in either. It’s just not for me. I never went on reality T.V. to be famous. I just wanted to lose weight.
That’s understandable and good for you. These are all things our readers can relate too. But just to switch gears a bit, what advice do you have for young women that are trying to get healthy or lose weight? Straight up from Chelsea Settles?
First, I would have to say be realistic with what your goal is. Like I said I’ve been trying to lose weight my entire life and sometimes I would say I’m going to lose 20 pounds in a week or two and that’s not going to happen. You have to set goals that are attainable and you have to look at what your body frame is. I’m a person that is naturally curvy. All the hips, all the thighs? That’s not going to go anywhere! It can shrink and get smaller but your frame is your frame. Be real with yourself. You also have to stop relying on other people. Like, if you always want to have a workout buddy, it’s great to have that support system but you have to do things for yourself too. You have to get up and stop making excuses and dedicate thirty minutes to an hour, even if it’s three to four days a week. That would show crazy results, even if it’s just walking around the neighborhood. You don’t have to have a gym membership to get things done. You have to allow yourself to have things that you want because the moment you deprive yourself you’re going to go crazy on a treat day and binge. Research different diets that do work for you. I know my diet is lots of green vegetables, high protein, and maybe two servings of fruit a day and nuts. That may not sound good but that’s what got me to my goal. Most importantly, believe in yourself. If you don’t do that then you can’t do anything. Everyone’s like what’s the secret? If you believe in yourself you really can do anything. That’s it.
I feel like so many of the changes we saw on the show and life in general have to do with our mentality. How do people overcome those road blocks? Because I feel like it’s harder to overcome those.
You’re absolutely right because it is all mental. Everything we do and that we are afraid of is coming from a core belief that we’ve implanted probably throughout the years that we weren’t good enough or that we weren’t worth something, and you bury that so deep that it ends up eating away at your soul and your spirit. But, you have to realize that nothing is permanent. If you try something and you don’t like it, you can always go back to your old ways. But, if you never try anything else, you’re just holding yourself back. you’re stunting your own growth, you don’t know what you’re capable of until you get out there and try. And it’s never really a failure. If you look at it that way then it makes it a little easier to get there.
Yes, I know what you mean because your thoughts become your actions.
Absolutely! You just have to learn how to become your own best friend and that’s the hardest thing to do. There are people in their 40’s and 50’s that are still learning that concept and when you realize that you just have to give yourself some time. It’s an all or nothing attitude. You’re either going to work as hard as you can or nothing at all. You have to learn to accept yourself, accept your situation, and hangout in the grey area a little and still strive for more.
Are you still working in the fashion industry?
After the show, I started making appearances at colleges and doing motivational speaking about my efforts with weight loss and just the whole health and wellness world; I feel like I have a new passion. Obviously, fashion is my baby and I’ll always work in that industry to some degree, but right now I want to do whatever I can to pave forward with what I’ve learned. This summer, I’ll be working at a camp for kids, the New Image Camps: Camp Pocono Trails! I’m instructing a course on building self-esteem and poise and grooming body images, including how to dress different body types. I’m so excited! These kids are 7-19 and I’ll teach 10 to 12 classes to four hundred girls. I can’t wait to see all the changes and progress they’re going to make and to get these girls to realize you’re great as is but if you want to make some changes you need to get to the root of your problems or weight loss is not going to be beneficial.
What are some steps our readers can take when trying to tackle a goal or something they may be hesitant to do?
I think you should tell people, whoever your support system is, what you need to overcome because that holds you accountable. Then it’s not just some dream you’ve built up inside yourself and never shared with anyone. So I would sit down and talk to my friends and family and take advice from them if they thought it was good for me and if they said no I would still go for it because you really have to do what you feel inside. Start researching whatever it is you want to do and start taking baby steps towards the goal. It’s not like you say “Oh, I wanna move. Oh, I wanna lose weight” and the journey starts that day. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s about taking your time and putting things in place and knowing that if you put things in place to get to that goal you’ll end up getting their whenever it’s your time do it whenever you know you’re truly ready inside. Everything you do in life truly comes from within. You can get to those things eventually. The stars will align, you can’t enforce things. Whenever you feel like you’ve hit a wall and feel like giving up I guarantee something greater is waiting on the other side.