Guest post by Lara McGlashan, freelance writer
Though it was 45 degrees outside, the atmosphere inside the home of Chef Devin Alexander was warm and inviting, as more than 40 guests gathered over a healthy meal on the top floor of her southern California home. But these weren’t just any guests: these were Biggest Loser veterans!
With cast members in attendance from seasons 2 through 11, the camaraderie at Devin’s was palpable as she hosted the pre-finale dinner for season 12. Raucous laughter, insider stories and endless ribbing charged the evening with festive fun, as Devin served up a delicious meal featuring Jenny-O turkey, plenty of salad and greens, and some of her delectable brownie bites.
As they ate the delicious food and sipped Zevia soft drinks (and perhaps a glass of wine here and there—but who’s telling?) the group bonded over war stories and successes. Though many were meeting for the first time, somehow their collective journeys had already made them family.
FITNESS snagged a few choice sound bites from the festivities:
- Austin from season 11 has a serious girlfriend and a steady job working for a radio station in the Los Angeles area. His pick for the winner of season 12? Antone. “Because he’s young and funny, like me!”
- Seth and Pete from season 2 looked incredible, have kept off all their weight and are living healthy lifestyles. “Next time FITNESS needs a cover model, you know who to call,” joked Seth, making a muscle.
- Don and Dan Evans, the twin brothers from season 11, looked fit and trim, and joked and finished each others’ sentences as they enjoyed their meal. Rat bastards? We think not.
- Tara from season 7 related that she completed her Ironman in Hawaii and is gearing up to do another one in Lake Placid in the spring. Her pick for the winner: John.
- Jerry and Estella Hayes from season 7 came early and stayed late and looked every bit the fit couple that they were and still are! “We used to be the oldest success stories from Biggest Loser—until this season!” laughed Jerry.
As dinner wound down, Frado from season 10 put his booming baritone to use to corral everyone together to take a group photo. “He just has to hear himself talk, doesn’t he?” laughed Hannah Ward who was there with her sister Olivia, the winner of season 11 (Hannah was runner up). The powerhouse pair revealed that they have recently signed with an agency.
“We were getting all kinds of offers and we had no idea what to do with them!” said Hannah. “We needed someone to field them for us.”
“Yeah, they’re always too busy to see me,” joked Austin. “They text me when they fly into town, only to tell me they have a meeting and can’t have lunch, then fly out again. They’re so LA!”
As the evening wound down, everyone hugged and exchanged digits, Facebook addresses and emails. Tonight they will sit in the audience and watch as season 12 comes to a close, remembering what it was like when they were up there and welcoming a whole new generation into their family.
For the latest scoop from the sisters who appeared on the FITNESS September 2011 cover, click below.
Catching Up With FITNESS Cover Girls Olivia and Hannah!
At the dinner, FITNESS caught up with season 11’s winning sisters, Olivia and Hannah. Read on to find out their advice to this year’s contestants, how they plan to survive the holidays and their thoughts on their FITNESS cover!
FITNESS: Do you remember what you were feeling this time last year?
Olivia: Oh my gosh, yes. A lot of butterflies! I remember we were lying in Hannah’s room and we could not believe that it was going to be over the next day. Or at least we thought it was - little did we know it was just the beginning. It began a whole new part of our journey I never thought was possible.
Hannah: Yeah, and we had talked about the finale so much throughout the journey—like when we were on the treadmill and Jillian was saying, "picture yourself in your finale dress!"—I could never quite picture what I would look like or feel like. And that night, we looked at each other and were like, we met our every goal. This chapter was ending and something else was beginning. We didn’t have any regrets, and to say that to ourselves was really cool.
Olivia: And to know that you’re where you want to be and that you can stand in front of everybody and say, I did it! Here I am I did it. That’s amazing. No matter how it plays out, you can feel confident in what you did.
Hannah: We didn’t do a lot of media before the finale either—it was just working out, and living in workout clothes. I hadn’t like brushed my hair in like four months! [Laughs] Then at the finale, all of a sudden they are putting you in these little dresses and having to take them in - that is when you realize how thin you are.
Olivia: Yeah, when you’re preparing for finale, your mind is not on being at the end - you’re just thinking of the daily routine: I have to burn this many calories and I have to do this workout and make this change in my eating. Then you get there and the Cinderella glam squad dresses you up you’re like, "oh my gosh, I am actually pretty!"
FITNESS: Did you have any idea you were going to win?
Hannah: We kind of knew we would be the top two, but it was so close. It was down to the pound for us. It was cool to be surprised.
FITNESS: Did you do anything different coming into the finale to lose those last few pounds?
Olivia: You amp it up like you’ve never amped it up. My trainer had me digging holes on the beach, dragging around lifeguard signs, running the Santa Monica stairs. Listen, I did every stair in the LA area. If there was a staircase somewhere I ran it! Anything you could do to change things up and trick your body to lose that last bit of weight.
FITNESS: What advice would you give the contestants in the finale tomorrow?
Hannah: Take it all in. It goes by so fast. Stay on that stage and take time to be proud of yourself and look at the people in the audience you love and say what you want to say. It’s a live show so they can’t hurry you off! Celebrate your hard work and what you did. Don’t be embarrassed, just go out there and reintroduce yourself to the world.
Olivia: Also, don’t take a bunch of time off afterward! Don’t leave that stage and celebrate for two weeks. You can modify your pre-finale program a bit, but don’t quit. We both went to the gym the next day! This is a lifestyle. It has to be a lifestyle or you’ll go back to the way you were. Don’t wait because the longer you wait to set up a routine the harder it will be.
FITNESS: Do you have any advice on staying in shape after BL?
Hannah: It has to be a priority. For me, I am getting to the point right now with my job and things that have to fit in working out at odd hours, but it does not matter. I make that time for myself. You have to be able to say to someone, I can’t go do that because I have to work out, or I have to bring my own lunch and stand behind it and when you do it maps out your routine.
FITNESS: Has anyone ever given you grief for bringing your own lunch somewhere?
Hannah: Oh yeah. All the time. Just last week my friends invited me to go out to pizza, and I went, but I ate before I went. I knew I had not worked out hard enough that day and hadn’t burned enough calories to be able to have pizza, so I drank water, and they were all giving me grief. But I didn’t give it—I drank my water and let them eat their pizza. I used to be really embarrassed if I went somewhere and brought something healthy to a Christmas party, but at the same time you have to find a way to make it work.
FITNESS: How will you survive the holidays?
Olivia: It’s going to be interesting. This is our first holiday with our new lifestyle. Last year we were at the Ranch. But I am going to make fitness a priority and amp it up. It is so easy to lose your way with parties and this and that, but for example on Thanksgiving, I had a piece of pie and I enjoyed myself, but I had gotten up that morning and I ran a 5K. Then after dinner Ben and I took a really long walk. Then the next day I went right back to my routine. You don’t want to go through the holidays and not have a piece of pie or a brownie, because then what happens is that sometime in the near future you’ll eat three pizzas because you’re so deprived. I would much rather plan the times that I am going to eat and do my workouts with that in mind. I am working toward Christmas day right now!
FITNESS: So you do the calorie math in your head every day?
Hannah: Absolutely. I used to eat Christmas brunch every day, so it was not even enjoyable; I ate it every day. It’s like women who can afford to buy a hundred Birkin bags —they aren’t special because they have so many of them, all the time. Christmas day is our Birkin bag! It’s special. We’ll work for it and we’ll enjoy it.
FITNESS: Do you have a new year’s resolution?
Hannah: You know, this will be the first year when our resolution isn’t to lose 100 pounds!
Olivia: Yes! We were talking about that today! My new resolution will be to take more time for myself. That is always a challenge for people. Even if it’s ten minutes to think to myself or a half an hour to read—you have to feed your own spirit. We lose that in the hustle and bustle, but that will make you more sane and happy.
FITNESS: Who do you think is going to win tomorrow?
Olivia: I have been pulling for Antone because I really like him, but I think John is going to win. He has pulled so far ahead of everybody that he is my pick.
Hannah: That is my guess too. But even at home there are contenders I really like, so it will be exciting to see the outcome!
Olivia: That is why the finale is so exciting. That marathon was a while ago so to see what they look like now, I am so excited about that!
FITNESS: What did you think about your FITNESS cover?
Hannah: Every picture they took at the shoot was so beautiful. We never thought they would choose the picture with the white dresses, but we loved it. And so many people reached out to us because of it.
Olivia: That cover has been my most favorite out of all the covers we’ve done. I felt like they captured our personalities so naturally and I was so proud because we are just the girls next door. I am not Jillian Michaels—who was on just the month before us!—or a celebrity; I’m just a regular girl who went through this, and to be able to share that was awesome.
Hannah: And the cool thing about FITNESS magazine is that it is for everybody. This is what we talk about a lot these days—that fitness rejects no one. We believed the lie for so many years that we were overweight and we couldn’t be fixed, but it is not true. Your genetics aren’t working against you; that is an excuse. I mean, I got FITNESS for the last five years and so many times I would look at the cover and be like why can’t they put someone fat here? Then a year later, I am on the cover! People can do this. It’s not something unattainable and it’s not fake, and I want people to know they can.