Written on February 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm , by Guest Blogger
Written by Olivia Ward
Sitting in the audience during NBC’s live The Biggest Loser finale is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life…and I’ve done it four times. Not to mention I’ve actually had the awesome experience of being on stage and winning season 11. So to say, “It’s not my first rodeo” is probably an understatement. Having been involved with the show for many years, I feel like I’ve seen it all…until recently. Of course, you know I’m talking about the live Season 15 finale, where 24-year-old Rachel Frederickson was crowned the winner at 105 pounds.
I will admit that when she walked out for the first time that night, there was a huge collective gasp from the audience. It was as if all of the oxygen had been sucked out of the room in a single moment, and it wasn’t because everyone loved her dress (although it was stunning). I think, more than anything, nobody thought it was possible to see a contestant get that small. Having been an avid Loser viewer for years, I always expect people to have huge transformations, but this was very different.
My first thought: What happened? Having been through the same experience, I knew Rachel would be small in the end. We both started the show weighing around 260 pounds, and we both left the ranch – as a part of the final four – around 150 pounds. I ended my journey on The Biggest Loser at 132 pounds, which at five-foot-ten, was really, really small. But I was fully aware of that, and I’ll be the first to admit that I never expected to stay at such a low weight for long. Instead, I viewed it as my “prize fighting” weight. Why? I was training (and eating) for 8 to 10 hours a day, every day, for the seven weeks that led to my finale. I was essentially treating the finale like my job, and I was a professional athlete. It wasn’t meant to be sustained for the rest of my life. It was a conscious adult choice I made because I was in a game, and I wanted to win.
Now, back to Rachel. First of all, I personally have never spoken to her (although I can’t wait to meet her one day), but I do have a level of understanding that most don’t. I’ve stood on that scale and I’ve worn the weigh-in tank top. I know what kind of outside pressure you feel at the end to win, along with the self-induced pressure of wanting to win so badly yourself. To train day in and day out like an athlete, you have to have tunnel vision and be extremely focused – clearly, those are things Rachel is extremely familiar with. So if you want my opinion, I think that when it came down to making a choice to really widen the gap between her and the other competitors, she did. By 10 percent. And therein lies the rub. The gap never had to be that big. Now, I’m not shunning her – or defending her – but as someone who’s faced the same situation, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t (and didn’t) make the same decision Rachel did.
Written on December 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm , by FITNESS Editors
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.
Written on September 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm , by Karla Walsh
What’s better than hitting the road for a great run on a crisp fall morning? Doing so alongside thousands of other fitness lovers, including stars of The Biggest Loser! Quaker coach and trainer Bob Harper, on behalf of GENYOUth, hosted this year’s FITNESS Mind, Body, Spirit Games alongside our September cover girls and recent “biggest winners” Olivia Ward and Hannah Curlee. All of them were happy to chat and snap photos with excited fans.
The Biggest Loser folks are really impacting lives, as dozens of participants in the races approached them to share their own transformation tales. And these role models show no signs of slowing down: Bob has been getting into CrossFit workouts lately and Olivia and Hannah, known spinning devotees, are now certified instructors!
More than 4,450 runners laced up and tackled the four-mile course at the Games. Later, they were treated to live music, fitness demos and fun goody bags and other giveaways. While many participants achieved personal bests, Tesfaye Assefa Dube ran away with the men’s race (19:33) and Aziza Aliyu topped the women’s competition (22:57).
Here are top three of our favorite “overheard” moments of the day:
- On achievement… “You’re surrounded by women who are passionate about their health, no matter what size they are. You’re running a race, being healthy and reaching your goals!” — Hannah Curlee, Biggest Loser 11 runner-up and FITNESS cover girl, before the women’s race
- On wellness… “Fitness is a way of life—it’s not just about burning calories.” — Betty Wong, FITNESS Editor in Chief, before the men’s race
- On what a difference a year makes… “A year ago Friday, Hannah and I flew to L.A. for finals week. Today I woke up at 6 a.m., excited to be healthy and get moving. It’s so foreign to my life before!” — Olivia Ward, Biggest Loser 11 winner and FITNESS cover girl, reflecting on her whirlwind year
Now tell us: If you attended the FITNESS Mind, Body, Spirit Games, what was your favorite moment?
Written on August 16, 2011 at 10:02 am , by Jenna Autuori
When I interviewed Olivia and Hannah for September’s cover story (the issue hits newsstands today), I had no idea how inspirational these girls truly were! They had enough advice to fill our entire magazine. Here’s just a few things I learned from my favorite purple team:
Taking care of yourself is taking care of others.
Olivia: “I like to micromanage everything and everyone and I think that stems from being the oldest of four kids. I’ve always liked taking care of everyone else and making sure my life and everyone else’s was going smoothly and as organized as can be. After years and years of being in the driver’s seat, I had forgotten about taking care of myself. It was too exhausting at the end of the day. Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, was the one thing that I used to treat myself. Like if I wanted ice cream, well I’m going to have ice cream because that’s what I want. In my mind, it didn’t matter because it didn’t affect anyone else, so I could be out of control and go off plan. But in reality, I wasn’t being the best sister, wife or friend I could be because I couldn’t get this under control.”
Believe that you CAN do.
Olivia: “I used to like being perfect and when I couldn’t be, and couldn’t fix something immediately, I’d get frustrated very easily. I think my past diets didn’t work for me because I’d always start and think of how far I have to go and get easily overwhelmed, so I’d quit before I’d even begun. I wasn’t allowing myself to change my thinking and believe in myself. This time around I realized it’s all about the small goals. I learned then the power of setting small, manageable goals and making one smart choice at a time. Now if I’m having doubts or wanting to quit a tough workout, I think ‘just go five minutes.’ Like when things get tough during a Spin class, I’ll tell myself ‘just get through this song and you’ll be okay’ and I am. Believing that you can do something will make you actually do it.”
There is no quick-fix to a healthy body.
Hannah: “I always wanted a quick fix for what I had done to my body for so many years, but I was looking at the end result instead of paying attention to the right now and what can be done today. I’ve learned weight-loss isn’t a program, because those come to an end, it’s a lifestyle that you have to choose to live little by little everyday.”
Want to know more about what it’s like after leaving the show? Here’s what the girls have to say in our Q&A: Read more