Check your calendar. It is just about time for that annual event we call “New Year’s Resolutions.” Although some people ignore this yearly ritual, over 45% of Americans actually embrace it as a new and fresh start.
Unfortunately, statistics show that, after just one month, just 64% of resolvers are still hanging in there; and six months later, that number drops to less than half! In 2014, the number one pledge for the new year involved weight loss and it’s sure to top the list for 2015.
The Gallup Health and Health Care survey found that 51% of adult have a sincere desire to lose weight but that most (75%) are not willing to put in the work to slim down. With all the personal and national focus on appearance and weight loss in the U.S., the success of The Biggest Loser television show comes as no surprise.
The program has fascinated viewers since its premiere in 2004. It features obese people competing to win a cash prize by losing the highest percentage of weight relative to their starting weight. The have the support of trainers, nutritionists and medical staff.
The stories of the contestants are inspiring, and have resulted in high viewing figures for the majority of time it has aired. However, the show has drawn criticism for the extreme and unsustainable pressures under which it places contestants, and the lack of follow-up support when the newly slimmed down contestant is out there in the real world.
After more than 15 seasons, where are these weight loss role models in their quest for permanent weight loss? Let’s check in and find out.
15. Ryan Benson, Season 1
When this trendy program first aired in 2004, the “original” Biggest Loser winner was Ryan Benson who lost an astounding 122 pounds during his time on the ranch. Regrettably, his staggering weight loss did not last.
In several interviews, Ryan claimed that as soon as the show was over, he regained “32 pounds in 5 days simply by drinking water.” Benson admits to gaining 90 pounds after the show was over.
14. Matt and Suzy Hoover, Season 2
This is perhaps one of the truest success stories of all the Biggest Loser contestants. Although it was not love at first sight, after competing together on this hit show, the pair went on to get married and have two adorable sons, Rex and Jax.
Matt lost 157 pounds and Suzy lost 95 pounds, but both have since gained some of the weight back. Since the show, Matt and Suzy continue to eat healthy and exercise, and say they no longer live by a number on a scale. Their joint Facebook page discusses their struggles to stay consistently active and to keep their weight down.
His starting weight: 339
Finale weight: 182
Current weight: 237
13. Erik Chopin, Season 3
Although he had one of the most dramatic weight losses in the show’s history, Erik had a significant relapse after the competition.
When trainer Bob Harper heard that Erik, whom he had grown especially close to, had gained back all the weight, he paid Erik a surprise visit. Erik said. “I felt uncomfortable telling him (Bob) where I was at. I felt like I was going to disappoint him. I can’t let him know because he’s going to be pissed off at me.”
Bob challenged Erik to weigh in at the end of season nine, and Erik accepted. And in 2010 after a documentary about his story, Confessions of a Reality Show Loser, he seems to have ended his weight gaining rebound and is on the path to a healthy and realistic weight.
12. Bill Germanakos, Season 4
As one of the best long-term success stories, Bill lost 164 pounds on The Biggest Loser and only gained 37 pounds back after the show.
You may recall he appeared with his twin brother, Jim. At the end of the season, Bill was declared the winner and awarded $250,000. Jim was declared the “at-home” winner and received $100,000.
“Every day is a struggle,” Bill said. “I need to continue to make good choices at every turn.”
Germanakos has gone on to become a full-time motivational speaker and group fitness instructor. He and his brother run their own website, Weight Loss Twins.
11. Ali Vincent, Season 5
Ali was the first female to win on the show with a 112 pound weight loss and became a positive example to women of all ages. She managed to maintain the weight immediately after the show, but confesses to gaining some of the weight back after five years.
Her winning ways earned her a position as a spokesperson for 24 Hour Fitness, she authored her own book, launched a website and hosted the show Live Big with Ali Vincent on the LiveWell Network.
Ali said the most difficult thing about coming home after being on the ranch was “figuring out how and where I fit me and my new lifestyle into the life I created when I was afraid of me.”
10. Michelle Aguilar: Season 6
Michelle weighed 242 pounds at the beginning of the show and dropped 132 pounds by the end to claim the top prize. She says she meets many people who tell her she inspired them to examine their own lives and live an improved lifestyle. Since appearing on the show, Aguilar has released an autobiographical self-help book titled Becoming Fearless: My Ongoing Journey of Learning To Trust God. She also works as a motivational speaker.
Although she won’t disclose what she now weighs, pictures and reasonably recent videos it of Aguilar demonstrate that she’s kept some weight off.
9. Helen Phillips, Season 7
Helen appears to one of the most grateful winners on The Biggest Loser and is willing to share and pass on her life’s lessons. She even speaks candidly about her plastic surgery to remove excess skin.
Helen was the oldest Biggest Loser winner at the age of 48 and, at the time, she held the record for losing the most weight. Even more impressive is that after leaving the Ranch, Helen only gained back 18 pounds, much less than most of the participants.
After leaving The Biggest Loser, Helen started working with overweight families, encouraging them as a family unit to lose weight. She is particularly focused on the battle against childhood obesity.
Starting weight: 257
Finale weight: 117
Current weight: 135
8. Danny Cahill, Season 8
Danny was truly a big loser, dropping a whopping 239 pounds to win season 8. And more impressive is that he has kept most of the weight off since the broadcast.
Since winning The Biggest Loser, Danny has traveled across the country speaking and teaching groups and corporations about motivation and health. He says, “… The Biggest Loser taught me that I have the power within me to do anything I set my mind to. That is the message I am spreading to America.”
To maintain he weight, he runs, does strength training and has participated in at least three marathons.
Danny Cahill is now a motivational weight loss speaker and shares his journey on his personal website.
7. Michael Ventrella, Season 9
Soon after winning the Biggest Loser, Ventrella struggled as his prize money was dissolved into student loans and other outstanding debts. Despite these struggles, since winning season nine Michael has been proactive in his attempts to pay it forward. He reaches out to his community to educate and provide hope to others. He believes that anything they put their minds to is achievable.
Ventrella is a strong proponent of exercise and healthy eating, and believes “working out is not a way of life, it is only part of it. It should always be fun, so look forward to it.”
The proof is found in Michael’s ability to keep off the majority of weight long after leaving the Ranch.
6. Patrick House, Season 10
Completely dedicated to changing his lifestyle, Patrick only weighs 16 pounds more now than he did when he won The Biggest Loser.
Patrick has been part of three Boston Marathons, improving his time each year.
He is a true model of “paying it forward” with his work at Mindstream Academy in South Carolina, a boarding school program that helps overweight teens get healthy. He also documented his road to significant weight loss in his book As Big as a House.
Patrick’s focus is now on limits and balance. He looks back and says, “I used to eat an entire stuffed crust (pizza) and…down it with a six pack. Now it’s all about portion control and moderation.”
5. Olivia Ward, Season 11
She started The Biggest Loser weighing 261 pounds and then dropped to 132 to claim the show’s title in 2010.
Now Olivia is just 10 pounds heavier than when she appeared on the finale. She is a regular guest on the Dr. Drew Show as a weight loss guru along with her sister Hannah, and the two host their own ‘fitspo’ YouTube channel.
Since season 11 ended, Olivia has traveled all over the country encouraging others to get healthy. She believes the mind must change as well as the body in order to be successful at dropping the pounds. Olivia preachers that, “Deciding mentally first to overcome the scale is key to success!”
4. John Rhode, Season 12
John was a 40 year old teacher and coach when he entered the Biggest Loser Ranch in 2011.
He dropped an amazing 220 pounds (over half of his body weight) to win The Biggest Loser’s grand prize.
It looks like John has gained some of the weight back, but continues to be active, running marathons and partaking in Crossfit classes, while inspiring others to get fit and live healthier.
3. Jeremy Britt, Season 13
One of the most recent weight loss winners is the youngest to ever claim victory. Jeremy Britt was only 22 when he entered The Biggest Loser program. Jeremy had been overweight most of his life, as was the case with his entire family.
He won season 13 by losing 190 pounds and his sister and fellow contestant Conda Britt, lost 115 pounds. (Both siblings admit to help get through the tough times on the show, they resorted to dessert-flavored gum). During his stay at the Ranch, Jeremy’s mom joined in from her home and dropped 50 pounds.
2. Danni Allen: Season 14
Danni Allen morphed from a size 20 to a size 4 and is now enjoying her win by informing others about her experience on The Biggest Loser.
She maintains a diet with limited amount of gluten and believes a secret to her accomplishment is keeping a wide variety of foods in her diet so she does not get bored.
In February 2014, Danni opened Allen One 2 One Yoga in Illinois, a yoga and fitness studio. She recently finished the Chicago Marathon and shot a commercial for Subway restaurants.
1. Rachel Fredrickson, Season 15
Rachel Fredrickson became the Biggest Loser with an overwhelming 60% weight loss for a total of 155 pounds dropped. Her shocking transformation on the season finale caused concern and controversy among fans and trainers. Many thought she had gone too far with her workouts and super-strict diet, and found her super-skinny appearance frightening.
These days, she’s a little more relaxed with her routine. A few months ago, 24 year old Rachel revealed that she’s gained 20 pounds since the finale, which is still underweight based on her height. But Rachel professes that, “I think I’m at my perfect weight!”
Rachel now works out for an hour six days a week, and loosely counts calories.
Starting weight: 260 lbs.
Finale weight: 105 lbs.
Current weight: 125 lbs.