Sixteen new contestants got a "second chance" to transform their bodies and their lives when season eight of NBC's hit series The Biggest Loser premiered last Tuesday, September 15th. Underscoring this season's theme of "second chances" is last season's heaviest contestant and fan favorite Daniel Wright, who returned for a second chance to finish the weight loss journey he started in season seven, going from 454 to 312 lbs. Also getting a second chance was the show's new heaviest contestant ever, a female social worker (Shay Sorrells) who spent much of her childhood in foster care and now weighs 476 lbs. Other contestants included a youth pastor (Sean Algaier) hoping to help himself so he can better help others, a college student (Amanda Arlauskas) who missed the prom she had dreamed of attending because she was so unhappy with her weight, and a remarkable teacher (Abby Rike) who lost her family in a tragic accident and wants to restart her life.
The new season began with the contestants on a bus, heading to the ranch until they made an unexpected stop at the beach. Host Alison Sweeney was waiting for them with the news that before going to the ranch, they would have to complete their first challenge on the show: Running the last mile of the marathon that the four finalists ran at the end of the previous season. The winner would get not only immunity at this week's weigh-in, but would also get the chance to pick who their teammate would be for their weight loss journey. One contestant had a health scare during the challenge, which proved to be a sobering wake-up call for all the players who were reminded of just how unhealthy they really are.
After the challenge was over and they finally arrived at the ranch, the contestants got to know each other and share their own very personal stories of why they wanted to come to the ranch. Then they were off to meet trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels, who joined forces and started the season training all of the contestants together. Later, the players headed to the California Health and Longevity Institute, where they met with Dr. Huizenga to better understand all the medical conditions they're facing because of their extra weight. Then an emotional weigh-in was followed by an elimination, sending home the first player of the season, Alexandra White. Alexandra joins us know with her thoughts on being the first contestant off the ranch:
Do you think you had time to really learn the skills you needed? And what tools did you take home with you?
Alexandra White: At the ranch I do feel that I learned a lot in my short amount of time. And the most important tools that I really did take away and I incorporate now into my daily life is portion control, counting my calories and really pushing myself when it comes to workouts.
And by pushing yourself what does that entail? What does it take to push you?
Alexandra White: It's really getting myself out of that comfort zone. Beforehand I would work out but I never pushed myself therefore I never lost weight. And throughout this process and during that short week on the ranch I did realize that I really had to push myself, make it uncomfortable while working out to get the results that I wanted.
Great. And then you're a college student right?
Alexandra White: Yes.
I'm curious how, you know, your experience on Biggest Loser and the changes you've made at home have affected your college lifestyle which is traditionally not a very healthy lifestyle for most college students.
Alexandra White: It has impacted my life in so many ways particularly my college life because I have to be very careful of what I put into my mouth. One of the most important things I did was contact the food provider at my school and get a listing of the all the calories so I know exactly what I'm putting into my body. The second is I'm making smarter choices, staying away from the fried foods, away from the alcohol, all the things that typical college students do fall into. And I'm also learning to develop my own healthy recipes to help me stay away from the bad food that is around on campus.
What's one of those healthy recipes that you really enjoy making?
Alexandra White: Well my favorite is I like pizza so I really wanted to make a replacement for it. So looking through the cookbooks I looked up a simple marinara which has very few calories as you can imagine it's made of tomatoes. I take 1/4 cup of cheese and a slice of turkey and one slice of Ezekiel bread and it comes out to about 150 calories and its a little pizza bread. So that's just an example of something I may have at lunch with a salad.
Yum. And then my other question is last night you indicated that you had a crush on one of your fellow contestants. And I'm curious if you're revealing who that is yet and if you're not have you made any advances in speaking to this person?
Alexandra White: I am dating Antoine from the show. We recently started dating. And things are going great for us.
Yay, I knew that's who it was; I just had a feeling. Thank you so much Alexandra and good luck on the rest of your journey.
Alexandra White: Thank you.
In dating another - a fellow Loser I guess you can say - now did it make it a little bit easier going out, like when you guys go out to dinner, do the whole like dating thing, you know? Like, does it make it a little bit easier for you because you guys are knowing what you're going through?
Alexandra White: Yes. Our dating process has been wonderful because we are both conscious of the healthy choices that we need to make. And we are really focused on, you know, making a healthy lifestyle; it's not just, you know, up until the finale. We are really focused on, you know, making a really great healthy lifestyle change and it's really fun because, you know, he understands what four to six hour workouts are. And he understands that when we go out we need to know how many calories are in each dish so it's really great.
Yeah and so what are some of the things you do fun, is it more active or do you keep it relatively mellow?
Alexandra White: No I would say that we're very active. We like to go running, we go biking, we go kayaking so especially since, you know, it's a nice fall time we get to enjoy outdoor activities and still, you know, live a healthy lifestyle.
One of the things that I thought when I was watching the panel last night that it seemed like the group that's - and I've met you all, I was out at the ranch and you all seem really lovely people but it seems like last night they picked you because they're already political, they're already figuring out well Julio may not do as well. Did you feel that when you were voted out that it was something about - that they were already playing the game?
Alexandra White: I absolutely did feel that it was a little bit of game-play. I know that I really did push myself being there that first week. And I do feel as though some people may have been intimidated by that so of course they wanted to play the game and eliminate me.
Okay nobody has asked you yet so can you tell - how are you doing now? How much weight have you lost?
Alexandra White: Currently I've lost 70 pounds and I would - I think I'm doing very well. I just started school so I've now got a schedule where I exercise, you know, four and six hours, still study and still live my life. So I'm doing very well.
So this is a dramatic first episode, you know, two people went to the hospital. I mean, do you think that the challenges this first week especially that first one mile run do you think it was too difficult for people of, you know, your guys' size?
Alexandra White: It was a little challenging however it really was an eye opener that we were all very out of shape, very unhealthy and that we really needed to change our lives.
Do you think that maybe they were, you know, the show was trying to, you know, prove a point to you guys right in the beginning that this is something that you really need and they did that in this in kind of a more dramatic way?
Alexandra White: Yes I truly feel that that was one of the best ways to show us how unhealthy we were and how much we really did need to change our lives by putting that first difficult change.
I wanted to know was it harder or easier on the ranch than you expected?
Alexandra White: I say that it was a little bit harder than what I expected. The first day we got there and, you know, we had a long workout and I was like wow it's the first day. But it wasn't what I expected.
Yeah. And now did you prefer training with Bob or Jillian?
Alexandra White: I preferred training with Bob just because he has a different motivational style and he really knows how to motivate me.
Now do you think they were right when they thought that you'd do a better job at home than Julio?
Alexandra White: I'm not really sure about that but I know one thing that the other contestants really did see is that I do have a lot of drive and determination as an individual and I really think that they saw that would carry over into me going home which obviously it did because I'm continuing to push on.
Excellent. Now I also noticed - actually this happens at the beginning of every season, everybody is all happy and smiling and cheering and stuff. And then I notice everybody's face drops. And I wanted to know what were you thinking when they airlifted Tracy off the beach?
Alexandra White: I was very, very scared for her. It was scary to see that one of my fellow cast-mates was already hurt right in the beginning. And I just wished her all the best and for - and I wish for her to have a safe recovery.
I wanted to know do you workout every day?
Alexandra White: I workout six days a week, yes.
Wow, okay. And also what's become your new favorite food during your healthy trends formation?
Alexandra White: My new favorite healthy food I think would seriously be fish. I never tried fish before and on the ranch I got to try all different types of fish especially halibut and I've turned to that and it's really a great healthy alternative for me.
Halibut is excellent, yeah. I would agree. I also want to know what tools did the show send you home with like to continue your weight loss?
Alexandra White: The show sends us obviously the body love which is crucial to my weight loss personally and some Biggest Loser products such as a food scale and a blender which have really helped me - the food scale really helped me with the portion control as far as weighing my food and the blender - the Biggest Loser blender has also been a great help to make protein shakes after an intense workout.
How was training and working at home for you, is it more difficult or are you facing some challenges?
Alexandra White: At home it is more difficult because obviously you have life and you really have to prioritize and make working out - you have to make it a point of the day.
And what does your workout consist of?
Alexandra White: My workout consists of three hours of cardio every day and one hour of resistance training.
So are you aware of how well Nicole did last year when she went home and is that your goal? And are you aiming to be the at-home winner?
Alexandra White: Right now I'm really aiming to just work hard. This season we have great competitive spirits and I think it's any man's game. And I'm just really - my personal goal is to get below 200. I've never been below 200 since elementary school. And I just want to work hard so not really sure what's going to happen.
Okay but did you watch last year? Did you see how well Nicole did at home? Was that...
Alexandra White: Absolutely. Nicole Brewer is an excellent inspiration to me. I'm actually working out with her next week. So she's right here in New York where I attend school. So she is an excellent motivation. She went home early and she pushed so I definitely look up to her for inspiration.
I wanted to ask, how was your partnership with Julio?
Alexandra White: My partnership with Julio was an excellent one; he really, really has a great spirit and he's very funny.
Did you think he pulled his weight towards the end? You'd mentioned maybe he didn't push hard enough?
Alexandra White: When I did mention that he didn't push hard enough it was kind of in the moment, I guess the feeling. But looking back on it I do feel as though he did work hard but maybe he could have pushed a little bit harder.
What do you think of this season's two-trainer approach?
Alexandra White: I think that the two-trainer approach is an amazing idea because it allows contestants to get motivated in two different ways.
Do you think that it's easier or harder than maybe the contestants had in previous seasons?
Alexandra White: I would say that maybe it's a little bit easier, it takes off pressure as far as like teams like black versus blue you don't really have that; you have both trainers and you're getting the best of both worlds.
How did it feel to be able to lose 13 pounds - it was 13 pounds right?
Alexandra White: Yes.
In one week while on the ranch?
Alexandra White: Oh to lose 13 pounds in the first week was incredible; it felt amazing. I worked really hard and I was so happy to see that number on the scale.
How have your classmates responded to your transformation? Have they come up to you for inspiration or your friends?
Alexandra White: Yes, everyone at my school is very supportive and they're so excited and motivated by my transformation that I made in this short summer. And they are looking to me for inspiration even if they're not overweight and they just want to get back into shape. They're asking me to go to the gym with them which is honorable.
And how did it feel to complete that mile?
Alexandra White: To complete that mile was an amazing feeling because I was very, very out of shape and I wasn't really sure, you know, if I could even do it. So when I completed it I was very happy that I accomplished that.
The next new episode of The Biggest Loser airs this Tuesday at 8/7 central only on NBC.