We were recently in on a conference call with Damien Gurganious from The Biggest Loser: Couples and here's what he had to say.
So I guess the big question everybody's asking is what happened last night. I think everyone thought it was a sure thing on the other side of that vote.
Damien Gurganious: Well, you know, I think what happened last night was it comes down to competition, you know, and sometimes you got to I guess choose the person that you want to send home that's going to make things more difficult for you. And I think it came down, you know, me and Joelle. They decided that I was more competition so they (get) cut.
Do you think you were, I mean as far as the competition goes of the two of you, you were the more competition?
Damien Gurganious: I think so. I think yeah. I just bet, you know, I didn't get opportunities to really showcase, you know, how great of a competitor I would have been, you know, on the show. But, you know, things happen, you know. It actually worked out better for me being at home.
Right. How - so how has it worked out better being at home because a lot of people are so desperate to, you know, stay on the ranch and make it happen there?
Damien Gurganious: Well being at home - the great thing about being at home is that you're in your environment. You're in your zone. Everything you need is right there. You know, if you need like a - when you're on the ranch, you don't really have contact, you know, with your confidants and your best friends. Those I can kind of inspire you to, you know, workout harder. And here it is I'm at home, me and Nicole, that's all I need, you know. And everything I need is here
Like I wanted to get up at 8:00 in the morning, you know, to, you know, draw for two hours, you know, take a nap after that, you know, there's no - there's no cameras going. There's just - there's just me and Nicole because my support system, doing this together.
Right. What was Nicole's reaction when you did show up at home?
Damien Gurganious: I would say she was dumbfounded for about 20 seconds. She was like why is he here, you know. There was just a week left, you know. So I think she was more shocked that - I guess, you know, she was confident enough that I was going to be able to stick it out to get her back on the ranch.
So probably not quite the reaction we all anticipated Joelle would receive from Carla if she had gone home.
Damien Gurganious: Kind of yeah except that there was love between me and Nicole. When Nicole saw me, she - Nicole was a little upset. She was sort of like oh this is my - this is my future husband so it's a good thing that he's home.
Right. What was it like working without Bob for that week? I know you guys had gotten so used to being with him, you know, day in and day out and then to have him up and leave and go spend several days with Joelle elsewhere? What was that like for you guys?
Damien Gurganious: Well, I mean, honestly there's so much working out being done, whoever leaves - you're not even thinking about that person. You just know that you've got five hours to workout or you don't lose any weight. So it's kind of - it's difficult, you know, at first when Bob leaves because, you know, you have to - you're left to your own devices and as a team trying to, you know, come together and support each other.
But then on other hand, there is Jillian and Jillian worked out with us, you know.
Damien Gurganious: So she kind of like - she kind of like took us in, you know. Said listen okay, you guys can workout with us and - because she was great support but she's also crazy. So it was - it was a - it was a good distraction.
Is she - what was it like to switch over to a Jillian where it got Austin working with Bob?
Damien Gurganious: Pain is pain so this is - because it's not really a big difference. It's just like, you know, when you're 381 pounds, working out with a circus clown is just as intense, you know, because you're moving and jumping, you know. You're lifting weights so it's just - it's just a personality difference.
You know, Jillian is more in your face. Here's what's going to be done whether you like it or not. And Bob kind of gives you - he kind of gives you a choice but it's the same - it's the same outcome no matter what your choice is. And so you kind of feel like you're making the choice.
Damien Gurganious: It's a little different than (unintelligible).
So what exactly are you and Nicole doing at home now to kind of keep each other motivated? And, you know, the two of you really look like great contenders for the at home prize. And then of course your wedding in June is even more motivation to keep losing the weight. So what are you guys doing at home?
Damien Gurganious: Well as far as motivation goes, I think that the main thing is, this is going to sound strange, but it's giving each other enough space to process what's going on. You know, that is the main motivation, you know. Because what that means is when you wake up with somebody, you prepare meals together, exercise together, you know, you're under the pressure of losing enough weight at home, you know, to, you know, by the finale to look good.
There's a lot of pressure. So we've learned to support each other. Say listen honey, I need 20 minutes alone. Don't say anything to me. Just give me a few minutes to myself. And then, you know, and then you learn okay, that's what she needs to grow right now and that's what I need.
And then we've also learned that now we're at the point where in order to get closer together, they need some time apart. You know, because you're together all day and this is strenuous activity of exercise, you know, of every single day of working out. You know.
Damien Gurganious: You just learn to sometimes instead of giving advice just listen. Be a sounding board for someone. Let her kind of get things off her chest, you know, like, almost like confession. Get rid of it and then just walk away and knowing that, you know, you left it with - you dropped it and that's it.
So it's just like - it's new to us and before it was like you're trying to learn what support looks like for each other. But now that we've kind of figured it out, it's easy.
Great. And how do you think, you know, this weight loss and just this - even aside from the weight loss, just this experience as a whole leading into your wedding, how do you think that'll change or affect your marriage?
Damien Gurganious: How does the weight loss change it or the activities, what we're going through now would affect it?
Yeah, I think both. I mean, you know, the weight loss, you know, do you think that'll make a difference and, you know, just this experience because like you said, it is a trying and very unique experience.
Damien Gurganious: Well it's like - I would think that the weight loss is going to open up different doors for, you know, for activities and things that we can do as a couple. You know, far as - when we were at our heaviest, you know, our - we love to fly.
For business we're always flying places, for leisure we're flying places and a lot of times sitting next to each other, you know - thank God we buy seats side by side because the person setting between us, that person's in bad shape. They're going to hate that plane ride, you know, for six hours from New York to California.
So now with - because of weight loss, it allows us to enjoy each other and not be cramped up in the seat and if someone actually gets the seat in between us, they can enjoy their flight as well. So we're no longer inconveniencing others.
It makes it better because now we can - we can go for three, four-hour bike rides together and not be tired or winded. We can go to a movie theatre - to a movie theatre together and we can be in the seat side by side, you know, and not infringe upon each other's space and, you know, and comfort.
And so it's actually - we're actually - we're getting to experience life again for the first time, you know, in our new bodies and it's awesome and it's exciting. You know, so it's just - it's just -we're getting to relive things that we've been doing all the time and but we get to experience it the way skinny folks do it.
Right. Well Damien, thank you for your time and we wish you a lot of luck to both you and Nicole in the next couple of months and anxious to see the reveal at the finale.
Damien Gurganious: Well thank you so much for your support.
I guess going back to last night's elimination, were you surprised that you ended up going home?
Damien Gurganious: Fifty-fifty. You know, you know it's a show about competition, you know, and weight loss and there's a prize at the end, so you don't put anything past anyone. Then the other token, it's like I felt that I wasn't going to probably stay because it was a person I was up against who didn't want to be there in the first place.
So, it's kind of like - but once again you're thinking maybe I will stay and then go well, this is an opportunity to get rid of some competition. So you're kind of - you're hoping that it goes your way but in my case it didn't go.
Okay. And I mean you were kind of talking to how it was a competition and that's one of the reasons you think you might have gone home. A lot of Jillian's team members didn't - kind of gave big answers as to why they voted for you. Do you think they wanted to keep her around to kind of be like disruptive influence on the other team maybe?
Damien Gurganious: Well, I mean, we've all seen the show and sometimes it comes down to who plays the game the best. And maybe that was a part of it, you know. We - there's no way of telling, you know, what they were thinking. But I say that it could have been, you know, could have been the way of playing the game, you know. Kind of, you know, stacking the odds in their favor.
Okay. And how seriously did you consider eating any of that food during that temptation?
Damien Gurganious: Not at all. It was - it was like a zero percent chance. The thing is I mean I'm a meat tooth, not a sweet tooth. They had cakes and candies in there and all kinds of stuff like that. Now if they had a slab of bacon, it'd be different, you know. I would have lost. They had lots of cakes and pies, which is not my thing.
Okay. And how did you and Nicole come to a decision that she would go home and you would stay on the ranch after that twist in the first week?
Damien Gurganious: Well Nicole figured that with me and my size and the weight I had to lose that it would be easier for me to stay because I had more weight to lose and that would kind of definitely give us, you know, a strong hold for us staying in the game.
So that's why she decided that, you know - and also she felt that that would her chances of getting back in and also felt that I needed some time to really focus, you know, and just stay there and just get to know more about myself and focusing on Damien a little more.
Okay. I just have one more and then I'll give some other people. What was your reaction to that twist when you first - when you heard about it in the first week?
Damien Gurganious: Well actually I thought it was a great thing because here it is, you know - you actually get rid of your enabler, the person, you know, that you spent the most time eating with and hanging out and just practicing bad habits with.
Now actually it splits you two apart and now it'll just be okay, let's put you to your own devices. You know, there's no enabler in the situation. You away from your partner and you guys are going to figure out how to do it on your own. You know, no more excuses. No more turning to someone else. Now you got to look internally to figure out do you have the power to do stuff.
And I thought it was great, you know, especially with my fiancé. That's who I turn to for everything. And now she's gone and I was like there's no excuses. I've got to do it.
I wanted to know what you learned about Nicole that you - was there something new about her that you found out from sharing this with her.
Damien Gurganious: Well I found out that Nicole once she is set on something, she is going to do it. I realize that Nicole has a way of - she can just click this internal button and once that button is on, she's ready. And nothing's going to stop her. And she just goes after it. If she says she wants to lose six pounds this week, she sets that target and she just gets it and she just - she gets right I mean up on her role every single week.
That's great. That must help motivate you as well I would imagine.
Damien Gurganious: Sometimes. Sometimes you're like I'm trying to get to five pounds and she's got it - she's done eight, you know. And it's like how come I can't do it.
Damien Gurganious: So you have to find out that well what's for her doesn't work for you. You have two different body chemistries, you know, two different ways of doing things. We both have different pallets, you know. What I like I hate oatmeal. She can take a - she can get a gallon of it for breakfast and I don't want to be near it. You know, so we just have to learn what works for each other.
Now have you been cooking? I know that you talked about modifying some of your recipes to eat more healthy.
Damien Gurganious: Yeah. Well not modified. I had to throw them out. I had to get a whole new set of recipes because you really can't make, you know, low fat coconut rice. So you've got to just go ahead and just come up with different plain brown rice with no flavor and just try to enjoy it.
Okay. What are some of your temptations foods that you sort of had to really resist since you've been back?
Damien Gurganious: Well actually my temptation foods I can't even - I can't even enjoy them anymore because like bacon. Bacon is just regular normal bacon, not that turkey bacon, but normal bacon I can't even enjoy it anymore because my body - I haven't had any fat in months. So now all of a sudden I go to have a piece of bacon and I am just like having an upset stomach for like two days.
Damien Gurganious: So that low sodium - we're at the point where sodium it's not really an additive anymore. You know, you don't add any sale anymore. You have like very little salt. And then when you actually do get some sale, you're like wow, this is extreme. This is way too salty. Before it wasn't salty enough. You know, I like salt on my salt. And now it's - you can't have that anymore because your body just rejects it. And you can't process it the same anymore.
Okay. That's interesting. Do you also take us up to date on your weight loss, how much you've lost?
Damien Gurganious: I'm currently - I've lost 85 pounds.
Amazing. And how close are you to the - what was your goal?
Damien Gurganious: My goals was 180, sexy 180. Got to make sure I put that in there. It's a sexy 180 because that is when I'll be getting - we'll be getting married and there'll be no more big and tall wedding suits for me.
Okay. Have you already been to a fitting or have you...
Damien Gurganious: I went to a - I went to a fitting when we first decided to get - to get married but the show actually called us beforehand and I was a size 60 waist.
So it'll be a lot different this time around.
Damien Gurganious: Yeah, I mean a size 60 waist; you've got three options. You have powder blue, (powder) red, you know, also kind of (turquoise) plaid jumper and I was like I think I'll wait.
I was just wondering whose idea was it to come on the show in the first place.
Damien Gurganious: Well, Nicole actually set me up. She actually - one day I had a tight deadline to do on a project and I just happened to bring the project home. And she kept - she kept talking to me. She kept talking to me, talking to me and I'm like I'm trying to get this project done (honey).
And so some show called the Amazing Race I guess was on and she's watching the show and she turns to me. She goes - she goes would you be up to doing a reality show? And just so she would shut up I said yes. And I go back - and I go back to working on this project. And would you believe it, the next frickin day, the commercial for Biggest Loser - it said open auditions at Rockefeller Center. And she looks at me and she's like you said yes. And I was like okay lets do it. So we end up - we go - we end up going down at 5:00 in the morning waiting in line for two hours and the rest is history.
That's great. And do you guys have a pre-wedding diet plan that you're trying to follow?
Damien Gurganious: Well right now we're just - there's only three things that we actually follow. Our calorie intake and just working out, you know, just doing a lot of cardio and make sure that it's minimum 90 minutes in the morning, 90 at night. That is the - that is the basic premise and water.
You know, like that's it. Other than that, there's like a - because sometimes, you know, people set those things I'm going to do two hours in the morning. I'm jogging. And then they consider two hours of actually going to the gym, getting undressed, talking, eating and then they get four minutes and they're okay, I did my two hours. I'm going home.
Ours is actually a committed 90 minutes of a nice intense workout morning, 90 at night, eat your calories and drink lots of water. So that way you can get rid of the salt intake that kind of, you know, the sodium that kind of comes with your food sometimes. And that's it. And that's all we do every day. Well, six days a week. One day we just relax and sleep.
What's the biggest lesson you took away from being at the ranch?
Damien Gurganious: The biggest lesson I would say is honestly it's the simplest thing is that you don't need the show to do it. You just need to want to do it for yourself. If you - you just have to want it, you know. If you're unhappy, only you can change it. And I learned that.
Heck when I was - not to make a long story. But when I was going home, you know, after I got eliminated, I - you go through this cleansing process where you write down everything that you learned on the show and what it was that you're taking. And it was three tings.
And that was I've got to believe in myself, I've got to want it for me and I've got to be committed. And that was all I wrote down. I didn't write down exercising. I didn't write down food. I didn't write down who I respected and cared for. It was just those things.
Damien Gurganious: Yeah. It's all about just setting that goal, you know, and it's no one else's bar. It's your bar. It's because the thing is your body chemistry is yours. You know how much weight you have to lose. You know where your weak points are, your stronghold. And you just work around those and once I had that figured out, I came home and lost nine pounds that week.
Are you like gunning to be the biggest at home loser? Is that just kind of like in the back of your head like well, if it happens, it happens?
Damien Gurganious: It's always there. I mean people try to say - they try to downplay it but the truth is, you're in this thing to kind of compete, you know. Sometimes, you know, Steve is a great motivator and knowing that you don't want to go back on television looking anything similar to how it was when you first stepped on that screen. So yes, I am definitely fighting at home hard as I possibly can because I would like to win at home.
You know, I would like to see you win it because a $100,000 would obviously, you know, make you a wonderful wedding. So I'm rooting for you. What would you do with that $100,000?
Damien Gurganious: Well, to be totally honest, you know, the wedding is already paid for. I think the honeymoon is going to be the magi part because right now we're working out every single day. And I'm going to take the longest honeymoon ever recorded in history.
There's no way I'm, you know - because it's five months of working out every single day. Me and Nicole are in each other's face. We're going to need a vacation where we just - we get to actually forget that we worked out for five months every day through achy bones, you know, tired muscles, you know, or frustration. I think we're just going to spend it on - spend some of it, not all of it, at the crazy vacation.
But a nice honeymoon and just enjoy ourselves and just forget about, you know, the five, six months of working out. So it's mainly going to be a honeymoon thing. And the rest, you know, we're starting our family right after. So the rest of it can go into a, you know, starting our family.
Jennifer Smith: Was the weight loss a big consideration to start a family oing back to, you know, the whole twist of getting half of the contestants home, do you think there were maybe a couple of them that made the wrong decision like are there a couple of people that should have gone home to do it and then there were a couple of people that really need to stay on the ranch?
Damien Gurganious: Well I think some people - you know, I just - you know, you live and you learn. You know, you know, sometimes you make decisions, emotional decisions and sometimes they don't really work out to your favor. But I think the ones - I think when you make a decision, you got to live with it.
And the ones that, you know, chose to stay, you know, it just - it all works out to everybody's benefit because, you know, you mess up, you learn from that. And with me and Nicole, we learned that, you know, we made a good decision but we couldn't control what everyone else, you know, did, you know, after that. You know.
But it just comes down to whatever happens. You know, you really can't control anything. You know, life just happens and the ones that went home, they still did well. The ones that are on the show are doing great. You know, that's how life is. You know, you just go to, you know, play the hand you're dealt sometimes and just work around it.
Before getting to the ranch, what were you expecting and what surprised you?
Damien Gurganious: Like every other person that watches that TV show, I thought maybe you worked out just two hours for the show. That's it. You know. And they say ignorance is bliss. Why do you want to mess that up? And they messed it up for me. I got there and they were like oh, you're working out all day.
And I was like okay, this - you know, I was like what do you mean all day. They was like all day. You work out with Bob. You work out with Jillian. Then all of a sudden he's like okay, now there's four hours of homework afterward. And you're like homework. I'm taking a test?
No, you're on that treadmill, on that Stairmaster another four hours. And it just - it was just a shock to me emotionally and physically because you've now got to actually do those things. You know. And if you don't, it's a show about results. You know, you've got to get it done. And whether you like it or not, you signed up for this. We're going to be knocking your door again without you. You signed up for it. So now you got to do it.
I also wanted to know is Joelle really as bad as what we're seeing on TV.
Damien Gurganious: You can't (mistake) what you (thought), you know.c Everything there that was recorded. You know, it wasn't as if, you know, they made her do that stuff. Everything you saw is actual. You know, that's what was going on.
And it was unfortunate that she was that way but I think sometimes, you know, when, you know, it comes down to it, you know, fight or flight and I think a lot of things that you have gone through, she - just like myself, wasn't really expecting what happened. And once she got there, she reacted a certain way. But I'm sure she probably learned - she tried - figured out a different way of reacting to circumstances.
So basically she was just pushing too hard out of her comfort zone I guess.
Damien Gurganious: Well I think she wasn't aware of - she wasn't aware of what was going to happen, you know. Because the thing is the comfort zone is life. The comfort zone is always going to be pushed no matter what. I think that with her, she just wasn't prepared for the emotional and the physical battle.
And that's what it comes down to is it's metaphysical. It's like you've got to be emotionally ready, spatially ready and you've and you've got to be physically ready to just deal with what's going to happen. Because you're - I mean lets be honest. Look at the word. It's fat. You are fat.
You know, and you've now got to deal with a lot of stuff that you never dealt with before. And you've got to get over those emotional challenges. You've got to get over the fact that even though mentally you feel like you can jog 40 minutes. Physically you can do about 35 seconds, you know. And it's like an emotional crutch. And a lot of times, you know, people they act out different ways. And hers was (unintelligible), you know, just mental block.
Now what would you tell someone who is overweight but uses the excuse of not having enough time? Hear that a lot.
Damien Gurganious: Yeah. And enough time is the key. It's not about the amount of time. It's about the quality of time. If you have five minutes to yourself, most times people are just going to sit down and just get a peace of mind and be quite.
But the, you know - but then on the other hand it's like you have a life to - there's a lifelong battle with like you've got bills, you've got family, you got friends, you got issues at work and you're big. But the main thing it comes down to self-preservation. It's either you or this.
You know, and so a lot of times you got to figure out okay, what do I want to do. Do I want to lose weight or do I want to sit down and have a hamburger. A lot of folks go for the hamburger. I'm at the point where I'm realizing that time you spent on making myself better. And so now I'm at the point where I have 10 minutes alone, I'm doing toe touches, jogging in place, you know, just kind of stretching by body, you know. I've had a 180 turn as far as like what I consider to be downtime.
Do you wish that you'd sort of played more of a mental game while you were there? Maybe like getting into people's heads so that they would get on your side and be less likely to vote you off?
Damien Gurganious: No, I'm glad I played it the way I played it. The way I played it was I was a cheerleader. You know, it's like I did - I did what had to be done for me. Because the thing is it's not about that game because what do you do if you get voted off that show? You played that game and didn't lose any weight.
I felt I was going to play - I was going to play the game my way. And that was support everybody with such an attitude, you know, a figure out okay, this is for me. It's not about this game because I'm not trying to be, you know, all about the game and then miss out on the essentials like the weight loss information.
I forget about, you know, that physical activity, the workouts. I was really trying to focus on learning how to take this information and bring it home because we're going to have a family soon. And I never really thought about the game the way a lot of people have. I just thought, you know, that's just my ignorance. I just thought that we can just go there and just learn and just, you know, do it the right way opposed to, you know, the maniacal way.
When you went home, was it any easier to adjust to just living at home because Nicole had already had a few weeks to kind of learn the ropes a bit and kind of clear out all the trash and junk food and stuff maybe?
Damien Gurganious: No. It's like even though your house is clean, you still have to, you know - we live in New York City. We live in the food capital of the world. I mean you can't walk two feet without finding a hot dog stand or some kind of freebie or Starbucks is giving out some damn sample that's like a thousand calories in like one sip.
You know, so it's harder just trying to get from Point A to Point B. You know, that's the main thing. And in the house, you know, it's controlled. But it's outside, the problem is everything is free in New York. Everything is a free sample. Everyone gets a free sample. From the - this Italian Panini place. Every day there's a lady outside handing out sandwiches.
And you're like holy hell, you're right next to the gym. And so it's a little - so that's the frustrating part is just, you know, being outside every day in New York.
The Biggest Loser: Couples airs on Tuesday nights at 8 PM ET on NBC.