Daniel Wright and David Lee, two contestants on The Biggest Loser: Couples, recently held a conference call to discuss their experience on the series, and here's what these two had to say.
Hi, good morning. Were you surprised that you were voted off - especially since Daniel was the heaviest contestant they'd ever had; did you think there would be some sympathy for that?
Daniel Wright: I was surprised - not really. I kind of knew it was coming; I had a gut feeling about it although I was the biggest contestant - maybe some sympathy it was going to - it seemed like it really came down to all of Bob's team was going to vote - Bob's team and all of Jillian's is going to vote Jillian's and they had one more vote.
So I mean that's just - I kind of knew going into it that we would be going home.
Okay. And I noticed at the end of the show you've lost like almost twice as much as weight as Dave. Do you think that really being on campus had that much difference because Dave, when he, you know, the whole point of the show last night seemed to be that he didn't think he needed to be there and he can comment on that too if he'd like to.
Daniel Wright: I think the reason why I've lost almost twice as much as David has so far - part of it was being on the ranch but I think the reason why the ranch helped is I was there long enough to really get in and understand the things about myself that made me eat that much food and exercise that little for so long.
People think the ranch is like a magic pill or a magic place where the weight just leaves you but really the weight loss comes from simple diet and exercise. But I think the tough parts come when the ranch really allows you the space to work through your own personal issues.
Right. So how exciting was it when you went to be tested and you found out that you didn't need to take your diabetes medication anymore? Is there anything else that you've been able to give up?
Daniel Wright: I - basically get off my medicine. I've almost gotten rid sleep apnea; I've still got sleep apnea but I'm pretty close to getting rid of it which I'm excited about. But it was phenomenal to hear about not having to take my medicine anymore; I hate taking pills. I absolutely hate it. I've had to since I was a kid and it's just, you know, one step closer to getting off them completely and I'm really, really excited about it.
Great, now how much weight have you lost now?
Daniel Wright: One hundred and one; the same as - they came not too long ago so I'm kind of stuck at that little point right now.
Good. So going back, you know, watching the episodes and seeing when they showed the updates of David home they kind of showed him eating fried food and still smoking; how did you feel knowing that you were working your butt off, you know, while he was still doing that?
Daniel Wright: I think I just kind of hurt for him just because I know how hard it is to try to do it at home; I've tried to do it for years and haven't been successful yet. And I think for me it just my heart just hurt knowing that he was going through the same struggles that I'd been going through a month earlier. You know, I just knew it'd be hard for him.
Yep. And going back to that last workout with Jillian when she was pushing you, what was going through your head when you fell and she just kept screaming at you to get up?
Daniel Wright: Actually I was hoping they would air it but they didn't; one of the cool things for me at that point was for some reason I was really scared of her but she's like 5 foot nothing and I'm terrified of this woman.
She's pretty scary.
Daniel Wright: Oh she - definitely. But for some reason at the point when I was really afraid I got this image - I'm on the Biggest Loser, I'm in a hot and sweaty gym, I've been getting beat up by Jillian for two hours. And the one thought that's in my head when I'm on this treadmill when I fell was I'd like to be at home eating ice cream on my couch. And what in the world? Where does that thought come from? And what that really helped me to realize at the time was wow when I'm afraid of things or when life gets difficult I run to food. And that was a big realization for me because I'd never wanted to admit that I was an emotional eater; it just sounded cheesy to talk about it. And that right there - it just proved it to me. So I was really mad at her for continuing to yell but she actually was able to help me out.
And would you say like what's the biggest lesson you learned on the ranch or from Jillian?
Daniel Wright: I think that's the biggest lesson is to understand what food is and to put it in its place because for me I used it as a crutch or something I could run to in life and what the ranch helped me realize is that I can, you know, turn to completely other different things and not to food.
And so do you have a favorite healthy recipe now that you like to go to?
Daniel Wright: I've got a couple; one of them is - believe it's not it's cheesy, it's in the Biggest Loser Cookbook, it's like a - I think it's called a steak fried chicken or winning fried chicken. I've actually got it in my kitchen. I'll tell you what - I think it's called winning fried chicken but it's in the Biggest Loser Cookbook and it's stinking awesome.
And just - I'll ask one more question just how have you kept the weight off at home? Has it been tough, you know, being off the ranch?
Daniel Wright: It has been harder at home just because of all the distractions of, you know, doing, you know, hanging out with friends and getting back involved with stuff at church and stuff with the car club we're involved in and just kind of distractions kind of rise up. So that I think is the hard part. But for me it's just staying determined and trying to make everyday as much like the ranch as possible.
Now Dan I was wondering do you still believe it isn't possible to be anything but fat?
Daniel Wright: I do not now actually. That's one of the best parts is realizing that it's possible. It's hard to see the physical difference sometimes but I feel the - I feel the physical differences if that makes sense.
So when did that switch for you? When was the turning point?
Daniel Wright: That day on the treadmill believe it or not on the fourth week. That was when I switched over; that's when, you know, it was down on the ranch when the switch flipped, you know.
All right. Actually this is for you David. Now how hard it is for you to step out of your comfort zone?
David Lee: It's, you know, it's a struggle for anybody. For me, you know, that was my problem that first week and unfortunately I didn't have to be there to be able to do it.
Fair enough. Now Dan what do you see is your biggest challenge after leaving the ranch? Like is it the food or is it the exercise?
Daniel Wright: The exercise is easy; the food part is I think is the hard one for me. Just because I've been able to make a lot of the good life changing, you know, decisions with food to the point where I could definitely go into maintenance mode or even lose the weight, you know, in a small way.
But to continue to drop big numbers and continue to try to keep up with, you know, all my boys back on the ranch, the hard part for me is going to be, you know, making eating a science, you know, getting down to, you know, eating five meals a day and trying to eat, you know, a certain number of calories at each meal and really timing it out; that's the hard part for me, to do that in real life.
What was Kurt Warner like?
Daniel Wright: Kurt Warner was awesome, oh man he was so cool. He's been a childhood hero of mine since I saw him with the Rams basically. I don't know if was childhood but I think it was in middle school when I saw him. Basically because he's got the same faith that I do and seeing him really, really representing and really just doing his best out there on the field and being a good example to everybody, I really look up to him and it was really great to meet him.
Excellent. Now since both of you guys were linemen I was just wondering who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl and what types of snacks you guys going to be enjoying while you're watching the game?
Daniel Wright: Oh, good question. David, do you want to take that one or do you want me to take it?
David Lee: I'll let you take the snacks. I think both of us are definitely rooting for the Cardinals.
Daniel Wright: Absolutely. Because of Kurt Warner, I mean, he's got such a strong faith and it's the same faith we have and he's willing to show it on national television. So we're definitely going to support him.
David Lee: You want to take the snacks on Daniel?
Daniel Wright: Oh yeah... Snacks for me, two things, one is carrots and humus. I know it sounds weird but they're awesome together and they really replace chips and dip so that...
David Lee: Not for everybody.
Daniel Wright: Do what now?
David Lee: Not for everybody.
Daniel Wright: Oh yeah.
Right on. What about those chicken things that they were making on the show?
Daniel Wright: That too, that's what I was going to say for the second one; those were really, really good.
David Lee: Okay, we need to do that.
David, according to last night's episode the ending really kind of made it look like you almost campaigning to be voted off. Was that accurate and can you talk a little bit about why you used some of that pre-vote time to talk about how you can lose the weight from home?
David Lee: You know, the reason I did that is because I don't want people to think that the ranch is a magical place that you go and the weight just falls off. You know, there's 250,000 that tried out for that show and 22 made it. So those other people have to know that it can be done from home. But, you know, as my progress is showing it is harder and it does take longer because you have to live your life and do this.
You know, and unfortunately I have to work full time so, you know, I can't - in order to live I have to work so the exercise thing, you know, is second place. But, you know, I'm still striving, I'm still, you know, still trying to eat right amongst all the sensation, you know, things happen.
And unfortunately the camera guys they kind of - they pretty much tell you what they want you to do and, you know, at the point - at that point when they were filming I was naïve enough to think that they, you know, wouldn't show me eating fried chicken because it was my high calorie day.
But they did and that's something I've had to live and learn with TV. But, you know, it doesn't hurt my feelings because there's got to be - there's people out there that are having the same struggles I'm having and, you know, I want them to know that it can be overcome.
So were you basically, you know, campaigning to go home at that point or no? You know, was it basically Daniel made a reference there to the fact that you guys weren't very surprised; that you kind of figured you were going home and...
David Lee: Yeah, we knew we were and the reason why is because when you're there it becomes very much Bob's team versus Jillian's team. And unfortunately Bob's team had more votes. You know, we pretty much knew we were going. And no, I wasn't campaigning to leave. You know, my feelings about being there were put aside for the fact that me and Daniel - especially Daniel needed to be there at that point.
Even though I didn't enjoy it, like I said, you know, had I had another week to be there maybe that would have turned around and started, you know, actually enjoying being there. But that was just, you know, my own inner struggle and I wasn't going to lie about it; I was going to be honest because everybody's different, you know.
Yeah, you actually (allude) that to the episode, there were a few different times you were filmed talking about how, you know, it's very hard being there for you and how your heart wasn't really it; can you elaborate on that and talk a little bit about what you meant by that and why you seemed to have a harder time than most of the other folks there?
David Lee: Well, you know, I guess it's just because I adapt to change very slowly where that week wasn't necessarily long enough for me to adapt to being there. So - and I'm a very honest person so I wasn't going to lie about anything. So, you know, I really think if I'd had another week I would've actually enjoyed it and I wouldn't have said those things. But my point still comes across is that, you know, even if you're at home you still have to do this in order to live a healthy life.
You know, there's so many of these people in the world today and they have to know that getting on the Biggest Loser isn't their only hope.
So was there some part of the ranch experience that wasn't what you expecting or ...where did that disconnect come in?
David Lee: Well it's pretty much being locked down, you know, you can't - you're not in control of not even 1% of your life.
But weren't you aware of that going into it?
David Lee: You know, partially but not totally. I understood some of it and like I said, you know, I mean, I feel bad kind of but I told the truth and that's how I was feeling at the time and, you know, I'm not going to do anything other than tell the truth, so...
Daniel? We saw a little bit of your facial reaction at the time but what was your reaction when that whole pre-vote thing went down and, you know, David kind of seemed to be, you know, mentioning how he wasn't opposed to going home and working at home? I mean, did you have any concerns? I mean, you had been there for 30 days, obviously wanted to stay around.
Daniel Wright: Definitely. I was a little shocked when he said it but at the same time I knew he'd felt that way because me and him had had plenty of discussions week one about it. You know, that was part of our decision in who would stay just because he was really excited about getting to go home for 30 days and I was really excited about getting to stay. So the first week worked out for us and I kind of figured he'd be coming back in.
And I was shocked that he would say it but at the same time I was appreciate of him being honest just because, you know, although, you know, I would have, you know, liked him to, you know, to want to be there at the same time if he doesn't want to be there, doesn't have the desire to be there, you know, I don't know if it would help him at the time. And so I was just really, really appreciate that he was actually honest.
So you guys hadn't discussed that ahead of time or anything?
Daniel Wright: No, we hadn't discussed it ahead of time. There was - we got to see each other at the weigh in and there was a TV timeout right after that and then we went straight into the house.
For David, how was it being like, I mean, doing this at your age, I mean, you're young guy, the youngest contestant ever; how was that for you going in and seeing these - a lot of the people your competition being kind of older, being in a different place in their lives?
Daniel Wright: Well I wasn't the youngest, I was almost; (Mike) was one year younger than me.
(Alex Davies): Oh wow, okay.
Daniel Wright: But I was the biggest. The hard part was basically just the (unintelligible) of the house, you know, being locked up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere for, you know, that long kind of creates your own little social network or your own, you know, almost society basically. And - because I was younger it was harder to get a word in edgewise a lot of times and kind of hard to get my two cents in I think to the main consensus a lot which kind of, you know, kind of made me feel left out.
But at the same time everybody was great people and really, really - a lot of the older women were - became like mothers for me on the ranch and stuff. So it was still cool at the same time.
Okay. And now for both of you how has being on the show and kind of the way you guys left and everything that's gone on since - how has it affected your friendship?
Daniel Wright: I don't think it's affected it that much at all. I mean what do you think David?
David Lee: You know, from my standpoint and I think I could speak for both of us, I think we're even stronger.
Daniel Wright: Yeah.
Okay, great. And now is there anything from the ranch that you actually miss at all?
Daniel Wright: I miss all of it. Like I said in one of my final interviews, I loved it; it just - it was a, you know, a perfect environment for change although I know it's not reality and I know it can't, you know, I know that can't transit into real life but I think it provides a great, great environment to change and understand yourself. And so yeah I miss that but at the same time I understand that, you know, everyone has to go home eventually.
Yeah, and how about you David?
David Lee: I miss the people. You know, when you're stuck together like that you build a strong bond even within a week's time. So I definitely miss the people. And I think I miss the opportunity I could have had had I stayed longer.
And is there anything that you guys are definitely glad not to have to deal with anymore maybe screaming trainers, anything?
David Lee: TV.
What did you guys think of Tara's little rant there when she voted for you guys to stay?
Daniel Wright: David, you want to take that one?
David Lee: Sure, you know, Tara is that kind of person, it was kind of expected. I think she went a little overboard because she didn't understand where I was coming from. And, you know, I think if she had the opportunity she would apologize. And I don't say that to be, you know, condescending or anything but she just - she didn't understand. You know, I was dedicated to be there I just didn't enjoy it if that makes sense.
Did you kind of see what she was talking about though, like, do you like sympathize with what she was saying?
David Lee: Oh yeah, I definitely agree with what she said. You know, I needed to be there which is why I was perfectly willing to stay even if we were still there at this point I would still be working as hard as I could giving 150% to stay. And, you know, like I said previously - you said you got in late but, you know, I think if I'd have had more time there I would have actually started to cope and enjoy.
And this is for both of you guys: What is your relationship like now especially like right after you left the ranch; what was it like?
Daniel Wright: It was pretty good. I was just really excited to see him because I'd been without friends or family for a month or four weeks or however long it was. But we were actually good, you know, I wasn't mad at him or anything and he wasn't mad at me. It was - we were able to support each other and get back where we left off.
Okay. And your exercise routine, I know you said you've been working out a lot, what's been some of the biggest either challenges to your exercise routine or maybe some of the biggest joys that you've accomplished?
Daniel Wright: Go ahead.
David Lee: Go ahead. For me, you know, being - I've done the majority of this on my own from home so for me I think the biggest thing for my workout was to find something that I enjoyed doing that would burn a lot of calories. And for me it's basketball. I get together with a bunch of guys and play full court basketball and, you know, I'll play for an hour and a half, two hours and burn 2000 calories.
And my heart rate stays up, I'm constantly running and moving and you've definitely got to find a workout routine that you enjoy doing otherwise you're going to get burned out on it. But I also do the weight training and the cardio on the, you know, bike and treadmills and stuff like that but you have to have something in there that you enjoy.
And my last question would be there's always the constant debate whether someone's weight has to do with nature or nurture so I'd just like to know like your opinions, do you think a lot of it is genetic in that we just, you know, make it even worse or do you think it's pretty much all our doing like with the weight problem in the United States for example?
Daniel Wright: I don't think it's genetic at all; I think there are times and certain people have diseases like thyroid problems and different hormonal dysfunctions that really cause weight gain and with those people, you know, I, you know, medical stuff is what's got to go with them. But I think with the average American it is not genetics that make us fat, it is the fact that there are tons of chemicals in all the food we eat; it's the fact that much of our food is processed; most of it is from a fast food restaurant.
And we barely move; most of our jobs involve sitting for long periods of time and high stress mental work but not any physical labor. I think the main problem - I think when you said nature versus nurture I'm not sure if you meant what I'm thinking but I think a lot of it has to do sometimes with upbringing a lot of parents instill sometimes bad habits in their kids of fast food and sometimes, you know, like in my case just from out of love, you know, if certain foods weren't allowed since I was overweight and that just created, you know, for me it created a higher value on those foods.
So for me I went after the foods that were bad for me instead of the foods that were good for me simply because, you know, the analogy of the kid with the - kid in the cookie jar kind of thing. So I definitely think, you know, upbringing can play a big part into - into eating habits but I don't think it's genetic at all.
David Lee: Just to elaborate on that too though, I mean, at a certain point though you make your own decision as to whether you want to be fat or not.
Daniel Wright: Oh absolutely.
David Lee: Even if you are brought up the wrong way at a certain point you definitely - you have to make your own decisions.
I've got a couple of small questions that have just kind of come up on our message boards. You guys were MIA last week at the temptation...
Daniel Wright: Yes.
(Brandy Tosky): ...I think everyone's curious where you guys were?
Daniel Wright: I was at the doctor actually. Oh yeah, I had - well if you want to be graphic, severe constipation.
Daniel Wright: Oh yeah, it was exciting; it was very exciting.
I mean I guess without going into all the gory details is that a common thing on the ranch because I've talked to Bernie and I've talked to Colleen and I've talked to a few other contestants in the past and they say that, you know, a lot of stuff starts changing when you're losing all that weight.
Daniel Wright: It wasn't common but a lot of stuff does change; the first two weeks on the ranch are extremely - just a big detox phase just because, you know, you go from eating all that processed junk at home to clean good foods and your body just freaks out. And for me that was - created that problem. That's where I was at; I was with Dr. H.
All right. And then Jillian hasn't really been around in last week's episode and last night, we haven't really seen much of her until kind of the final moment of the show. Is that just the way it's been edited or has she - was she missing those weeks?
Daniel Wright: Oh that's editing; she was there a lot, man, you know, she was there for us - she would do crazy red eye flights from interview stuff she had to do just to get back and be with us for a few more hours. She was great.
Okay great. And then just to kind of move forward on the last question the previous person asked, there's, you know, a lot of the "Biggest Loser" fans and bloggers and whatnot have kind of pointed out that the two of you are an example of the young obesity in America and I'm sure you're not, you know, blind to the growing obesity epidemic that is affecting our children and teens.
Even this past Oprah had a two day special about teen obesity.
Daniel Wright: Yeah.
I'm wondering do you guys understand, I mean, probably more so now but do you think people really understand their obesity and the factors that contribute to it and are you sympathetic to the challenge that people like you have and do you think people might be blissfully ignorant? I know I'm kind of running on and on here. I guess what are your thoughts on this trend?
Daniel Wright: I think it's a lot of things. I think there's just so many factors that play into it especially with kids because you've got self image problems, you've got self confidence issues, you've got all kinds of things. And everybody has their vice especially in high school and, you know, there's a lot of stuff going on. You know, a lot of kids are turning to alcohol, a lot of kids are involved in drinking and drugs and a lot of kids involved in smoking and some type of vice. And I think for a lot of the obese kids food became that thing.
You know, I think no matter what your upbringing is you do, I mean, I do completely agree with David, I mean, you make the choice to eat what you eat and you make the choice to not move. But I do think - I definitely sympathize with them because there's a lot of struggles that come with it, you know, food is almost becoming an addiction. You know, where you eat foods that are bad for you even when you may not want to, you know.
Right. Where do you think the line falls, you know, one of the questions is everybody is like, you know, no matter what the situation is everyone wants to place blame. So do you think the responsibility falls on the shoulder of yourself or on society or is it kind of a mix? Because, you know, in the case of like younger kids who don't really have a lot of choice when their mom pulls into the fast food every night; that's just what they eat.
But then, you know, the people who are producing our food are also, like you said, filling it with chemicals and preservatives. So where do you think the fault lies and do you think it's a shared responsibility?
David Lee: You know, my opinion, I think it's - the fault lies on the individual. But in saying that society has become I want it and I want it now. You know, fast food drive-thrus and pizza buffets for $5, you know, society is making it easy to be obese. That's unfortunate and I think things are starting to change now. I think actually the Biggest Loser is making a big impact on that.
But, you know, it's expensive to eat healthy. It really is; it's expensive to eat healthy. When you can go to a pizza buffet for $5 and eat as much as you want to but you go get a salad somewhere and it's $6, $7. Now there's ways to get around that but you have to be willing and able to look for those ways.
I was going to say (Curtis) - on the point of the, you know, healthy food being more expensive you had an opportunity to have (Curtis) come to your home and you guys went grocery shopping together and then went home and prepared the meal. And, you know, he was pitching it as, you know, this is a really low cost affordable meal. What was your position on that and do you think that that's easy to replicate affordably?
David Lee: Oh yeah, I mean, you know, you can get chicken breasts pretty cheap. All it was was chicken breasts, salad and all that stuff can be gotten at the grocery store, you just have to take the time and effort to make it. You know, and it's really not, you know, you can make a salad and make it last 3-4 days.
David Lee: So there's, you know, there's definitely ways to do it within a - and, you know, I'm restricted to a very, very small budget which is why I have to work full time; being at home I don't have the option of, you know, being able to make my own Biggest Loser at home. I have to go back to my regular life. But there's definitely ways that you can find affordable foods that you can eat and that are healthy for you.
And again it's just up to those, you know, it's just up to everybody to make the choice to do that.
David Lee: Exactly, yet it's hard; it takes extra time, it takes resisting temptation every time you drive by a McDonalds or a Hardy's or - and, you know, just where we live in a small town of Fuquay, you know, there's 10-15 drive-thru restaurants in a row.
Daniel Wright: Yep.
David Lee: You just have to be able to resist that temptation. And, you know, I'm preaching to the choir because it's tough for me because it's so easy and it's so simple just to drive thru and get something that has 1000 calories in it and eat it and be happy. So it's a constant struggle and it's something you have to be - you have to get to the point where you realize that I've got to do this. You really do.
Great, well do you guys have plans once the show wraps to get involved in any organizations or doing any work with children and teens?
Daniel Wright: I want to start something; I have no idea what it's going to be but I definitely want to start something. I mean I have no idea, I just - I know there are other Daniels sitting up there on a couch somewhere watching the Biggest Loser and if I can find some way after this whole this over to reach every single one of those that would be awesome.
I think a lot of them want to be reached and they just don't know how, so...
Daniel Wright: Absolutely.
David Lee: Right.
I just had a couple of follow-ups. Daniel, there was a point in last night's show where Jillian accused you of talking a big game but failing to deliver.
Daniel Wright: She did. I saw that.
What was your reaction to hear that? Was that the first time you'd heard it or...
Daniel Wright: It was. It was the first time I heard that. She had mentioned some stuff like that in our little bat with the treadmill but I was kind of confused I guess. I think it comes from the fact that when I got up on that scale I had mentioned that I'd hoped to had the biggest loss in Biggest Loser and they liked to play that over and over and over again.
You know, I don't think it comes from talking a big game because I don't - my problem is I've never really had a lot of pride in myself so I'm not sure what game I could talk about. But I guess, you know it's how she felt. You know, I'm just trying to get confident, you know.
Are you taking that as a little bit of a challenge or just brushing it off or...
Daniel Wright: Kind of a little bit of a challenge, you know, that's why - I felt like this entire Biggest Loser experience has been a challenge for me because, you know, the Biggest Loser is, you know, sometimes they step up and get in a cast member who's extremely large and I'm so far the largest. So I think I represent a class of obese people and I feel like, you know, since the start of the show that responsibility has been on my shoulders to step up and prove that we too can lose the weight and do it the way of, you know, being athletic and eating right.
Okay. David, was Tara the only one that voiced those type of comments like that or did some of the other contestants make similar comments to you?
David Lee: Tara was the strongest. Felipe said something but his was more, you know, he just wanted me to understand that, you know, his reasoning behind what he's doing so kind of the same as Tara. But he just - he wanted me to understand, you know, that he was giving up in his life in order to do this and that I needed to understand why - I needed to do the same.
Okay. And did any of those cooking tips that (Curtis Stone) gave you stick after he left?
David Lee: Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, he showed me how to cook, you know, he showed me how to make a seasoning that tastes just like my favorites restaurant. And that has definitely stuck; every time I make chicken I put that on there.
Okay. So did you start seeing, you know, better weight results after that visit or...
David Lee: Well my weight results have been kind of steady. So - but it's definitely - it's helped me to be able to do more healthy foods. Because I never cooked before so he showed me some really easy ways and you don't always see that on TV but he showed me a lot of easy ways to make food - healthy food.
Okay, and Daniel mentioned he's up to 101 now; what's your loss at?
David Lee: Fifty one pounds.
Fifty one? Okay, great. Thank you guys.
Daniel Wright: Thank you.
David Lee: Yep.
The Biggest Loser: Couples airs Tuesday nights at 8 PM ET on NBC.