‘Biggest Loser’: 10 years and 33,000 pounds later

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October marks 10 years since “The Biggest Loser” debuted on NBC.

So what’s happened in that time?

Well, a lot of pounds have been dropped by the 310 (including the season 16 crew) contestants that the show’s fans have gotten to know over the last decade. That’s a good 33,000 pounds since “Biggest Loser” started airing. (To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of the weight of an entire school bus and then some. Remember the 50-foot Moonman at the 2013 VMA’s? That humongous thing weighed 33,000 pounds.)

The contestants have changed terrible eating habits. (Who can forget the contestant who admitted he ordered an entire pizza so regularly each night AFTER eating dinner that the pizza joint would deliver it without him even calling?). We’ve watched them take on their emotional demons, the ones they often say led to their weight problems (so many, many times viewers cried along with contestants talking about losing a beloved parent, spouse or child too soon).

And we’ve watched the competitors transform from people who could barely stand on a treadmill without passing out or puking (we have seen our fair share of that on “Biggest Loser”) into athletic powerhouses running 26.2 miles of marathons. Think about it: who among us ever considered weighted workout ropes before “Biggest Loser”? They’re a must-have now for fitness clubs.

Trainer Bob Harper, now running the Comeback Canyon portion of the show, has been with “Biggest Loser” since day one. (It’s fun to go back and see those early seasons and notice how the number of My Trainer Bob’s tattoos has grown bigtime.)

“Biggest Loser” has made Harper, Dolvett Quince and former show star Jillian Michaels household names. In fact, we tend to call them by just their first names, as if they were our good buddies (well, BFFs who’ll yell to keep us moving, but loyal pals nonetheless).

But if the audience doesn’t take to a trainer, she gone (we’re talking about you, Anna Kournikova).

Trainers Jessie Pavelka and hometown hero Jennifer Widerstrom (she’s from west suburban Lisle) joined the show for season 16.

And let’s not forget Alison Sweeney, host extraordinaire (she replaced comedian Caroline Rhea after season 3). She’s done a bit of a transformation herself and sports a killer toned body these days.

Chicago and its suburbs have been home to a number of “Biggest Loser” contestants and grand prize winners, including Michael Ventrella (he also was the largest contestant — he began at 526 pounds — ever to win the $250,000) from season 9 and Danni Allen of season 14. Toma Dobrosavljevic of Addison is one of this season’s remaining contenders.

To mark the 10th anniversary, the trainers, Sweeney and a few fan favorite former contestants will be live-tweeting during the October shows, which, by the way, go from two hours to one starting tonight. Among those tweeting tonight (using the hashtag #BL10years) will be three Chicago area former contestants: season 15’s Tanya Winfield (@TanyaWinfield) and season 5’s mom-son team Jackie (@JackieEvans) and Dan Evans (@DanEvansMusic).

“The Biggest Loser” airs locally at 7 p.m. Thursdays on NBC-Channel 7.

— Sue Ontiveros


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