Real ‘Biggest Loser’ winner? Jen Widerstrom

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Two of the top three finalists on “The Biggest Loser,” Sonya and Toma (center; Rob is at right), had Jen Widerstrom as their trainer.  |  NBC UNIVERSAL PHOTO

Sure Jordan won the at-home “Biggest Loser” prize by losing 143 pounds, and Toma took the top prize by dropping 171 pounds during “Biggest Loser: Glory Days.” But in my mind, the real champion of the season was Lisle native Jen Widerstrom.

Widerstrom joined the NBC show as a trainer in this 16th season along with Jessie Pavelka as replacements for long-time trainer Jillian Michaels.


Jen Widerstrom on the cover of Health magazine

Whatever the diet and exercise formula for her White Team was, it worked. That and the way she encouraged her team. The show, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this fall, let us see how much Widerstrom felt each emotional moment with her team. “There were a lot of tears,” was the way show host Alison Sweeney described Widerstrom’s first season.

During the season she was the last of the trainers to lose a first contestant from her team in the weight-loss competition, which saw 20 former athletes vying for the title of Biggest Loser. Most of her team stuck around the longest, and as the season came to an end, two of her original members were in the top three, Toma and Sonya.

By the time the final weight-loss tally was revealed Thursday night, Sonya was in second place — she went from 283 pounds to 139, shedding 144 — and the now 165-pound Toma took home the $250,000 grand prize by leaving behind 171 of his original 336 pounds. (Third-place winner Rob started the season at 483 pounds, lost 238 and ended at 245 pounds.)

And let’s not overlook that Illinois was a big winner, too. Toma, who was born on Chicago’s Southeast Side, now calls west suburban Addison home. Sonya is a physical education teacher from the state capital, Springfield.

Widerstrom herself is a former athlete. She did gymnastics at Naperville North. She knows a thing or two about competing.

“I obviously made it clear I wanted to make an impression this season,” Widerstrom said during the season finale.

She did it!

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