Chicagoan gets serious about health, fitness with stint on ‘The Biggest Loser’
Though she was eliminated in the reality show’s fourth week, Delores Tomorrow said she’s proud of the changes she’s made to be healthier.
It had not occurred to Chicagoan Delores Tomorrow to audition for a reality television show — until one of Tomorrow’s clients who was hoping to be chosen as one of the trainers on “The Biggest Loser” suggested she apply.
Tomorrow, a 34-year-old event planner who runs the nonprofit iGlow Mentoring, told her client she wasn’t big enough to be on the show. Her client responded that Tomorrow — who weighed 280 pounds, the heaviest in her life— certainly was.
The next day, Tomorrow talked with representatives from the show, and a month later, she was in New Mexico along with 11 other competitors to see who could lose the most weight and be crowned the biggest loser. Divided into two groups, the 12 worked out and competed in team challenges,then participated in a weigh-in that eliminated someone each week until just one winner remained.
Tomorrow made it to the fourth week before being sent home. At that point, she had lost a total of 23 pounds and learned some things about herself.
“One of the hardest pieces for me was the emotional piece,” Tomorrow said this past week, a day before the episode in which she’s sent home aired Feb. 18 on USA Network. “I never realized how much emotions impacted this. I never really knew how stress would stop me from losing weight even if I was doing the right things.”
Being a part of the show was hard, Tomorrow said, starting with the first team challenge: running one mile. “I don’t run,” she said during the first episode. In fact, she had never run even one block before that day. She was the last person to cross the finish line for her team. “However, I did it. That felt great.”
What didn’t feel great was having no contact with friends, family and co-workers. “You’re literally in a bubble, not able to talk to anyone besides the people you’re living with.” Phones and computers are confiscated, and none of the competitors can leave the site. The focus is on working out, eating healthy and losing weight.
“When you’re pushed in that bubble and you remove the things you have been coping with — like food — it forces you to just deal with you. It forces you to deal with things that you’ve been blinded to,” she said.
Everything Tomorrow did during the month she was on the show was hard. “But the real work started the day I left the campus. … I was not in a controlled environment.”
It was challenging to integrate what she had learned into her everyday life running a nonprofit, which prepares young women of color for college and beyond. She’s on the road a lot, staying in hotels and not getting enough sleep. “What we did on the show is not realistic for everyday life. … The idea of me working out five to seven hours a day is just not feasible.” (One day, the competitors worked out nine hours, though not all at once.)
Tomorrow is proud she’s not gained any weight since returning home last fall; she can’t say more because she’s not allowed to disclose her weight until the show finishes airing later this spring. She’s especially pleased about maintaining her weight despite taking 21 girls from her nonprofit on a trip to London and Paris earlier this year.
Some of the changes she’s made include regularly ordering from the children’s menu, and at the airport, instead of working on her laptop, she walks the terminal, sometimes up to 90 minutes to get in those steps.
She looks for practical things that can be adopted for a lifetime, like “finding those opportunities to move” and replacing the juice and soda she used to drink with water.
“I never want to go back, and to not go back, I have to adopt things that are going to work for me.”
She also wants to help others, especially the 3,000 girls who participate in iGlow Mentoring, to make changes. Tomorrow called two of the nonprofit’s participants when she and the rest of the competitors were allowed to make their first call home.
During that video chat, she tearfully tells the girls: “I felt like I was not a great example to you all. … I have just neglected myself and my health for so long, so this was pretty drastic for me to do. I felt like I had to do it too because I needed to be an example, not just to you all but to all the girls.”
Since returning home, she’s made changes at home and work. Before competing on “The Biggest Loser,” it had not occurred to Tomorrow to incorporate health and wellness into her nonprofit’s curriculum. That’s being added, and they’re also more mindful of food that’s served at events.
Being sent home after Week 4 was a surprise because “that was the week I just knew I just killed it,” said Tomorrow, who also worked on the advance team for former First Lady Michelle Obama from 2009 to 2016.
“How do you incorporate this into everyday life? I’m still trying to figure it out.”
“The Biggest Loser” airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on USA Network. Suzanne McBride chairs the Communication Department at Columbia College and contributes as an editor and writer at the Chicago Sun-Times.