“Makeover week, baby! Yeah!” Jackson expresses precisely what everyone is thinking when we join the five remaining contestants in their limousine for the beginning of “The Biggest Loser” makeover episode.
“This is the day to be part of the show,” says Danni. “I have been looking forward to this, and hoping and praying that I got here the whole time.”
The contestants the celebrity treatment when they get out of the limo and find they’ll be styled by none other than fashion expert Tim Gunn and hair stylist to the stars Ken Paves. Gunn is best known as the designers’ mentor on “Project Runway” and Paves styles the A-List locks of Victoria Beckham and Jessica Simpson.
Cooler still? The kids are here. Lindsay, Sunny, and Biingo will get makeovers of their own. “I might be dreaming,” says 13-year-old Lindsay, “But I know Tim Gunn’s gonna make it work for me.” Of course she couldn’t be happier with the results, pointing out what women across the country already know: “All those tears and sweat — it makes me look good in clothes.”
Jackson is equally thrilled that he can pull off prints and wild colors with his slimmer physique. “These clothes aren’t just a physical thing,” says Jackson. “These are symbols of how far we’ve come, and that’s a great feeling.” Jeff has a moment when he steps in front of the mirror in Tim’s clothing selection. “I have a button-up on, and the buttons aren’t stressed pulling at each other,” Jeff says. “I have a jacket on, and I don’t need the jacket to hide the fact that the shirt doesn’t fit. This is that really sweet moment that you get to realize that all your hard work has paid off.”
All the touching moments aside, like Gina fitting into a Size 10 leather skirt, the best part of the Tim Gunn style makeover is when Biingo steps in to the dressing room. “Well, it looks fancy,” says the 13-year-old future baseball player. Tim reveals “When it comes to fashion challenges, I may place a 13-year-old boy at the top of the list … This skateboard, surfer thing — I’m over it.” In a moment many parents can relate to, Tim and Biingo clash over hoodies, which Biingo compares to the necessity of having your car keys.
Switching gears back to the tear-jerker moments, Danni puts on skinny jeans for the first time and breaks down into tears. “It feels amazing,” she says. “I never thought I would look like this or feel like this in my whole life.” After the try-on session, Danni says, “I feel beautiful … You don’t see the beast that everyone called me. I feel pretty. I’m wearing heels and a dress.”
Next, over at Ken Paves Salon, Paves takes control of the contestants’ and kids’ unruly locks. “I’m just excited,” says Danni. “My face hurts, I’ve been smiling so much.” Paves “can’t wait for them to go to their home towns and show it off.”
The kids’ families haven’t seen their new makeovers yet, but it’s the adult contestants who really plan to shock their friends and families back home. After being at the ranch for nine weeks, and shedding between 75 to 100 pounds each, the contestants are ready to show off how great the results of their hard work. The reactions of the folks gathered at the welcome orates range from applause to outright screams. Danni’s parents are in tears, as her mom says “It’s wonderful to see how comfortable she is on her own skin.”
Joe‘s father feels similarly about his son. “It’s like a birth again. Just a whole new person,” Joe’s dad says. “It brings me to tears that he’s so happy.” Sunni’s mom had to wonder whether she was looking at her daughter or a completely different person. “I haven’t seen her this happy and this confident in a long time,” she says. Jeff’s mom says she’s even prouder of this moment than she was when he graduated from college.
At each home coming party, the contestants are presented with a surprise letter from “The Biggest Loser.” With two weeks at home, the players are issued a challenge. Each player who can lose five percent of his or her body weight while away from the ranch, will earn immunity at the next weigh-in. And there will be no yellow line.
Their second task goes along with this season’s theme of “Challenge America.” Each contestant must lead a workout class the following day for their community. Joe points out how doable it is to accomplish at home what he’s accomplished at the ranch, as his twin brother has been losing weight at a near equal pace to him in his absence.
Eating At Home
Jackson faces his first struggles when sifting through his parents’ refrigerator. There is almost nothing in the kitchen that falls within his eating guidelines. “Five percent is unbelievable. That’s an unreal number,” Jackson says. “And if the kitchen looks the way it does now, I’m not going to be able to reach that.” He sits down and gives him mom a diet lesson while creating a shopping list. “My family’s a perfect example of why obesity in this country is such a big deal,” Jackson says. “I think most American people just don’t understand nutrition.”
Gina goes with her family to a favorite local Mexican restaurant and stands her ground to skip the chips and salsa. When her plate of chicken comes out smothered in cheese and refried beans, Gina has a choice to make — be gracious and accommodating, or stick to the game plan. “I’m resolved that the harder it gets, the tougher I’ll be,” says Gina, as she fights to get healthy food on her plate.
Jeff tells his buddies over dinner how his calories got cut by ninety percent when he arrived at the ranch. He has an awkward exchange with his pals when they want to talk about cheese fries and potato skins, and these are now foreign items to him. “This is another fear I’ve got to face,” says Jeff. “There is literally not one item on this entire menu I can eat. Hands down, in my life, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” And he orders a salad.
Joe also sticks to his guns and fights his desire to order fried foods and pasta, even while his dad dines on linguine next to him. Danni gets to spend time with her dad after he nearly dies of a heart attack. They have a heart-to-heart about health as they chew on salads at her apartment.
From Alabama to Utah, Florida to Michigan, and Illinois, the contestants lead their communities in public workout sessions. At Danni’s session, Season 11 winner Olivia Ward joins her to lead the session.
The contestants turned trainers-for-the-day lead their towns in calisthenics they learned at the “Biggest Loser” ranch. Danni is touched that her father has joined the class and is keeping up. Joe goes a little tougher on his twin brother than the rest of the crowd, but quietly breaks into tears of pride over his progress. Gina takes a moment to mentor a family friend who is up to 436 pounds.
Back to the Ranch
At home, each of the contestants has their own struggles to face. Gina is unsure of herself at the gym without a personal trainer at her side. Danni struggles to find the time to work out between two jobs she has to hold down to meet financial obligations. Jackson’s focus is on mentoring kids in the LGBT support program, and Jeff is tempted by the food-focused lifestyle he’s used to with his buddies. Joe gets a third challenge, from his brother, who wants him to lose 15 pounds (the five percent official challenge requires 14 pounds).
Back at the ranch, the contestants are anxious, hoping they met their challenge weight loss goals. “To be honest, I hope everyone has lost their five percent,” says Jeff. “Because, at the end of the day, we’re all here for the same reason. We’re all here to lose weight and to be better versions of ourselves.”
The trainers seem even more nervous than the contestants about whether the challenge has been met. Trainer Dolvett Quince says, “As these contestants have been home on their own, if they get on the scale … the proof is in the pudding.” Jillian Michaels takes an even harder line stance, saying “Put up or shut up, guys. Now’s the time.”
The Elimination Weigh-In
Danni needs to have lost more than 9 pounds. Her previous weight was 184, and her current weight is … 174. Danni wins immunity with a 10 pound weight loss. She has lost 84 pounds since first weigh-in.
Jackson needs to have lost more than 12 pounds. He wins immunity with a 15 pound weight loss. He has lost 93 pounds since first weigh-in.
Joe needs to have lost more than 13 pounds, but his brother challenged him to lose 15. Joe wins immunity with a 17 pound weight loss. He has lost 120 pounds since first weigh-in.
Jeff needs to have lost more than 14 pounds. He loses 19 pounds to win immunity. “I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of crushing it,” says host Allison Sweeney. Jeff has lost 112 pounds since first weigh-in.
Gina is nervous, as the last contestant to weight in. Since there is no yellow line, if Gina has not lost five percent of her body weight, she will be automatically eliminated. Gina needs to have lost more than 8 pounds to win immunity. The scale tells the tale … Gina lost 10 pounds, so no one in the group will be sent home. “To be able to say that I’m proud is a major accomplishment for me,” says Gina. She has lost 82 pounds since first weigh-in.
The entire team now has one more week on the ranch. But it’s “not over yet,” Sweeney says. “There is one weigh-in left.” The final weigh-in will have a yellow line and a red line. The person with the lowest percentage of weight loss next week will be automatically eliminated. The third and fourth place contestants will fall below the yellow line, and a vote will determine who stays in the competition to compete as a finalist with those who come in first and second place at the weigh-in.
But this time the player’s fellow contestants won’t be voting. America will be. And the ousted contestant won’t know they’ve been ousted until they are standing on stage at the live finale. Yikes!
Tune in next Monday night to “The Biggest Loser” on NBC to see what happens. “It’s every man for himself,” says Jackson. “I love the other competitors, but at this stage in the game, I need to get myself in the finals … It’s game on now.”