Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Biggest Loser finale predictions

So I'm a spreadsheet geek. I've been keeping track of the contestants' weight loss numbers and percentages on the ranch and, where possible, at home. I've got stats coming out the wazoo. :) So I absolutely had to run the numbers to try and predict the weigh-in results tonight, not just for the finalists, but for all the at-home contestants.

First off, I'm going to predict that Mike wins the elimination-shield vote over Ron. I think there are a ton of people out there who want to punish Ron for his low dealings this season, and I also think there are a ton of Tara fans out there who want her to win and have thus been voting for Ron for the Final 3, but ultimately I think Mike has a huge support base and he's just so goshdarn nice that I think he'll come out ahead. So let's assume Tara, Helen and Mike in the Final 3, and the rest of the contestants playing the at-home game.

Next up: assumptions.

The biggest indicator, I think, of how the at-home contestants are going to do at the final weigh-in is not how well they did at the ranch, but how well they did after the ranch. We get this information from the pants-drop profiles of the just-got-voted-off-contestant at the end of each episode. Usually, we are told what they weigh as of the profile. The rather crucial missing information, however, is how much time there is between their departure from the ranch and the filming of the profile. Without this information, it's impossible to predict how well they've been doing week-over-week at home, and how much time they had left between profile and finale to lose more weight.

So, it's time for detective work.

Fact: according to this entry at Alison Sweeney's Biggest Loser blog, she "had to go right to the hospital after shooting a weigh-in at Biggest Loser. So, I arrived not having eaten lunch, or anything. And Megan was born that night!" According to various news articles such as this one, Megan was born on January 12. Therefore, we know that the weigh-in where Alison was in labour was shot on January 12.

Fact: In the Week 13 show, we are told that Alison just had her baby after the previous weigh-in. Therefore, it was the Week 12 weigh-in where Alison was in labour. The Week 12 episode aired on March 24, 2009.

Fact: Between weigh-in and airing was January 12 to March 24: 10 weeks (minus a day; let's say 10 weeks just to have a nice round number).

I'm therefore going to assume that, until Week 17, the difference between leaving the ranch and the airing date of a contestant's departure episode was 10 weeks.

But...are the pants-drop profiles filmed immediately before airing? I found an article which suggests not. According to this article, Kristin's pants-drop profile was filmed on April 7. However, the episode showing this profile was aired on April 21. So it appears that there's a two-week time lag between profile and airing. (This makes the Life & Style article she appeared in make much more sense, as there was an 8-pound difference between the pants-drop profile which aired on April 21 and the magazine article which was published on April 22.) This means that contestants have 8 weeks between leaving the ranch and being profiled, assuming the schedule of Kristin's profile shoot is typical. Since her profile revolved around a very specific event, this two-weeks-before-airing schedule may not be typical. The profile shoots may actually typically occur much closer to the air date.

However, it's certainly safe to say that contestants have had between 8 and 10 weeks at home to make a difference by the time they're profiled at home on the show. Here, then, are the at-home contestants whose pants-drop profile weights we actually know: (I'm eliminating Aubrey and Filipe from this list as their profile interviews indicated that they initially stalled or gained upon their returns home)

Contestant Last ranch weight At-home weight Difference Average at-home weight loss percentage
Blaine 299 279 20 0.67%-0.84%
Carla 339 292 47 1.39%-1.73%
Cathy 241 215 26 1.08%-1.35%
Damien 351 307 30 0.85%-1.07%
Daniel 394 353 41 1.04%-1.30%
David 377 347 30 0.80%-0.99%
Jerry 343 285 58 1.69%-2.11%
Joelle 278 252 26 0.94%-1.17%
Kristin 244 228 16 0.82% (definitely 8 weeks between ranch departure and profile shoot)
Laura 208 208 0 0%
Mandi 197 179 18 0.91%-1.14%
Nicole 251 175 76 3.03%-3.78%
187 164 23 1.23%-1.54%
Shanon 238 198 40 1.68%-2.10%
Sione 256 235 21 0.82%-1.03%

Also of interest is this comparison chart of ranch vs. at-home weight loss (assuming 8 weeks at home before profile shoot):

Contestant Average weight loss % on ranch Ratio
On ranch At home
Blaine 3.01 0.84 28%
Carla 2.11 1.73 82%
Cathy 1.61 1.35 84%
Damien 2.62 1.07 41%
David 4.07 0.99 24%
Jerry 3.52 2.11 60%
Joelle 2.01 1.17 58%
Kristin 2.01 0.82 41%
Laura 1.80 0.00 0%
Mandi 2.51 1.14 45%
Nicole 6.69 3.78 57%
-2.75 1.54 N/A
Shanon 2.27 2.10 93%
Sione 2.23 1.03 46%

From this (not counting Laura's 0% due to injury nor Nicole's second time away from home), it seems that contestants, on average, have an at-home weight loss rate of 53.7% of what they lose at the ranch.

Special cases:

Aubrey initially gained 9 pounds upon returning home, then lost that 9 pounds, then lost an additional 10lbs. According to the Wikipedia article for this season of The Biggest Loser, the gain happened in the first three weeks. Assuming 8 weeks between ranch departure and profile, she lost 19 pounds over 5 weeks, starting from 200lbs. This represents an average at-home weekly weight loss of 1.90%.

Dane's weight was never revealed during his pants-drop profile. So all we have to go on definitively is his time on the ranch. His average weekly weight loss on the ranch was 3.03%. If we apply the average at-home-vs.-ranch weight loss ratio of 53.7%, this gives us an expected weekly at-home weight loss percentage for Dane of 1.63%. However, Dane was recently profiled in various news articles for completing the Country Music Marathon, and hints about his current weight were given. This article, dated April 28, said he was down to 269lbs.This article, dated April 24, said he was almost 160lbs lighter, which would give him a current weight of 252lbs. And this article, dated April 24, said he was about 260lbs. Each article gives a rather different current weight, but they all average out to about 260lbs. The episode where Dane left the ranch aired February 25, which means, given the established 10-week lag between elimination and episode airing, that the date he left the ranch was December 16, at which point he was 312lbs. Between ranch departure and the marathon interviews was approximately 18.5 weeks. This gives us 52lbs lost over 18.5 weeks, starting from 312lbs. This represents an average at-home weekly weight loss of 0.90%. Being generous, I'll average the expected weekly at-home weight loss percentage of 1.63% with the deduced 0.90% and let's say that Dane's projected weekly at-home weight loss percentage is 1.27%.

What we have for David are his come-back weigh-in results: 347lbs. This weigh-in occurred very shortly after the end of Week 12. By contrast, his weight at the Week 1 weigh-in was 377lbs. This represents a loss of 30lbs over 11 weeks, starting from 377lbs. This represents an average at-home weekly weight loss of 0.72%.

What we have for Estella are her come-back weigh-in results: 197lbs. This weigh-in occurred very shortly after the end of Week 12. By contrast, her weight at the Week 1 weigh-in was 233lbs. This represents a loss of 36lbs over 11 weeks, starting from 233lbs. This represents an average at-home weekly weight loss of 1.40%.

Filipe initially "stalled" upon returning home, according to his pants-drop interview, before going on to lose 13lbs. Assuming that, like Aubrey, the "bad" period took 3 weeks to come out of, he lost 13lbs over 5 weeks, starting from 234lbs. This represents an average at-home weekly weight loss of 1.11%.

While we do have solid weight loss numbers at Kristin's pants-drop profile, with a very precisely established date for the weight (giving her an average at-home weekly weight loss percentage of 0.82%), we also have to take into account the fact that one or two weeks later, she was down an additional 8 pounds, according to this magazine article, which was published April 22. This is pretty typical of Kristin, whose weight loss numbers have kind of bounced up and down week-to-week. The only problem is that we don't know exactly how long after the pants-drop profile the magazine article interview took place. However, it is a weekly magazine, so it's likely that the interview occurred very close to print date, let's assume 1.5 weeks after the pants-drop profile. This means she lost 24lbs over 9.5 weeks, starting from 244. This represents an average at-home weekly weight loss of 0.93%.

Laura is a special case because of her injury. In her pants-drop profile, we saw that she had maintained her weight while rehabilitating (yay!), but hadn't lost any further weight. Moreover, on April 28th, she Twittered that she had taken a step back in her recovery (wah!) and had been put back on crutches. She may have been able to lose some weight between the pants-drop profile and being put back on crutches (especially since the reintroduction of crutches suggests she was pushing herself too hard), but not much.

And now...to evaluate the Final 4.

Obviously we don't have much to go on in terms of how these guys are going to do at home, since they've never been "sent home". However, what we do know is:

  • how they've done on the ranch
  • how they did during 1 week at home (Week 11)
  • how they did during 30 days at home (week 18)

So, once again using the average 53.7% ratio of how people have historically done at home vs. on the ranch this season:

Contestant Weekly average on ranch (to Week 17) x 53.7% Week at home Weekly average for 30 days Average of all 3
Helen 1.27% 3.70% 1.06% 2.01%
Mike 1.34% 2.88% 1.04% 1.75%
Ron 1.04% 2.97% 0.81% 1.61%
Tara 1.34% 1.00% 1.38% 1.24%

Thus, the conclusions for everybody, in reverse order of expected weight loss percentage: ("Exp." stands for "Expected")

Who Last known weight Profile air date Est. date of last known weight # of weeks to lose more weight Exp. weekly weight loss Exp. final weight losS Exp. final %age Exp. BMI
At-home contestants
David 347 N/A 01/13 17 0.72% 307lbs 21.88% 41.6
Laura 208 04/14 03/31 4 5lbs total 203lbs 28.77% 30.0
Damien 307 01/20 01/06 18 1.07% 253lbs 30.97% 35.3
Joelle 252 02/03 01/20 16 1.17% 209lbs 32.36% 31.8
Note: Calculations may be off, as pants-drop profile indicated it had been three months since Joelle and Carla had last spoken, not 8 weeks
Blaine 279 02/10 01/27 15 0.84% 246lbs 32.60% 27.0
Cathy 215 03/17 03/03 10 1.35% 188lbs 35.84% 28.6
Estella 197 N/A 01/13 17 1.40% 155lbs 35.95% 23.6
Daniel 353 01/27 01/13 17 1.30% 283lbs 37.67% 43.0
Note: I really hope he loses more than this, though!
Carla 292 02/03 01/20 16 1.35% 235lbs 37.99% 35.7
Note: Calculations may be off, as pants-drop profile indicated it had been three months since Joelle and Carla had last spoken, not 8 weeks
Dane 260 N/A 04/25 2.5 1.27% 252lbs 38.83% 30.7
Note: Based on news articles circa April 25 saying that weight was about 260lbs.
Aubrey 181 03/24 03/10 9 1.90% 152lbs 38.96% 25.3
Mandi 179 03/10 02/24 11 1.14% 158lbs 39.92% 23.3
Kristin 220 N/A 04/18 3.5 0.93% 213lbs 40.83% 34.4
Sione 235 04/07 03/24 7 1.03% 219lbs 41.13% 29.7
Ron 279 N/A 03/26 6.5 1.61% 251lbs 41.63% 34.0
Filipe 221 04/28 04/14 4 1.11% 211lbs 42.03% 29.4
Nicole 164 03/31 03/17 8 1.54% 145lbs 46.10% 22.0
Note: Assumed second at-home profile weight loss percentages when calculating expected weight loss. May be off because it doesn't take 5-pound weight gain on last week on ranch into account.
Shanon 198 02/17 02/03 14 2.10% 147lbs 48.06% 24.5
Note: I'm expecting this guess to be way off since the shots we got of Shanon when Helen was at home for 30 days doesn't suggest that she's been getting these kinds of numbers.
Jerry 285 01/13 12/30 19 2.11% 190lbs 48.51% 23.7
Final 3 ("Estimated date of last known weight" is based on Week 18 air date of May 5, minus 10 week time lag, PLUS 30 days at home.)
Helen 147 N/A 03/26 6.5 2.01% 129lbs 49.81% 20.8
Note: I don't actually think Helen has as much to lose as I've projected here, because she appears to be naturally well-endowed.
Tara 159 N/A 03/26 6.5 1.24% 147lbs 50.00% 21.7
Note: Never underestimate the "Tara Factor". :)
Mike 214 N/A 03/26 6.5 1.75% 191lbs 50.77% 26.6

So mathematically, the numbers tell us it'll be Jerry for the $100K and Mike for the $250K. But realistically, I expect it'll be Nicole for the $100K. However, when the confetti hits the floor, I really hope it'll be Tara for the big win. Say what you like about her, she kicks @$$ all over the place.

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