Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Biggest Loser Finale: Don't f**k with the old guys

This has been, as they've pointed out a gazillion times, a season of extremes. The oldest couple. The heaviest person. The heaviest woman. The youngest contestant. The sickest contestant. Also (not plugged, but still true) the tallest contestant. We discovered during the course of the season that we also had the kick-assiest contestant, the whiniest contestant, the laziest contestant...the list goes on. Moreover, absolutely crazy things have happened. Half marathon. Full marathon. Host going into labour during a weigh-in and giving birth later that night. Fainting. Chest pains. Hip fracture. Haka dances. Temporary disappearance of the theme song. Plus, a philanthropic element with the Pound For Pound Challenge. Good TV, my friend, good TV. And all trying to motivate the people at home to put down the ice cream, get the bleep off their couch, and get healthy. Will the finale be just as extreme as the rest of the season? Let's see.

We begin by illustrating how "Changing Lives" isn't just a slogan - four former and very successful contestants are illuminated one-by-one on the stage. We have Pete Thomas, the at-home winner from Season 2; Julie, one of the finalists from Season 4; Bernie, the at-home winner from Season 5; and Michelle, Season 6's biggest loser. But this is just the beginning!

We are treated with the vision of Ali looking deliciously hot in a very elegant, flattering-to-the-figure-and-nursing-boobies pale blue number. She is exactly four months post-partum at this point, and I'm sure women all over the world want to hate her at this moment. However, that's very tough to do seeing as how she's so goshdarn nice. (Plus, I too snapped back from my pregnancies quickly and well, so I don't have bitterness. But don't be mad at me either, please - karma compensates the women in my family for our ability to look great after giving birth by ballooning our weight up once we hit middle age.)

Ali gives us a recap of the season and we relive some truly awesome moments. I love that bit with Dan going at 7mph. Gold. She then introduces us to the villain of the show: The Scale. After that, it's time to discover who will be joining Tara and Helen in the Final 3. Mike is the first person of the night to get to punch through the big poster of himself all fat, and he looks INCREDIBLY slick and hot. I'm almost twice his age, so I'm feeling pretty dirty about that. Mike flashes his thousand-watt smile and girls all over the country swoon and miss the next few minutes of the show. Mike does a bit of a freakout about the live television aspect of this show, and then gives kudos to his dad. This is the perfect segueway to introduce Ron, who is still quite big (damn shoulder pads) but does seem to be smaller compared to last week's show.

After the first of eight million, two hundred forty-three thousand, nine hundred and five commercial breaks, we learn that Mike has made the Final 3. Based on the way he looks, I think at this point that he has the title nailed, unless Tara comes out looking like skin and bones. Ron, ever the proud papa, encourages the audience to look at Mike and female screams emanate from the audience.

We then shift gears for a bit and look forward to next season. Ali announces that there is just one spot left on the Biggest Loser campus, and two people are battling for it. America's votes during the show will determine who gets the nod. We meet Erinn, whose parents clearly could not spell. She is also a senior at Ohio State University. She's always been overweight, and recently broke up with her boyfriend of two years for no better reason than that she doesn't like the way she looks and couldn't communicate to him about how she feels. Nothing she's tried so far has worked for her, but she's not ready to give up. Her competition is Amanda, age 19, from Butler, New Jersey. Amanda bowed out of going to her senior prom, since nobody liked her, and she didn't want to embarrass herself. She is anguished about her appearance, but hides the pain by putting on a cheery exterior. She is constantly being nicknamed "Smiley". She can't do what she wants to do because of her weight.

Honestly, I find neither of them particularly appealing, but I'm leaning towards Erinn as she seems slightly less annoying. Then - surprise! - Ali sideswipes these poor girls by telling them they'll be doing a workout with Bob and Jillian backstage while the show is going on. Doesn't that just suck if you were them, eh?

Clear Blue Digital. No test is more accurate. (I'm sure also that no test is more expensive.)

Valerie Bertinelli in her bathing suit makes us all feel totally inadequate, and then back to the show we go. Ali feels the love. Homemade signs are waved. This all strikes me as pretty funny, since for all they know, only a handful of people are watching at home. :) At last, it's time to begin the parade of contestants, four at a time. We appear at first to be seeing people in the order in which they were eliminated (White, then Red); but once we move onto the next foursome, that theory is shot to hell, so I don't know how the arrangement was chosen. At any rate, first out of the wings is Estella. She is looking extremely thin, albeit with flabby arms and more wrinkles. And this ends up being typical of all the older contestants - skin of course gets less supple and elastic as we age, which means that if you're younger and lose the weight, your skin will look pretty good; whereas if you're older and lose the weight, the skin will flap and you'll be more wrinkly in the face. And indeed, although Estella is only 63, is at a great weight, and, I'm sure, is way more fit than I am, she looks, face-wise, like she's in her 70s or 80s. Biologically, of course, she's probably in her 50s, so all power to her. Also, I don't like her new glasses. But these are minor quibbles; her face has a lovely eternal beauty. Next out is her husband Jerry, who looks ridiculously slender and reminds me of my darling grandfather. I am immediately convinced that he has a serious shot at the at-home prize.

Next up: Red team. Damien leaps out first, all high-energy and groovy and up on himself. He looks pretty good, but still pudgy in his lower half. (It's really tough to tell with suits, dammit.) Then of course, we have Nicole, who is drop-dead stunning, as expected. She is very likely the reason for Damien's general glee this evening. Ali lines them all up to have little mini-interviews with them, and Jerry simply cannot stop mugging for the camera. Finally Estella has to smack him down and make him pay attention to the host. :) We once again relive Jerry's fainting scare the first day in the gym, but clearly - as Dr. Chipmunk tells us - those days are over. Nicole and her gorgeous, room-brightening smile reveal the news that she's going to fit into a size 8 wedding dress. So it's all good. They're all shooed off backstage to change into spandex.

Since this is a weight loss show, let's talk about hunger! This is, as always, a big problem in America, especially now with the recession and everything. To emphasize the point, we're shown a black and white clip of Obama talking about struggling families; and I swear they "aged up" the film even beyond the greyscale to make it all classic-JFK-like. Because dammit, if The Biggest Loser can't INSPIRE you to lose weight, they're gonna GUILT you into it - enter the Pound For Pound Challenge. For every pound participating pledgers lose, a pound of groceries is delivered to local food banks. We see feel-good stories all across America. Over 166,000 people have pledged their support. Celebrities everywhere are on board. Dammit, it must be a worthwhile cause if Morgan Freeman is onside. The CEO of Feeding America stands up and talks about the American spirit. Alas, despite this "American spirit" (or perhaps because of it...nah, that couldn't be; greed and consumerism are the best things ever), one out of every eight Americans is struggling with "not knowing where their next meal is coming from", and half of those are children. But there is good news: demand is not getting any worse, which I guess is something. Happily, 2,926,027 pounds have been pledged so far, and it's not too late - pledge before the month runs out! General Mills gets a plug because they've promised to pony up to a million pounds of food.

Can we see more contestants yet? Hell, no. It's back to Erinn and Amanda. Amanda is panicking but still smiling. Bob feeds us some crap about Erinn being strong and focused.

More contestants NOW, Papa Smurf? Again, no! This season, apparently we're weighing the foursomes in immediately after their initial parade. So we get to see how White and Red did immediately. Ali reminds us once again that it's the percentage of weight loss that counts, not the total poundage. Don't forget that, America.

Estella's lost 83lbs, 34.30% of her body weight, and is at a healthy BMI (24.2). I had predicted that Jerry would be down to about 190lbs, so I think I was the only person unsurprised by his phenomenal results. He's lost 177lbs, 47.97% of his body weight (you're not going to see too many percentages like that this evening), and is at a healthy BMI (24.0). As with all old guys named Jerry who come on this show (seriously, there's been one almost every season for the last several years), he flexes his arm muscles. Damien's lost 136lbs, 35.70% of his body weight, and is at an obese BMI (34.2) - which is pretty impressive considering that he started at a whopping 57.6 BMI and that his weight loss was never stellar. Despite being nowhere near beating Jerry for the at-home prize, Damien is ecstatic. Ali points out that this is because he gets Nicole (good point). Nicole, meanwhile, cries upon seeing her own retrospective, and Damien hustles up the scale to give her a big ol' hug. Awww. Finally, Ali tells him to get the hell out of the way so that we can maintain the illusion that it's a real scale and find out Nicole's weight. She's lost 123lbs, 45.72% of her body weight, and is at a healthy BMI (22.2). One of the best chances to beat Jerry is out of the game.

Then the parade continues, with Sione (looking great), Filipe (looking not that different but still great), Carla (with a disastrous dress choice, and actually looking larger than the spoiler shots I've been able to find...but maybe it's just the effect of the dress), and Joelle (also not looking that different from when last we saw her). Lining up for their mini-interviews, Joelle holds out her hand to Carla and has to wait a few moments for Carla to notice and clasp it back. Ali displays an inability to learn from the past and actually INVITES JOELLE TO SPEAK. Mistaaaake! Joelle babbles about joy and pain, and I'm about to slit my own wrists to end the torture when we learn that she and Carla are kind of okay again. That's nice. DH, now back from grocery shopping: "Maybe Joelle's dealing with her shit?" Then the Tongan Terror Twins say something about their big plans for their culture, but I can't get past the shiny-ness of Filipe's shirt and tie, so I don't catch a whole lot of it.'s haka time! DH and I go crazy, because Sione and Filipe really pull it out this time. I LOVE it, and Filipe does it really well. I wish they hadn't upped the tempo (it's a THREE HOUR SHOW, why bother?), but it was great anyway.

DH muses that if Ali ever has to leave the show, Valerie Bertinelli would be a great replacement. I agree, but Ali's so good at this gig that we don't want to see her go.

Sione's lost 146lbs, 39.25% of his body weight, and is at an obese-but-very-close-to-overweight BMI (30.6). DH thinks he and his wife should have more kids purely for the aesthetic value. Filipe's lost 135lbs, 37.09% of his body weight, and is at an obese BMI (31.9). He is the first contestant (of, sadly, several) to have actually GAINED weight since last we saw him (he was down to 221lbs in his pants-drop profile). On the other hand, he looks healthy and happy, and when they played his retrospective I was shocked at how massive he looked. And yet, I remember looking at him that first show and thinking, hey, he's not SO bad. THAT'S why I love this show! Carla cannot stop doing stereotypical Black Woman Dancey Moves even on the freakin' scale (she and Damien seriously need to go clubbing for a few nights in a row to get it out of their systems). She underachieves compared to my expectations, but has still dropped a fantastic amount of weight: 128lbs, which represents 33.77% of her body weight. She's at a clinically obese BMI (38.2), which is a damn sight better than the 57.6 she started at. Joelle has some nice waist-hip definition going on now. She's lost 80lbs, 25.89% of her body weight, and is at an obese BMI (34.8).

The parade continues with Blaine, who's looking pretty sharp; Dane, also nice; Mandy, in a terrific dress looking ever so pretty although not too much smaller; and Aubrey, actually looking bigger then last we saw her. This could be painful. Blaine and Dane pull out a flock of medals and tinkle them at the crowd: half marathon, full marathon, half ironman. Show-offs. ;) Aubrey tries to put a positive spin on things by talking about maintaining weight. Ali ignores Mandi completely and sends the four of them off backstage to change.

Back we go to Erinn and Amanda, who, though not even contestants yet, already appear skilled at spewing psychological claptrap about why America should vote for them. I'm thinking that surely, SURELY, there were better choices throughout the country than these two?

At this point, I fill DH in vaguely on what he missed, including superlatives about how great Mike looks. DH on Mike, paraphrasing a line by Phoebe from Friends: "Money, fame, AND a bod? Now that's a kid I can get in bed with!" But seriously...he speculates that Mike is going to need to be careful if he doesn't want to end up a) a father prematurely or b) on penicillin. (Ew. Thanks for that, hon.)

Back to the weigh-in, we see a gorgeously touching shot of Blaine with his new son in his retrospective. He scoffs laughingly at the idea of losing more than 175lbs to beat Jerry, and indeed doesn't. He's lost 116lbs, 31.78% of his body weight, and is at an overweight BMI (27.4). Don't let his current weight of 249lbs fool you - the man is six foot EIGHT. Moving on to Dane, Ali makes a bad pun-slash-segueway about Dane "appraising" a new life (he's a real estate appraiser). Dane's own retrospective puts tears in his eyes, which makes me like him even more. My impression of him this season is that he's silent and not exactly the swiftest bunny in the forest, but is an absolutely nice man. Go, Dane. He's lost 154lbs, 37.38% of his body weight, and is at an obese BMI, getting fairly close to overweight (31.4). Mandi's lost 92lbs, 34.98% of her body weight, and is at an overweight-but-extremely-close-to-healthy BMI (25.2). Aubrey talks a good game in her retrospective profile, but she obviously is still seriously struggling with her issues. She's lost 55lbs, 22.09% of her body weight, and is at an obese BMI (32.3). She has actually gained THIRTEEN POUNDS since her pants-drop profile. Ouch. I also didn't notice any shots of her dad in the audience, nor did I hear any information about how he's doing. I suspect therefore that the news is bad. That family seems to still be struggling, which really puts a damper on the evening for me. I like hearing good news stories. On the other hand, although it is reality TV, it's also real life for these people, so not everything is going to turn out swimmingly. I wish Mandi, Aubrey, and their families all the best and hope they can improve from here on in.

Cathy's next in the parade, looking fox-ay in a very nifty dress. Kristin shocks the life out of everybody by going suicidal blonde and attempting to become Pink's long-lost twin. (Seriously.) DH is appalled at the hair, but I think she still looks terrific. Dave doesn't look any different from the last time we saw him; in fact, I speculate that he's gained some weight back. His comparison before-after shot is an embarrassingly painful moment, and you can see it all over his face. Daniel, however, is so much slimmer. When they focus on him for the mini-interview you can REALLY see a massive difference in his face, he looks absolutely terrific. He also looks like he has scads more energy, and he comes across as so positive and awesome. He's obviously way more up on himself, too, it's a really great feel-good moment. I loves me some Dan. :) Kristin does her mini-interview and I'm reminded that gosh, she's fun. They're all sent backstage to change, and Cathy starts stripping before she even exits through the wings. (The hell?)

Ali continues to praise Jerry as Cathy steps up to the scale. She definitely looks smaller since we last saw her. She has lost 95lbs, 32.42% of her body weight, and is at an obese-but-practically-overweight BMI (30.1). Kristin's earrings clash something fierce with the spandex, but I cannot get over how wonderfully different she looks from the first day. DH cannot stop saying "tacky and hideous" in reference to her hair. She TOTALLY surpasses my expectations, and is absolutely tickled to weigh under 200lbs. Hell, I'm tickled for her. She's lost 167lbs, 46.39% of her body weight, and is at an obese BMI, getting fairly close to overweight (31.1). Yay! Hopefully now she can have the children she's been dreaming of. Daniel gives David an encouraging pat as it's David's turn on the scale. Sure enough, my optimistic prediction for him is totally blown as we find he's gained three pounds since we last saw him. He's lost a total of 43lbs, 10.94% of his body weight, and is at a morbidly obese BMI (47.5). Moreover, he's MADE JERRY LOOK SAD. But after some lip service to the benefits of continued effort, we move quickly on to Daniel, whose retrospective includes a hilarious line about him feeling like a fit person trapped inside a bunch of winter coats. :) Gawd, his face is so kid-like. Cuuuuute! He's lost 142lbs, 31.28% of his body weight, and is at a morbidly obese BMI (47.4). Lest you think that's bad, let me remind you that he started this season with a jawdropping BMI of SIXTY-NINE. (Dude!) And it's quite clear that he's still gung-ho and on the journey.

Finally in our parade of at-home contestants, we have the three people whose partners made the Final 3. Laura comes out first, WITHOUT CRUTCHES, which delights me no end. She simpers annoyingly for the camera. Shanon looks slimmer, but is definitely not going to give Jerry a run for his money. Then we have Ron again, looking happy. We revisit the Pink team's decision (I mean, Helen's decision) to send Shanon home. But I say there's nobody here who can touch Jerry.

As spandex is donned, we go back to Erinn and Amanda. DH: "Jillian! Put on a shirt!" But I'm just thinking that day-um, that girl's got guns.

The ad for Dance Flick made me laugh seriously hard. THAT looks funny.

Back we go to the show for some brief shots of children sitting on their daddies' laps, and Ali once again expresses disbelief that Jerry is still standing here. (Her amazement has now officially crossed the line from complimentary to insulting.) Jerry tells us that his mind was holding him back, and that once he let his mind go and his body do the work, everything worked.

Laura has come a really long way. She now has guys hitting on her again! Aha! The REAL purpose of life! But she's exceeded my prediction (which I thought was overly optimistic in the first place) by four pounds and I'm super-happy for her. She, too, is under 200lbs. She's lost 86lbs, 30.18% of her body weight, and is at an overweight BMI (29.4). Then it's Shanon's turn, and DH exclaims, "Look at 'em!" I actually thought he was talking about people for a second there. :) Anyway, Shanon cries about beeing feeyat, but she's clearly lost a great amount of weight. Specifically, 92lbs, 32.51% of her body weight, and she's at an obese BMI (31.8 ). This brings us to Ron, who is the only person left who could possibly unseat Jerry. I think he doesn't have a chance in hell, unless his tank top is hiding some serious smallness. Ron tells us it's down to the old guys, which is pretty funny. He also accurately predicts the commercial break. Nothing gets past this guy, I'm telling you. :) After the show, when I was rehashing the finale with DH, he quoted one of his friends' favourite sayings: Youth and strength will never win out over age and treachery. (Or something like that.) Ron seriously needs to get that translated into Latin and put on his family crest. ;)

DH on the chickie from the Danactive commercial who gets wiped out with the boxing bag: Jillian would knock her into next week.

We're back, and although he doesn't take the lead from Jerry, Ron wipes out all my expectations. Unbelievable. He's lost 192lbs, 44.65% of his body weight, and is at an obese BMI (32.3), which is staggeringly good considering he started at 58.3 and has never been able to even get a sniff of the POSSIBILITY of being this light since he was a freakin' CHILD. He amazes me. However, at the end of the day, it's Jerry who's $100,000 richer, and he's immediately swarmed by his oldest granddaughter, who comes running enthusiastically onto the stage for a hug. Jerry gives us the best and funniest moment of the night when he LIFTS UP JILLIAN! Good TV, people, good TV. Estella doesn't look at all jealous. That's love. DH takes some time to admire how great Ali looks and I shoot him a look of death. ;)

Before we can get to the finalists, though, we need another season retrospective. Lots of trainer yelling. Many superlatives. Bob tearing up. Jillian attempting to convince us that the show is not about getting 15 minutes of fame. Once that's done with, Ali confronts Bob about how sensitive he is, but Bob manages to put a good spin on it. Off we go to another commercial.

That "Hunger" muppet in the commercials is really cute, but shouldn't it be more, I dunno, menacing?

It's 10:05 and I have no idea how we're going to get 55 more minutes out of this puppy when we've already completed the at-home weigh-in. Probably by stretching things out beyond all reason. Sigh. Sure enough, there are some special guests: the most recent Biggest Loser Australia winner, Bob, and his daughter-in-law, Tiffany (who came in second). Further proof that older people rock. Bob, too, apparently fainted his first day in the gym, and Jerry's gobsmacked at the parity of their stories.

Mike! Again! Self-effacing from the beginning, even when he's vowing to kick ass. What a fantastic success story he is. In the audience, his mom Becky is totally vorklempt, and Max is still chewing gum.

But we've still got a ways to go before 11:00, so we have to trot out Erinn and Amanda again, back in the gym. Erinn smiles desperately. Amanda stares creepily into the eyes of the camera. Like, seriously, she's freaking me right out. I'm guessing the votes for Erinn spiked pretty hard right after that moment.

Helen! Under the radar this whole season and totally underestimated by everyone. I myself don't think I'd like her personally, but generally speaking, I just love her. She's got toughness and spunk coming out of every pore.

Tara! Cue the audience screams! Fire up the barfing footage! Run the scenes of the ass-kickings in challenges!

At long last, the three finalists are brought in. Mike we've obviously seen before, but Helen busts through her paper poster of herself like nobody's business. She looks totally small. Her husband Russell cheers his throat raw and looks unbelievably smug. However, the more I watch Helen, the more I think she looks too skinny. DH says he doesn't see a difference since we last saw her, but I REALLY do. Lastly, Tara comes out, and is totally distracted from her simple job of walking over to Ali by Kristin's crazy hair. Tara looks cute but the dress is really weird, and she doesn't look too different from the last time we saw her. I find myself thinking that Mike's going to take this.

Ali makes us think we're going to start the weigh-in, but really it's time for some voting results. Amanda gets the nod, but apparently Erinn's still going to get weight loss support in the form of some kind of training prize. That's nice.

Back to the main show, though. Helen goes first (sorry, did I say that TARA might come out looking like skin and bones? I stand corrected) and demonstrates that she has gone totally and frighteningly extreme with her at-home training. She's lost 140lbs, a staggering 54.47% of her body weight, and is at technically a healthy BMI (18.9), but is just three pounds away from being UNDERWEIGHT. Mike looks intimidated as hell, as well he should. His "Yeah! Let's see how that works!" in response to Ali telling him how much he had to lose to beat Helen was hilarious. He has a loss of 207lbs (whoa), 53.35% of his body weight, and he's now at an overweight-but-practically-healthy BMI (25.2). Please note that he and his father lost a combined total of 399 pounds - is that stunning or what. Amazing job, but since his goal was health and Helen's goal appears to have been anorexia, Helen's still on top. It's down to Tara, who looks the least smallified of all three of them. She's lost 155lbs, 52.72% of her body weight, and is at a healthy BMI (20.5). Nobody can touch Helen, and Pink once again wins the whole thing. Seriously, have you noticed? PINK HAS NEVER LOST.

All in all, a good evening, but it left a poor taste in my mouth. We had some wonderful, uplifting, heartwarming results...but also some things that made me sad. Aubrey, Filipe, and Dave gaining. Shanon, Carla and Mandi falling short of expectations. Estella and Jerry looking really old. Helen going all extreme just for the money. But I'm trying to focus on the positive, and I hope that the people who have yet to enter the healthy BMI zone keep moving towards that.

Here, then, are the final standings:

  • David: Started 393lbs, BMI 53.3. Predicted 307lbs, reality 350lbs. Total: 43lbs, 10.94%. BMI 47.5
  • Aubrey: Started 249lbs, BMI 41.4. Predicted 152lbs; reality 194lbs. Total: 55lbs, 22.09%. BMI 32.3
  • Joelle: Started 309lbs, BMI 47.0. Predicted 209lbs; reality 229lbs. Total: 80lbs, 25.89%. BMI 34.8
  • Laura: Started 285lbs, BMI 42.1. Predicted 203lbs; reality 199lbs. Total: 86lbs, 30.18%. BMI 29.4
  • Daniel: Started 454lbs, BMI 69.0. Predicted 283lbs; reality 312lbs. Total: 142lbs, 31.28%. BMI 47.4
  • Blaine: Started 365lbs, BMI 40.1. Predicted 246lbs; reality 249lbs. Total: 116lbs, 31.78%. BMI 27.4
  • Cathy: Started 293lbs, BMI 44.5. Predicted 188lbs; reality 198lbs. Total: 95lbs, 32.42%. BMI 30.1
  • Shanon: Started 283lbs, BMI 47.1. Predicted 147lbs; reality 191lbs. Total: 92lbs, 32.51%. BMI 31.8
  • Carla: Started 379lbs, BMI 57.6. Predicted 235lbs; reality 251lbs. Total: 128lbs, 33.77%. BMI 38.2
  • Estella: Started 242lbs, BMI 36.8. Predicted 155lbs; reality 159lbs. Total: 83lbs, 34.30%. BMI 24.2
  • Mandi: Started 263lbs, BMI 38.8. Predicted 158lbs; reality 171lbs. Total: 92lbs, 34.98%. BMI 25.2
  • Damien: Started 381lbs, BMI 53.1. Predicted 253lbs; reality 245lbs. Total: 136lbs, 35.70%. BMI 34.2
  • Filipe: Started 364lbs, BMI 50.8. Predicted 211lbs; reality 229lbs. Total: 135lbs, 37.09%. BMI 31.9
  • Dane: Started 412lbs, BMI 50.1. Predicted 252lbs; reality 258lbs. Total: 154lbs, 37.38%. BMI 31.4
  • Sione: Started 372lbs, BMI 50.4. Predicted 219lbs; reality 226lbs. Total: 146lbs, 39.25%. BMI 30.6
  • Ron: Started 430lbs, BMI 58.3. Predicted 251lbs; reality 238lbs. Total: 192lbs, 44.65%. BMI 32.3
  • Nicole: Started 269lbs, BMI 40.9. Predicted 145lbs; reality 146lbs. Total: 123lbs, 45.72%. BMI 22.2
  • Kristin: Started 360lbs, BMI 58.1. Predicted 213lbs; reality 193lbs. Total: 167lbs, 46.39%. BMI 31.1
  • Jerry (at-home winner): Started 369lbs, BMI 46.1. Predicted 190lbs; reality 192lbs. Total: 177lbs, 47.97%. BMI 24.0
  • Tara (finalist): Started 294lbs, BMI 43.4. Predicted 147lbs; reality 139lbs. Total: 155lbs, 52.72%. BMI 20.5
  • Mike (finalist): Started 388lbs, BMI 54.1. Predicted 191lbs; reality 181lbs. Total: 207lbs, 53.35%. BMI 25.2
  • Helen (biggest loser): Started 257lbs, BMI 41.5. Predicted 129lbs; reality 117lbs. Total: 140lbs, 54.47%. BMI 18.9

Until next season! Here's hoping that the rest of the Season 8 contestants are more interesting than Amanda. Maybe we'll even see Max! I found an interview this week with Bob (that now seems to have disappeared off the face of Google) that says Bob's pushing hard for Max to be on the show. We'll see!

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 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.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Biggest Loser Review, 2009/05/05

Hey, a different theme song! Do you suppose they lost the rights to the old one, or is this special for the penultimate show?

Right off the bat, we're sent into retrospectives, complete with horrific gut shots and horrific puns. ("On an epic SCALE"? Ugh.) How thrilled do you think the contestants will be when they see this episode, with the close-up belly shots? Think they knew they were signing up for that when they agreed to be on the show? Yikes. Tara interviews that she's actually surprised she made it to the Final 4. Still underestimating herself, I see.

Bring on the limos, it's homecoming time! Everyone's thrilled to see the contestants, who explain about the 30-days-at-home twist.

DH on Mike: "He's gonna get a culture shock when he goes to university. Because even though he's eighteen, he's way more mature than most of the kids in there." Dude has a point. Think about it: could you have held your own in a crowd of "grownups" when YOU were eighteen? I sure as hell couldn't've. No wonder we saw Mike barely ever talking for the first five episodes or so. Yet he came out of his shell and held his own very decently. That is one lovely young man, I must say.

Turn on the home cams! Ron looks like he's growing back the beard, but future scenes show us this was just a tease. Mike, meanwhile, is worried about falling back into old habits. He points out the irony of having a gym across the street from the fast food place he used to work at. Needless to say, he spent a lot of time at the fast-food joint and no time at the gym. Now, fortunately, the reverse is true. Helen goes through her closet and is gobsmacked at how huge her clothes were. Goodwill is going to LOVE her.

But project #1 for the Morelli family is Max. No pressure, eh, kid?

Cut to Tara, who goes to her favourite restaurant looking IMPOSSIBLY glam. Seriously, WOW. She tries valiantly to be happy about drinking water when the rest of her friends (who confess that they knew she was unhappy but never said a damn thing about it) are boozing it up. We also find that Tara has given the kitchen makeover prize that she won at the sideways-walk-over-the-canyon challenge to her mom, which is REALLY sweet. Tara's mom now has granite countertops and my eternal envy. DH astutely observes that Olympia Dukakis absolutely MUST play Tara's mom in Biggest Loser: The Movie.

DH: I've never heard of Jennie O Turkey. Have YOU ever heard of Jennie O?
Me: Only because I've been watching The Biggest Loser.
(Must be an American thing.)

After checking in with everybody, it's time for the traditional let's-screw-with-the-contestants-at-home twist. Doorbells ring all over Michigan...uh...I mean, the country, and Biggest Loser staff cut and run before anybody can make it to the door. Ron sums it up: "What torture are we going to be in for now?" Torture, indeed: everybody has to run a full marathon! Cue the looks of horror. Mike reveals that after the half-marathon, he was destroyed for days, so the full marathon is truly going to suck. Ron gives a pep talk to his knees.

Since merely following the contestants around in their workaday lives isn't interesting enough for television, the show sends in the trainers. Jillian's on the warpath and visits her contestants, starting with Mike. She threatens death if he's not at the gym when she gets there. Big talk. Fortunately, he is, and by some miracle, Jillian has picked exactly the right gym to go looking for him in! Not set up at ALL, people! So there are Max and Mike on the treadmill, looking like a before and after shot. (Note: Max is chewing gum. I'd be willing to bet my entire family fortune that it's Extra Sugar-Free. Quelle job of product shilling, Mike and Ron.)

Mike reveals to Jillian that all is not going well. The marathon is stressing him out. Jillian freaks right out upon hearing what the challenge is, and then attempts to refocus Mike's mind. The sweat begins to pour. Jillian tells us the staggeringly surprising information that the way to train for a marathon run. A lot. Ya think? But back at home, Mike is disgusted by Max's apathy. Jillian takes a page from her psychotherapist mother's book and analyses Mike. The problem: he's identifying too much with Max. Jillian tells Mike that the way to get through this is not to make Max thin, but for Mike to acknowledge his OWN feelings. Y'know, Jillian is a complete hardass and she does make mistakes, but I have to say, damn, she's good. Indeed, the tears start to flow down Mike's face as he realises she speaks Truth. Jillian offers to help Max so that Mike doesn't have to worry about it anymore.

Then Jillian bops over to Long Island to surprise Tara. But I'm thinking that maybe the camera crews hanging around the outside of Tara's house were a bit of a giveaway. Jillian's invited in, and they head to Tara's room. It's pretty messy and Jillian is appalled. (If clothes strewn on the bed set Jillian off, I can tell you right now that she'd totally lose her shit if she saw MY house, boy howdy.) Jillian says that Tara's messy room is representative of her inner turmoil. (Deep.) Tara confesses sobbingly that she RUINED EVERYTHING the other day by having PITA CHIPS! The horror, the horror! Fortunately, Jillian snaps her back to reality and tells her she's being ridiculous. Having a healthy lifestyle does not mean never having pita chips again! Clearly, Tara still has not found balance. Jillian offers to take Tara out for a workout and a drink to prove her point.

Back in South Lyon, we finally see Bob, come to visit his last remaining contestant. Ron is tickled to see him. Big hugs for Mike and Max, too. Ron tells Bob that shopping is the hardest thing about being home, and then talks about the challenge. Bob, like Jillian, is appalled at the idea of a full marathon. I'm appalled at his plaid shirt. (Bob is an extremely aesthetically pleasing human being, but "ranch hand" is not a viable look for him, sorry.)

Then we move on to the Max Reclamation Project. Max says that there are all the right foods in the house now, which is good; and he's working out now, which is good; but Mike says he's no trainer and they totally don't know what they're doing. (There's a bonus clip at of Mike helping Max work out, and indeed, he is definitely the wrong person to be training Max. The dynamic there is CLASSIC older-sibling-with-younger-sibling, which is absolutely not the way to get Max on-side.) So Bob adopts Max as member #3 of the Brown team. Max looks scared as SHIT. :) But I think that at this point, Bob is the better trainer, emotionally, for Max than Jillian would be. Max sums it up beautifully: Bob has some quality that makes you not want to let him down. Sure enough, Max pushes so hard that he upchucks. Ron: "You know you're working hard when you PUKE." Max looks entirely unamused. Poor kid. But he's started the journey, which is definitely the important part.

Bob then does a food demonstration for Max. Max's assignment is to go out and buy whatever he'd normally get of a weekend. He brings back a burger, fries, and a chocolate shake. Bob says that the appropriate calorie consumption for a meal at this time of day is 600 calories. He then proceeds to winnow down the burger, fries, and shake to 600 calories worth of food. It's a pathetically small amount of grub. Bob then takes them to a magical land where you can get LOTS of food worth 600 calories: Subway! Oh, Biggest Loser, you're now using the angst of underage children to shill your advertisements. Have you no shame. However, everybody gets their fill on delicious, low-cal subs, and Max interviews that it's better to hear this kind of stuff from Bob because it's so easy to tune out your brother and dad. And it's so true. DH points out another good thing: Bob knows that if he puts Ron's mind at ease about Max, Ron will focus on himself. Way to go, Bob.

Time to focus on Helen! She and her husband Russell are out at a restaurant that Helen "got fat in". She's reading the menu and freaking out, and Jillian comes in. Helen sobs with relief. Jillian's goal on this visit is to get Helen to cut out the Superwoman crap. Jillian observes the home life and apparently, Helen is manic. She's always "doing for other people". Jillian forces some wine down Helen's gullet. (Is it not kind of a bad sign that Jillian's ultimate solution for all of her over-21 contestants is plying them with alcohol?) Helen says that she's so tired, but doesn't want to let anybody down. Jillian points out that this Superwoman behaviour means that the person Helen's failing is HERSELF. Once again, Jillian has hit the nail on the head. Whether this translates into a behaviour change for Helen is anybody's guess.

Once everyone's had a chance to have an epiphany, it's time to profile the marathon preparation. Ron's even trying to run. Unfortunately, four days before the marathon, Mike has stabbing pain in his hip. We don't know exactly what's wrong, but we do hear that the doctors have told Mike he can't run, so he'll be walking the marathon instead. Tara, meanwhile, is having dreams about not finishing the race. Everyone's nervous as all hell. Well guys, I guess this is why they call it a "challenge". Finally everybody gets to head back to California for 26.2 miles of torture. Ali tells us they'll be running through all kinds of terrain. Happily, though, this is a challenge that everybody can win - each contestant who finishes gets to give $10,000 to the charity of their choice. That is pretty damn cool. DH says that if it were him, he'd split his money between the Cancer Society and Heart & Stroke, because both of those diseases owe him big-time. (His parents.) And hey, as long as we're fantasizing, I'd give my $10K to the Kidney Foundation. (My brother. Who, fortunately, unlike my in-laws, is still with us. And by the way, are you an organ donor yet? No? Get the hell on that, please.)

I note at the outset that everyone's contestant number corresponds to their individual weight loss poundage thus far. So Helen's #103, Tara's #125, Ron's #141, and Mike's #164. And they're off. With Brown confined to walking only (Ron's even using a cane, for heaven's sake), it's the ladies who are really competing here. We soon find out that goodies await the contestants along the 26.2 mile path. At Mile 4, Tara is greeted by a friend from home, and Helen by her husband. They all start running together. Much later, Mike and Ron are met by Max, and Ron's buddy Phil. Max walks for a really long time with Mike, which is terrific, before pooping out. DH and I both think Max looks smaller, which is awesome.

Ron's knee screws him around Mile 5. Dr. H takes a look at him. He keeps going.

Tara's treat at Mile 15 is to run with Ali Vincent, who tells Tara she's an inspiration. (Damn straight!) Ali of course still looks ridiculously small. Helen, meanwhile, feels really lonely, but in between Mile 13 and 14, there's Michelle! This is a great pick-me-up for Helen, who is dripping with sweat and has that horribly haggard look of the marathon runner.

Tara interviews that around Mile 21 or 22, she got that "keep going" voice in her head. You have to know that things are going to end well for Tara after you hear that, because that little voice has won her scads of challenges. Seriously. I looked back over the season. For EVERY PHYSICAL COMPETITION they've had on the show, with the exception of those a) that were stacked against her (i.e. the football challenge, where everyone was able to take out the biggest threats right off the bat), b) where her full potential was held back by her partner, or c) were balance-related; she either won outright; or was part of the team that won. Want a list?

  • Week 2: the kayak/walk up the mountain
  • Week 3: jumping over the rotating bars
  • Week 8: up-downs in the mud
  • Week 8: 24-hour bike-a-thon
  • Week 9: team relay at the gym
  • Week 10: wall sits with a medicine ball on the lap
  • Week 10: pack food for the homeless
  • Week 11: half-marathon (which technically she didn't win, but that was only because of the sugar cookie penalty; if you go by pure finishing times, she won)
  • Week 12: car pull
  • Week 14: stadium stair climb
  • Week 15: sideways walk across the canyon
  • Week 16: hold up your own weight in a suspended cage
  • Week 17: carry your own weight up 16 dirt hills

Unbelievable. I'm telling you, if anyone deserves to win this whole thing, it's Tara. She's competitive and hard-nosed and has issues coming out the wazoo, but I love her to death, she's amazing.

Okay, back to everybody else. Mike gets to meet up with Bernie from season 5, who is also still teeny tiny. Mike is bummed out about not being able to run this thing, but Bernie tells Mike to stop being down on himself; running or no running, he's still DOING A MARATHON. At Mile 25, Tara sees Jillian, who, like the rest of the viewing audience, I'm sure, is unsurprised that Tara's winning. As Tara finishes up, we see that The Biggest Loser has added insult to injury by making the last bit of the race go over SAND. Shitheads. Tara's finishing time appears to be 4:55:11, which is unbelievable. Soon after, Helen heads towards the finish line, screaming that she's a marathon runner. You scream all you like, lady! That is a staggering accomplishment! Her finishing time seems to be 5:48 and forty-something seconds; she's completely gleeful. Mike makes it in at 8:58:03. They brought in the Mile 26 sign with them, which made me nervous that Ron pooped out. Indeed, he's back at Mile 16 with some problems. His circulation is screwing up and he's shaking. Blood pressure is 202/90. They want to take him to the hospital, but for some bizarre reason, he's given a medical go-ahead. He continues on out of nothing less than pure guilt. I think he's freakin' INSANE.

His reward, though, is to be greeted at Mile 17 by Ali Vincent, Michelle, Bernie, Jim from season 4, and Heba from last season. (I personally would tell Heba to go the hell away...but that's just me. :) At Mile 21, Mike does his usual come-back-to-help-Dad-through-the-challenge thing, and Bob comes with him.

Cue the inspirational music. Even Helen, Tara, Ali Sweeney and Max show up to walk with Ron past the finish line, with Max doing his signature ugly cry. Mike is now waiting at the finish line (I presume, with his injury, that he didn't want to walk any more than he had to), and he's tearing up watching Ron approach, eventually full-on crying. Even without the schmaltzy music, it's a desperately inspirational moment. Ron swats the finish line out of the way with his cane. 13:16:19. Best. Finish. Ever. I absolutely didn't think Ron could do it. Morelli Man Group-hug.

One nifty thing about this challenge is that, as they crossed the finish line, we got to see all the contestants getting "hooray for you" messages from themselves, pre-taped at the beginning of the season. Cool stuff.

Finally, we go to the final weigh-in before the finale. Will Bob be shut out of the Final 3? We may not know immediately, as Ali reveals that the third member of the Final 3 will be determined by America voting.

Milestones achieved:

  • Ron passes the 150lbs total weight loss mark
  • Ron passes the 1/3 total weight loss mark
  • Mike moves from obese to overweight
  • Tara moves from overweight to healthy
  • Tara passes 45% total weight loss
  • Helen drops under 150lbs

The numbers are actually kind of disappointing, considering they were home for 30 days. However, I think I remember reading or hearing somewhere that marathon training is not the best way to lose weight, although of course it's fantastic endurance training. So perhaps now that everyone can get back into weight loss-focused routines at home, we'll see better results at the finale. I hope so, anyway.

Anyway, the end result is that Helen and Tara are definitely in the Final 3, and America has to choose between father and son. Mike feels like crap about this. He and Ron both go into the confession booths to make their cases. Ron, of course, asks America to vote for Mike, and points out what a great guy Mike's been during the season. Fair point. Mike, for his part, gets beautifully humble. Seriously, I don't think he could have done a better job, it was a perfect appeal.

I'm not sure which way America will go here. Last week I thought people would vote to keep Mike around since I think he's vastly more popular than Ron. However, DH pointed out two monkey wrenches to that way of thinking:

  • people who hate Ron because of all his scheming may vote for Ron to stay in the Final 3 in order to foil Ron's plan
  • people who love Tara (and I'm sure they're legion) may vote for Ron to stay in the Final 3 to give her a better chance to win

So now I just don't know. I hope, however, that if America votes Ron into the Final 3, that Mike doesn't take it personally, but understands that it's a combination of reaction to his dad's behaviour and love for Tara. (Unlike last season, where the overwhelming vote for Ed to stay in the Final 3 was clearly a result of the virulent hatred for Heba/Vicky.)

Anyway, I cannot WAIT for the finale!!! Squee! Really looking forward to seeing all the at-home people, particularly Dan. For reference, here's where everybody was the last time we saw them, in reverse order of when we last saw them:

  • Jerry: 285lbs; total weight loss of 22.76% (84lbs); BMI of 35.6 (clinically obese), down from 46.1 (morbidly obese)
  • Damien: 307lbs; total weight loss of 19.42% (74lbs); BMI of 42.8 (morbidly obese), down from 53.1 (super-obese)
  • Daniel: 353lbs; total weight loss of 22.25% (101lbs); BMI of 53.7 (super-obese), down from 69 (super-obese)
  • Carla: 292lbs; total weight loss of 22.96% (87lbs); BMI of 44.4 (morbidly obese), down from 57.6 (super-obese)
  • Joelle: 252lbs; total weight loss of 18.45% (57lbs); BMI of 38.3 (clinically obese), down from 47 (morbidly obese)
  • Blaine: 279lbs; total weight loss of 23.56% (86lbs); BMI of 30.6 (obese), down from 40.1 (morbidly obese)
  • Shanon: 198lbs; total weight loss of 30.04% (85lbs); BMI of 39.6 (clinically obese), down from 47.1 (morbidly obese)
  • Dane: (at-home weight not given during profile) 312lbs; total weight loss of 24.27% (100lbs); BMI of 38 (clinically obese), down from 50.1 (super-obese)
  • Mandi: 179lbs; total weight loss of 31.94% (84lbs); BMI of 29.1 (overweight), down from 38.8 (clinically obese)
  • Cathy: 215lbs; total weight loss of 26.62% (78lbs); BMI of 32.7 (obese), down from 44.5 (morbidly obese)
  • Aubrey: 181lbs; total weight loss of of 34.54% (68lbs); BMI of 30.1 (obese), down from 41.4 (morbidly obese)
  • David: 347lbs; total weight loss of 11.7% (46lbs); BMI of 47.1 (morbidly obese), down from 53.3 (super-obese)
  • Estella: 197lbs; total weight loss of 18.6% (45lbs); BMI of 30 (obese), down from 36.8 (clinically obese)
  • Nicole: 164lbs; total weight loss of 39.03% (105lbs); BMI of 24.9 (healthy), down from 40.9 (morbidly obese)
  • Sione: 235lbs; total weight loss of 36.83% (137lbs); BMI of 31.9 (obese), down from 50.4 (super-obese)
  • Laura: 208lbs; total weight loss of 27.02% (77lbs); BMI of 30.7 (obese), down from 42.1 (morbidly obese)
  • Kristin: 228lbs; total weight loss of 36.67% (132lbs); BMI of 36.8 (clinically obese), down from 58.1 (super-obese)
  • Filipe: 221lbs; total weight loss of 39.29% (143lbs); BMI of 30.8 (obese), down from 50.8 (super-obese)
  • Ron: 279lbs; total weight loss of 35.12% (151lbs); BMI of 37.8 (clinically obese), down from 58.3 (super-obese)
  • Mike: 214lbs; total weight loss of 44.85% (174lbs); BMI of 29.8 (overweight), down from 54.1 (super-obese)
  • Helen: 147lbs; total weight loss of 42.8% (110lbs); BMI of 23.7 (healthy), down from 41.5 (morbidly obese)
  • Tara: 159lbs; total weight loss of 45.92% (135lbs); BMI of 23.5 (healthy), down from 43.4 (morbidly obese)

See you on the other side. :)