Saturday, May 01, 2010

Go big or go home

Recap: Last week, Koli had the only vote and Victoria is gone. After she leaves, Ali calls all the rest of the players in because she has an announcement. Before we can hear it, though, of course we see O'Neal really happy about seeing Sunshine still sitting at the table, and they hug. He talks about the "special relationship" that he and Sunshine have with the Grey team. Ashley's eyes go really, REALLY wide as Ali says the upcoming week will be tough. She hearkens them back to however many weeks ago when they all went to the Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs to train with the athletic elite. This week, by contrast, they're training the UNfit. They're about to mess with Texas, which is home to five of the ten fattest cities in America. They will have to help fat Texans get fit while maintaining their own weight loss goals. And they're not alone - Bob will be training random people at a Texas gym, and Jillian will be helping some Texan high school students.

"I've always wanted to go to Texas!" exclaims Koli gleefully, jumping around all sprite-like as they head off to go pack.

Stereotypical twanging music greets us as we arrive in Pioneer Park in Texas. Ali reminds us that "everything is bigger in Texas", although that's not a good thing when you're talking about people. This week's challenge is for the contestants to go around Texas via radio stations to get people to come out and run a 5K with them near the end of the week.

Naturally, the contestants aren't completely alone with this challenge. (Can you imagine? A bunch of people going without introduction to radio stations and asking to be let on the air? Right.) No, the Biggest Loser producers and the NBC machine have greased the wheels for them and the radio stations and whatnot all seem to be expecting our heroes. A bunch of radio stations welcome various contestants, thus getting free publicity on national television - a pretty good deal. The contestants bring the Biggest Loser Message to the airwaves and grab people for the 5K.

Walgreens promo. Jillian, Ashley and Sunshine hold hands and skip inside. Jillian plugs all the supplements, healthy snacks, and "overall health products" too, y'know, for us girls. Ahem. (sotto voce: YEAST INFECTIONS!)

And we're at the Cotton Bowl. Cheering crowds of random 5K-running people decked out in colour-coded Biggest Loser shirts adorned with the shape of Texas. The contestants come out and the crowd goes wild. Michael and Sam lap it up. Ashley marvels at the turnout.

For the gazillionth time, we hear the stat about Texas having five of the ten fattest cities in the country. But here's something new: apparently, Texas spends ten billion dollars annually on obesity-related health issues. Today, everyone here will help turn things around for Texas. 100 people will be getting a 90-day pass to 24-Hour Fitness.

Since each person who showed up was assigned a colour-coded shirt, the contestants each have their own "people" that they will be in charge of in terms of prepping for the run and inspiring them to finish. Daris just wants everyone to push themselves. Ashley is here to inspire her people. Sam preaches the Bible of Bob, and Koli advises one woman with bad knees to just walk at her own pace.

And...they'! Michael grins as he leads the pack out of the stadium. Koli tells the bad knees woman to not worry about what anybody else is doing. Daris is determined to beat his best time, and will then go back and get his team across the line. Michael's motto here is "No loser left behind". Because he says he knows that feeling, it's been there his whole life. He encourages his people to ask questions, like how to stay motivated.

Koli is HILARIOUS with his sassy catwalk-esque power walking. His people (mostly women, I notice ;), scream like fangirls. He keeps going back and forth looking for his grey people, but then eventually talks to anybody he meets up with, including a yellow shirt named Jeff, who is enormous, but has lost about 65 lbs in the last 9mos. He was most inspired by Mike Morelli. He likes how the people who go home and come back can do so well. What's interesting is that Koli looks like he's sauntering along all slowly, but Jeff's just as clearly really working at it. (Which is fine, whatever raises Jeff's heartrate.) Ashley inspires others, too. She wishes she had met someone like herself years ago, and wants to inspire other women.

Daris, meanwhile, is giving this his all. He recalls that he liked to run when he was a kid and he's glad he can again. He really is looking good. The insane hair is actually a pretty good look for him. He comes first, and beats his previous best time to boot! Then, as promised, he heads back for his orange folks.

O'Neal meets Deborah, who's here to break the cycle of obesity and diabetes in her family. She's massive, and feels she has a target for all these health problems on her. Her mom died at 56 of a massive stroke: complications from diabetes. She's 35 and feels that she's waiting to die. This tears O'Neal up and he agrees that it isn't right to be so unhealthy. He's very glad he caught his bad health in time. He talks to her about really wanting it, that's what makes it happen. They hold hands. She's really excited by the opportunity to be here, it's becoming real for her. It's a nice moment. DH and I are totally vorklempt by all the niceness. O'Neal is amazed that he's now an ambassador and feels really lucky and thankful.

Sunshine is excited to finish but then runs back so she can finish with her dad. Awwww. She's wonderful motivating to everyone she meets on her way back. All the yellows are really thrilled to see her appear. "That's my girl, she always does this!" exclaims O'Neal happily. He reflects about how sad she was at the beginning of this journey, and how happy she is now. He loves it.

Dammit, it's only 8:30 and I can already feel myself puddle-ifying.

We hear from Lisa, a white shirt, who recently came to the conclusion that it was time to change, and is really vorklempt that she finished the 5K. Daris is also spreading the love. Koli cheers Jeff on as he enters the stadium. Everybody's cheering for him. Oh, dammit, more puddles.

Ashley screams her team in. "Let's go Pink!" She's ecstatic about how far she's come; she couldn't even do the treadmill properly the first week. Ali helps O'Neal walk the Yellow team in, leading them in a chant of "O'Neal! O'Neal!" He feels like he made a difference. Deborah thanks him for changing her life. She's motivated and rejuvenated. She starts today.

Bonus video: Michael chats with Jeff after the race. Jeff's pretty happy. He just wanted to show himself that he could finish. He's feeling stronger and better every day since he started losing weight. We hear that last May he was hospitalized with vena stasis, which means that the blood vessels in his legs were too weak to keep the blood pumping. (Funny, I always thought it was the HEART that pumped blood, but anyway...) He gets infections down there very easily, but was told that the problem would go away if he lost weight. That and the show were his main impetuses (impeti?) for getting serious about starting a program of fitness. He started walking, just a half mile at first. Then some weightlifting, and now he's doing a mile every day and building up muscle with the weightlifting. He's also hoping that his ten-year-old daughter's weight issues (she's sitting there on the bench looking mightly bored having to listen to the adult conversation, poor thing) will be improved by his example. He's looking forward to the summer, when he will probably be able to ride rollercoasters again. Michael confesses how embarrassing it is to have to leave a ride because you can't be buckled in safely enough. Jeff reflects that eventually you get numb to that kind of embarrassment and just stop trying. By the end of the conversation, it sounds like Jeff will be one of the lucky guys who gets a free 24-Hour Fitness membership. Awesome.

But wait...we're not done...Koli can't see CJ, the lady with the knees. She hasn't come in yet, and Koli made her a promise that he would see her in. She's having a really tough time, so Koli grabs Sam and they go get her. She's not even at 4K yet, but she's still determined to finish. She's really happy to see Koli and Sam. She's slow, labouring, but is really upbeat and confident. She holds onto their shoulders for support, but eventually makes it to the stadium. (I have no idea how. She rocks.) There aren't many people left hanging around; mostly grey shirts. She tears up as she crosses the line. It took her about two hours. "I can't even walk through WALMART, I have to take a cart! And I just walked FIVE-K!!!" she marvels. Awesome.

Sam says this has given him an entirely new perspective on what the Biggest Loser is all about. We get to see at-home updates; both CJ and Jeff have lost 10lbs, and Deborah has lost 20lbs. Hooray!

As promised, Bob appears at a 24-Hour Fitness and the crowds of treadmillers go wild. "We're gonna have a little fun," he announces. Not just fun for his victims, either - fun for Bob, because he gets his little headpiece microphone, which he always loves. "I love when they say 'yes, sir'," he gloats in an interview. When the workout is finished, he opens himself up to a free-for-all Q&A. The last question he takes is so obviously a plant - a woman wants to take him home, and from the screaming of the women in the room, she isn't alone. In response, Bob pulls out the Biggest Loser app for the Blackberry, which is JUST LIKE HAVING BOB at your beck and call! (Except, y'know, for the part about not actually having Bob at your beck and call.)

Bonus video: Daris bemoans the loss of their wonderful stocked kitchen at the ranch. Now they have to find healthy food at restaurants. Ashley and Michael go into a sushi place and custom order so it'll be as healthy as possible. "Well, thank you for modifying our order and helping us out," Michael delivers with that I'm-reading-from-the-teleprompter lack of genuine feeling. Meanwhile, Daris, O'Neal and Sunshine discover that the menu at the restaurant they've chosen to go to is pretty much crap. Even the special "organic" menu is not so organic. Daris declares that 98% of stuff on a menu is not worth eating. All of it has to be modified, even salads, so that you don't get them smothered in dressing. So everybody ends up ordering like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally and they all go away happy. (Well, except for the cook staff in the kitchens, who may or may not have resisted the urge to sneeze on the Losers' orders.)

Bonus video: Ashley has new-found confidence, and she and Michael take their customized sushi and go talk about strategy and trust. She really wants to be in the final four, but she feels like the two of them and Daris are the outsiders now. She used to trust Koli completely, but now, she just can't because of the Yellow/Grey thing. Michael agrees.

Since Daris, Ashley and Mike are partnerless, they end up sticking together. They grab each other for a jog up the hotel stairs. Mike says Grey and Yellow shouldn't find out about this so that they'll get "comfortable" and fall below the yellow line. Daris leads the way, taking it two at a time. They do over thirty floors and MAN, that's impressive.

DH: So there's two voting blocks now.

Rodeo time! We are in a barn with colour-coded, nametagged horse stalls. Everyone has been forced to wear cowboy hats and say 'howdy'. "Welcome to the Texas Fair," Ali greets them. She says that if you want to succeed, you have to grab the bull by the horns. Ha ha. Enter a bull. It has a massive rack. The reactions of the contestants are amusing:

Daris - "Good god, I hope we don't have to do anything with that."
Ashley - "Death horns."
Mike - "Aw, HAY-ull no."

Fear not, though, they don't have to wrangle that. Enter a cute little calf. Awww. But don't get complacent, Ali warns, these calves have attitude. The deal with today's challenge is that everybody has their own calf pen. To win, they have to herd more cattle into their pen than anyone else. The prize is immunity. Annoyingly, Ali keeps throwing in the Texas-isms, like, "We're fixin' to start this challenge!"

Flash forward to the start of the challenge. There is now a herd of calves in the barn, and the contestants have to do a lot of chasing them around. Daris finally nabs one. Ashley is trying hard, but they keep getting away from her. Michael almost gets one. In desperation, he assumes a cutesy falsetto voice and tries to ENTICE one. (It doesn't work.) O'Neal wipes out and Sunshine shrieks in panic. Sam a calf and puts it in...Koli's pen! This is gratitude for Koli's sacrifice last week. Okay, that's awesome. A few more calves are penned. Sunshine keeps FREAKING OUT every time O'Neal falls done. She really needs to lighten up. She is also, by the way, dumping calves in her partner's pen. Daris grumbles about this. But eventually Michael decides to help Daris, and then Ashley does, too. This leads to pretty much a three-way tie. The winner, however, is Koli. Daris is bummed, but he knows he did all he could. Koli's really grateful to Sam for adding all the calves to his pen. O'Neal is glad Koli has immunity because that's helpful for Yellow, so now all they need to do is make sure Yellow and Grey don't fall below the yellow line together.

Jillian heads to a high school that wonderful Abby from last season wants her to do a talk at. Hello, Abby! You look great! Apparently there's a big obesity problem at this school, so Jillian being inspirational could help. However, it doesn't give her very much credibility or inspiration mojo that she keeps looking at Abby through her talk like, "Is this okay? Did I say that right?" Eventually, Jillian goes to the floor for questions. One large girl says she has a big family and has always been told that she will never been skinny, that she will never be who she wants to be. Jillian naturally thinks this is total crap. Jillian tells her that when we grow up with people, those people put their issues on us and we internalize it. Jillian tells this girl that anything is possible for her. This story lights Jillian on fire and she finally stops looking at Abby for permission and dials up the intensity. "Don't let ANYBODY tell you what you can't do!" she tells everyone.

After the show, Jillian seeks this girl out to chat with her, who of course has been made fun of throughout her life. Jillian tells her this doesn't have to be her destiny. She says that when people put us down, it's because there's a hole in their heart, and they're NEVER going to change...but you can. (Really, Jill? Never going to change? Isn't that kind of against the entire message of the show? Could you be any more bitter about the kids who made fun of you in school when you were big?) Jillian tells this girl she has everything inside her that she needs to make her life happen for her. The teen reflects that Jillian is unique in that she didn't push her away but talked to her like a real person. Clearly this has been a good moment, and I hope she finds success. Jillian hopes she's shown her what can be possible.

Last chance workout! In the hotel, looks like. Yellow is not there because they had to ship out for brother/uncle Arthur's funeral. :( They'll be back just in time for the weigh-in. This bums out Bob and Jllian because this spells a big disadvantage for Yellow, what with the missed workout and all the water gains one can expect from air travel.

Daris feels this workout is really important because the schedule this week has been crazy what with all the radio appearances and whatnot, so he needs to get back into it. Ashley is not willing to do badly this week because she never thought she'd get this close and is not willing to let it go. Bob decides to push Koli like crazy despite the immunity. "We do it BIG up in Texas!" He makes Koli and Sam run really fast for a really long time on the treadmill. Then they have to do handstand pushups while leaning on a concrete pillar for balance. We get some nice shots of rippling biceps, kudos to the show for that.

Michael still has a lot of weight to lose, so he HAS to be able to stay here. He has problems getting up for the handstand pushups. Daris is also having a hard time - Jillian's having him do something weird involving strength-pushing himself up into a sitting position reclining against a medicine ball while holding weights. (???) Jillian asks him what's going on and he reveals he's a little stressed about the weigh-in since he didn't win immunity. "Is it fair?" asks Jillian? No. And, she points out, it's not the last time life is going to be unfair to him. Don't let the little stupid stuff bog you down, she tells him.

Michael is struggling on the treadmill and almost falls off. Bob tells him not to hold back from hanging onto the bars if it means avoiding a broken ankle. Michael's so out of breath that he tells Bob to leave him alone. This incenses Bob. He goes all mama-bear on Michael's ass, telling him he is NEVER planning to leave Michael alone, and never wants to hear that out of him again.

As with all things in Texas, this week's weigh in is massive. It's at the American Airlines Centre, with the numbers displaying on the jumbotron. But first, we get to watch flashbacks of the contestants. "It's pretty epic," Jillian tells us. It's a good progress illuminator for the contestants. Speaking of the contestants, I feel excruciatingly sorry for them, because it is pretty cold outside. Specifically, it's 34F, which is a little more than 1C. Not exactly the sort of temperature you'd want to stand around in clad in only a tank top and spandex shorts. Yeesh. So we need to run through everyone quickly so they can get back into their hats, scarves, and snazzy parkas.

Ali reflects upon the week. She goes on for a while and Koli's mouth gapes open like a fish. We hear that Sam liked running the 5K and inspiring people. He was inspired by the people he met. Also, he's first up on the scale. "What else can he do to his arms at this point? He's DONE!" Sunshine whispers to Ashley as Sam steps up. "He looks good!" replies Ashley. For your eyes only, ladies, unless you want Stephanie coming back and whaling on your asses. ;)

There are some great funny moments during the weigh-in. Michael interviews that he has lost a whole adult man, and goes on to say, "I still have an whole adult WOMAN left to lose, but..." Also, Daris assumes a falsetto after learning that he's down to 214lbs: "I was still talkin' like this when I was 214!" :D

Milestones achieved this week:

  • Michael drops under 350lbs
  • Ashley drops under 250lbs
  • Ashley hits the 125lb mark of total loss
  • Michael hits the 175lb mark of total loss
  • Sam hits the 35% mark of total loss

I totally think Koli waterloaded. I'm not knocking the strategy, I'm just saying, I totally think he did. And I wish people wouldn't try to pretend that that isn't what they're doing when they're up there with immunity staring a bad number in the face.

It is, however, the worst case scenario for the Yellow team as they both fall below the yellow line. (Thank you, air travel.) The "outsiders" are back to being equal to the Yellow/Grey alliance in terms of voting power, no matter how this goes down.

O'Neal asks everyone to vote him out and he would appreciate, as a sign of respect for him, if everyone abided by his wishes. Sure enough, in the voting room, absolutely no one wants to diss him. Ashley says that she's really glad that Sunshine has such a good dad and it makes her miss her father a lot. Aw. :( Sam votes for O'Neal because he loves him. Koli wants to be a dad like O'Neal, and he votes for him out of love and respect. We don't see the rest of the votes because that's the end of the road for O'Neal. "I'll make you proud dad," says Sunshine. This makes O'Neal lose it. Sunshine thanks him. He in turn thanks everybody for their votes and kind words. He calls Sam and Koli 'men amongst men', and says that they, Michael and Daris should keep doing what they're doing. Daris assures O'Neal that Sunshine isn't alone. She may not have biological family on the ranch anymore, but she still has family. (Yeah, like you won't vote her off if she falls below with Michaelor Ashley. But I understand the sentiment. There's more to a week on the ranch than just the vote.)

DH and I agree that Sunshine being independent at the ranch will probably be really good for her.

O'Neal drives home, planning to be just as victorious there as the last time he was sent home. There is a HUGE party waiting for him, and they're all thrilled at the transformation. Sarah says she's reminded of when she met him 31 years ago. His son Arece even had to do a doubletake. "You can't borrow my jeans!" another of his sons tells him. O'Neal loves all the love and support. He's ready for his journey!

At the next profile, he's down to 250lbs. We are treated to a montage of all the things which were impossible before but which are delightfully possible now. For instance, he can now put on his own shoes! His wife certainly likes that. :) She also likes that he's the happiest she's seen him in 20 years. He goes up and down the stairs like buddah. He can fit easily into his car without having to move the steering wheel in weird spots. Now, walking with the postal carriers he manages is noooo problem! He has no problem getting on his motorcycle. And his wife can wrap her arms around him when she sits behind him! They love this, and show their newfound respect for the health of their bodies by motorcycling around without helmets. (I am not even a little kidding.)

Next week: (SPOILERS)

Look for the following milestones

  • Koli could hit the 150lb mark of total loss
  • Daris and Sunshine could move from obese to overweight
  • Ashley and Michael could hit the 35% mark of total loss
  • Daris could hit the 40% mark of total loss

Video preview: Iiiiit's...MAKEOVER WEEK! Squee! EVERYONE is excited; actually, the guys seem even more excited than the ladies! Michael in particular is champing at the bit to get a good haircut. (As well he should.) We see tantalizing, fast little shots of Sunshine looking pretty amazing in a little yellow dress and relaxed, wavy hair. Looks like they're doing the 360-degree mirror thing again, with surprise family members hidden behind it. Indeed, we see joyous hugs with Sunshine and a few of her brothers, which is great. Ashley appears to be wearing black spandex pants with high heels, which promises to be a serious QFM. (Quelle Fashion Mistake, if you were wondering.) Sam's in a suit and is greeted by his parents. Michael, greeted by female relatives, seems to be wearing some kind of grey hoodie under a black jacket and has been given a buzz cut. (Thank GAWD.)

TV Guide: The final six contestants receive makeovers, which include a $1000 shopping spree and a salon visit with stylist Jonathan Antin. After the transformations, the players reveal their new looks to family and friends and attend a concert by Ashanti. Later, the contestants are suspended over a pool while working out on cardio machines.

CAN'T WAIT! Except for the Ashley-in-spandex thing. Eurgh. WHAT were they THINKING? She's lost so much weight, it's not exactly hard to find something that would actually be FLATTERING! Argh.

Week after next: Quarterback Tony Romo takes the contestants on a hike; past winners Helen Phillips and Erik Chopin discuss the challenges of keeping weight off away from the ranch. Also: Dr. Huizenga offers health updates; the players race over hills of sand while carrying the amount of weight they've lost; Bob and Jillian review videos of the contestants' weight-loss journeys; and the final four are determined at the weigh-in.


# This wk % Overall % This wk lbs Overall lbs BMI
1 Michael (4.19) Daris (38.15) Michael (15) Michael (183) Sam (29.2)
2 Sam (2.44) Koli (35.73) Ashley, Sam (6) Koli (144) Sunshine (30.2)
3 Ashley (2.36) Sam (35.48) Daris, Sam (132) Daris (30.7)
4 Daris (2.28) Michael (34.79) Daris, O'Neal (5) Koli (34.2)
5 Sunshine (2.09) Ashley (33.69) Ashley (126) O'Neal (37.0)
6 O'Neal (1.85) Sunshine (32.00) Sunshine (4) O'Neal (124) Ashley (41.3)
7 Koli (0.38) O'Neal (31.88) Koli (1) Sunshine (88) Michael (42.9)

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