Eliminated Bigger Loser Contestant Fernanda Abarca Talks to iVillage

iVillage talked exclusively with The Biggest Loser's first contestant to go home

iVillage: How will you continue your weight loss journey now that you’ve left the ranch?
Having left the ranch, I am presented with tough challenges: I am a mother of a 4 and 6 year old, a wife, a full time artist at Dreamworks Animation, and an artist/owner of Fernanda Abarca Cakes. Trying to balance these responsibilities can sometimes be near impossible. Now that I am home, I have to figure out how I can do the million things I do and still focus on getting my weight off. I have to make my goals ambitious but achievable, so I have incorporated my workouts into my life. If I have to go to the grocery store, I walk there. If I have to go to work, I run there. Fitting in [exercise] every way I can, but most importantly creating a healthy habit of eating clean and making the right choices daily.

iVillage: What was the most challenging moment for you on the ranch?
The entire process is very emotional. The hardest part for me was being away from my husband and children.

iVillage: What did you like best about working with your trainer?
I wasn't on the ranch very long so I didn't get to enjoy Jillian Michaels as much as I wanted to. I love her. She's amazing. I'm a huge fan and I know she's good at what she does. It was a blessing to be coached by her while I was there. I love how real and to the point she is and there is a lot of love under all that yelling!

iVillage: What did you learn about healthy eating?
I learned that when you fuel your body with good food, you will have a ton of extra energy and you actually get to enjoy a variety of great foods. So many people think that losing weight means starving. The biggest lesson I learned here is that the cleaner your food is the more you can eat and enjoy. Eating a fast food sandwich will satisfy you for an hour, but soon you are hungry again. Eating a plate of healthy proteins, grains and carbs will give you the energy you need for workouts and everyday life.

iVillage: What did you learn about exercise?
That it’s all mental. Your mind will give up before your body does. When I first started the show, I couldn't run for two minutes. My legs would start cramping and I thought that was a sign that I couldn't do it. Now I can run seven miles, and when I get uncomfortable, I just keep pushing through. Five minutes later the pain is gone. I have to push my body beyond its comfort zone to see results.

iVillage: What about working out when you're home?
Working out has to be realistic. Sometimes we try and do too much and end up doing nothing because we set unrealistic standards. It is ridiculous for anyone to think they can lose weight like The Biggest Loser contestants can at the ranch. The environment at the ranch is very different than a home environment where you have to juggle your job, your family and a busy life. Being home, I know that I need to give myself a goal, but make it a goal that will become habit. Consistency of workouts are more effective than length of workouts for me. I didn't come on this show to lose weight and gain it back after the finale. I came on this show to be healthy for life and that is how I am approaching my workouts. My favorite exercise is playing tennis, lifting weights and running.

iVillage: Other than losing weight, what are some of the other personal victories you want to achieve from being on The Biggest Loser?
I want my children to be inspired by me. I want them to be proud of who I am. I don't want them to simply think of me as the "Mom who makes the coolest cakes." I want them to want to be determined and hard working. Being able to be proud of my accomplishments has given me the confidence I need to be a great mentor for them. I know that if I care about myself and my health, that will give them a good example so they can go on to achieve great things in life.

The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 8 ET/7 central on NBC

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