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The Biggest Loser season 15 contestant Tanya Winfield is the COO of a restaurant franchise in Illinois. She's successful professionally, but she's had a lifelong struggle with her weight. The mom of two older kids, a son, 23, and a daughter, 20, Tanya had a baby two years ago who weighed more than 11 pounds, a direct result of the 100+ pounds she gained during her pregnancy. Now, Tanya, whose starting weight on the show was 262 pounds, wants to change her life in hopes of lowering her toddler's risk of diabetes and childhood obesity. Her second chance at a healthy lifestyle means her baby girl may never need one later in life. All season, Tanya will be writing exclusively for iVillage about her experience on the ranch. Visit every Wednesday to follow Tanya's journey on The Biggest Loser.
This week has been a week of new beginnings for season 15 contestants. We made it through the grueling-yet-rewarding casting process, and for the first time in The Biggest Loser's history, the trainers were part of the casting interviews.
Imagine walking into a room to meet with casting producers, but instead, you actually find Dolvett, Jillian and Bob sitting in the casting chairs. OMG! Talk about immediate intimidation with a bit of being star struck. They grilled us for what seemed like an eternity. Some of us were even pulled for on-the-spot workouts. But Bob saved me from Jillian’s suggestion to run the stairs. (Whew, thanks Bob). I intentionally avoided eye contact with Dolvett, for obvious reasons. But he demanded my attention by calling me out: “Tanya, you haven’t given me any eye contact since you’ve been here.” My honest response: “Because I have a crush on you.” LOL! Sorry, he asked for it and don’t we all have a crush on Dolvett? Lord have mercy.
Listening to the emotional stories from all of the contestants made me realize we've all had successes and failures in our lives. Stories of loss, grief, depression, shame, guilt -- in a weird way, hearing them made me feel comfort in my own storms. I immediately bonded with many of the other contestants and realized this is my new family for the next few months and, possibly, for a lifetime.
But for now, my new family needs help. Why? Because we are about to experience the hardest part of the week: the infamous first workout with the trainers. People are throwing up, falling off machines and losing control. The trainers are showing no mercy and rightfully so. It only gets harder after this. I can barely breathe; I’m dry heaving, light-headed and wondering what have I gotten myself into? Why did I let myself get to this point in my life? Can this 41-year-old, non-athletic, divorcee from Chicago handle this? Will I talk myself out of this or find strength to keep myself in this?
Oh and guess what, Dolvett wants me, too. Well not really, but he hand-picked me to be on his team in addition to Ruben, David, Jennifer and Rachel. Go Red Team! Stay tuned for an exciting season of second chances and being motivated by Dolvett. Lord have mercy.
The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 8 ET/7 central on NBC