Ten Questions: The Biggest Losers (Winners)
SJ couple loses big on reality show
By Terri Akman
Stephen and Jacky Kmet before...

Stephen and Jacky Kmet before…

When Stephen and Jacky Kmet arrived in L.A. to appear as contestants on NBC’s reality show “The Biggest Loser,” they both topped 300 pounds. Stephen weighed 309. Jacky hit 304. But when they left 12 weeks later – after days of brutal workouts and physical challenges along with an emotional roller-coaster ride – the Hainesport couple had made a remarkable transition.

Stephen, who made it to the finale – but came in second and missed the grand prize of $250,000 – lost 133 pounds. Jacky lost 117. The pair had no contact with their 12-year-old daughter Kayleigh and 6-year-old son Jack while filming the show last fall. But they say losing big is one of the best things that ever happened to them.

Can you believe you made it so far?
Stephen: No, I thought my wife would be a finalist or win the whole thing, knowing how competitive she is. For me to be a finalist and just come a little bit short of winning is a tremendous accomplishment. Once I got past the halfway point, I felt like my old competitive self. But I lost. I was very disappointed that I lost, but I don’t think I could have done any more. I lost all the weight I could lose.

Jacky: Whenever I do something I give it my all, so I definitely thought I would push myself as hard as possible. When you’re 304 pounds, seeing a finish line is really tough. I took it day by day and wanted to work as hard as I possibly could. Being there with Stephen made us both better, being able to rely on each other and vent our frustrations. From the start, our 12-year-old daughter Kayleigh said we would be there the whole time. She predicted we would be there till the end.

...and after

…and after

Stephen, did you think you were about to win at the finale? You definitely looked like you had lost the most weight! 
Stephen: Absolutely, but it’s deceiving because the contest is a percentage. Was I thinner than Roberto? Yes. But it’s not who is thinnest or who looks the best, it’s who has the most percentage to lose. Roberto and I are like brothers, and there’s nothing more you want to do than beat your brother. I feel like I just ran out of weight to lose. He started at 348 so he had an advantage in that, and he’s also a little shorter than me. I’m almost 6 foot, so I look a lot thinner. Of course, I thought I won or I would have taken the 50 grand. [In a final challenge, contestants were offered $50,000 right before the final weigh-in but had to take a three-pound penalty.] Not only did I lose, but I don’t have anything in the pockets.

What made you go on “The Biggest Loser” in the first place?
Jacky: My “aha” moment was being in Wildwood and not being able to get on a roller coaster. My kids were thinking I was scared, but the reality was I was too big to ride. I realized my kids didn’t know the real me. I love adventure.

Stephen: It was not only affecting my health, but also my career. In pharmaceutical sales, presentation and image is everything, particularly when you’re promoting health products. I had the skill set, so I’d get to the final stage of the interview but I’d never get the job. I finally came to realize it was my appearance and lack of confidence.

What surprises you about what happens on the show that viewers don’t see?
Jacky: When the filming wasn’t going on, we were the ones getting up and getting out of bed to put in some miles of jogging or hiking. Your trainer makes recommendations and is there for a good part of the day, but there’s a big chunk of time where if you choose not to do it, nobody’s going to light a fire under your feet. You need to make that motivation yourself and keep going.

Stephen: We’ve been avid fans, but I was really surprised there’s no one cooking for you. On a day-to-day basis you are preparing, cooking and cleaning for yourself. They just buy food for you. It’s very challenging but good for the real world when you go back home.

You weren’t allowed to speak to your kids during filming, although you did win a challenge where you could either choose to Skype with them or keep the gym. How difficult was that decision?
Jacky: We chose to keep the gym, and that was heart-wrenching. But our focus was to get healthy and lose weight, and the gym was a big part of our daily routine. We opted to keep the gym knowing we were going to be back with our family at some point.

Stephen: It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity but it’s hard to leave your kids. It was a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain.

Jacky, you had a very emotional moment in an autopsy lab where you spoke about your concerns for your daughter’s weight. What did you understand at that moment?
Jacky: Stephen and I struggled with our own weight, but sometimes you don’t live in reality when you’re in that moment. One of our motivating factors was learning things we could teach our children. The realization that my daughter needs help too is something you don’t want to face. But I blame myself for her problem.

Stephen: Kayleigh has a problem with her weight because Jacky and I are setting a bad example. I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore and tell my daughter to eat better or get in shape when I’m not doing it myself.

Are you glad you went on the show?
Jacky: I feel like my old self – that person who is adventurous and has energy. It’s an amazing opportunity that The Biggest Loser gave us. Could we have lost weight on our own? We could have, but I tried for 13 years. I needed that help and that kick-start. When you can focus on yourself and take all the distractions away like we could do on the ranch, and we had access to amazing trainers and nutritionists, I’m thrilled that I had that experience. I would have loved to have won the $100,000. I feel bummed that I didn’t get there, but I feel like a brand-new person.

Stephen: I discovered my inner athlete again. I was good at sports – never great, one of those guys who might or might not make the team. But I would work as hard as I could. Dr. Huizenga is the doctor for the Oakland Raiders, and a couple days before the finale he looked me in the face and asked how old I was. I told him 43, and he said, ‘I can’t believe how good your face looks; you look like you’re 20. You are at an elite professional athlete status – like one of the Raiders. You are at 16-percent body fat and have absolutely no more weight to lose. You are in unbelievable shape.’ Hearing that was like winning the 250 grand.

Are you worried about keeping the weight off?
Jacky: It has to be something that is in your mindset or you will fall back into old patterns. I like the challenges, so I’ve already signed up for a couple of 5Ks for the next couple of months to keep my motivation and training. I feel very good about the food choices we’ve made. I’m not somebody who feels like we were depriving ourselves while we were home. To be very frank, we had vegetable pizza once a week for a few weeks while we were still maintaining weight loss of five or six pounds at home each week. The fact that I left my kids for 12 weeks, I can’t imagine having that mean nothing and gaining all the weight back. It’s a daily decision that you make. You fall down a little bit, but you get back up again.

Stephen: If you don’t worry, you’re going to fail. It’s a struggle. The game’s over now, and real life is beginning. There’s no more competition, cameras, a Dolvett [Dolvett Quince was Stephen’s trainer on the show], the public seeing us every week on a scale or a finale to get ready for. Anyone who said it would be easy is fooling themself.

Will you allow yourself cheat days or cheat meals?
Stephen: I don’t want to limit myself and say I’m never going to have pizza or ice cream. I need to plan for it. If I have a poker night and want a slice or two of pizza, that’s fine. I just have to make sure I don’t have as big of a lunch, or I have to exercise more to account for that. I have to be smart about it.

What’s one weight-loss tip everyone could benefit from? 
Jacky: My morning smoothie is my go-to. I fill a blender half with kale and half with spinach, so it’s about four cups when it comes together. Then I add Greek yogurt with 0-percent fat for protein, unsweetened almond milk and a cup of frozen berries. I drink that every morning, so I know I’ve gotten at least four cups of vegetables in no matter what else happens during the day.

Stephen: If people were conscious of the sodium in what they eat every day, they would be shocked. Cut your sodium in half, and you will lose weight.

April 2016
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