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The Biggest Loser Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Debbie Lounds on September 21, 2011 about the show The Biggest Loser.

Debbie Lounds

Question:
Do you think that because you're obviously a strong woman and you told your team you could succeed at home, that Bonnie did cry her way into getting the sympathy vote?

Debbie Lounds:
No. I don't think she cried her way, I don't think she was getting the sympathy vote. I think that I understand that it's very difficult when you've lost someone. And I don't feel that she was trying to get the sympathy vote. I just thought that she could have controlled her tears a little bit better, her crying a little bit better.

Question:
Do you think it was unfair though to not send home the person with the least amount of weight lost for the week?

Debbie Lounds:
The other thing is that all of the other contestants had health problems. And like I said on the show, I never anticipated in that position. But a lot of them had sleep apnea, they had high blood pressure, they had diabetes and I didn't have any of those things. So I think in the whole scope of things of considering all of us who were there that me having the support system that I have at home and already trying to be on the path for a healthy life, that I didn't mind being the sacrificial lamb.

Question:
You called yourself the Jazzy Granny and you're never too old to change. So what are the main changes you've made at home to your lifestyle Debbie?

Debbie Lounds:
The main changes that I've made to my lifestyle is I exercise between five and six days a week. Before I kind of wobbled when I walked. I don't know if you know the walk that overweight people have. But now I walk more straightforward. My balance is better. I enjoy working out more. I'm not saying that if I had a choice between working out and doing something else that I would choose maybe choose the working out. But I do enjoy it more than I ever thought I would. So mainly that's it. I always ate healthy and so there's not been a big change in that.

Question:
So you're not winded and you can play with the grandkids all you want?

Debbie Lounds:
I can run with them and pick them up and twirl them around.

Question:
Can you talk a little bit about the speech that you gave when you all were deliberating?

Debbie Lounds:
I think a lot of it has to do with the editing. That scenario was longer than they showed. And I think that a lot of it has to do with how it was edited. And I do realize that it came across that way. I think during the course of our time there and seeing her moved to tears quite often it like I said, it irritated me. And I was a single mother with three children and we had hard times and difficult times and it just it just irritated me.

But she and I get along fine and we talked soon after because I really wanted her to understand that I wasn't coming from a place of meanness, that I'm a very straightforward person and I usually speak what is on my mind. And so if I had stayed there maybe it never would have come up, maybe it never would have come up. That's just how it came across. And I was sorry afterwards and I just wanted to make sure that she knew. And we did. We understood each other. We were roommates. We had an opportunity to talk afterwards.

Question:
We got to see you working out with your daughter. How has your time on the Ranch affected your family health wise other than yourself?

Debbie Lounds:
Well my daughter and I last weekend, preparing for the marathon, I had to work out for four hours. That's the assignment I was given by my trainer. So she and I jogged and walked and she went with me to support me. And she's been watching her food intake. And my sister who lives in Chula Vista in California, she's been trying to get on the same quest, path that I'm on. And it's not just my family that have been impacted.

I work at the University of Michigan Hospital, people here have been seeing me lose weight, seeing me come down, are becoming more active in wanting to be healthier. I work in radiation oncology and so in the hospital you see sick people. But everyone is a lot - quite a few of my co-workers are working out more. And we're working out together and we're taking the stairs more and we're going outside for walks more. So it's not impacted just my family but other people who know me.

Question:
Are you upset with the way that you came off having just been in that one episode and kind of your legacy being a little fight at the end?

Debbie Lounds:
I just think that I'm not upset about how I came across. I felt that they were very fair in how they portrayed me. I felt bad that I wasn't given the opportunity for people to get to know me. I wasn't there long enough for them to get to know me. And to that point, the people who I work with and who know me, like I was telling Jill that last night we had my daughter organize a viewing party and there were like over 100 people there. Because they know me and they like me they we were laughing.

When I was in the gym with Anna and working out and stuff and I was saying oh, can I have some water please, I'm about to die of thirst, excuse me, all that kind of thing. They know me and so they know how I am. But unfortunately the people on the show and the people who saw the show I'm sure I came across as unsympathetic and however it is. And that's why I wanted to talk to Bonnie.

I wanted the two of us to talk so she could understand that what I was saying was not coming from a place of meanness but just coming from a place where I wanted to let her know what I thought. And my thing is it's okay to be down sometimes. It's okay to be to feel sorry for yourself sometimes but at some point you have to grab the bull by the horns and you've got to pull yourself up. As I said, I was a single mother and I had three kids I had to raise.

And if I cried about everything about having the lights cut off, about not having any food about all this stuff - all this stuff that I had that would make somebody cry how could I live? How could I take care of my kids? Do you know what I mean? And so that's I think where I come from where I come from when I say that I just wanted her to understand and that's my position about it.

Question:
And what did you think of Anna as a trainer?

Debbie Lounds:
She looks so sweet and she's a very pretty girl but she's a real task master. She works you hard and she doesn't let up and I thought she was really good. I think that she cares a lot about us and emotionally involved and also wanting to see us succeed. I thought she was a great trainer. She gave us some difficult tasks to do where our workouts were strenuous because we'd never really exercised before. I thought she was good. I thought she was very good.

Question:
What was your reaction when you realized you would be working with Anna? Were you disappointed or excited?

Debbie Lounds:
I was excited to be in the desert seeing Bob, Dolvett and Anna, seeing all three of them. I had and have complete faith in the producers of the show and I think and though I have faith in what they were doing in their selection of trainers. That I knew that they weren't going to select anybody who they thought would not be able to help us. So I wasn't really familiar with who Anna was. I had seen her at the finale the year before but I figured I figured that she would be just as good as Dolvett or Bob. I figured that she would be just as good.

Question:
What was your reaction to the news about the marathon? That's a really interesting twist they've never done before. And how's your training going?

Debbie Lounds:
During the interview process they when they're asking you questions, maybe two or three times they would ask a question so, what do you think about a marathon, running a marathon? And and I would tell them what I thought about it. I said well I never really thought about doing anything like that. But I'm not opposed to it. And then they'd ask me it again in another way. And so then my antenna kind of went up and I'm like you know what, there's a reason why they're asking me these questions.

I said I don't know what it is but there's a reason they're after me. And then when we found out that we were going to be running a marathon I thought how am I going to be able to do this? But what I've done with my trainer is I've been jogging and walking fast. And my position right now is that I'm just going to kind of roll with everything. You know, I'm telling people if they want to buy me something they can buy me some knee pads or they can buy me some roller skates.

Because if I have to crawl across the finish line then that's what I'm going to do and I don't want my knees to get all marked up. Or if I could rollerblade across the finish line then that's what I'm going to do but I'm going to finish it come hell or high water. And it's something that was never on my bucket list but it's on my bucket list now and I'm going to cross it out. And I think that's okay for a 60 year old to have that under their belt.

Question:
How did you feel when you found out about the battle of the ages scene and if you felt as if that put your team at an unfair advantage?

Debbie Lounds:
When they told us how we were going to be separated in the desert and they had us divide according to our age I thought that it was a new twist that I had never scene. You know, like you said, it was something they had never done before. But I had faith in the people who were on my team. And I knew that even though we were older we were wise, we had wisdom and we had perseverance. And that whatever task we were given we would see it through. Whatever challenge we were given we would see it through.

And so it didn't really affect me because I figured however it turned out we were all going to be winners. We were all going to be losers one way or the other. So it didn't it was okay. Of course we know the younger people have more stamina. But in the past there have been older contestants who have won the at home prize and who have won the grand prize. So I just knew we all had heard and slow and steady wins the race and perseverance is what we had. And so I wasn't upset about it. It was all right for me.

Question:
What's the most important thing you learned about yourself through your Biggest Loser experience?

Debbie Lounds:
There are two words I don't use lightly. The first word is friend and the second word is love. I save the word friend for people who I really care about. And when I say I love someone it's usually for my family or somebody close to me. So what I learned from the Biggest Loser is that from being there is that we are connected so well because we went through the interviewing process and we got to know each other as it whittled down.

But I really and truly consider all those - everyone on the Ranch or all the people in Season 12 my friends and I love them. I love them. It's like we're one family. I think that they are just the best. I mean really they're the best. We made a pact before that we were going to stand together and stand tall and we weren't going to bicker. Because that's how much we cared about each other. We had a bond or we have a bond. And I'm so looking forward to seeing them at the marathon in October. And it taught me that I'm capable of spreading out my love and the word friend beyond my immediate circle.

Question:
Have you connected with the large group of Michigan Biggest Loser alumni?

Debbie Lounds:
I've been in contact with Pete Thomas. I think he's from Season 3. And Helen. The thing is they reach out to me these people are like people who I saw on television. And you don't know how approachable they are. But when they know that you're on the show they see you as someone who's joining a large family. And so they have reached out to me and then we have conference call and so I've talked to Bernie on a conference call. I think their name is Jerry, the husband and wife, them on a conference call and then Pete lives in Ann Arbor as I do. And Helen has reached out to me and Jennifer. And so yeah, I have been in contact with other contestants, other people who have been on the show.

Question:
When you threw it out there that you had a great support system at home, in the back of your mind like deep, deep down did you want to go home or were you just kind of throwing yourself out there because you knew that you had maybe a better than average support system at home?

Debbie Lounds:
I didn't want to go home because if I wanted to go home I probably never would have tried out for the show. And I think part of it was that I had a support system, I knew that I had a support system at home. And the other thing was that I missed my family. And I'm sure all of us everybody missed their family but as I said before, I didn't have a lot of the health problems that the others had. Dr. Huizenga, one of the things that he said to me was that I was one of the healthiest contestants on the show, even more so than the younger people.

And so I didn't have sleep apnea. I stayed on the treadmill for some tests that they were doing, I think a stress test I stayed on like eight or nine minutes and longer than a lot of the others. So I felt that because of that, like I said, that I could do this at home.

Question:
What kind of challenges did you face when you first got home? Has it been difficult for you to stay motivated?

Debbie Lounds:
No, it hasn't been difficult at all. I think that's one of the advantages of coming home early. I was on the Ranch long enough to learn new ways to eat, new things about nutrition. And to get in the habit or at least to become more open minded about exercising. Because you have to have patience because I am 60 and my memory's not the best. But no, the challenges that I've had mainly are just challenging myself to go higher, to exercise more, to go beyond my comfort zone.

If anything those are the challenges that I've had. I live by myself and so the meals are not a problem. And I think like I said, one of the advantages of being sent home early is that you haven't become so ingrained in being away from everyone and everything that when you go home it's like a big shock. So no, there weren't a whole lot of challenges I had to face other than just establishing a routine for my exercise and going to work and spending time with my family and people who I care about.

Question:
Can you talk a little bit about what kind of diet you're following now?

Debbie Lounds:
The caloric intake that I was given is 1286 and I try to stick pretty closely to that. I'm a real creature of habit. So usually in the morning I have like a cup of strawberries, half a cup of blueberries, the Faz yogurt. And then I have a Kashi like a breakfast bar. And I have that for a snack and then a nectarine. And then because of the gastric bypass surgery I don't eat a lot of meat.

So like today for lunch I have from Whole Foods I bought this mixture of kale, collard and turnip greens and I put tilapia fish on top of it and okra. And I'll eat that the rest of the week. And I'm really kind of crazy in love with these McDonald's Southwest Chicken Salads and so I get grilled chicken for that for dinner. On Sundays I make one meal that'll last me the whole week. And that's basically what I eat. I don't eat meat, I don't eat rice, I don't eat pasta. I don't eat a whole lot of potatoes. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.

Question:
Was it a disadvantage to have a new trainer who didn't know the game aspect?

Debbie Lounds:
I don't think it was a disadvantage. Because the thing is Suzy we weren't there to play games. That wasn't our goal. And my thing, I can only speak for myself, was that Anna was she pushed us. Most of us having never had a trainer before we were doing what she was telling us. And all we know was that I was sweating. You know, I was working out hard and as far as I was concerned she was doing a great job. We weren't there to play games. We were there to stick to it and to do what we were told and to lose weight and get healthy. That was that was our main goal, not to be there to play games.

And after a while one of the other things that we said when we talked was that it wasn't even about the money. You know, on a certain level it wasn't even about the money. What it was about for us was, and for me too, was getting healthy. Although if we won the money that would be the icing on the cake but that wasn't the main goal.

Question:
What was the biggest thing you miss the most from the Ranch?

Debbie Lounds:
Not having to worry about anything. You know, just not having to worry about going to the grocery store and not having to worry about paying rent all of this other stuff. Just having access to the trainers and the nutritionists and the camaraderie of all of the other contestants. And just everyone connected with the show because everyone there on the Ranch they're so nice.

And I think that's what I liked the most about being and that's what I miss most about being there is that it was like all you had to worry about was exercising. You know, that's all you had to do. It was just exercise. And that was easy. Well it wasn't easy but it was something that could be done.

Question:
Now that you've been on the show what kind of advice would you give contestants that are thinking about trying out for next season?

Debbie Lounds:
I would tell them to first of all whether it's the first time, the second, third, fourth, fifth, however many times they're trying out, to keep going because you never know when you may be one that's selected because you never know what the theme is. But also when you go there to be yourself. You don't have a lot of time when you're with the casting director casting table. So what I would tell them is go be yourself and show your sense of humor, show your personality.

Try to think of something that will grab the person who you're talking to, grab their attention or make your video intriguing enough that they'll want to know more about you because my daughter and I, each time we went further and further in the process. The first this is the fourth time I tried out. The first year we went to the casting call and we got called back for an interview. Then the second year we got a VIP pass and we got called for an interview again. And each time it got easier and easier. And then this time because they were singles and the theme was Battle of the Ages it was my charm. The fourth time was my charm.

Question:
And now that you're home and you're watching like a fan. Who do you think is going to win? Or who are you rooting for?

Debbie Lounds:
I don't know who's going to win because I think that whoever is left on the Ranch is a strong competitor. So I'm rooting for all of us. Like I said, we're all going to be winners. Whoever wins they win. I mean, you know what I mean? We're all going to win. We're all going to win. On some level we're all going to win. Somebody goes on and they've only lost like during the whole process 20 pounds, they're still a winner. If somebody loses 189 pounds or something like that. We're all going to be winners. We'll all be winners and have learned something from this process I think.

Question:
What's the most memorable moment of being on the Ranch for you?

Debbie Lounds:
I'd probably say just when I saw the show last night I had forgotten about how when we were walking, carrying the pole, how everybody came running out to help us. And I forgot how that touched me so when that happened. And I think that would be a Kodak moment for my heard. Because it's something that they didn't have to do. And Anna coming out too I just thought it pulls together how much we considered ourselves a team and a family. You know, it's like we're all there for the same reason. And they came out to help us and we're there to lift each other up and to and to make sure that all of us complete our tasks. So I think that would be my most memorable moment.

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