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The Biggest Loser Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Mike Danley on October 12, 2011 about the show The Biggest Loser.

Mike Danley

Question:
You said last night that the numbers tell the story, and indeed at the Blue Team you continue to have the best numbers and were an obvious leader. What was Bonnie thinking and what do you think the consequences of her decision will be for the Blue Team?

Mike Danley:
I don't want anybody to think that Bonnie and Becky can be underestimated by any means. When I say the stories told by the numbers is I just thought that I had the best numbers. And with that in mind, that I would still be on the show. I'd even interviews to say that I wasn't even thinking of being eliminated. But you got two ladies there that are bonding on the Ranch, and I just think that Bonnie thought that Becky may need some more time. So that was her decision and I just had to go with it.

Question:
Can you take us through the dream like experiences of being on a tennis court with Anna Kournikava and working out with an NFL player?

Mike Danley:
Well to start with, the tennis court that was our last chance workout. And to be honest with you, I haven't played a lot of tennis, but certainly I can hit the ball. And this ought to be really good because this is a brand-new facility that was constructed for this purpose. And so we got out there, and she started to put us through tennis drills, and I'm telling you it was hard, hard, hard. The surface was great, she was great, but I kept thinking to myself, my goodness she did this eight hours a day, every day. And I'm thinking when's this going to be over, when's this going to over. So she's one tough cookie, I'll tell you.

Question:
Your NFL player, what was it like?

Mike Danley:
Eric Dickerson, I've watched while he was at SMU in college, and then with the Rams, and then his last team was the Colts. So I was familiar with Eric. I knew that Eric lived across the street from the Ranch, or the presidential mile is what we called it, I would always be able to see his house. But I never saw any activity over there. So when we walked into the gym and was told that we were going to work out with a NFL player, I really had no idea who it was going to be.

But this man was walking on the treadmill and he was, I mean he was just cut, he was fit, he was strong looking. But when he turned around, I knew who he was, I was very excited because of the fact that he was no stranger to me. And we bonded very well, and I continue to use his words of inspiration where age it's just a number, because he had turned 50, and man he looks great too.

Question:
You looked pretty angry sitting at the elimination table last night. But you controlled your emotions very well like a true coach. But can you remember what was going through your head and your heart when you heard your name at that elimination table?

Mike Danley:
Prior to going in, I really was confident that I wasn't going to be voted off. I just knew that I had worked hard and I had all the numbers. And I had been the leader, or the captain if you will, of that team from the get go. Even when I walked into the elimination room I still felt good until, until Bonnie started to talk. And when she started to talk I said, oh no she's not going to do this is she? And so I was taken by the fact that with her reasoning and her choice of myself, I was somewhat taken by it.

Because although I respect her decision as a person on The Biggest Loser, I obviously didn't agree with it. And so it did upset me, but at the same time things happen. And you just got to face them and go on, and that's exactly what I had to do.

Question:
It seems like trying to be a leader in a game show format like that is a bit of a thankless task. Can you just talk about what it was like trying to be a leader on the Blue Team, because it seemed like that team is a little dysfunctional from the beginning.

Mike Danley:
From the very beginning on the desert and the premier, I knew right away that I was going to take over as the leader. It's what I do I've done this for all of my life in terms of football and teaching. I have a long maintenance business that I've done for 18 years, so leading is not new to me. And I knew that I had to be the leader of this team, based upon the four other contestants. So I just took over, took the reins. And from the get go, I told them I said we are not going to win a lot of these challenges.

We are somewhat handicapped due to physical problems. And I said, but we're going to make a pack right now, that whatever we start we will finish. And that's kind of how we kept it going all through the time I was there. And so it comes natural for me, and I think that the others realized that right away, and they gravitated to that type of leadership. And I lead by example, I wasn't going to ask anybody to do something that I wouldn't work harder at doing myself. So that's kind of the philosophy I have, and it's worked so far.

Question:
You have been very complimentary of Anna, as have your teammates. But the vibes we're getting from listening to people on Twitter and our stands on the site, is that they're not too impressed with Anna. Can you tell us what you're seeing at the Ranch that we're missing at home?

Mike Danley:
Being there first-hand, what I see is a winner. I see an international champion in a sport that is very, very difficult, and I got to get a little taste of it firsthand in our last chance workout. She is not a rookie by any means, she's not a pushover. She's a very compassionate individual that really brought our team along well, as far as cardiovascular and muscle tone was concerned. We came along a little bit at a time, we didn't have injuries that some of the other people did on the other teams.

And really if it weren't for Bonnie and her bad knee we were in pretty good shape. And we got better and better, day by day, week by week. And like I've said all along, The Biggest Loser is not going to bring in somebody off the street that doesn't have credibility. She can do the job, there's no question about it. And I was very, very happy that I had an opportunity to work with her.

Question:
I know the marathon is coming up. Do you feel prepared, and how have you been preparing?

Mike Danley:
I've been training a lot with my legs, doing a lot of leg work to strengthen my legs. I know that that's going to be something I've never done before, and so it's going to be a real challenge for me. I'm not a runner or so to speak, I've never done a 5K, 10K, 26. And so I do know in talking with my son and my daughter-in-law who do participate in those things, that you've got to have strong legs. So I work out a lot at my fitness center, Absolute Results, and we've been working on strengthening the lower body, the legs especially.

And then on the weekends, I get on my bike and I ride, and I ride, and I ride. And I probably put in a good 50 miles on Saturday or Sunday, depending upon what the better day is. And I just concentrate on legs. I don't get out and run a lot, because I know that I'm not one that's going to get out and sprint. But I'll keep a nice jog, and maybe a jog/walk combination. So it's basically been building up my leg strength so that I'll be able to endure over that length of time.

Question:
Is Black unstoppable? And what do you think about this being a battle of the ages? What does this say about the Blue Team has lost so many players?

Mike Danley:
We'll go with the Blue Team first, because I have a passion for that Blue Team. I think when it comes to the battle of the ages, we're looking at bigger, faster, stronger, from the other two groups. We're not looking at wiser, we're not looking at where our strength lies. But our determination and perseverance allows us to keep going, no matter what the odds, no matter what the challenge is. We're there, we're going to compete, we're going to do the best we can. And if that best is good enough, great. If it's not then we just don't have it.

So that's kind of been our philosophy all along. Never really expected to go out and beat up on either of the other two teams, because we're limited based upon some of the physical problems that some of the other people have had. Now as far as the Black Team being unstoppable, they certainly have been up until now. The Young Bucks are catching up little bit, and it's been a little bit closer competition of recent. But the Black Team again pines away. And when you look at champions, they find a way, no matter what the odds are, no matter what the obstacles are. So right now you got to say the Black Team's hard to beat.

Question:
What have you learned from Anna and being at the Ranch that made you a better coach back at home?

Mike Danley:
I think that lies in the fact that we will get, as our work deserves, the harder you're going to work, the more opportunity that you have for success. The harder you work, and the effort you put into it oftentimes breeds success. And Anna came up from a situation in Russia that was very, very challenging, and yet she beat the odds.

And as I look back on her childhood, and as she grew up, and she came to the states and working out at the Academy in Florida, and doing very similar, if not more, intensity in workouts then we had done, it simply proved to me that it's the same challenge that we face on the Ranch. We each have a journey, a little bit different but yet similar from the standpoint that if you don't put in the work, you're not going to reap the rewards.

Question:
What do you think the Blue Team needs to do to get back on track or get back into the game?

Mike Danley:
Make no mistake about it, we're in the game. And don't underestimate our ability to shine. The position presents itself that they've got two left, and those two are very confident. And they've been working hard, and our game plan was to do the very best we could do. And if you stand up there as I did, and the number five pops up, and I thought it would be more, as everybody thought there's would be more, you look at it and you say, did you do everything you could possibly do? Can you look yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you've done? And if you can and you have no regrets then I don't consider myself a loser.

Question:
Talk to me about winning the Super Bowl tickets.

Mike Danley:
Amazing week for me, to say the least. Of course the whole week was called NFL's challenge, right in my backyard. Something I've done all my life, from a participation to a coaching standpoint. And I was very, very excited about it. And as Allison explained, what we were going to do and what the rewards were, I got really, really excited. And I made no bones about it, I was going after the tickets, I was going to do everything that I could do to win those tickets. And so in our first challenge where we met the three NFL players how cool is that.

Being able to shake hands and talk in a genuine fashion with Drew Brees, Tony Gonzalez, Clay Matthews, all having a story very similar to ours, overcoming adversity and persevering. It was just awesome, you know. And then being able to work out with Eric Dickerson was amazing. Being able to meet Tim TeBow, Shawn Merriman, these are guys I vividly remember watching and following, not only in college but the pros. So the culmination of winning the tickets was a surprise.

When I saw a -17, I was overtaken by it. I didn't think it was going to be that high, and I still couldn't do the math in my head like the other people down in the audience were doing. But when they put up the 5.8, that's when it really hit. And I was super, super excited, and very thankful that hard work pays off.

Question:
How much did the team enjoying filming that spot at the end?

Mike Danley:
I think that everybody was really, really excited. I mean I was in a position where the other players or the other teams, gravitated to me. I got along well with everybody, everybody knew that I was a leader, and they knew that this is something that I really was working hard for, as was everybody else. But when the numbers popped up, everybody went nuts. And I remember Joe saying that if he had to lose it, he didn't want to lose it to anybody else but coach. So that was very satisfying for me.

Question:Mike Danley:
The hardest thing for me to adjust to was getting back in the mainstream of life. Being with 13 other brothers and sisters and family we call it, seven days a week, 24-hour the day, doing everything together and then what we were there for. We were there to learn about nutrition, learn about exercise and learn about tie the two together for a better life and a better way living. And I was very thankful for that, because I could bring it home, and I could share it with my wife, and share it with my brother, and share with my kids.

And yet I felt somewhat on an island when I came home, because I wasn't used to the fast pace. What I came from was a lot different than what I was coming back. So it took me a few days, to a week to get back into the mainstream. I felt sanctuary in my home, and it was kind of a safe mode for me to be there. And my wife said, I'll never forget she said, you've changed. And I said, what do you mean I've changed? And she said, you've got to get back to being Mike, and that kind of opened the door to get out and get back into the mainstream of what I do well.

Question:
Can you talk to me a little bit about what exactly your diet and exercise is consisting of these days? And how it is squeezing it into your daily life?

Mike Danley:
I sure can. I came back to teaching school, I teach high school here in Ft. Wayne, and prior to that time, I would work out three hours in the morning, three hours in afternoon. But once school started, I could only limit that time to the afternoon. So I teach during the day, and when I'm done I put in some time with the football program, but not as much as I would normally put in from the standpoint that there's only so many hours in the day. And all the coaches and all the players know what type of journey I'm on right now, and it's still a journey in process.

So I'll leave there, and I'll go over to my gym, Absolute Results, and work with my trainer with Jason Rubin. And we'll work another three hours in afternoon. And I get home about 7:30 going on 8:00, Eastern Standard Time. And my wife's waiting for me, and we enjoy the time we have together and share the happenings of the day. And I get ready to settle in for the evening.

My diet, yes my diet, it's still very similar, if not exact to what I learned on the Ranch. I drank an enormous amount of water per day per day. Fruits, vegetables, chicken, turkey, fish. I measure everything, I count calories, I want to make sure that I'm burning more calories than I'm taking in. And everything leads itself away from white flour, sugar and fried foods.

Question:
Exercising hours a day must be hard to get through every day. Do you have any distractions or tricks to keep you going at the gym?

Mike Danley:
What I want America to know is that you don't have to work out the way we worked out on the Ranch. You don't have to work out three, four hours a day, it's just something that I do because I'm used to it, I have the time. You know, I get my daily job done. I've got a great operation's manager with my business, and so that eliminates a lot of stress for me there. And I just have the time, and I'm still on a journey, pointing towards the finale.

So I'm just a focused individual when it comes to setting goals and never giving up until you achieve. And that's just in my character, based upon being an athlete in high school and college. And then bringing that same type of attitude, and the same type of motion- motivational type of skill level to the high school, as far as my academic students are concerned, and the football program is concerned. I've always been that way, and once I make my mind up to do something I normally get it done, barring anything that I can't control.

So I'm just motivated to do that, I look forward to going to the gym, I look forward to working out, and I guess that has a lot to do with the results I see. And I could tell everybody, you didn't gain it overnight, you're not to lose it overnight. And it's going to take a lot of people a little bit longer, based upon whether they're willing to get out and exercise are not. You can eat the right foods, but if you don't exercise, you're not going to see a lot of results. If you exercise a lot, you don't eat the right foods, you're not going to see a lot of results, because you're not feeding your metabolism and stoking the fire in order to keep you going. So I try to find a balance between the two, and I'm just motivated to do it.

Question:
You said on the show you have to have a purpose and a vision, can you talk about that?

Mike Danley:
You got to have a purpose of everything that you're doing in life, it doesn't make any difference what it is. Whether it be work, or whether it be your social life, or whether it be educational opportunities, or whether be The Biggest Loser. I mean there's got to be a purpose in what you're doing. The outstanding opportunity I was given to be on this show as a contestant gave me purpose to life, because the way I was going unbeknownst to me at the time, was not the right path to take.

And through the professionals that we get support from, and the resources that we have available with The Biggest Loser, opened my eyes to a lot of things that I'm now in the process of correcting and moving forward. Buying time in my life to spend with those who care, and be able to support me. And the vision is very simple anybody that starts out in anything's got to have a vision or a goal. If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there, but you're going to get lost along the way somewhere.

And so the way I try to look at it is I set short term, intermediate, long-term goals of what I want accomplish, work backwards in overcoming the obstacles that I may face, and then just stay focused. It's just like I have blinders on, I just keep my eye on the prize and keep going. And right now that prize is longevity with my life and better health, and that's what means the most to me and my family, and the people I'm supported by.

Question:
Who do you think is going to win The Biggest Loser?

Mike Danley:
I thought I was. But since I'm not, anyone of them are remarkable individuals. Anybody has a chance there's several people that are left. They'll be several surprises coming up on future shows I'm sure, and I'm going to watch them just like everybody else is. I'm going to be surprised just like everybody else is, and I know that whoever does win is going to be deserving of it. Because they're all great people and great human beings.

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