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The Biggest Loser Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with John Rhode on December 14, 2011 about the show The Biggest Loser.

John Rhode

Question:
Can you tell us about the inside? Who were you compared to who you are now?

John Rhode:
Before I was someone who had just given up. I just lost hope and I completely turned to food instead of dealing with my emotions and dealing with my problems. I became someone who was just existing. Now I'm someone that I'm empowered and I can do anything. If I really want to do it and I'm willing to sacrifice I can do anything.

Question:
Can you share how Dolve got through to you on your trust issues and how that made a difference in the last leg of your journey, which was obvious to us, but it now pertains to your life?

John Rhode:
Right. Dolvett was willing to share very private and personal things with me about his upbringing and him being adopted and me being an adoptive father. And for me, I mean, that was the absolute marquee moment that I had with Dolvett where he was willing to absolutely put it all there. Up until that point I was the one taking all the risks. He showed me in that moment that he was willing to take a massive risk. And I knew right there that man cared about me and he wanted the best for me and just made it so I could trust him.

I tried to explain to him trust for me is not something I can just turn on and off. When it comes it'll come. He was patient. And eventually it came and it was there. And what's funny is ultimately I found out the person I trusted least was myself. So my trust issues were actually not with others. They were with me.

Question:
I'm curious about the statement that you just made that you found out the person you trusted least was yourself. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

John Rhode:
Yes. It's funny because I never thought of myself as someone who had trust issues before I got on the show because I've always trusted my wife and my friends and my family. But when you get in that pressure cooker situation of being at the ranch and all those endless workouts and all the different things that are going on you really get stripped down to your core.

And if you want to take the opportunity to look within, the opportunity is definitely there. And I looked within and I figured out I didn't trust myself. And possibly I didn't trust myself because of my food addiction or just so many different failures and so many different aspects and avenues of my life. But I'm learning to trust myself. Yes I'm going to make mistakes. Rene I'm not perfect, okay? I'm going to slip up, but I need to be willing to forgive myself, pick myself up, dust myself off and tell myself, "Today's a brand new day and go get it and go after it all over again."

Question:
During the course of the show we saw something unusual. We saw two of the trainers Bob and Dolvett suggest that there was a possibility in your case that you might be at risk for gaining the weight back. What did you think about that when you saw that, when you watched that for the first time? And is that true? Are you at risk?

John Rhode:
Well here's the thing, first off yes I am at risk and I'm very frightened about it. I take it very serious. I'm not insulted by them saying that. They need to be honest with me. I need to be honest with myself. I'm frightened. Oh my gosh I'm frightened about that.

But I think that my fear and my worrying about it and it's not going to ruin me. But I need to be aware of that. That's a possibility. That's something that could happen. What do I do to prevent it? That's where I'm at right now.

Part of my solution is running the LA Marathon. After that then I'm going to reevaluate and see what I need to do because I want to take this day by day. I don't think I've got the answers to everything. I know I've got a lot of answers, but I'm never going to be done learning and especially learning about myself. As I grow and as I mature and as I become a little more wise about who I am then my issues might change a little bit and new things might pop up.

But if I'm open and honest with myself and I realize, "Yes I've got a food addiction. And yes I could put the weight back on," I think that's much more of a realistic approach than "Oh I'm at no risk of that. That's nonsense." I think it's time to be open and honest. And I appreciate them for their honesty and from speaking from their hearts. I mean, that's the emotional component that I think's going to help me keep the weight off. And I love both those gentlemen.

Question:
How does it feel to carry the title of Biggest Loser? Do you feel more pressure to stay on track and maybe even pay it forward now that you've won and you're such an inspiration to others?

John Rhode:
I'm definitely going to pay it forward. I'm going to pay it forward, back, sideways, up, down and around. I honestly want to help anyone and everyone within the sound of my voice if they want the help. I have a powerful message from the time that I spent at the ranch and I want to share that. I feel obligated just from being on the show, just from being given this blessed opportunity.

I feel as though I have been given a brand new life. And I want to make the most of this life. And whether or not I won I would feel obligated to share because that's what the show and this brand is about. It is about sharing. I have been vulnerable. I have exposed myself and my issues on TV. I want to show people it's okay to talk about things even if it's uncomfortable. It's better to talk about it than to suppress those feelings and to use food for anything other than what it is. Food is fuel. I do feel obligated and I'm willing for that obligation. I've prayed for this opportunity and I've been given it. And I want to make the most of this obligation that I have.

Question:
What are you planning on doing with the prize money? Have you thought about it?

John Rhode:
I'll tell you what. I am going to try and be responsible with the prize money. My wife would like a car. We're not going to get a new car. We're going to get a new-to-her car. But she wants a car and I want her to have it. And we're going to pay some debt down and we're going to put some money away for a rainy day. But I'm definitely ready to spoil my wife responsible spoiling.

Question:
Since you're a teacher and you coach football do you think that you're going to take everything you've learned on the ranch and guide your players and your students on leading healthier lives, especially with childhood obesity being such a problem?

John Rhode:
Absolutely. And I've already been working with the head varsity coach at Desert Ridge High School, Jeremy Hathcock. As we speak we are working on putting together an off-season program. And as soon as I get back and get permission from Jill Carmen I'm going to go and talk to the kids at the school. We're going to address the whole school and we're just going to have an open and honest conversation.

And I'm going to get those kids where they feel like they have some power. I want to empower them to be able to take control of their destiny. And we need to nip this in the bud and it's got to start somewhere. And so it might as well start at Desert Ridge High School.

Question:
And you mentioned food addiction a lot. Is it probably like the biggest thing for you aside from just bad eating habits or just liking to eat but just tackling the addiction and getting into your head?

John Rhode:
It is still hard for me to admit my food addiction. And that is the tell-tale sign to me that, "Ah-ha I must have one." If it's hard for me to admit it, if I can't think of too many good reasons why a person would get to 445 pounds in the matter of time that I did with all the yo-yo dieting clearly, clearly I need to renegotiate my relationship with food and see food for what it is. And food is fuel. And so yes unlike a drug addict a food addict has to eat. So trying to make responsible choices look I know I'm going to make mistakes. I'm going to slip up.

But more importantly I need to have some sort of balance in my life where it's not so rigid that I don't think I can be forgiving of myself when I make mistakes but yet be positive also and understand that food's not a reward. If there's a reason to eat a certain item then yes go ahead and eat that item. But if I'm eating out of boredom, which a lot of us do, or if I'm eating out of stress then I need to come up with some alternatives because I can't go back to that lifestyle. I just can't.

Question:
For you specifically I just wanted to know what challenges you faced, what some of the greatest ones were as well as what some of your motivators were.

John Rhode:
The most difficult part of being at the ranch for me was being away from my wife and my kids. I knew exactly what my wife was going through. I knew it was rough even though she wouldn't let on in the letters to me. I knew that she was having a tough time. I could just feel it.

And not only was that the toughest thing for me, but it was also a huge part of my motivation. And I used those feelings of obligation to my wife to convince myself to push through the tough days. And I got to a point where I got into this routine where it wasn't so difficult with the workouts. It was just difficult to be away from home for that extended period of time. But clearly it was worth it.

Question:
Apart from the marathon what efforts are you going to make from here to keep the weight off? Like where do you hope to go from here and how are you going to just train yourself and use what you learned and just pretty much like take that on by yourself? Do you have any other plans?

John Rhode:
Oh I do. I do. And the next part of my plan is preparation. If I am prepared, if I have the foods that I know my palette's changed. So I enjoy these foods. If I have those foods in my house then I'm prepared.

If I find myself ill-prepared that's I think when we fall into those traps where we hit the drive through. Or also if I bring junk into the house if I bring junk food into the house there's a likelihood I'll eat it. If I don't bring it into the house then the likelihood I'm going to eat is drops dramatically. So definitely preparation is going to be the next part of that plan because you can't run marathons for the rest of your life.

Question:
As well as your big win last night last night was also Anna Kournikova's final night as a trainer. During filming did you or any of the other contestants see any indication that she was having trouble with the role or anything that would lead to that?

John Rhode:
Well no on the contrary. Now I never had her as a trainer. But in I believe it was week six we did like a one-for-all, all-for-one thing and I got to train with her as did all the contestants because we got to train with all three of the trainers. And she put us through a tennis court workout that was epic. I mean, oh my goodness. I was a little bit shocked.

Again but there are so many things that I don't know. But I think the world of her. And she is an amazing person. I wish her the best. Whatever it is she chooses to do she's going to be fantastic at it. I did. I appreciated the workout that I got with her during that all-for-one week. And I've always found her to be a motivating strong individual who always had something kind to say to me every interaction we had.

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