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The Biggest Loser Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with Cassandra Sturos on March 7, 2012 about the show The Biggest Loser.

Cassandra Sturos

Question:
The Red Team didn't seem affected whatsoever by the change in trainer last night. But the Black Team were emotionally devastated. Why do you think that was?

Cassandra Sturos:
Honestly I don't know if it going with the flow, their personalities. I know that us girls on the Black Team we have such a connection to Bob. And in no way am I diminishing the Red Team's connection to Dolvett. But I feel like we absolutely he's our trainer, we have these moments with him and just such an amazing experience with him as our trainer.

Speaking for myself, that switch was something I just never wanted to happen and even for a week it felt like a major blow for me not that I doubted Dolvett's capabilities in any way but it's like this is the person I've been going through this emotionally raw, physical, like incredibly challenging experience with and he's been my guy. Bob's been there every step. You know, he knows my quirks and what I can do. And having that switched up on me it felt like okay we're back to the beginning. You know, you feel like you're starting over because you're not with the person who knows everything.

Question:
With Conda's track record at the ranch whatever made you think you could trust her with an alliance request? What are your thoughts on her betrayal?

Cassandra Sturos:
Honestly it's a little misconstrued. Basically how it went down is we had gotten wind on the Black Team that with the switch and the twist that the winning team could vote someone off the losing team, we had gotten wind that the Red Team felt that me and Emily were the biggest threats and that the two of us were who they would consider sending home.

And once we heard that it was pretty alarming to us. We were like whoa like it's getting cutthroat, like the gloves are coming off for sure. And I was just really dismayed by that because I felt like I had a lot of friendships in the house and on the Red Team. And it didn't feel like it was something I was ready for. I was like if that's the truth - and I did speak to a lot of people on the Red Team about it. I was like you really feel like you would put my name down? And they were like, yes, you're a huge threat in this house.

I was like well if that's the way it's going to be if it's going to be threat for threat we would go with a big time threat on your team which we felt was Buddy. And so we had talked about that amongst the girls. And obviously the people I'm very close to Emily who's on my team and Kim who's on the Red Team because I roomed with them after my grandma left. And so we were like yes we would want all our girls that are that are succeeding and we're closest to be on top. So it kind of got misconstrued I think. And I haven't had the privilege to watch the episode yet, I have it DVR'd.

But finding out about Conda going and saying that it was going to be an all-girl alliance, I'm flabbergasted by that because that wasn't ever our intention as far as it being an alliance. It was just the fact that it became clear to us that we were the threat and so we were like well if you're going to send someone home as far as the two girls we would go with one we would go with the strong guy. And it would never have been Jeremy.

Question:
Thinking back to when you first arrived on the show, how different were your expectations from what the reality was?

Cassandra Sturos:
Oh my gosh I went into the ranch so bright eyed and bushy tailed like I do with almost everything. And I'm a bit na??ve also. It's something I tend to be. I thought because I'm a runner and I enjoyed running and I had done a 5K I was like how bad can it be? I'm kind of athletic and this whole experience of me being overweight and not liking myself my whole life I'm like okay so I'll face it there. It'll be great.

And it was; it was the best experience of my life hands down the most phenomenal journey. But the workouts are so brutal. And having to have one on one time to confront yourself and all these issues that you've been denying for years like me being like here without my family or friends or a cell phone or distractions. And having to really face all these issues that I had been denying to myself it's a heady experience, you know.

So it was just so much more challenging than I ever dreamed. But in the best way it was like having to face all those challenges was the best thing. But that was what surprised me; it was so much more difficult than I ever thought or dreamed it could be. I don't even know that I could ever describe how difficult the ranch is.

Question:
What's the most difficult thing about going home after spending all this time on the show?

Cassandra Sturos:
Going home after the ranch and after that whole big mouthful about how hard it is the thing is the ranch it started to feel like you're haven, your safe place of like okay I'm focusing on me and I'm tackling all these issues. And I don't have to face really the real world. So going back home I was obviously very emotional and distraught because I was like okay I'm starting to believe I can do it here. What if that doesn't transfer when I get home? What if I don't believe I can do it there because I never was very capable of doing it there. And I was just so scared going home and facing that. And facing reality and, yes, going back to family and distractions and having the balance and real food again and making the time for the gym. It's all a lot to juggle so it's difficult.

That transition of the mind over matter like oh my gosh I could do it at the ranch, can I do it at home. So the fear was the worst thing for me thinking okay the ranch is rehab; I was in rehab and now I have to go home. So I have to face all the things that I wasn't so good at before and be confident that I learned enough going home.

Question:
You were just talking about being afraid to go home. At elimination Kim told you to remember that all these people are sending you home because they didn't think they could beat you. How did you internalize that sort of empowering statement? And have you sort of drawn strength from it in your journey at home?

Cassandra Sturos:
Oh my gosh absolutely. Kim was an amazing friend of mine and I love that in a moment of me feeling so out of control and powerless getting sent home and that was the last thing I wanted. It was amazing for me to hear that because it felt like okay if I'm going out and if it's nothing I can control at least I can go home thinking hey I'm going out on top; I'm going out because they're scared, like they're scared to compete against me and that's a good thing.

And I wanted to know that like going home that meant something. That meant it wasn't wasted; that I was really successful at the ranch. And I did, I had this incredible almost like a defiance; like, no, I'll show you. And instead of going home and doing what I thought I would do like turning to peanut butter cups and just feeling sad and wanting to just overeat.

Instantly, I mean, I felt very sad and distraught and like this is going to be weird. But I told my mom as soon as I got home I was like bring me to the gym. And it was late and I was tired and discombobulated, all over the place. But I'm like bring me to the gym and I just ran and ran and ran. And I ended up doing seven miles which is the longest I've ever done without stopping. I took all my aggression out in the gym. And it just like it propelled me. I was like every time I'm feeling angst-y or upset it's like I'm going to take it out on the gym; I'm not taking it out on food.

Question:
If you could think back to when you first conceived of your New York dream how did that take shape? And is the dream different now since you've gone through this experience or is it exactly as it was when you came up with it as a kid?

Cassandra Sturos:
Yes, my New York dream has evolved over the years. I've just always been a dreamer and like I've always wanted big grand things. Like you couldn't tell me no when I was little and I heard about Harvard I'm like well if I think that's the best school in the world I'm going there. You know, and of course that dream changed. That's a difficult one.

But, no, it's evolved. And I'm really so distinctly like when it was really cemented in my mind it was in 8th grade. I just finished When Harry Met Sally for the first time. And I was like oh my gosh this is it. Like that is the city for you and you're going to be a writer and you're going to walk in Central Park. So much about it has changed in the fact that like I had this like this movie-esque like dreamers way of viewing it. It was like, yes, just going to be like When Harry Met Sally. And walking around and dah, dah, dah and whatever.

But going there last May and looking for apartments and feeling very just in awe of like how huge and almost like I don't want to say cutthroat but like that city like you've got to buck up to be in that city. And I felt like oh my gosh can you do this? Like this isn't just like the movies. This isn't easy-peasy.

And going there a second time now after having lost all this weight I felt it was so unbelievably different. It was just like this tingle in my body, like this vision. I was like oh my gosh like I knew what my soul knew as a child and what it knew in 8th grade and what it knew last May. But it felt complete like it felt like all the pieces of the puzzle had come together.

And while it sometimes felt too daunting or oh my gosh it's too much like the movies can you do this? All of a sudden I felt like this confident girl who'd had these big dreams and like dared to think they could happen. And I felt so complete in that and like, yes, you can do this and you are meant to be here.

Question:
I was hoping that you could maybe go hypothetically down the road of if the Black Team had still been in charge of the vote last night. So say you did lose the weigh-in but you got to go in and make the deciding factor. Can you walk me through what you think would have happened then?

Cassandra Sturos:
Oh wow. Had the Black Team been able to chose the vote I definitely don't think it would have been me at all. And, I mean, I have to surmise and say that with Chris's one-pound weight loss I would think it would have been her not myself. But I don't even like to go down that road of what if and what could have been. But, I mean, that's what I think may have happened but no such luck.

Question:
Did you say you haven't seen last night's episode?

Cassandra Sturos:
I haven't. I have it DVR'd I just haven't had a chance to watch it yet. From recollection I remember the series of events pretty clearly but I haven't seen it, no.

Question:
Have you been watching religiously though through the season?

Cassandra Sturos:
Oh gosh yes. I love watching with my family and it's very surreal to see myself on TV. So it's fun; I enjoy the way the season is playing out.

Question:
You've certainly some so far at home and you've learned so much on the ranch. What do you think was the most valuable lesson you've learned through all of this?

Cassandra Sturos:
The most valuable lesson for me was facing my fears. I feel like - I said this going into the ranch that I felt like I was just sitting on the sidelines of my life. I was so scared to put myself out there in any way and feel rejection or loss or failure. I feel like I tried too many times and that had happened. And it was just so conflicting for me because I'm such a big dreamer and I have high hopes for myself. But I would not want to put myself out there.

And being at the ranch and having to do things that scared me every day, every day I was terrified of something whether it was just this workout that I was like oh my gosh I would never do this workout. I'm going to die. Like you can't possibly think I could do this. And doing things that I never in a million years thought I could do it was a perfect parallel for me and my life. And as a writer who can appreciate a good metaphor an so every time it would be this epiphany for me of if you can do this and this is really hard what have you been telling yourself you couldn't do in life? What have you been saying that you couldn't do because you were scared? >[?So for me it was just realizing how powerful it is to face your fears of any kind whether big or small. But it does make you stronger. And that was huge for me as someone who was just riddled with self doubt. It made me so much stronger to have to face my fears.

Question:
Can you share with us some of your healthy go-to meals and snacks and maybe the type of exercise plan you're doing now at home?

Cassandra Sturos:
Absolutely. I love Greek yogurt now which is so funny because I remember the first time I ate it made me gag. But you really can't eat that stuff plain. For breakfast a lot of times I love Greek yogurt and I do just like a little packet of Truvia, just one packet, sometimes half, and then I do cinnamon and cut up strawberries and sometimes like bran cereal on top.

I often bring an orange and like a light string cheese with me to my workout or I have like Boar's Head lunchmeat for just a quick like grab and go thing. One of my favorite dinner things to do is fish with like pico de gallo on top and just like a sprinkle of parmesan and roasted carrots. It's like I get so excited about it it's almost like it's my pizza or something; I just love it.

So those are some healthy things I do. I'm trying to think of other snacks. Oh there's like some really good fiber cakes that I find at Trader Joe's and there's a ton of fiber in them and I'll put like a little piece of dark chocolate in the middle and heat it up and then put some light syrup on top so it's almost like a chocolate chip pancake; you can pretend. But it's really good. It's really good. So those are some things I like.

There's so many workouts I love now. I've actually been ice skating at home. I ice skate a couple times a week in the morning really early and it's so fun. And it's one of those things that you don't even really feel like you're working out. Like you're just like oh my gosh this is fun and then later on in the day you feel it. And then I do a lot of cross-fit still. We did a lot of that at the ranch with Bob and I loved that. And I love running. I recently did my first 10K and I was thrilled. And I want to do a half marathon and a full marathon. So those are some things that I've really been enjoying at home.

Question:
How much weight have to lost to date?

Cassandra Sturos:
I have lost 81 pounds to date.

Question:
The subject was brought up of how someone had asked you if had a boyfriend before and you kind of made up excuses and she told you basically oh it's because you're overweight. So what would you say maybe to people who doubted you growing up and kids who are overweight out there?

Cassandra Sturos:
Growing up an overweight girl it's something I've been so sensitive to like I just don't stand for it. I feel like that's unacceptable. You know, I mean, obviously I wanted to be healthy and happy but I would almost get defiant like how dare you judge me based on my body. Like I have a great mind and a great soul and I think I'm mildly humorous so it shouldn't just be about my weight, you know. So I feel like honestly if people are struggling with that like with their self acceptance that's first and foremost top priority. Like you need to love yourself, you know.

So if you are big or thin or anything but you love yourself that is key. I didn't love myself when I was bigger. And to girls who maybe struggle with their weight you need to first start empowering yourself to love yourself because I read this all the time and I didn't believe I'm like how can I love myself as-is? You know, I felt like it was the magic. And I feel like if you practice it you start practicing it's going to show. That'll show to someone else especially as far as relationships. I think that's why I was never successful in having relationship before because I didn't know how to love myself.

And I feel like especially I feel so strongly like I feel so protective over any girl who struggles with self doubt or even overweight, any of those things because I think it's just that poison like I don't want any girls to feel that way. You know, whether they have reason to and I think every girl should just, period, love herself. It shouldn't be this big of an issue. It breaks my heart. But I think it starts first and foremost with, yes, loving yourself; I can't say it enough. And it's super obvious and I didn't ever get it then but I get it now.

Question:
Have you been treated differently either since being on the show and the show has made people approach you or treat you differently. Or are you being treated differently now that you have this huge weight loss?

Cassandra Sturos:
In a sense. I do think it's - it's a little different the way I'm treated but I don't think it's different in a bad way I think it's just I really feel like I exude happiness all the time. And not to be like a cornball because there are times that I'm a little bit like oh my gosh, self doubting or still in competition mode.

But I think for the most part I do feel this sense of who I always wanted to be I'm allowed to be now like I am that person that I always wanted to be. And I feel like it just radiates so I feel like people if they approach me because of the show maybe it's because of that or maybe it's because I feel approachable. I feel so happy.

And, I mean, a lot of my friends and family have commented on that like oh my gosh something about your eyes like they're just really like showing how happy you are. And like you can see it in the depths of your eyes the way that this has changed you. And it's just been a very positive reaction. It's if it's different it's positive because I feel like I'm so positive. And I always was but I feel like everything matches up now in a way that it didn't quite match up before.

Question:
Is there any regrets or were there any mends that were made that we as viewers didn't get to see?

Cassandra Sturos:
As Conda and I we definitely, after the face-off week, and I'm someone who's very non-confrontational as it is so that was like the best you were going to get from me at a confrontation. And instantly after that we were just fine. I know Conda is a spitfire for sure but she has so many amazing qualities and is such a compassionate individual and a wonderful mother and a real nurturer. And it's shame you don't get to see more of that. So I do have a strong bond with her.

And as far as the Aqua Team goes I feel like again a lot of that I don't know really how to address that just based on a lot of the things that we don't - you don't get to see as viewers because how long the show is. But as far as that one week yes there are things I wish I had done differently and just for my own personal growth I felt like I took two steps forward to take one step back that week. And, yes, I wish I had done the best that I knew in myself the best that I could do and that week did not reflect that at all so I do regret that.

Question:
Are you on Twitter or plan to get on Twitter at any time in the near future?

Cassandra Sturos:
I feel so technology like deficient. Like I'm just not savvy. And I've been so anti-Twitter and not because Twitter, I hear great things but my friend tried to get me an account once and I was like I don't know how to do this. I'm like it's so new-fangled. What do you do? I don't know. And I get real stubborn in my ways and I'm like no, no I don't know how to do it and I'm not going to do it. But I will tell you this, I have been dabbling in the idea of getting an iPhone and that's big for me.

So if I get an iPhone I could very well get a Twitter because the flood gates will open if I get an iPhone. Like I just have to embrace technology at that point. I'm toying with the idea; I've just been so anti for so long because I don't know what I'm doing but I suppose if I ask for help I could make it happen.

Question:
Did you actually find an apartment in New York?

Cassandra Sturos:
I didn't but I do know where I want to live. I know where I want to live and my heart is set on that place. But I didn't find an apartment yet so I have a long list of things I'm looking for and I'm excited about but, no, it's in the works though.

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